The Soft-Bellied Future of EastEnders
EastEnders' Past with a Backbone
So now it's been revealed that Julia Smith wanted a homosexual seduction and ensuing affair between badboy Nick Cotton and Lofty Holloway, beleagured barman and sometime first husband of Michelle Fowler.
She broached the proposed character development with actor John Altman about a year after he joined the show. He refused to consider it. Why? Because he knew his character. He'd worn Nick like a second skin for a year, and he knew that someone like Nick would never seriously be attracted to another man.
John Altman and June Brown both recall the incident in an article in The Guardian:-
In the early days, we actors had no input. Julia was quite a taskmaster. When Nick was supposed to start a gay relationship with Lofty, John Altman, who played Nick, told her he didn't feel it was in character. When he left the room, Julia said: "Write him out!" They did.
Julia was a formidable character. I used to sarcastically call the set St Julia's. She sacked the woman who was meant to play Angie Watts a few days before filming started. The person we'd spent weeks rehearsing with vanished; Julia reckoned she wasn't right. Anita Dobson arrived on set and was much feistier. A few months later, Julia wrote me out for about a year when I protested that Nick wasn't the kind of man who would start a gay relationship with Lofty, another straight character.
Now maybe Altman was right to do what he did. Maybe he was wrong. We'll never know. We do know that, as years progressed, Nick was often used in a repetitive way, darting in and out of the programme for certain periods of time, always leaving on a downer, as a true villain. And Altman was cognizant of that as well:-
I did sometimes feel frustrated that they didn't make more of Nick. They'd use him to pack a punch and make a headline at the expense of longer-term plots. I'd like him to have spent more time on the square and shown other sides to his character. June and I protested when they killed off my on-screen son and dad because it was a missed opportunity to follow a really dysfunctional family.
Who knows how the Lofty-Nick love story would have panned out or how it would have been received? In hindsight, it seems like Julia Smith's moment of madness, something to which we are all entitled. She was, after all, human. But the fact remains that an actor spoke out in protest about a character direction which was totally alien to his character's development and paid the ultimate price. He was sacked.
Altman wasn't the only one. The actress who played Lorna, who became Phil Mitchell's clandestine lover after bonding at an AA session, objected to the storyline where he would dump her to return to Kathy, only for her character to get drunk and get gang-raped. The actress was released and the storyline dropped. When Ross Kemp wanted 1999 to be a year which the recently-widowered Grant Mitchell spent raising his small daughter on his own, Matthew Robinson informed him that an actress had already been cast as Grant's next love interest, and Kemp refused and didn't renew his contract that year. Wendy Richard left after TPTB decided Pauline Fowler would marry again, when she knew very well her character wouldn't entertain such a thought.
That's called standing up for artistic principle, and it's the stuff of professional actors. One wonders if such fortitude would even exist amongst the current lot. I doubt it, considering the slavish way Shane Richie pushed the envelope in pre-story PR surrounding the babyswap storyline.
Conversely, just when you'd thought you'd seen the back of Tony Discipline (cue Jaws music):-
Tyler has experienced quieter times in Walford over the past few months, but Discipline explained that things get busier for him again in 2013.
"Tyler has some very exciting storylines lined up but unfortunately my lips are sealed," he said. "All I can say is watch this space."
And then, this sucker punch:-
"My dream storyline would be for Tyler to own the Queen Vic with Alfie and have his name above the door!"For everyone who took heart from the fact that Lorraine Newman seemed to have nothing to say regarding the loveable couple known as Twitney as indication that they would be departing our screens, we were clearly snookered. Unless he's lying, it appears that the current Executive Producer has plans to move Tyler more definitely to the forefront in the coming year.
Notice, I said Tyler but not Whitney. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if Shona McGarty left in 2013, either "by mutual consent" or of her own volition. She's not made herself exactly flavour of the month the past year, with the yoghurt incident and her subsequent suspension. She's also keen to start a singing career, so she may be allowed to walk. It wouldn't surprise me, either, to see Derek's children leave during the year. There's nothing to keep them in Walford, not even Joey's
Since EastEnders like a bit of 'ow's yer favvah from time to time in real time between people playing fictitious couple's, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if TPTB decided to take the so-called real-life couple they manufactured (Discipline and Jossa) and turn them into a screen item.
Puts a whole new gloss on life imitating art, especially since we know now that Newman and co have moulded whatever character the characters of Lauren and Tyler posses to what the actors (term used loosely) are like in real life. Simples.
I suppose that since TPTB had it driven home to them in no uncertain terms that Twitney was a visual offence as much as the couple was forced upon us, resulting in Tony Discipline being placed on the second tier of character importance, now they think that, pairing him with xTonix's wet dream will suddenly make him watchable and loveable. Did it work for David Witts? No, and Witts is even more unintelligible than Tony Discipline, so I wouldn't hold out much hope for the success of this ingenue couple. Twitney was an epic fail and I suppose Lyler will be also.
The biggest problem with the young actors on the programme these days is that they are, at best, mediocre, at worst, appalling. Most have had no real acting experience and many have had no training. All were chosen on the basis of looks. And, with all this in mind, they believe the hype the PR department irresponsibly spews.
Joey and Lucy the new Grant and Sharon? They're not even a couple anymore.
So we go onto Joey and Lauren as the reincarnation of Shannis. Not. Shannis was a storyline which was developed subtly and gradually over months. Joey and Lauren erupted as a sudden attempt by a storyliner and writer to inject a little edgy passion into a boring mixture. Believe me, Joey and Lauren are even more unlikeable than Joey and Lucy. No one would have shed a tear had they been blown up in that car crash.
Tyler and Anthony Moon were the latest attempt to recreate "the Bruvs." But then, EastEnders has been trying to find the next Grant and Phil since Beppe and Gianni-call-me-GEE-ANN-EE di Marco were introduced, followed by the multiplicated Ferreiras, the Brannings and now the Moons.
Anthony (pronounced ANNANEE) was originally billed as the smooth, smart brother; Tyler as the gamboling puppy of a ladies' man, who looked up to and admired the intelligence of his older brother. Not so. In fact, it was often hard to distinguish who was the elder and who was the younger of the pair. Then we were presented with Annanee the gambler and Tyler the temper tantrum specialist. And those incarnations were just as unbelieveable because the characters were played by, put bluntly, bad actors - as well as being created from nothing with no character arc.
Now it seems that Tyler, who should have left with Annanee, is bound to grace our screens even longer, joy of joys. Not only that, but the character's ultimate ambition is to own the Queen Vic and to see his name above the door as landlord. Not only do I find that insulting to the memory of the men and women who have fronted the Vic over the years, but I find it particularly galling that such a swaggering little upstart fishmongerer would have such an elevated idea of his own self-importance in the show as to presume he would one day own what was and what still should be the star piece, front and centre, of EastEnders (and not Max Branning's front room).
Here's the roll call against whom Tyler Moon would hope to compete:-
After all this, we hope to see this behind the bar of the Vic sometime in the future:-
I sometimes wonder if EastEnders has some sort of deathwish fetish, because under this management, I can easily see a Tyler Moon tenancy, with Lauren the Lip in the background sucking on various bottles. Seriously, this show is becoming a joke, the more TPTB rely on pandering to the basest element of twittering tweens and fanbois.
This show isn't Hollyoaks; it isn't even trying to be Hollyoaks. It's a charity funded by the taxpayer giving celebrity status to people who who would be better off in school learning how to read and write properly or even working in a chip shop. At least that's honest labour and not a con on the public.
This programme smells more and more like Brookside in its dying days. Will it make its 30th, and will it make its 30th with Tyler Moon pulling pints as the Vic's landlord?