COUCH POTATO: ‘Miserable and fanciful’ Eastenders a soap copycat

Max is on trial - accused of tampering with Carl's car
Max is on trial - accused of tampering with Carl's car

Quite the month it’s been down in the jolly old gold-paved streets of Walford.

Michael Moon’s met his maker. Jack’s jumped ship.

Dennis’s demonic transformation into Damien from The Omen is coming along nicely.

And Bianca’s back with a bald boyfriend and the last thing this soap needs – two more snotty-nosed brats.

As for any semblance of realism, you’re really looking in the wrong place. It’s EastEnders, for heaven’s sake.

We’re still no closer to anybody hearing of such a thing as an electronic bank transfer, with everyone walking around with envelopes stuffed with wads of cash.

Lucy Beale, having discovered Danny was penniless and shacked up in an unrented bare bedsit, didn’t think it odd when he opened his wallet and offered a bribe to buy her silence, presumably with Monopoly money.

Lauren and Abi, with dad Max in prison facing trial, a 10-grand legal bill, the electricity company poised to cut off their supply and loan sharks threatening to seize the Brannings’ worldly possessions, haven’t thought it might, just might, be a good idea to tell their oblivious off-screen mum Tanya exactly what the heck is going on.

And that was before their cousin Alice was wrongfully thrown in the slammer for murdering Michael.

So I’d echo Lauren’s sentiment: “I just wish I could see an end in sight.”

No such luck, I fear.

Not when the latest arrival from Manchester, Bi’s cabbie beau Tel – played by comedian Terry Alderton who was last seen on BBC1 cross-dressing as Tina Turner and gurning like Popeye having a stroke, for Let’s Dance For Sport Relief – has magically circumvented the requirements for acquiring a London hackney carriage licence.

Overnight he’s apparently gained the relevant medical certificates and CRB checks and memorised every nook and cranny of the capital’s labyrinth of highways to pass The Knowledge with flying colours.

It’s Michael’s murder, though, sensitively broken by Carol to Joey in a shouting match, that’s really sent this show doolally.

And not just because the prosecution’s chief and only witness Janine has been allowed to visit Alice, the girl she’s pinned the crime on, in jail.

A soap murder is always a ratings winner and it’s already given new executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins, who has the unenviable task of scraping this show from the gutter, a sorely-needed boost.

It doesn’t deserve it, however, for one simple reason.

Take the storyline – woman strikes baddie with a weapon and is charged with murder despite the fact she didn’t deliver the fatal blow, someone else did moments later.

If that sounds familiar, you probably watched Emmerdale’s 40th anniversary live episode.

Simply replace BBC1’s Michael, Alice and Janine with ITV’s Carl, Chas and Cameron.

You see EastEnders is not only miserable and fanciful, it’s now lazily copying the soap that’s overtaken it creatively and ratings-wise.

Perhaps, then, AJ Ahmed was on to something when suggesting a radical course of action to avoid telling Dot the charity football team had lost the £4,000 (cash in an envelope, of course) for her church roof appeal.

“There is another option. We all move to Pakistan and live out the rest of our days there.”

Take that idea to the next production meeting, will you?

Never know. The cast and crew might go for it.


How do you define “bravery”?

Here’s UN worker Peter MacKay on C4’s horrific but heroic No Fire Zone exposé of Sir Lanka’s killing fields who, at great personal risk, defied an evacuation order to help civilians shelled by their own government.

“We sustained a barrage of mortar attack. The body of a young woman landed on top of me. She had been decapitated and most of her torso and legs torn apart by shrapnel. And I had a sense I was waiting to die.”

And here’s X Factor’s Sharon Osbourne to Abi Alton: “That was a very, very brave song choice. It was a brave arrangement. It’s very brave of you as an artist to come on this show. So you’re a very brave girl.”

Yes, Abi. Very, very brave.


This week’s Berk Misusing The Word “Literally” award goes to...

This Morning limpet Rylan Clark: “Nicole (Scherzinger) was literally on fire on Saturday night.”

No. She literally wasn’t.


Those C4 Bigfoot Files DNA results of alleged Yeti sightings in full.

Week 1, Himalayas – A polar bear.

Week 2, USA – three black bears, two cows, two dogs, one deer, a horse, one racoon and a porcupine. An actual porcupine mistaken for Sasquatch itself.

Week 3, Russia – Two horses, one brown bear, a cow, a piece of glass fibre and the series’ greatest finding, a human being. Yep, a person.

File’s closed.


BBC1 daytime quiz show Pressure Pad host John Barrowman to a contestant: “Danny, do you like music?”

Danny: “I’ve got your three albums.”

I’ll take that as a “No” then.


KABOOM! Rocks smash together in the early solar system to form Earth.

And there, in the centre of the swirling cloud of dust, atop what appears to be The Day Today’s travel pod looming a mile above the desert, is the least suitable presenter for a BBC science documentary.

It’s Richard Hammond Builds A Planet, which of course he didn’t, unless you count the CGI effects.

He did, though, bag the latest licence-fee-funded freebie, to Florida, South Dakota, Texas and a helicopter ride over Arizona’s Badlands.

Tonight he builds a universe. Try claiming that on expenses.


This week’s Spudulikes go to...

Graham Norton’s reliably awesome guest list practically mooning at Jonathan Ross’s week after week.

Never Mind The Buzzcocks guest hosts Rizzle Kicks completely owning mug-smashing grumpy pants Huey Morgan, from Fun Lovin’ Criminals.

Frank Skinner giving The One Show’s Matt Baker and Alex Jones a glimpse of their obscure digital TV destiny, discussing his Sky Arts 1 show Portrait Artist of the Year: “You should watch it. You’ll see your future stretched out ahead of you.”

And this unprecedented moment of honesty about a BBC junket, by David Dimbleby who fannied around in his sailing boat for new series Britain and the Sea...

Alex Jones: “Was this basically a jolly?”

Dimbleby: “Yeah, of course it was.”


This week’s Spuduhates go to...

Homeland infuriatingly disappearing up its own funnel permanently.

The fact The Nation’s Favourite Elvis Song wasn’t Oliver’s Army. (Oh, THAT Elvis.)

Watchdog wasting everyone’s time revealing Mary Berry’s salad dressings are quite sugary.

Newsnight misspelling High Pay Centre director “Debroah” Hargreaves.

And ITV dimwits entrusting Remembrance Day’s two-minute silence on crazy, wacky, zany Sunday Side Up. (Swap Shop with the world’s biggest hangover.)

Because nothing says “honouring fallen heroes” more than Stephen Mulhern introducing a clip of a dad dancing in a bra, does it?


X Factor’s imploding, the Flash Vote’s a disaster and Nicole Scherzinger, occasionally, strings two words together.

Still, Nicolas McDonald, who last weekend “pulled off Michael Jackson”, has thus far received these Louis Walsh plaudits...

80s week: “You’re what this show is all about.”

Love week: “You’re what this show is all about.”

And Movie Week: “You’ve got a natural recording voice...”

Hmm, nice change...

“... and that’s what this show is all about.”


Sky Sports F1’s Martin Brundle on seeing The Hoff waving to camera at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: “When was the last time David Hasselhoff didn’t notice he was on television?”

When his daughter filmed him in a drunken stupor trying to eat a cheeseburger on his bathroom floor?