Deception is the name of the game in soap-land at the moment, with secrets kept, indiscretions revealed, and some occurrences which really ought to be illegal.
By the latter, I mean the relationship between Lloyd and Liz, in Coronation Street, for which I feel partly responsible. Every soap column I insisted on urging scriptwriters to give Lloyd something to do. Note, I didn’t say someone. But it’s too late to make that distinction now that he and Liz are cavorting around like a less aesthetically pleasing Romeo and Juliet, their love star-crossed, disapproved of and vaguely nauseating.
“You’re an O.A.Paedophile,” says Steve, which would usually endear him to me had he not become (temporarily, I hope) the least likeable man in soap. What has happened to Steve? Having slept with Becky behind Michelle’s back, Steve then tried to palm his girlfriend off on her band-mate J.D. When the truth was finally out, Michelle was devastated and disbelieving, unsurprisingly since it has been a bafflingly unlikely plotline from day one, with Steve turning, Jekyl and Hyde style, from a decent chap to an unfeeling Peter Barlow-esque shit.
“We’ve split up, no-one’s died” said Steve, practically clicking his heels as he left a shattered Michelle to pop to Dev’s for champagne to woo back Becky. True, nobody died, though being a young-ish male and in close proximity to Michelle, he’s lucky he didn’t cop it in a car crash. There’s still time.
Elsewhere in the street, Molly and Tyrone have finally tied the knot. Great news since they are clearly made for each other, by virtue of having exactly the same shaped heads. And no matter that she’s now called Molly Dobbs, which makes her sound like a rag and bone man’s best horse. Tyrone’s dodgy dealings went undisclosed on the big day so the wedding went like a dream, except the bit where Tyrone’s mum Jackie (played by the always inflammatory Margi Clarke) stole their honeymoon tickets to Paris.
Blanche is not a big fan of Jackie (“The last time I saw that harpy she called my best slacks ski pants”). Blanche is to Coronation Street what Timmy the Dog was to The Famous Five - she can sniff out a wrong ’un a mile away - so we should have known there would be trouble. But, fear not: Tyrone’s auntie Pam came to the rescue with a free week in a caravan ten minutes from Blackpool. “And no queues for the donkey rides!” said a not-terribly-difficult-to-please Tyrone. Molly Dobbs, your future is bright indeed. As long as you like phallic-shaped rock and gale force winds.
Over in Emmerdale, Val is lying to her son about his father’s health to prevent him from leaving the gloomy north to join the man he loves in Australia. Paul thinks Rodney has a heart condition, so won’t be best pleased to discover he’s as fit as a fiddle and it’s his mother’s integrity that’s in need of some CPR.
And there’s a new posh couple at Home Farm, Natasha (Amanda Donohoe) and Mark (Maxwell Caulfield) who, despite the headline-grabbing casting, are exactly the same as every other posh couple who have arrived in Emmerdale to date. I’m not saying that Emmerdale scriptwriters typecast the rich, but stick two brooms with glossy hair and Barbour jackets in the stables and wait for one of them to have an affair with a Dingle/ someone of the same sex/Katie Sugden and no viewer would be any the wiser. Could be a canny wage saving in these economically trying times, too.
Over in EastEnders, Denise has been on the verge of getting back together with old love Lucas, the father of her first child, Chelsea, to Chelsea’s joy; and displeasure; and joy; oh no, displeasure. Chelsea is a bit of a pain, stretching the difficult teenager role to its very limits. What is she now, thirty? Grow up and get a job, woman.
Mind you, Diane is just as bad. Watching Lucas trying to woo Diane was like watching a man trying to cuddle a ball of barbed wire. The problem? Lucas is a religious man. “The God stuff is really going to get on my nerves,” Diane explains. Wait ’til you get to the underpants on the floor stuff and the declining to clean the bathroom stuff; you’ll be praying for Songs of Praise repeats. Still, Godly though he clearly is, Lucas forgot to mention, in his proposal, the small matter of his already being married. “What is this, build your own harem?” asked Denise at 200 decibels. Good job he’s religious. He’ll need the patience of a saint there.
In other, less-than-holy goings on, a “massage parlour” has opened up in the Square and the men of Walford have immediately discovered they’ve got some very tense muscles indeed. The massage parlour, all cheap pink paint and neon signs, seems like the early sign of an apocalypse. First a loosely camouflaged brothel, next people cracking each other’s skulls open and feasting on the gooey insides. Well, that’s the gist according to Peggy Mitchell, anyway, who went on the warpath in a fluffy white hat and jacket ensemble, like a particularly irate snowball, haranguing a young “masseuse” who looks like a young Stacey Slater.
The old Stacey Slater has been coping with yet more family problems, with her mum, Jean, in a psychotic decline, as signified by her pink fluffy dressing gown and her thousand yard stare. Lacey Turner (Stacey) is a brilliant actress, so watching her try to keep her mum from professional care was particularly poignant.
In a bid to rouse her from her depressed torpor, Stacey baked her mum a birthday cake. As she blew out the candle, Jean said: “I wish I’d never had kids. I wish I’d never been born. I wish I was dead.” Not the time, I fear, to bring out the party poppers and crack on with the conga. And indeed, Jean went on to celebrate the occasion by lying down in front of a line of slow moving traffic before locking herself in the house and swallowing a handful of pills. She was last seen being carted away by the authorities to somewhere they don’t let you stick knives in toasters whilst standing in a puddle. Still, at least she’ll miss the apocalypse.