Thursday, 9 February 2012

EastEnders: Mandy vs Lucy and the strange pleasure of a quick plot recap from 20 years ago

If you've been watching a telly programme on and off for 27 years, the enormous amount of trivia you've unconsciously amassed about said telly programme is enormous.

And while there is undoubtedly no other man as fundamentally unattractive as EastEnders' Ian Beale - although tv-ooh concedes he may have a few redeeming features in terms of his role as a father, probably - nonetheless there is some interest in seeing the ups and downs (but mainly downs, as this is EastEnders) of a character you've seen regularly for nearly 30 years, and who is now the only remaining original cast member.

It must be a form of attachment, or, at least, familiarity. And all that trivia in your head gets a reward when those longer term characters remember past events of their own fictional lives.

It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it's weirdly interesting. The latest example is with Mandy Slater, back in the Square since August 2011 after 17 years away. Somehow she's now planning to marry Ian Beale, and has decided to try and win over his horror-show of a daughter, Lucy, after a bumpy relationship.

The turning point was Lucy throwing a cup of coffee over Mandy during a wedding dress fitting, in front of the campest wedding dress designer ever seen - who should be given a recurring speaking role immediately, by the way: EastEnders could do with some more comedy, and where better than from a stereotyped camp gay who flaps for England?

But in trying to make peace with Lucy, a chat between them gives Mandy a chance to go over her original storylines, but it's just as much an opportunity for longer term viewers to retrieve those episodes we'd forgotten we remembered.

From her arrival in the Square in 1992 when she was placed in the care of Pat after her sick mum couldn't cope with her, to how horrible she was to Kathy when she tried to help her, and then how her boyfriend - the Irish footballer Aiden, who was taken in by Arthur - went off the rails after he became ill with depression. Oh it was a miserable, miserable time, and she was a miserable, miserable character. There were plans for Aiden, a football whizz who often wore a green tracksuit despite only having a nodding aquaintance with a football pitch, to jump off a tower block on Christmas Day in 1993. But, thankfully, it was decided that it was too depressing even for EastEnders, so Aiden returned home instead, leaving Mandy distraught. Same outcome, less miserable method.

Maybe the idea for reminding us about all of this is to show how Mandy isn't actually that different from Lucy after all, and that they've both had difficult lives but also have a love for Ian. Either way, it's a nice mini-wallow, and who doesn't like a nice wallow? It's cold, it's dark, it's prime wallow time. It's also a reminder of EastEnders' long history, and although a few hazily-framed flashbacks might have been nice, it's better those memories are recounted just like our own - verbally, and summarised in 45 seconds with all the dull and irritating bits cut out and delivered with dramatic effect to make the listener think in some way. Or is that just tv-ooh?

Roll on the return of Sharon, another long running character, and her quivering bottom lip and the inevitable fight to win back the Vic.

Tv-ooh is moderately excited.

Related stories:
Oh! Ben in EastEnders: Why are you and other gay soap teens basically a bit crazy?
EastEnders' Yusef: the stare, the suits, the walk, the man. TERRIFYING
EastEnders: "I want pizza and I want Hazell Dean!"
EastEnders: Zoe Lucker's Vanessa and her white trouser suit loses plot; shoe; shouts a lot 
Oh, Pam St Clement (Pat in EastEnders): What are your post-soap options?

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    1. James of Puddletown17 February 2012 at 18:13

      Moderately excited?? Tv-ooh needs to get out more!

      However, Mandy shall always be remembered as the evil girl that caused the death of one of the soaps best ever characters.

      RIP Roly the apricot poodle.

    2. It's true that Roly the poodle is much missed, but for me it is Well'ard - Robbie's Alsatian. He was tv-ooh's all time favourite dog on the Square. Roly and Ethel's Willy tie for second place.

    3. i miss all the dead charcters my mum and i love eastenders !!!!!!!!!!