Rant Of The Day THIS RANT 24/09/96

Rant Of The Day is where I get to mouth off about whatever I feel like for however long I like. Theoretically, I'll update my whinge/opinion piece every weekday; in practice, maybe not so often.

Great British TV soaps of the 1980s: a non-continuing series

In the 1980s (God! what a decade), I was a major-league addict of the British soapie EastEnders. While the show never achieved anything like the major-league chart-topping following it had in the UK, it did come along quite nicely for a while in the nightly 6:30pm slot on the ABC. I remember being distinctly annoyed when it got pulled for about a year, because the ABC had caught up with the UK schedules (where it was only on twice a week). Why, I asked myself, didn't they just put it on in a once-a-week hourly slot? (Given the current popularity of the similarly-scheduled The Bill, this still might not be a bad strategy, methinks.) Why wasn't the theme tune, sung by actress Anita Dobson (and (gasp!) produced by Brian May) not a hit? Why did I need continuous exposure to grimy reality in London's East End? And why did the BBC demand so much money for the show that the ABC eventually canned it?

These are life's little mysteries. I had resigned myself to the permanent disappearance of EastEnders from Australian schedules. I was therefore both surprised and pleased when I encountered the volume pictured to the right, EastEnders: A Celebration. This is the kind of book I live for: detailed year-by-year descriptions of the entire plotline, major cast changes, side projects, you name it, it's there.

One of the unfortunate side effects of the book, though, is that it undermines the EastEnders ethic of realism. One of the things I liked about the show was that, compared to, say, Home And Away (and let's be honest, I watched that too), it all seemed somewhat believable. When you compress it down into brief summaries, though, it sounds almost as frothy as Spelling. Daughter of local family gets pregnant to publican whose drunken wife opens rival bar whose owner rapes aunt whose son pursues half-brother and ex-wife with shotgun. Really, it came across a lot better than that.

I've also bow discovered that the UK-TV cable channel features new episodes of the show. (I guess the rates got cheaper.) Now, if only Foxtel would pull its collective finger out and get cabling down my street . . .

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