BY JAMES BEMBRIDGE
“You’ve never watched an episode of EastEnders?” my Editor asked.
“Never,” I replied.
As he supped his lobster bisque, all the time his mouth could not help but form into a schoolboy smirk.
“What are you writing about this week, Bembers?” he asked.
I need not have answered…
Though technically not a form of torture, EastEnders is as like it as to make no difference.
As its theme tune begins to play, that demented jingle acting as a funeral march for my erstwhile good taste, I question if I have enough whisky to see me through the full twenty minutes of one single episode without an ad break. It is only after a shrill-voiced woman speaks, at great and torturous length about her new-born child, that I realise there is no amount of whisky in my town that can numb me to the show’s energy-sapping tedium.
I am then met with the unhappy sight of a woman hunching over a tray of chips in some squalid takeaway, pecking at them with a kind of brooding resentment. This is, she snarls through grease-drenched dentures, ‘real food.’
Good God. 4 million people a day watch this shite?
EastEnders is not entirely without charm. There is a point at which two lovers are likened to ‘bacon and eggs’, coupled with the suggestion that they should start ‘cooking again’.
If one isn’t moved by that poetic and lard-oiled pairing then there’s always the romance of Jean and ‘Harvey the Cabbie’, their date ending with the achingly beautiful scene of Harvey lying half-comatose on some sticky pub floor, clutching a crumpled packet of condoms.
Is it not strange for a show that supposedly offers escapism to the working class to be set in a place that its working-class characters wish to escape from?
EastEnders seems to carry the awful and depressing message that squalor and ignorance bring with them a sort of moral cleansing. That plate of pale chips may not have been ‘real food’, but it’s what BBC producers wrongly imagine the working class really eat.
The consequence of fetishising poverty is that it robs its sufferers of the ambition to escape it. The show instills the idea that those born to unsuccessful parents should never be allowed to attain any degree of success themselves. That cowardly and cretinous phrase ‘don’t get ideas above your station’, seems to act as the show’s guiding maxim. How sad.
As the theme tune’s drum beats return to count down the end of my torture, this dreary and deranged show leaves me asking only three questions:
After having me investigate Furries and then forcing me to watch EastEnders, what will my Editor request of me next?
A swingers party in Stoke on Trent perhaps? (No, I didn’t just say that…..)