Lawks a mercy. Gary Hobbs is missing, presumed “brown bread.”
After his puppy dog love for Dawn remains unrequited, Gary goes AWOL and when his car is found by a well known suicide spot, the residents of the Square waste no time in organising a wake. “Two men have proposed to me and now they’re both dead,” says Dawn, hopefully not sketching out her next personals ad. Gary is actually just working on bloating that head a little more, sipping Stella in France, and returns to Walford just in time to hear Dawn say she loves him. But does she love him with a pulse?
She asks Shirley for advice. Why do so many people go to Shirley for romantic advice? It’s like going to Ian Beale for how to win friends or seeking hair styling tips from Phil Mitchell. Anyway, the conclusion is that Gary is ‘magnolia’: “Clean dependable, a little bit stupid.” Dawn decides neutral décor is exactly what she needs and agrees to be Gary’s girlfriend. Odds on she’ll be redecorating within the month.
Speaking of Ian Beale, he’s heading for the big 40 and it’s turning him into Rimmer from Red Dwarf - all officious odiousness. Well, even more so than usual. New Christian chippy employee Lucas is appalled by Ian’s lack of morality: chucking out vagrants, wanting to market chips at kids on their way to school etc. “It’s the fat kids of this world who have made me what I am today,” says Ian, ever the poster boy for Thatcher’s children. Another, more disturbing symptom of Ian’s imminent birthday is him whispering kinky requests in Jane’s ear. Apparently, he wants a pole dance, although the way she bolted out of the door, you’d have thought he’d asked her to bump up his bottom line.
Over on Corrie, Ken is conducting one of his intellectual non-affairs with actress Martha (Stephanie Beecham). Poor Deidre: Martha’s all clipped vowels and houseboats whilst Deidre is all startled tortoise and resentful hoovering. Ken, who has omitted to tell Martha that Deidre actually exists, was all set to watch his new lady friend perform onstage when Deidre announces that she’s invited Harold and Maud, sorry, I mean Liz and Lloyd over for dinner. It was, naturally, a wholly excruciating affair, and not soley because Liz turned up in zebra print over black lace. Subtlety, thy name is McDonald.
Carla has run away to L.A leaving psychotic husband Tony distraught. “L.A, I wish I had somewhere like that to run away to,” says Michelle, who has to brush up against duplicitous ex Steve every time she wants a quarter of chewing nuts from the Kabin. Question: is Steve going to wear that unhappy grimace for the rest of his screen life? If so, I am going to have to start praying that he gets hit by a Ring&Ride.
At last, though, the tables are turning on Tony. It has been pointed out too recently that Tony has one gigantic eye and now, whenever he’s on screen, I can’t look at anything else. Is it glass? Not that there’s anything wrong with glass eyes. I adore Columbo. But it is rather unexpected and just a tad sinister.
Anyway, with Carla away Tony is making the factory staff’s lives hell until new Street tottie Luke Strong (Craig Kelly from Queer as Folk) turns up to take over running the business on behalf of Carla. He’s brilliant – laid back, cocky, a total smart arse: “Me and Carla go back a bit” he tells Tony, who eyeballs him furiously. And let’s face it, he’s overqualified for the job.
Meanwhile, Ashley’s trainee Graeme pretended that his butcher’s hat was possessed by the spirit of Ashley’s dad, Fred, and every time he wore it, he repeated himself. I say, he repeated himself. You get the drift. Ashley was not impressed. “I don’t like being made a fool of,” he says, which must mean constant upset, what with that voice.
Over in Emmerdale, Chastity Dingle is doing a Dawn and has decided that Paddy really is the man for her. “He’s got a good sense of humour, good with animals and old people,” agrees Katie dubiously, possibly reading from Paddy’s last personals ad. After Paddy gets a bit macho with Chas’ ex, Carl, the Dingle is convinced that he’s the one for her and they get jiggy. I didn’t much care for the look of post-coital bliss suffusing Paddy’s face, and I also fear for his future happiness considering what happens next.
Paddy starts mithering that Chas is going to freak out and run away, which is what happens every time they get close: “I’m not going to make that mistake again,” says Chas giving him a hug. Oh good! Except that she then does that wincing face over his shoulder, the one you look for in soap operas to find out whether something bad is going to happen.
Oh come on Chas, give Paddy a chance. He might have a face like a Farley’s Rusk and the charisma of an oven glove and having sex with him is probably like grappling with the Pillsbury Doughboy but, at least, if he’s good with animals, the in-laws will be no problem.