50. Mandy - the Beast of Brookside

Tapehead no 50

The opening – a suffocating, blue nightmare – looks like one of those shadowy demon-ridden scenes form The Silence Of the Lambs or Elm Street.

Murky, claustrophobic menace smothers the screen as the victim tries to thrash the fear away. Fists. Fists banging, smashing through the glass. Up the stairs. Running. We know who it’s going to be behind her. His face flashes though our minds. Then we hear the voice: “Mandy, Mandy. Alright love, I know you’ll need time.”

Trevor’s back.

One day Brookside, will be on every day. For now, though, it is Brookside week, a daily episode: Tapehead heaven.

Monday night, and the patio slabs are coming up. Fred West gets a mention; a fellow demon. Then we see Trevor reaching up from the dirt, like a zombie, to drag his victims down. He’s back. And he’s badder than ever.

There are people who thought Trevor was just too scary, and, frankly, who could blame them ? There are also those who thought you couldn’t have a story about wife-beating or child abuse.

The sight of Trevor in bed next to his daughter Rachel, bare-chested in her bed, was just too much for them. For others, it was Trevor laying in to Mandy, behind the couch, fists flying. Pummeling her.

For Tapehead, though, gritty drama is what Brookside is good at.

What upsets him more is Brookside’s slapstick side – OAPs getting frisky, having a roll in the hay. Has Channel 4 no shame ? What really gives him nightmares in not Trevor, but Mandy. Mandy’s hairdo specially. Back from the dead ? The Night Of The Living Dead. A real horror show.

Ever since she arrived on The Close bearing a distinct (disturbing) resemblance to Kevin Keegan, Mandy’s barnet has gone though the creative wringer, until this week she looks like something much more surreal or supernatural, like that Sherri Lewis puppet, Lamb Chops, or Ermintrude from The Magic Roundabout. Something truly stupid.

There’s even a moment this week when poor Beth, forlornly, tries to get her mother to do something about it.

Your face !” she complains, “You look terrible.”

Tapehead can understand those feminists who objected to Trevor trying to beat some sense into her, but the sad fact is Mandy Jordache is one of the stupidest women ever to grace the nation’s TV screens.

Since the murder, she has got more and more bovine, until her behaviour with loanshark Kenny MacGuire was simply an insult to women.

This week, she’s at it again, trying to coerce Sinbad in sleeping with her – having rebuffed him for months – just because she thinks it will avert suspicion.

It doesn’t take long for Mandy to dominate Brookside week swiftly occupying one of her favourite places: the moral high ground. When Beth tells her she wants to reveal their gory secret to her new bit-on-the side, Vic, Mandy moans that she can’t entrust such a grave confession to a stranger.

“I didn’t just pick her up, she’s a friend,” protests Beth.
“She’s more than that !” Mandy protests, indignantly. “She’s a lesbian.” (Nothing gets past Mandy.)

“It’s unnatural,” she complains, conveniently forgetting, as someone who not only murdered her husband and buried him under the patio, but sleeps with her loan shark for money, she’s not exactly morally sound herself.

Later she has a go at Sinbad for stealing someone’s car. Poor Mandy, so deluded (with hair like that, it’s the only explanation).

On Tuesday she gamely plays the part of the tragic heroine/victim.
“All I wanted was a normal family and what do I get ?”

The fact that it might be something to do with her – the link between all of it in fact – obviously never occurred to her.


Brookside: 8.30pm-9pm, Mon-Fri, C4