Tuesday, December 11, 2012

One Person's Fantasy Is Another Person's "Gritty Realism"

I'm down with bronchitis at the moment, so I suffer fools even less than I do when I'm one hundred per cent, and I've already found a big one.

Step forward, dublintvfan, from Digital Spy, who poses this question:-

Would anyone prefer if Ee went back to the way it was from 2000 to 2006

Dark storys ect abusive husbands gansters showdowns all fast paced gritty stuff ect

EE was always about the dark side of life but i cant help feel they lost the heart of the show and just became like every other soap with love affairs ect 

Should they return to this format?
Well, I ask this: Who the fuck is this numpty and how old is he?

Look, I realise that there's a whole generation of viewers who think EastEnders began in 2000 and discount everything that went on with the show in the fifteen years before the Millennium, but they need to realise a few things about the period between 1985-2000:-

  • People looked normal. I mean, you-wouldn't-notice-if-you-passed-them-on-the-street normal. Someone like Michelle Fowler, who was - by today's standards - a plain, spotty-faced girl of sixteen shagged Den Watts, who was the older sex symbol of the show at the time. People like Sonia would, today, be figures of ridicule. The sex symbols of the Square were characters like Sharon, who was frilly, and Kathy Beale, who was just one-up from dowdy. The first really attractive young girl to make an appearance was Sam Mitchell.
  • Phil Mitchell was nice. He was actually the gentle brother, which was why Sharon cheated on Grant with him. Grant was an abusive husband, but we know now that he was suffering from PTSD. Phil used his brain instead of brute force.
  • Before Sean Slater, there was Grant Mitchell. Sean is a poor man's Grant. Check out their back-stories. The similarities were not coincidental.
  • Den actually died, even though we didn't see the body.
  • The Osmans had the first cot death, way back in the 1980s before any of the Brannings were ever thought about. And that storyline was told with great poignancy.
  • The first gays on the show, Colin and Barry, were two blokes who just happened to be gay; and they weren't defined by their sexuality.
  • When the very first Branning set foot in Walford (Carol Jackson), it was established that Derek, Max and Jack were her three older brothers. Later, when she married Alan Jackson, Derek became a few years younger than she. This was mid-Nineties, when he was 32, never married and living at home with Jim and Reenie (yes, Jim had another wife), so technically, in the world of EastEnders, Joey and Alice simply don't exist.
  • The show had guts enough to actually show a suicide - Donna Ludlow, from a heroin overdose.
  • Speaking of Donna, she was the first long-lost child to come looking for her ma. But we already knew that Kathy Beale had been raped as a teenager and had given the child up for adoption.
  • Oh, and people were hired for acting ability/experience, not for looks.
The period between 2000 and 2006 was nothing like creators Julia Smith and Tony Holland intended. In fact, the show began a downward spiral under Louise Berridge's tenure in 2002, from which it has yet to recover, if - indeed - it can. EastEnders was originally supposed to be a soap which reflected gritty realism - as in kitchen-sink drama. As Pam St Clement remarked when she left, who, amongst the current production crew, would even entertain a storyline about a financially strapped man who steals from the local community Christmas Club in order to finance his daughter's wedding? It simply isn't sensationalist enough, nor does it involve a Branning. 

Also, during this period, with John Yorke's introduction of and emphasis on the Slater family, there was the gradual shift away from the show being an ensemble piece, which a soap really is. The apex of this came under Diederick Santer, when he turned it into The Ronnie and Stacey Show. Thanks to the likes of Bryan Kirkwood, Simon Ashdown and (alas) Lorraine Newman, it's now in serious danger of becoming The Branning Show.

The so-called "gangster" period was an unrealistic joke. Had TPTB at that time wanted gangster realism, Jonnie Allen and Andy Hunter would have been either black or Eastern European. 

That period not only saw the show descend to its lowest viewing figures, it also showed what a shadow of itself it had become when the Mitchell family disintegrated due to Steve McFadden's sabbatical and Barbara Windsor's illness.

So, rather than talking about the "good old days" being the period between 2000 and 2006, dublintvfan needs to do some research and watch some episodes from the 1980s and 1990s - but he/she would probably be bored because the people aren't pretty. As for affairs, there were affairs aplenty during the heyday of which he speaks and before. The most iconic storyline in the show's history was the love affair between Frank Butcher and Pat, which ended, as it began - with Pat and Frank cheating on their partners. Sharongate saw the first time a woman was torn between two lovers who were siblings, and Dirty Den wasn't called that because of his personal hygiene. And don't start me on Cindy Beale.

Sometimes, people could do with a bit of history. Just because you weren't born or compos mentis during those years, doesn't mean you shouldn't be aware of them.

Dublintvfan = FOOL


  1. Anybody who thinks 2000-2006 (particular 02-06) was 'gritty' needs to watch a Ken Loach movie. They'd probably have a heart attack.

    1. Quite ... and to the little thread of hatred forming right now on Digital Spy, I call bullshit as I see it. This is my blog, and if you make turgid, insipid remarks like that, troll to cause trouble as ValD does (and she's a KNOWN troll on DS) or use Twitter to threaten and intimidate other people the way Siobhan (monalisa) does - and she's been caught in her lies - then you risk getting outed by people like me.

      2000 was the beginning of the end for EastEnders. Yorke was, arguably, the last good EP; but Yorke's tenure at the top of Continuing Drama saw him choose the likes of Louise Berridge, Kathleen Hutchison, Kate Harwood, Diederick Santer, Bryan Kirkwood and Lorraine Newman - each consecutively worse than his/her predecessor. As for Newman, she spent 12 years as series producer under six EPs. Doesn't that tell you that she hit her cieling level and just may be punching above her weight? More and more the show is smelling like Brookside in its dotage.

    2. Ignore the hate thread on DS.

      It is being kept going by a handful of people only and in a day or so will be down on page two and forgotten. They are struggling to fnd things to say to keep up momentum as it is.
      They are currently teasing monalisa, who seems to believe their protestations of undying affection for Shirley are sincere, rather than aimed at drawing comment from you.

      I find it refreshing to find someone who isn't afraid to speak her opinions. Keep up the good work.

    3. The comments made by dublintvfan were both ignorant, arrogant and stupid. EastEnders didn't suddenly become good in 2000. It had been on the air for fifteen years. What it did become in 2000 was less of an ensemble piece. Yorke devoted an entire episode to introducing the Slater family, then put them in every part of the Square's life and featured them in every storyline.

      He brought Kat to the forefront.

      His successor, after a bold start - axing Mark Fowler, who was a nice (but circular and miserable character) and Robbie Jackson and introducing Alfie Moon - bottled it and brought back a character from the dead in response to Corrie's sweep of the awards that year - masterminded by Daran Little and Bryan Kirkwood. She thought with the Mitchells absent from the Square and the Watts family ensconced with some new members and male totty, the show would be successful again and a whole new generation would be introduced to Den. Den II was nothing like himself the first time.

      Den Watts was only ever a small-time wannabe crook, who got too close to the big time and was snuffed out. Den the latter was cruel, cold and a perve; and from the getgo, Leslie Grantham let it be known he was only there for the vast amount of money they paid him. It also wasn't just the Phil and Peggy returning which saved the show's bacon, it took GRANT to return.

      I tell you what - bring back Grant while Phil and Sharon are both there and watch some unfinished business evolve, but the hate-mongerers and the shallow types who make up the lower end of the viewing spectrum wouldn't buy that because Grant and Phil aren't pretty.

  2. Just for the record, dublintvfan should learn to read for comprehension. I don't know where he, she or it got the idea I was a Republican - American, yes, but a card-carrying Democrat who doesn't venture near Fox News nor anything smelling of Murdoch. So before you level assumptions about my character or who I am, indeed, remember that there's a lot more showing about you in the immature way you're behaving right now on Digital Spy than ever on my blog. Bullying Siobhan, who thinks your protestations of Shirley loyalty are sincere, is a form of it; and several of you engaged in blatant bullying of Mormon Girl during the weekend - two people participating in the current thread were party to that, but - luckily - either deleted their posts or walked back comments when your behaviour was brought out. I believe one of the guilty parties is about to get married. He needs to grow up first.

  3. this is just mean and sick if you dont like digital spy then just ignore it. why be mean to others just so you can make long, boring threads about it.
    ps i wont be coming back here sont dont bother replying

    1. Oh, but you will. Your PS indicated as such. The world is a mean place, and people respond in kind. By the way, thanks for the publicity about the blog. You've earned me a fair bit of money, which will come in handy. Good to know that there are still sensible people on DS like Filiman, Keeki and Scrabbler.

      Oh, and I will call out people whose behaviour is inappropriate. When a poster purporting to be a middle-aged businesswoman condones vandalism in a post, then that's irresponsible and she's trolling for attention. MonaLisa, however much she may deny it, has threatened me directly and at least two other people. That is against the law.

      And,finally, you really do need to brush up on your critical thinking capabilities, because the "just ignore it" argument is specious and trite - not only that, but childish. If you want to talk about being mean, well, being mean is what happened during the weekend when you and your BFFs ganged up on an autistic person in what is arguably the worst example of cyber bullying and sheeple-following I've seen on the Internet. Way to punch down.

      And thanks again for the publicity, and don't come back until you've grown up and learned to spell and capitalise properly.

  4. You are all bloody sad!!! Geeee wizz, people!

  5. Once again, posting my personal information proves nothing and adds nothing to your arguments. If you want to spew abuse, think how you're making yourselves look. Once again, immature and incapable of thinking critically.