On the Walford Gazette Making it to 25: ‘An Element of Freedom Not Beholden to Anyone’

       

By Larry Jaffee

A recent New York Times Magazine article titled “Why the Internet Didn’t Kill Zines,” captures perfectly why the Walford Gazette has entered its 25th year publishing continuously on a quarterly basis.

Karen Gisonny is the periodicals librarian at the New York Public Library and specialises in alternative publications and zines. She’s quoted by the Times writer Jenna Wortham that zines allow for an “element of freedom that’s not beholden to anyone.”

Wortham says, “We think of the web as a place for freedom, but with zines, authors control every aspect, from the design to the distribution.” She concludes, “And it perhaps reflects why zines can feel so much more intimate than a Facebook post. The deliberation and care that goes into making them is important.”

That’s exactly how I view this milestone. The Walford Gazette is barely a break-even proposition and the epitome of “a labour of love.” Last year’s revenue was off by a third and about $3,000 from 2015. Meanwhile, postage costs have doubled in the past decade. Most other publishers would have killed it years ago.

Over the years, it’s prevented me from collecting unemployment insurance after twice being laid off from six-figure publishing jobs.

The Walford Gazette is a calling. I view each issue as my art. I look forward to reader reactions, and am especially grateful to my subscribers and writer contributors.

I was also very pleased to join forces this issue with BritBox to help promote a much-needed service, especially at this time that public television is threatened. With always being pressed for time, as I’ve reinvented myself as an academic and maintain a busy freelance writing business, I’d honestly love to turn over the reins of the Gazette to someone else who also has the calling and keen interest in EastEnders. It takes gumption to put out a zine in the digital age.

If you’re interested, please get in touch by emailing me at walfordgazette@gmail.com. In the meanwhile, I hope you enjoy this issue.

 

BBC Promises ‘BritBox’ VOD Service Will Provide New UK Episodes of EastEnders

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Well, days after the completion of issue #96 comes the announcement that EASTENDERS IS COMING BACK through a new subscription video-on-demand service to launch in the first quarter of 2017 called ‘BRITBOX’ backed by BBC Worldwide and ITV, Britain’s two leading television producers.

There are still many unanswered questions, like pricing, exactly when, so stay tuned…. And let’s not forget the BBC twice before promised similar services in 2002 and the iPlayer in 2011, but neither materialized.

Ad-free BritBox will be available on responsive web, mobile (iOS and Android), Roku, AppleTV, and Chromecast at launch in the U.S. Pricing for the service will be available at launch.

“This unique streaming service will celebrate the very best of British TV, and offer the most comprehensive SVOD collection of British content in the market today,” the press release stated. “For decades, BBC and ITV have produced iconic British television series, and for the first time these shows will be combined in a single, curated service allowing fans to find the classic shows they love and discover new hit series.”

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Programming will include:
• An amazing selection of soaps and series that will be available as soon as 24 hours after their UK broadcast, including much-loved titles EastEnders, Emmerdale and Holby City.

• A British classics collection from ITV and the BBC, featuring iconic period dramas Brideshead Revisited, Pride and Prejudice, and Upstairs Downstairs; political thriller State of Play; murder mystery series Inspector Morse and Rosemary and Thyme; favorite sitcoms Keeping Up Appearances and Fawlty Towers; and much more.

• An array of drama premieres never-before-seen in the U.S., including New Blood, from acclaimed novelist Anthony Horowitz, Tutankhamun, The Moonstone, and In The Dark, from BAFTA award-winning writer Danny Brocklehurst (Ordinary Lies). Also, season premieres of drama favorites Cold Feet and Silent Witness.

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Full details of the BritBox service, including additional titles and price, will be released at launch. Fans can submit their contact information at www.BritBox.com to receive further details about the service when it becomes available.
Follow BritBox @ Facebook: BritBoxUS / Twitter: BritBox_US / Instagram: britbox_US

 

It’s Good to Be King: Jake Maskall Reflects on Danny Moon, EastEnders and The Royals

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By Larry Jaffee

(Editor’s note: What follows is an excerpt. For the complete interview, please subscribe.)

Jake Maskall is best known to EastEnders fans as Danny Moon, the troubled, second cousin of Alfie.

Accidentally killed by his brother Jake, Danny met his demise, as he was on his way to kill Phil and Grant Mitchell on orders from his boss Johnny Allen. It was EastEnders at its best, a cat-and-mouse game between the Mitchells and Allen that began in the latter’s luxurious suburban house, and then is transported to the woods.

Maskall, currently co-starring as the new King Cyrus in The Royals, which made its third-season premiere on the American cable network E!, was eager to talk to the Walford Gazette not just about his current job, but also his time on EastEnders. He was amazed to learn that Americans only saw Danny get killed within the past year.

A fictional, over-the-top take on the British royal family, The Royals in its first season involves Cyrus conspiring with his sister-in-law the queen, played by Elizabeth Hurley, to get rid of the saintly King Simon, who’s considering abolishing the monarchy, much to the chagrin of everybody in the immediate family except his son.

The series’ snappy dialogue smacks of tabloidish excess celebrating utter hedonism: sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. Despite suffering from testicular cancer, the weirdly stylish King Cyrus relishes his power trip and the trappings of royalty.

Walford Gazette: While rivals, I don’t think Jake and Danny Moon on EastEnders intentionally wanted to kill each other.

Jake Maskall: No, there was a huge amount of love there. Danny was unhinged. He was bipolar basically, and he was lost. But there was definitely a rivalry because Jake was always the top boy. People always asked him to do things. There was huge tension and jealousy from Danny, and especially with his state of mind. His father had beaten him up, and used to leave them for days. Danny was a lost soul basically, and Jake had to take over the father figure role, and so it was quite a complicated relationship. It was complete love at one end of the spectrum, and at the other end there was that jealousy and underlying hate.

WG: That scene of Danny in the woods with Grant and Phil is among the greatest EastEnders scenes.

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JM: It was a real standout week leading up to that. It was odd filming on location outside of Elstree. It always felt a little bit alien. They wanted to make those episodes more filmic. I was walking around those woods with that really heavy shotgun, raised arm, pointing to Phil and Grant. It was a long shoot. My arm at the end of the day was killing me. Fun memories.

WG: Any particular rapport struck with Ross Kemp or Steve McFadden? JM: I only met them that week. They were both coming back to the show. McFadden was lovely and very complimentary of my acting, and I took that as a huge compliment coming from him. I watched EastEnders, and always was a big fan. I thought he was a remarkable actor actually. So getting a nod from somebody I respected I thought that was great. Ross went to school with my brother.

WG: How did Joel Beckett end up playing Jake a lot longer?

JM: We left together. Then they wanted us back. I said to them, “I’ll only come back if you kill me off.” I didn’t want it to be an open door. I wanted to move on and do other characters, and here I am King of England. It was the right choice. I was ready to leave. I had a great year on the show, came back and then was accidentally, I must say, shot to death by my brother.

WG: Are you still in touch with Joel?

JM: Absolutely, he lives down the road from me in North London. We’re going out for a drink this week.

Latest Social Media Stop: ‘EastEnders Unseen’ on Twitter

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By Larry Jaffee

Continuing our coverage of EastEnders fandom on social media, we now turn to Twitter and @ee_unseen, which considers imaginative and comical ‘what-if’ situations that the Elstree creative team either never conceived or wisely left on the cutting-room floor.

Even if you don’t have a Twitter account, you can still check out the hilarious tweets, within the constraints of 140 characters, sometimes coming several times a day, at https://twitter.com/ee_unseen.

Among its 289 followers are EastEnders actors James Alexandrou (Martin Fowler), Charlie Brooks (Janine Butcher), John Altman (Nick Cotton), Dean Gaffney (Robbie Jackson), Shaun Williamson (Barry Evans), Cliff Parisi (Minty), Ricky Groves (Gary), Natalie Cassidy (Sonia Jackson), Jessie Wallace (Kat Slater), Shane Richie (Alfie Moon), Lacey Turner (Stacey Slater), Ross Kemp (Grant Mitchell), Sid Owen (Ricky Butcher), Lucy Speed (Natalie), Adam Woodyatt (Ian Beale), Hannah Waterman (Laura) and Patsy Palmer (Bianca Jackson); Kris Green, EastEnders’ senior script editor; EastEnders scriptwriter Rob Gittins; Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling; and British comedians Matt Lucas (Little Britain), Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous), Dawn French (The Vicar of Dibley) and Rob Brydon.

The destination emerged in August 2016, and is especially partial towards yesteryear characters who have been off the show for some time, although it also covers the current UK characters so some names might not be familiar.

EastEnders Unseen is the brainchild of a 32-year-old fan in the south-east of England.

He prefers to be known as just “Scott.” He explains to the Walford Gazette his modus operandi:

“I’ve watched EastEnders off and on for most of my life – my mum has barely missed an episode in the show’s 31 years. I’d watch it for long periods then drift away when life got in the way and then come back. I’ve now not missed an episode in two years (which I know is peanuts compared to proper diehards!) and am quite sure that I’ll be sticking around for good from now on.

“I’ve had no reaction from the show. I only have 290-odd followers so I doubt they’re aware or remotely interested! But a few writers and actors involved with the programme do follow the account, which is lovely and very unexpected.

“I really just do it for the fun of it. I’m a very nostalgic person by nature so it’s nice to reminisce about the characters from the show’s past. I have huge affection for EastEnders and this account is a tiny way of paying tribute.”

Had Walford Gazette co-founder Dan Abramson, who once sold a joke to Jay Leno when he was a standup comedian, lived long enough to enjoy the social media era, he would no doubt appreciate EastEnders Unseen or perhaps contributed to it. To wit:

Nov 21: After a spate of lightning strikes hit the Square, Grant wonders if the relic he stole from the ancient Indian burial ground is to blame.

Nov 17: Pauline takes drastic action as Martin’s Wotsits habit spins out of control. Ian buys a ouija board but is angered when it mocks his weight.

Nov 15: Peggy is attacked by a mule with a grudge – but how did it get into the cellar of The Vic? Ricky and Bianca accidentally buy a houseboat.

Nov 5; The global scientific community descends on Walford after Martin finds the fossil of a hitherto undiscovered dinosaur at the allotment.

Oct 18: Pat is worried when a series of apocalyptic warnings appear in the Walford Gazette. Barry eats a ball bearing. Beppe spontaneously combusts.

Oct 21: With Dr. Legg still held captive by the Russian cartel, Robbie and Wellard take matters into their own hands. Blossom suffers from lockjaw.

Oct 12: With Grant in a critical condition following the bear attack, Phil and Billy head into the woods to take down Great Bertha once and for all.

Oct 5: Frank’s plans to stand for mayor of Walford lie in tatters after he runs over a duck. Peggy’s painting of a centaur wins the Turner Prize.

Oct 14: Frank suffers a rare brain injury which renders him unable to see Peggy unless she wears a deerstalker hat. Huw and Lenny accidentally kiss.

Oct 6: With a curfew still in place after a spate of werewolf attacks, Ian realises he may be patient zero. Pat and Roy decide to try for a baby.

Sep 29: With the quicksand pit pulling Barry ever closer to his death, Pat and Roy reminisce about his funniest scrapes. Ian forgets how to read.

Sep 24: Sonia discovers a prehistoric neanderthal man encased in ice. Peggy’s birthday celebrations are marred by an outbreak of leprosy in Walford.

Sep 20: The Square is reeling when Frank converts the car lot into a scented candle shop. Ian spots an asteroid that’s heading straight for The Vic.

Sep 17: Barry fights a ghost in the toilets at The Vic. Pat is worried about Roy’s blossoming bodybuilding career. Phil gets struck by lightning.

Sep 13: Phil discovers The Vic is built on an ancient Indian burial ground. Dot is hit by a bus – but why was Wellard driving it in the first place?

Sep 9: Peggy eats too much cheese and is convinced the bust of Queen Victoria is talking to her. Barry comes down with diphtheria. Dot has fleas.

Sep 7: Beppe and Gianni train for the Winter Olympics – can they persuade Grant and Phil to join their bobsleigh team? Dot gets her tongue pierced.

Sep 6: Martin’s cold sore grows larger, shattering his confidence ahead of Walford’s Got Talent. Alfie tries parkour – with devastating results.

Sep 5: The Square is left reeling when circumstantial evidence suggests Patrick Trueman may in fact be notorious serial killer The Walford Slasher.

Sep 5: Ethel is distraught when her dog, Willy, suffers a heroin overdose. Frank is arrested for wearing inappropriately short shorts in The Vic.

Sep 3: Frank accidentally takes a walk-on role in an adult film. Ricky applies to MI5 but misses out after he fails to identify Britain on a map.

Sep 3: Ben is banned from Walford East Station after writing a lewd limerick on the wall. Martin gets a surprise call-up to the England squad.

Sep 1: Barry complains of a fix after Phil and Grant’s Right Said Fred performance wins The Vic’s karaoke competition. Sonia adopts a gazelle.

Sep 1: With the Great Fire Of Walford still raging, Sharon discovers who was responsible – but Lady Di has no intention of surrendering peacefully.

Aug 30: Arthur becomes a born-again Christian after eating a large Black Forest gateau. Cindy spontaneously combusts twice. Den befriends a badger.

Aug 30: Grant’s preparations for the Walford’s Strongest Man semi-final are in tatters when he is left wheelchair-bound after a fight with Wellard.

Aug 30: Dr. Trueman is struck off for drunkenly breaching patient confidentiality after Paul spikes his Ribena with gin. Janine kills a duck.

Aug 29: With the Bigfoot corpse revealed to be a hoax, questions are asked about Steve Owen’s role in discovering it. Beppe becomes a Scientologist.

Aug 29: Ian experiences snow blindness. Stacey and Bradley buy a tandem bike. Yolande is barred from The Vic after claiming that the Earth is flat.

Aug 29: Robbie writes a fan letter to his favourite wrestler, Big Flaps, but is devastated to see it returned unopened. Dot falls off a water tower.

Aug 29: Phil poisons Walford’s water supply to increase custom at The Vic. Kat’s charity bungee jump is cancelled due to an elastic shortage.

Aug 27: With Kathy near death after the combine harvester accident, Phil considers pulling the plug. Ricky accidentally becomes a Jehovah’s Witness.

Aug 27: Pat and Roy renew their wedding vows but the ceremony is ruined by Barry’s gastroenteritis. Huw and Lenny finish building their robot.

EastEnders Unseen ‏@EE_Unseen Aug 27

The Square is overrun with tourists after a Japanese guidebook wrongly identifies Walford as the site of Stonehenge. Peggy bars them all.

Aug 26: Barry panics when Pat starts speaking in tongues. Dot is increasingly convinced her fridge may be haunted. Yolande gains her pilot licence.

Aug 26: After shocking new evidence comes to light, Frank is forced to deny any involvement in the Watergate scandal. But will Peggy stand by him?

Aug 26: Dot is aghast when Mr. Papadopolous turns the launderette into a nightclub. Bianca dumps Ricky after he blows all their savings on trifle.

Aug 26: Jules and Blossom’s chess tournament in The Vic ends in bloodshed. Tiffany sees apocalyptic warnings in the Walford Gazette’s crossword.

Aug 25: Paul and Anthony Trueman swap bodies after an electric shock from Patrick’s new toaster. Big Mo is attacked by a kestrel twice in one day.

Aug 24: Grant and Phil hatch a plan to steal Terry’s rare butterfly collection. Billy’s tight trousers ruin Peggy’s ‘Family Fun Day’ in the Square.

Aug 24: Pat and Peggy both experience poltergeist activity. Mark Fowler finds a microfilm in the Minute Mart that may reveal who really killed JFK.

Aug 23: David Wicks is humiliated when only two people turn up to his dance class. Ian suffers from more night terrors. Barry contracts the plague.

Aug 23: Gus and Robbie come to blows over Wellard’s unhealthy diet. Spencer and Alfie foil a telemarketing scam. Dr. Trueman falls down a sinkhole.

Aug 22: Grant is hurt when Sharon criticises the swishing sound his jeans make when he walks. Michelle takes up the clarinet – with deadly results.

Aug 22: Ian’s had enough after Beale’s Plaice comes under another attack from a fish rights group. Nana Moon trains for the Walford half-marathon.

Aug 21: Gita and Sanjay adopt a llama but it struggles to acclimatise to life on the Square. Frank’s new answerphone greeting is widely condemned.

Aug 21: Robbie is jealous when Sonia’s trumpet-playing attracts the attention of a talent agent. Grant’s hay fever worsens – will it claim his life?

Aug 21: Barry is convinced he has found the Shroud of Turin in a bin behind The Arches. Minty tries bare-knuckle boxing. Dot gets a tattoo.

Aug 20: Pete Beale is in the dog-house when Kathy discovers he’s spent their holiday savings on World War I Airfix models. Lofty gets kidney stones.

Aug 20: Big Mo finds out she’s distantly related to a minor royal. Peggy trials non-alcoholic beer in the Vic. Beppe and Ian accidentally kiss.

Aug 19: Pauline grounds Martin after catching him listening to rap music. Grant claims he can eat fifty eggs in one hour – will Phil take the bet?

Aug 19: Tiffany wins big on a scratchcard but Wellard runs off with it. Sonia becomes depressed after watching a documentary about deforestation.

Aug 19: Ian is frustrated as he fails to understand Sudoku. Martin buys a Tupperware set but leaves it at Walford East station. Denise goes blind.