Review: Failed brides and bike rides in the Soaps Special

There is a place where the women are blonde and free with their favours. Sadly, this wonderful land exists only in the tiny minds of scriptwriters.

Regular viewers will have noticed that Britain’s leading soaps have for some time been engaged in social commentary if not social engineering in addition to chasing the ratings with outrageous plots. We have seen spousal abuse - including female on male for the politically correct; rape; incest; drug addiction; and two kidney transplants in EastEnders alone, one very recent.

Now alas it is time to return to the lowest common denominator, which in the first instance means sex, of the heterosexual kind, fortunately.

In the mythical village of Emmerdale, lord of the manor Declan is falling apart at the seams. His second wife having left him, he has taken to beating his sister. Well, he’s slapped her twice so far, but it looks like she won’t be hanging around long enough to feel his left hook.

Declan’s second wife, the somewhat younger Katie, has also been married twice. Now, totally estranged from Declan, the girl with the long blonde hair and a passion for horses may not be academically inclined, but she does have a PhD in men. How humiliating then that she is bedded - well, sofa’d actually - for a bet, and only a £20 bet at that. It wouldn’t have been quite so bad if the guy who lost the bet hadn’t walked in on them and insisted on paying the victor.

Over in Coronation Street, there is considerably more money at stake as the estranged son of Weatherfield’s terminally ill trans-sexual turns up and using emotional blackmail screws £5,000 out of her - his father - to pay off some unspecified debts. In addition to her inoperable cancer, Hayley has the misfortune to be married to the most boring man in Manchester, and arguably Britain, but in a recent episode Roy Cropper revealed hidden depths when he was shown with his vinyl collection, which included a copy of - get this - the Deep Purple Concerto For Group And Orchestra. If you are too young to remember or even to have heard of vinyl, check out the remastered version on YouTube. Ah, those were the days. RIP Jon.

Dying aside, hairdresser David Platt has tried to win back his estranged wife to no avail, and now, not for the first time he is beginning to think he has nothing to live for. The brevity of his marriage is about the only thing he has in common with Emmerdale’s Declan Macey, but it is a coin flip which of them will reach rock bottom first.

Finally, over in EastEnders, the peroxide blonde Roxy has suffered the indignity of being dumped not at the altar but immediately after her marriage, like in the church, as the biggest plumb in London’s East End trades her in for an older model, a woman whom he has already divorced, and who gave birth to another man’s child while they were still married.

Although Roxy has never been as free with her favours as her rival, she has just ended up being bedded by - well, bedding actually - one of Albert Square’s villains, the man the scriptwriters were leading us to believe had murdered a blonde of a much older vintage.

Alas, Shirley has recently turned up alive, even though she could just about pass for one of the walking dead. One good thing does appear to have come of this plot though, Jessie Wallace is set to abandon her role as the sluttish Kat Slater/Moon for the stage. Wallace, who trained at The Poor School, will appear alongside Gary Kemp in the Lionel Bart musical Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be, having previously played Marie Lloyd better than Lloyd ever did herself. A far less enticing fate awaits Steve McFadden who plays the poor man’s Ronnie Kray in the same soap, he will be appearing in the pantomime Peter Pan as Captain Hook. And he also gets to turn on the Christmas lights in Croydon. As Frank Zappa said at the end of Wet T-Shirt Nite: “Ain’t this what living is really all about?”

[The above review was first published December 11, 2013; the original wasn’t archived.]

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