Has EastEnders become a joke?
In the wake of EastEnders’ Olympic episode, Social Voices writer Hilary Wardle says she feels the whole episode was a fiasco – do you agree?
Remember the good old days when EastEnders was intelligent, dark and gritty?
No, me neither.
I do sometimes have vague memories of hard-hitting storylines like Mark Fowler’s HIV diagnosis or Dot Cotton’s deeply moving monologue about Jim Branning , but whenever I try and focus on them all I can see is a drug-addled Phil Mitchell dancing merrily around his living room with a crack pipe.
Not to mention a teenage girl giving birth in a fried chicken shop because she doesn’t want to breach her electronic tag restrictions. Haven’t they heard of food hygiene regulations in Walford?
But the unbelievable plots aren’t nearly as damaging to the audience’s suspension of disbelief as the daft gimmicks, particularly live TV ‘events’ like the one last night.
Haven’t they heard of food hygiene regulations in Walford?
Ok, it wasn’t nearly as excruciating as the first live episode with its fluffed lines, dropped props and Jake Wood (Max Branning) attempting to make himself retch by sticking two fingers down his throat- but it was still very silly.
What’s worse, it was a promotional tie-in.
EastEnders is a much-loved, previously dignified telly institution. It shouldn’t be dressed up like a show pony and trotted up and down to draw attention to the Olympics.
The first sign all was not well was a ludicrous 15 minute online ‘webisode’ called Billy’s Olympic Nightmare, starring a whole host of famous faces and sporting legends who (sorry, Kriss Akabusi) couldn’t act their way out of a paper bag.
It shouldn’t be dressed up like a show pony and trotted up and down to draw attention to the Olympics.
Then last night the entire official torch relay invaded Albert Square, accompanied by Olympic officials, grey-shirted Met Police chaperones, inexplicably altered weather and shaky camera work.
At least when the EastEnders cast appear in a sketch for Comic Relief it happens outside the normal filming schedule. Lenny Henry doesn’t suddenly pop up from behind the Queen Vic bar and start making suggestive jokes about Kat Moon’s cleavage.
Having real life events feature in a normal episode wipes the floor with the programme’s integrity, not to mention destroying any sense of escapism.
But that’s not even the most unbelievable thing about it all. Are we really meant to accept that Billy was chosen- on purpose, by people with eyes- to carry the torch? The man has a face like a disappointed Yoda.
Tune in tomorrow, when London 2012 mascot Wenlock will drop by Albert Square to deliver a lengthy public service announcement about Olympic-related road closures.
Hilary Wardle (@Hilary_W) is the editor of TV Jam and also writes for a number of other publications.
DO YOU THINK EASTENDERS' OLYMPIC EPISODE WAS CRINGEWORTHY? LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS BELOW
JOIN THE DEBATE ON TWITTER WITH THE HASHTAG #SOCIALVOICES
DO YOU WANT TO JOIN #SOCIALVOICES? WE'RE LOOKING FOR NEW WRITERS
Welcome to #socialvoices. This is the home of sharp writing, opinion and social debate on MSN. Jump into the comments, tweet us with the hashtag. Join in.