Christmas can be murder. Janine's certainly was

EastEnders Christmas Logo - Jane Reynolds's weekly 'Queen Vic Corner' reviewYou can hear me talking Soaps 10.30-11.00 am every Thursday on Swindon (or simply use the tunein Radio App) and on my LIVE internet Soap Show 6.00-6.45 every Monday on Tellyspy (also available as podcasts on iTunes. Just key in ‘Soapy Corners’. Monday 30th Dec’s is No. 12 – Series 2 Ep 5 and has a LOT about EastEnders!)

One tiny new life; new beginnings; doors (and closets) opening and cell doors slamming shut.

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 15.10.17It’s a big post. I’ve got A LOT to say …

Christmas can be murder. Janine’s certainly was. It might take a while, but (like with Emmerdale’s Carl) Soap ‘baddies’ will always get their comeuppance in the end. Janine’s performance over the last few weeks has been gripping, and Charlie Brooks is definitely going out on a high.

I’d written of my concerns that in a year when we’d already lost two of the show’s finest cast (Tanya and Zainab), would the departure of one of the show’s remaining few truly good actors be enough to seal EastEnders’ fate?

I’d stopped watching for the best part of 2013 as I simply couldn’t continue to sit through what had turned into – let’s face it – absolute drivel.

Happy days are here again – hopefully

EastEnders appeared to be in terminal decline. Ratings were plummeting (a fact even finally conceded by the Soap Awards), but – boy – WHAT a difference the new producer and his team have made.

I’ve slated Kat Slater and moaned about Alfie Moon, but – incredibly – I’m now officially ‘back in love’ with the show, and have to admit that over this Christmas week, EastEnders has absolutely nailed it (although not having Dexter in it’s been a factor. PLEASE get rid of this character … oh, and no more East End gangsta stuff, ok?) and has been ‘top of the Soaps’ for me.

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 13.55.26After all I’ve said in this blog about Kat and Alfie having lost credibility as a couple; seeing them over this last month or so has felt genuinely uplifting, and the joyous look on both their faces over the pregnancy test had me filling-up. It couldn’t have looked more real. Glorious acting.

I loved the way Kat delivered the line: “It might be a little speck of dust,” (a brilliant impersonation of ‘Little Britain’s’ Marjorie Dawes there!). A new baby and finally getting them out of the pub is a master stroke.

Out with the old and in with the new!

There’s two words I often have to use in this blog: ‘realistic’ and ‘credible’. Storylines are often stretched WAY beyond levels of realism and credibility you’d encounter in even your wildest dreams, and Mick and Linda’s arrival at the Queen Vic is a case in point.

IMG_2838Last week we saw them running a pub in Watford. How could they just walk out of there at the busiest time of year (wouldn’t they have had to work their notice?) and rock up in Walford – on Boxing Day – with no possessions (apart from a dog), and with Mick only having had a fifteen-minute-warning from Phil, and getting the keys (no paperwork?!) after handing over a big bag of cash only a few hours earlier?

AS IF … but I’ll let that one go, as I think they’re great! Mick and Linda seem to have real chemistry and – to me – have already made the Vic their own. Linda looks like Roxy and Bianca’s love child, and I can’t wait to see her stamp her mark on the place.

IMG_2828This ‘long-lost’ family’s come out of nowhere. Anything that gets Shirley back on our screens is alright by me though, but Linda’s right: “You put her behind the bar; people’ll run a mile.”

I’ve always loved Shirley, but this double act with Tina works like a dream. A big ‘Gold Star’ to the casting person who put this family together. Even the dog suits them. Loving it!

Shortest reconciliaton in history?

IMG_2876Carol and David are also riveting to watch, but I was gutted to see their touching reconciliation over faster than you could shout, ‘Don’t put that phone there, you fool’!

I’ll say it again: Lindsay Coulson’s a fine actress, and even though it’s another Soap cancer storyline I’ll be glued to my screen for this one.

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 13.50.28“I’d like my mum and dad and everyone I love to be in the same house to open all our presents together,” ‘Spud’ had asked. Be careful what you wish for, young Rosie.

Her wish came true, but probably NOT in the way she’d have imagined! It was all hugely entertaining, and it was as if Peggy Mitchell herself was in the room when Bianca cried: “Get ‘aht of my ‘ahhse.”

‘Spud’ is a good little actress. She and Tiffany are great together, and Bianca’s impression of Nikki was hilarious (“I’d like to show her the nearest exit.”), as was her outfit. Did she get dressed in the dark, or had she had one too many sherbets by then? I do hope she’s going to take Terry back …

The other bits:

Yet again, there was SO much Appropriate/Inappropriate Music in the Background in this week’s episodes that it could have had a post to itself, but I just haven’t had the time to be able to list them as I’ve been far too busy scribbling down the one-liners.

Just LOOK how many Grins of the Week: we’ve got! Did you ever think you’d see the day when EastEnders would give us anything more than a couple of feeble offerings? Let’s just hope that this new-found hilarity is here to stay. Daisy Coulson’s episodes have helped breathe new life into the show, and the humour seems to be rubbing off on the other writers too (excluding Sharon Marshall, of course – whose occasional episodes always provide us with wall-to-wall belly laughs!).

I’ve even had to miss a few out or I’d still be writing by this time next week! Enjoy:

ianPeter: “All I’m saying is maybe it’s time you buried the hatchet.”

Ian: “What, in Phil Mitchell’s head?”

Ian: Behold. I bring you tidings of great joy.”

Phil: “You about to tell me you’re up the duff or something?”

Mo: “I bet you a fiver there’s tears before midnight.”

Alfie: “Shut up, you dopey cow. Last time I cried was when West Ham was relegated back in May 2011. Why don’t you choke on a pickled onion or something?”

IMG_2837Ronnie: “Where are you going?”

Roxy: “Sales.”

Ronnie: “And you have to tiptoe to those, do you?”

Tiffany: “How come they get to open their presents and we don’t?”

Whitney: “Because they are what you call ‘The product of a broken home’.”

Tiffany: “So are we.”

DeniseDenise: “You’re freaking me out now.”

Patrick: “You know what you need?”

Denise: “A stiff drink?”

Mick: “If you’re going to be mad, be mad at me.”

Linda: “I am mad at you.”

Mick: “I mean like, ‘chucking cups and plates’ mad.”

Linda: “Well, how about a frying pan round the head?”

IMG_2831Shirley: “It’s going to be a gay bar.”

Billy: “Yeah, right (!)”

Shirley: “I’ve seen the plans. There’s lots of little rainbow flags, they’re going to paint it pink and there’s loads of drawings of these oiled-up men suspended in cages.”

Billy: “But that’s my local.”

Shirley: “It’ll still be your local. You’ll just have to ‘oil up’, Billy.”

Billy: “Gays are taking over.”

BillyAlfie: “What? The world?”

Billy: “No. Here. The Vic.”

Denise: “I wonder if he’s gone for platinum or gold?”

Patrick: “This is Ian we’re talking about, you know?”

Denise: “Fair play. Be lucky if it ain’t an onion ring.”

Billy: “Don’t look like a gay bar, does it?”

Terry: “How many you been in, then?”


Whitney: “Nothing says ‘Christmas’ like burning stuff in a bucket, does it?”

Shirley: “I brought a little something for us to celebrate with.”

Mick: “Ah, that’s lovely, that is.”

Linda: “Shall we open it now, before it goes stale?”

Mo: “I got a surprise too.”

Kat: “No you ain’t.”

Sharon: “You want to get in there now, do you?” You should have thought of that.”

Shirley: “How about I use your head to open that door?”


* Remember Alfie saying ‘he didn’t give drinks on the house’ a couple of weeks ago? Yeah, well he was at it again this week. Honestly; it’d be more of a shock if someone actually PAID for a drink in that place.

IMG_2829* Mo said to Peter, “Ain’t you got big! When you’re done, son, I’ll give you a little rub down.” She’ll have to get in line!

* Max coming the moral highground with Jake’s a bit rich, innit? Forgotten about Stacey then, ‘av ‘ya?

* Five rolls of wrapping paper for £5? On an East End market stall? You’re ‘avin a larff, ain’t ya? That’s way too much, Kat!

* Joey asked Lauren to leave with him (and his one small holdall). “I’ll be at the station in ten minutes,” he told her. Who on earth could pack in ten minutes? She’d barely have had time to run home for her coat in that time. He should have given her an hour at the VERY least. ‘Realism’ and ‘credibility’

* Speaking of which: how did they get the new name plate up so fast? Mick only bought the place on Christmas Day night, and even that was only on a fifteen minute warning from Phil, so hadn’t even been guaranteed to get it. Which sign maker is open on Christmas Day night? (Realism … Credibility … )

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 14.10.04* Notice how Bianca said she was about to ‘dish up’ but was still peeling carrots?

* HOW many lights? Is Walford Borough Council made of money?

* Talking of lights: want to take a light off the wall but don’t have a screwdriver? Just get Janine in. She’ll rip it out for you in a flash. Don’t worry about the wiring/electrics. She’s clearly fully insulated!

* Sharon said she wouldn’t let Cousin ITT go in the Army. Don’t worry love; they wouldn’t want anything to do with that barnet.

* “That little girl is the only person in the world who doesn’t hate you,” David told Janine. Give her time.

IMG_2843* I see Amy’s back to her ‘mute’ self. Saying three words in a row (‘Mummy, mummy, mummy’) last month clearly took it out of her.


* How did Kat and Alfie manage to go from not having even started packing to being packed and moving out in the space of only a couple of hours?

* I’ve read a bit of criticism of Danny Dyer online over the last few days. He’s known for playing ‘ard men, apparently, but as I don’t watch stuff like that I’ve never seen him in anything before so – luckily – I’m starting with a blank page, and (on the evidence so far) I’d say he’s definitely exploring his feminine side!



Since I started writing this post I’ve read that Charlie Brooks has been criticised for dismissing the Christmas Day ratings as ‘irrelevant’ (after EastEnders was beaten by Coronation Street). She pointed out that each soap, ‘Goes up and down’.

Many have dismissed her comments as ‘sour grapes’ but she’s right. Nobody’s been a bigger critic of EastEnders than me over the last 12-18 months. It’s been on one hell of a ‘down’, but is on the ‘up’ again and – in my opinion – the Christmas Day episode knocked the spots off Corrie’s, but its recent history is what led to its disappointing viewing figures, and I hope that everybody who DIDN’T watch it will now go straight onto iPlayer for a catch up or they’ll have missed a treat.


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