104. EastEnders Sex

Tapehead no 104

As the inhabitants of EastEnders demonstrate, East London is obviously the raunchiest place in England. 

Conventional restrictions of human sexual behaviour no longer apply. Everyone is at it. There must be something in the water. (Without a letter ‘t’, obviously.)

Carol, Alan, Bianca, David and Sexy Cindy are all obviously sex addicts. Now, even Nigel and Lorraine are circling one another, their hairdos threatening to merge into one uncontrollably frizzy mass or hedge that could well take over the whole Square, like Quatermass. 

Then there is that magnet of sexuality, Tiffany: everyone around her just has to start having sex.

This week: “Tony and Simon seem to be getting increasingly close.”

Well that’s one way of putting it.

Tony, Tiffany’s ex-boyfriend, has obviously been watching Brookside. Following Nat and Georgia’s lead, Tony is working his way through Tiff’s whole family. Weeks of walking round in front of Simon without his trousers on have finally paid off. Having knocked off his girlfriend’s brother, it can’t be very long before Tony tries it on with her new partner, Grant.

Actually, Tony still can’t quite believe it about Grant. 

“If it’s true,” he complains, “she’s been leading me up the garden path for months,” – which is a bit rich, considering he’s banging her brother.

Grant, of course, has seen it all before, his own wife having slept with his brother on more than one occasion. Grant (the big soft baboon) accepts it as he accepts everything, like an East End Buddha (bald head, karmic worldly wisdoms). 

This is wholly consistent characterisation: he just deals with it…

Which is more than can be said of the subjects of Moving People. The Bengtssons are a somewhat volatile couple who have decided to move home for the perfectly fine reason that they are bored of Cornwall’s “ye olde fish and chippy” culture. 

“Quite revolting.”

This is the one thing they agree on.

“Martin is not bad – for his age, ” explains Caroline. “He gets on my nerves a bit,” she says, breaking off only to scream, “Oh shut up!” at him.

They bought their new house in Ireland “from a video”. Sadly, you can’t smell damp on a video.

The second lot are your average everyday Liverpudlian family (Glen, Brenda, and their 12 kids) who are finally moving out of their three-bedroomed council house.

Their move also proves eventful. 

“One of the kids is in hospital with an asthma attack, ” Brenda sighs, “and Glen has drilled a hole through his hand with an electric drill.”

An original way of curing boredom but still…

The third person moving is Hilary, a well-spoken yuppie who claims to be Geordie – as if such a thing were possible.

One place none of us will be going (or even watching) is Neverwhere, an urban fantasy world created by Lenny Henry and cult graphic artist, Neil Gaiman.

In a story as daft and unimaginative as Karaoke, Resort To Murder, or Poliakoff’s Hidden City, no cliché has been forgotten: absurd characters with stupid names (Door, Lord Rat-Speaker); tiresome underground tunnel locations inhabited by the rag-ridden homeless; a Goth girl whose life is being threatened; and a pair of gormless henchmen who go round (as everyone in every series set in the future does) biting rats’ heads off.

Hywel Bennett provides a preposterously overdone impersonation of Oliver Reed while Sean O’Callaghan does Alan Rickman. Don’t miss poor Laura Fraser acting her heart out talking first to a pigeon and then a rat.

The rat is a messenger from the other side who talks neverwhere-speak but it still has its secret message sellotaped to its back like something from Rentaghost.

In fact, the only thing that could make this excruciating fantasy series any worse would be a cameo from David Bowie.

Luckily (judging from the sellotape), even this meager budget wouldn’t allow for it.


EastEnders: Mon 8pm, Tues 7.30pm, Thurs 7.30pm, BBC1

Moving People: Weds, 8.30pm, C4

Neverwhere: Thurs, 9pm, BBC2