Tonight EastEnders decided to have yet another go at passing itself off as gang-based drama, as always seems to be the case the whole affair came across less The Long Good Friday and more Bullseye! (the 1990’s Caine/Moore film, not the Jim Bowen quiz).
If you’re going to try pulling off gangster shenanigans on a telly budget it helps to have a cast of decent actors but, and let’s be honest here, most of the Albert Square residents wouldn’t get seen on prime time TV if it wasn’t for this long past its prime nonsense. If you were casting a new major drama you wouldn’t start your search in the Queen Vic.
One notable exception is the excellent Linda Henry who constantly looks as if she’s having to act down to the ‘talents’ of her cast mates. As anyone who has seen Beautiful Thing knows, Henry can pull off exquisite, nuanced performances but true to form all the EastEnders writers call on her to do is shout and grimace. Her every scene is marred by the knowledge that a genuine talent is going unused, ultimately robbing the audience of a better experience.
Of course the show has long placed too much demand on a cast who lack the talent and experience to pull off the stories but in recent months this has been taken to ludicrous extremes with teenage characters at the centre of improbable plots. Just how do the production team expect viewers to take the show seriously when storylines place a teenage boy in charge of a cab firm?
It’s tempting to think the show in its current state would never get commissioned but if Bonekickers can make it to screen and get promoted as grown-up post-watershed drama nothing can be ruled out.
The show has the feel of a sick dog desperate for someone to put it out of its misery but with the BBC so desperate to push ‘brands’ there’s little chance of anyone making the tough but necessary decision any time soon.