Couch Potato on love triangles and forgotten sexuality in Eastenders

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OUR web columnist takes a wry look at the week’s TV:

What a summer it’s been down in the merry old land of Walford.

Kirsty Branning is in a love triangle with Max and Carl.

Alfie’s in a love triangle with Kat and Roxy.

Janine’s in a love triangle with Michael and Danny, who was last seen in a love triangle with Christian and Syed and has subsequently forgotten he’s gay.

And, by the gods of originality, Lauren’s in a love triangle with Joey and Whitney, whose ex Tyler left Albert Square because he couldn’t stomach a love triangle with Whitney and Joey.

Such is the rich variety on EastEnders where, in the space of a week, Max was hoping that if he and Kirsty: “Can’t be together, we can still be mates,” and, by contrast, Whit was hoping if she and Tyler: “Can’t be together, we can still be mates.”

If I didn’t know better, I’d say the writers have zero imagination.

Unfortunately, I don’t know better.

It’s like watching a dog chase its tail, two hours every week.

So there was no explanation for alcoholic Lauren returning from six weeks inside a rehab clinic with a perfect tan, or Carl dipping into what must be a fortune to book another month at the B&B, like Alan Partridge outstaying his welcome at the Travel Tavern.

Neither is there any foreseeable break in the unrelenting conveyor belt of misery.

Current resident baddie Carl has threatened to end Max’s relationship with Kirsty on September 3.

I checked the calendar and, would you believe, against astronomical odds it happens to be an EastEnders night.

No, really.

The one saving grace this show has going for it, however, is Michael Moon.

He may not be spending as much time as he used to in that super-villain armchair of doom, but he’s delivering the only decent lines.

“There’s a yawning chasm between you and me, Daniel.”

“If he’s going to be in Scarlett’s home environment, it would be sagacious.”

“She can be like that. Mercurial.”

I can only assume he has word-of-the-day toilet paper.

And a high-fibre diet.

It will be hard for any soap this year to top his description of singles night (in broad daylight, incidentally) at the R&R as: “Munters’ Ball.”

But here’s the real tragedy about EastEnders.

Its abject lack of imagination has turned every female into a bossy, man-despising mare (Denise: “Men, eh? Just weak, pathetic creatures,”) and every male into either a spineless, powder-puff pushover or a scheming lowlife.

Or both.

And it means Michael goes almost unnoticed as one of the great soap characters, having to work doubly hard to stand out from the rest of the bunch.

It’s one of the reasons it has slipped behind Emmerdale into third place in the ratings and a rational explanation for the show’s solitary gong at the British Soap Awards – Adam Woodyatt’s long-service company medal.

Those bruises it’s been nursing can heal if only they’d learn, 28 years later, how to create more than three types of character, reduce the number of weekly episodes (less is more, dimwits) and to inject some fun that doesn’t revolve around slapstick irritants like Fatboy.

It’s a forlorn hope though.

As Poppy told him on Friday night: “Now is not the time for frivolity.”

Is it flippin’ ever?


Day 58, 1.47pm, narrator Marcus Bentley has this update: “Joe and Jack are worrying about their hairspray.”

Yes, as you can tell, Big Brother is reaching a pulsating finale tomorrow night.

To a man and woman they’ve been the most hideous, self-absorbed, hateful, fame-hungry, throat-grabbing bunch of nobodies it’s ever been my displeasure to witness.

So no, it hasn’t been a bad series at all.

It’s been milked to death though.

As twin Joe/Jack said: “If I do go I’ve had great fun. But when you reach your sell-by date, you reach your sell-by date.”

That’s Big Brother, best before July 11, 2003, when the entire show lost its purpose and evicted housemate Jon Tickle was allowed back in.

So let it go, Channel 5.


The title, Crazy About One Direction, suggested an in-depth look at Caroline Flack being sectioned.

What C4 gave us, however, was 60 absolutely bloody terrifying minutes following the boyband’s superfans/stalkers/trainee bunny-boilers.

Most charming of all was a girl airing her opinion of Harry Styles’ ex Taylor Swift: “If I saw her now I would rip all her hair out and squeeze her eyeballs out.”

Another revealed the lengths she’d go if the lads asked: “I wouldn’t kill a puppy but I’d probably kill a cat.”

Her friend: “That’s horrible.”

“Okay. A dog then.”

So you can’t accuse 1D’s fans of being unstable, deranged psychopaths.

Not safe to.


This week’s The One Show Question of the Week award goes to...

Alex Jones: “Why did you set your new sitcom Big School around a staffroom?”

David Walliams: “Because it’s about teachers.”


Paul O’Grady on BBC1’s Working Britain: “Working class wasn’t just about weeing outdoors.”

Someone should have really told Monty Panesar.


More fun and frolics at celebrities’ expense on week two of That Puppet Game Show, with a much-improved backstage storyline featuring the series’ breakout star, The Amazing Ian the armadillo.

But seeing as it’s divided the crowd, let me address all those using the throwaway criticism: “It’s not as good as The Muppet Show.”

I have most of those 1970s episodes on DVD and, I can assure you, it had its fair share of mediocrity.

You’re looking at it through Miss Piggy-coloured spectacles.


The One Show’s Matt Baker to Will Young: “You’ve had quite a long time off. What have you been doing?”

“My compost. I’ve become obsessed with my compost heap.”

Though it’s not yet known if that’s the official title of his new album.


This week’s Couch Potato Spudulikes...

The England v Scotland thriller at Wembley (next year Hampden Park, surely).

Catherine Tate shining in BBC1’s likable Big School.

ITV’s intelligently handled My Dwarf Family showing C4 how to do this kind of documentary.

Steve Cram’s commentary, Mo Farah’s heroics and Christine Ohuruogu’s podium tears on BBC’s World Athletics Championships.

This jaw-dropping exchange moments before Deal or No Deal landed its first male quarter millionaire...

Noel Edmonds: “Paddy. £140,000. Deal or no deal?” “No deal.”

And these career-defining words from QVC shopping channel’s Debbie Flint: “The wonderful Trinny and Susannah are joining us for this next hour.

“So if you’re watching us live right now, at midnight, we’d love your comments.”

I very much doubt that.


This week’s Couch Potato Spuduhates...

Jeremy Paxman’s disturbing Newsnight beard.

Sob stories, tears and “journeys” invading Dragons’ Den.

The oh-so-modest man behind Peter Jones Enterprise, the Peter Jones Foundation, Peter Jones TV and BBC2’s Peter Jones Meets accusing a budding entrepreneur who named a hot water bottle after himself of being “egotistical”.

This Morning “TV expert” Brian Dowling with this mind-blowing insight into That Puppet Game Show: “I didn’t see it, Eamonn, but I believe you’ve seen a bit of it.”

And Celebrity MasterChef’s Shappi Khorsandi serving polenta with this hunger-stifling explanation: “I’ve never made placenta before.”

I’ll just have the bill, thanks.


A new Jane McDonald makeover show starts on ITV tomorrow.

So I’m leaving the country until it’s over.

Column returns in three weeks.