My Least Favourite Characters

By Charles S.P. Jenkins

I started watching EastEnders when it first came to the US. Being born in Bethnal Green in the heart of London.s East End, I was somewhat amused to see that a television programme was going to be set there. To be honest, I wondered what kind of mess .Auntie., as the BBC used to be called, would make of it since they had a reputation of being run by a somewhat .toffee-nosed. mob! Very few programmes had been produced anywhere that centred round working-class people. Their lives were hardly glamorous and glossy and lacked the qualities typical of the usual soaps. I was living in Buffalo, N.Y. at the time, and the programme started airing on weekday nights at 11 p.m. Obviously not the most viewer-friendly time as VCRs weren.t commonplace yet, but better then than not at all! Naturally, I was soon hooked on the programme and have watched it ever since, through moves to New York City, Chapel Hill and now to Fayetteville, N.C. I have mostly enjoyed the show and was upset when BBC America discontinued it and greatly disturbed as PBS station after station began dropping it from their schedules. Whenever I went to London, I made sure NOT to see an episode, as I did not want to spoil my future viewing pleasure when I returned to the US. Naturally I have not always enjoyed all storylines and have not liked all characters. In fact my list of dislikes is long. For example, I was never fond of the Hills family or Simon, Tiffany.s brother. This crew always brought on a loud groan from me! However, these past dislikes seem almost good in the face of some of the gruesome gang that is now living on the Square. We seem to be suffering from an especially bumper crop of dislikeable characters at present; so much so that I wonder what the BBC must have thought at the time. Surely someone at the BBC must actually watch the show and be taking notice! And surely I am not alone in being unhappy with some of our current crop of characters in the Square. Didn.t the House of Commons discuss .the pursuit of happiness. recently and citizens. rights to it? Well, I for one am finding my .happiness. declining, thanks to this lot. Who are these characters that are spoiling my weekend, causing me such discontent on Sunday nights?

First, the Ferreira family has always been high on my groan list! I was pleased when the father ran off, but what are the writers doing with the remaining members? They seem content to sit, drink and complain about their lot in life while doing nothing to improve it. And then there is Vicki, who seems to have lost her accent, and yells and screams like a spoilt child. I am willing to take up a collection to send her home to Florida. Screaming and yelling has never been in short supply in EastEnders . consider the pretty but irritating Zoe . can she talk normally? . or worst of all, the ever-boring, and equally loud, Bianca? Even my favourite, Kat, yelps a lot when she is present.

However, even the Ferreira family and Zoe . but perhaps not Vicki and Bianca . become almost interesting in the face of the erstwhile most irritating character EVER to appear on the show . Charlie Slater!

Charlie is an appalling father who seems unable to make a good choice. He lost his cab license, although I found it hard to believe him ever capable of passing the geography test called The Knowledge that all future drivers must pass. He whines about the woes of his .little girls., yet he is totally and utterly incapable of any helpful discussion with them. He beats up a daughter.s rapist, throws the family into financial ruin, leading to another daughter suffering a nightmare that is never ending and then going to jail. And now they expect us to believe that Pat Butcher may possibly show an interest in him. However, even the insipid Charlie can breathe a little easier now for my loudest groans are being reserved for the latest newcomers, the Millers and Stacey! The Millers, with the exception of their eldest son, Mickey, are a disaster, with the father, Keith, being the worst. He doesn.t work, claiming disability following an injury to his lower back. Keith sees himself as an educated man and is convinced that he knows .everything about everything., but his education comes almost exclusively from television documentaries since he cannot read. Obviously it took too much effort to learn. He is generally seen in the pub or else sitting in his chair. He never lifts a finger to help his family. He is a .mumper. . which is someone always on the lookout for something free . a moocher. Always looking for .the edge., he once suggested that Dennis compensate his son, Mickey, following an injury after working at the club. I was hoping that Dennis would prove true to form and thump him, but one dark look from Dennis was enough for Keith to withdraw. Keith lives with Rosie and their three children. Rosie works at a number of menial jobs to supplement their various governmental allowances. One wonders what Gloria Steinem and Germaine Greer would think of her, as she comes home from work and starts to wait on Keith, bringing him multiple cups of tea along with breakfast, lunch and dinner while he sits in his chair endlessly talking about nothing of interest. But before I feel sympathy for her, she spoils it and opens her mouth to talk or rather shout. She is loud . very loud . and speaks without thinking. This is perhaps her worst characteristic. No, I take that back: Her worst characteristic is that she allows her children, the unbelievable twins, to run circles round her and others and screams at anyone including those from their school who dare to point out their obvious frailties. Keith and Rosie.s younger children are the twins . although they hardly look alike . Darren and Demi, children from hell, and obvious candidates for jail in the future. They are 13 years old and enjoy playing truant, stealing and complaining. Demi now has a baby, which mum and dad insist on bringing up since they want their daughter to enjoy her youth! She is a mother, for God.s sake! Her youth is now over! The baby is called . wait for it . Aleesha Beyoncé . I hate to think how many little Beyoncés are running around the world today with mums called Demi! But the Millers as holders of .the worst of Walford Square award. were short-lived for the crown quickly passed to Stacey . the most hateful character since Janine. A word, however, in support of Janine before we discuss Stacey. Janine is a dangerous young woman who is capable of anything and everything in order to get what she wants. She will lie, cheat, steal and even kill. At present she is awaiting trial for a crime that she actually did not commit, which adds to the humour of the situation. Anyway, as dreadful as Janine is, she is not without a certain charm. Although vicious, cunning, conniving and completely amoral, she is interesting . well, for most of the time . and she is not boring like this dreadful Stacey. Stacey is a niece of Charlie Slater and has come to live with the family. This was enough to make me feel sorry for her, but any sympathy soon evaporated. Apparently no member of her immediate family wanted her, and from what I have seen of her behaviour, I wouldn.t want her in my home either. She enjoys causing trouble wherever she goes. She is angry and bitter. Life has treated her badly, but her life isn.t going to get easier if she continues on her current path. She is lazy and unwilling to work. But then, despite complaints from Charlie, she is allowed to mooch around all day. She has had several jobs, but makes it so that she loses them and then cries to Charlie that everyone is being .rotten. to her. She enjoys finding out something and then exploiting it to her advantage. She wears Charlie down, and he then throws money at her to leave them alone. She took a liking to Dennis, but when he tried to be helpful, she yelled and screamed at him. There is little about Stacey to instil warmth and sympathy. Viewers may feel sorry for her and understand why she is angry, but this doesn.t last as she launches into some dastardly plan wreaking havoc in the Square. I live in hopes that the day will soon come when both the Millers and Stacey are written out of the script and become figures of the past and I can go back to disliking Charlie. But alas, I fear that we are in for a long, long series of storylines involving this useless bunch.

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