EastEnders: Where is it all going wrong?
As viewers switch off in their droves, the much-loved stars take lengthy sabbaticals and the executive producer does a runner (no doubt back to the much younger, much leggier Chester), we beg the question: What’s gaing on daaaan Saaauth?
After 27 years spent celebrating cockney criminal activity, numerous mantle-worthy gongs and ratings to delight the pockets of producers the world over, 'Enders appears to have, shall we say, lost its way. Ratings for the show - which in its heyday managed to pull in 30 million unsuspecting Brits - have plummeted to just under 6 million. Which, to clarify, means it’s only a matter of time before the great British public decide they’d rather watch Made In Chelsea. Or Bizarre ER. Or Beautician and the Beast.
And it’s not just the viewers legging it. Even the stars are on the off. Dot Cotton, Janine Butcher, Bianca and Carol Jackson, Kat Slater and Tania Branning have all gone on/are going on extended leave. Even ‘Enders veteran Adam ‘Ian Beale’ Woodyatt left this week. And, let’s face it, we all questioned his ability to seek employment elsewhere. Just how long before the beloved Albert Square sign is scrawled with graffiti bearing the legend: Abandon all hope ye who enter here?
So why are we as a nation so ‘over’ ‘Enders? Let’s take a lookie, shall we?
1. Brian Kirkwood.
Come on, own up. Which bright spark decided it would be winning to replace the much-loved Deidrick Santer with a man who cites Hollyoaks as the most impressive word on his CV? A show so ludicrous and poorly acted that it should have stayed on the wrong side of the watershed. At least then we could see some nudity, and ‘ooooh’ every time they used a lower-tiered swear word.
As any ‘Oaks’ producer would, Kirkwood took one look at the dreary, wrong-side-of-30 (and not a bit dirty…unless you count Kat) cast and decided it needed sexing up. Stat. So he axed the more robust Pat and Heather and introduced Vanessa, Jodie and Lola, while engineering the return of Sam Mitchell and Mandy Salter. All blonde. All slutty. Enough said.
2. The storylines
The baby-kidnap debacle was perhaps the most far-fetched, most offensive storyline to date and, some would argue, the turning point. Or should that be turning off point. Over 10,000 complaints were logged - mostly from us gals who weren’t too flattered by the notion that all post-natal women are basically baby-starved wing nuts. Then, there’s the recent Ben Mitchell Kills Heather Trott storyline, a tale so implausible that we considered staging our own murder to show the producers how it's done.
3. The new characters
The new characters are so dislikeable and annoying, they make us want to chew off our own arm in frustration. We haven’t shouted that much at the telly since Celebrity Love Island. There’s the dreary Moon brothers: Tyler, who looks like a perpetually bemused Ewok; Anthony, just one more gullible, moronic step away from Family Guy‘s Chris; and Michael, who reminds us a lot of Skeletor, but is far less menacing. And don’t even get us started on Derek Branning, who’s about as ‘gangster’ as a 5IVE rap.
The new producer would do well to axe all the aforementioned characters - and Fatboy (please god, somebody just shut him up. BBBRRRRRRUUUUPPPP) - and bring back some old-faithful, much-loved faces. Grant Mitchell, for one, would have us tuning back in in record time. Jane Beale, ditto. Always liked Jane, we did. And SHARON! Although, Sharon Watts AKA Letitia Dean has been confirmed as making a comeback this year, which is great, but whether or not she’ll actually KNOW any of the existing cast by that point remains to be seen.
We soap fans can only hope that some fresh outlook and inspired thinking in the production team will bring ‘Enders back to the glory days of gone. But at the mo, it’s not looking likely.