EastEnders: There’s a problem on the Square.
Sure, there have been the usual tear-stained wedding dramas, squalling rows in The Queen Vic, and near-incestuous couplings, but something is wrong: E20 has lost its edge. Ratings have reportedly been on the slide since changing writers a couple of years ago and forums have filled up with disgruntled fans.
Firstly, there are the recycled storylines.
It’s been almost a staggering 20 years since Phil Mitchell first started downing booze faster than a hungry baby with a bottle. Now, like a market-stall knockoff of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, he’s at it yet again. It’s a plot which lacks any excitement. On a Friday night, the cliffhanger ending left me rolling my eyes and ashamed to think this soap opera originates from my motherland.
Stuck in a similarly boring rut is slimy egomaniac Ian Beale and Jane, who have also been splitting up and getting back together on a loop since Jane first arrived in Walford, the London borough where marriages go to die. After affairs and short-lived relationships with other people, Ian married Jane for the second time last year.
These two are like watching paint dry. They were the main characters in one of the biggest storylines in EastEnders history – ‘who killed Lucy Beale?’ (which turned out to be their youngest son, with a tiny jewellery box). In my opinion, it was the most ridiculous plot of all time, beginning in early 2014 and is STILL dragging on to date.
On top of this, there are the unbelievable storylines, such as Abi, the square’s nicest blonde teen, being diagnosed with chlamydia and lying about the fact she was pregnant with Phil Mitchel’s gay son’s baby, so she doesn’t get dumped. And Vincent Hubbard burying his ‘dead’ mum’s body in his basement and then her showing up a few days later, alive.
Despite a cull of characters last year (I am still in mourning for the loss of Fat Boy), EastEnders still has some great ones – Kim is hilarious, Shirley does hardened vulnerability brilliantly, and Mick and Linda still have an impressive amount of chemistry.
But instead of giving them some depth and storylines to progress with, there has been an emphasis on bringing back old favourites to bring back some sparks. When in truth, we don’t want the same old faces but some new plotlines to put the drama back into the ‘doof-doof’ endings.