BBC1, Tuesday 25th December
Let’s face it, Christmas day viewing has never truly come to pass until the final drum beats of the second instalment of Eastenders have gloomily resounded, sealing the dismal fate of some dumb-struck individual. This year saw Tanya Branning fall to the bottom of the stairs as her cheat of a husband Max wrestled her for the suitcase to stop her from leaving him. And what a sensational final chapter of the year-long story it was! There were raised voices and insults, tears and home-truths, bloodshed when Bradley walloped his devious father for sleeping with his wife and shattered dreams all round as the family fell apart. True to form, smiles were few and far between. But surely, this is what Soap Land Christmas stories are all about. After a belly-full of turkey and bucks fizz, who really wants the nausea of the Brady Bunch infiltrating their household?
And after all, there’s nothing like a dose of festive TV misery to bring together the happy souls and the discontented at Christmas time. One need only look around their own family-filled living room to witness the self-satisfied smile on the face of little sister as she sits, eyes glazed, comforted in the belief that her life is nothing like this – she is going to grow up, get married and live happily ever after – or, listen to the matter-of-fact tutting from aunty while munching cashew nuts and shaking her head at the over-dramatization of it all. And of course there are the forlorn relatives clutching their mulled wine, whose faces, haunted by compassion for the doomed character betray a little yuletide melancholy. All wonderfully united by an Albert Square drama!
A time for giving, Eastenders certainly provided a neatly wrapped revelation for viewers this Christmas Day. Who knows, maybe all cob-webs have been blown away for a refreshing start to the New Year. Maybe all is best out in the open and there’ll be no serious repercussions. Going by the programme’s ability to string out their storylines however, maybe not.
By Susan Allen