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.

Phil&Grant&Danny

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.

Kevin and Denise – A Match Made in Heaven?

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By Charles S.P. Jenkins

Phil Daniels is perhaps best known for his starring role in The Who’s film Quadrophenia. His role as Jimmy led to his playing a cockney in a number of other productions before coming to the role of Kevin Wicks in EastEnders.

I remember that when he first appeared in Walford as Kevin Wicks, I was decidedly unimpressed with the character. I think that this was mainly due to his whimpering around his kids, the dozy Deano and less dozy Carly. Apparently he had plans to see the kids ‘settled’ and then to take off and ‘travel the world’. However, he does not go. No, he decides to stay and, with the kids, he settles into the house of his cousin by marriage, Pat Evans. This leads to our being treated to endless boring plotlines centring on their domestic dealings. I couldn’t wait for him to change his mind and ‘sling ’is hook’, as we used to say in the East End, and GO!

Not long after the arrival of the Wickses, into the Vic walks Denise Fox, played by Diane Parish, a former Lovejoy character, and now here as a mother of two spoiled girls. The elder, Chelsea, is lazy and thinks herself a beauty who upon arrival throws herself at Grant Mitchell during one of his return visits. The younger is unpleasant and surly and supposed to be a ‘clever’ child. Although this child is named Libby, she answers to the ludicrous name of Squiggle! She takes a shine to Darren Miller, which proves that she and her sister are demonstrating an early tendency towards making poor choices in men!

I dismissed both Kevin and Denise as two more dull characters to fill the screen while we awaited the further exploits of Phil Mitchell. And then it happened: Kevin was sat at the bar of the Vic one early evening bemoaning something of absolutely no interest when in walks Denise, grumpy as ever, and the two met, and… my opinion changed.

There have been great ‘pairings’ in film and on the stage: Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh; the couple in The Thin Man series (William Powell and Myrna Lloyd), Cary Grant and just about any woman he worked with. Of course, ‘on-screen chemistry’ does not always translate into ‘off-screen attraction’, but as far as I was concerned, this on-screen ‘odd couple’ certainly looked made for each other.

Although this meeting of Kevin and Denise was hardly the forerunner of ‘a match made in heaven’, I did not see it that way at all. Instantly sparks flew between them. She, being the obvious aggressor and Kevin, defending himself against what he saw as an unprovoked attack! How on earth did I think that they were a match made in heaven, you may be asking? But sparks and insults often hide an attraction between two apparent combatants. Anyway, upon reflection I soon realised what it was about these two characters that appealed to me and made me believe them to be an ideal couple on screen.

I have to confess that I have disliked and been disliked by some in the past that I eventually changed my opinion of, and I could tell that despite the spats, Kevin and Denise were destined to ‘find each other’ sometime. But this is not the point: what was it I saw in these two characters that made me suddenly like them together?

Allow me to tell you about my parents. My mother was a true East Ender, from the Borough of Bethnal Green, while my father came from the South London Borough of Dulwich, where actor Dennis Harman went to school. My parents were like ‘chalk and cheese’, quite different in personality and had spats often. However, one was able to see their attraction for each other, which was especially evident when they danced together, which they often did in our kitchen. To see them ‘move together to the music’ was quite magical. They were graceful, and although I am sure that they were not especially great dancers, together, they gelled and moved in perfect unison to the rhythm of the music. As a child, I loved to watch them dance.

Something else about my parents that Kevin and Denise have in common with them: they were short, perhaps even tiny! My mother was 4 feet 11 inches tall, although she insisted she was five feet in height. My father was 5 feet 1 inch, but was what you would call wiry. They were both dark with jet-black hair, which my father inherited from his Welsh ancestry. From where came my mother’s colouring, I know not. Both also knew how to dress to their best advantage and always looked fine when they went out, and they made a handsome couple.

Seeing Kevin and Denise together at the bar of the Vic immediately made me think of my folks: both small and dark, with Kevin being wiry. I wondered how long we were going to have to wait for these two to realise that they were ideally suited?

Denise has a temper, which brought a great deal of friction to their early attempts at starting a relationship. There were multiple misunderstandings when they tried to ‘go on a date’, each abruptly ending with Denise walking off in a huff. She can be quite the pit bull. Despite this, Kevin chose to respond to Denise’s tantrums by showing a side of him so far not seen on screen. Since he obviously had begun to have ‘strong feelings’ for her, brave Kevin appeared undaunted by these failures and kept coming back with the hope that she had calmed down and he could continue to try ‘to win the hand of the fair maiden!’

Even Denise’s daughters noticed that there was ‘something’ between their mother and Kevin. While Chelsea actively encouraged her mother to be nicer to Kevin, the spoilt, unpleasant and loud Libby became openly hostile to the kind overtures made by Kevin to her. Libby, who is supposed to be a clever child had her head in the clouds and yearned for her mother to fall back in love with her father, the odious Owen Fox. Obviously the child saw her parents and herself living happily ever after in some distant fairyland on a planet far, far away!

So why was Denise no longer with her husband? Like many failed marriages in Britain and elsewhere, the abuse of alcohol can be found as the root cause of their breakdowns. This was the case with Denise and Owen Fox. Apparently, she had fled her husband and their life together along with her daughters and escaped to Walford. Here she took up the position of postmistress in order to support her family. And like Kevin, she was trying to make a new life for them.

Meanwhile, once Kevin decided to stay in Walford, he took over the car lot and began selling second-hand cars, while Carly took up the job of a mechanic along with Gary and Minty at Phil’s garage under the Arches and Deano tried to show off his skill as a vendor in the Bridge Street Market.

Things now looked set for Kevin and Denise to finally go on a date. Daughter Chelsea was working at a restaurant where the owner had taken a shine to Kevin. Chelsea was soon fired, but Kevin stepped in and got her reinstated. When this owner insulted Chelsea and Denise a little later, Kevin, always the gentleman, sided with Denise and gave the owner a piece of his mind. All now looked set for the couple to finally get together, as Denise became less hostile towards Kevin.

But as we all know, even though Kevin and Denise appear on screen to be a great couple, and despite the fact that it looked as if all would go smoothly for them, dark clouds were sure to be looming on the horizon together with a meddling unpleasant child causing havoc. Alas, the path of true love never runs smoothly, especially in a soap opera!

Dr Charles S.P. Jenkins is solely responsible for the fine websites stories-of-london.org and eastend-memories.org

 

Alfie Moon on the Therapist’s Couch

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By Yaz Headley

Editor’s note: The author is an accredited Integrative Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Psychotherapist in private practice in London, UK. Yaz is also studying for a Ph.D. in Mind-Body Medicine and Integrated Mental Health. She has followed EastEnders on and off over the years. You can reach her at yheadley@gmail.com and read more about her background at www.thecompletelife.com.

We are all a subject of our own history. Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something or is invested in you continuing to live as you are. For some this is a good thing, for many this is not the way to go. Many would love the magic elixir that would get rid of every negative break with the past, but it is not possible to find it in a bottle, a happy thought or magic.

In looking at a psyche of a person, we would look at their history, their present life and their thoughts and behavior. We would look at the support system and resources they have in their lives, and we would look at what they do when they are stressed. In some therapies, such as the psychodynamic and the psychoanalytic, a great deal of time is spent on the patient’s past and in the unfurling of their history.

In the version of Integrative Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which is the approach I take, I spend some time there, but I also look at their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. These are key to helping an individual change. Modern-day research shows how we are not just a subject of history and genetics but are also affected by epigenetics.

Epigenetics is our environment, those whom we have around us, the food we eat and the activities we do.

Patient’s File Alfie Moon.

The song “Whats it all, Alfie” about comes to mind….. The thing is – does Alfie ever have an answer to this question? I think not. Alfie does not know from one day to the next as to what is really going on. Alfie has no real sense of self. Alfie is amorphous and adapts to whosoever he is with. He is a perfect host at any place he is in, because he can easily adapt to people and those around him. He absorbs what is around him and easily gives and reflects their energy.

Alfie’s parents were killed in a car crash when he was young. The loss of a parent when young has been found to be a significant factor for those who suffer from depression later on in life. It is often thought that we can manage and handle matters when we are young, but the loss of parents is a huge blow to anyone who is starting out in life. So much needs to be reset and changed.

No one is as important to us as our parents or those who may care for us. The value of our original carers is inestimable because our memories and imprints when young are scorched into our DNA. This is then carried within us for the rest of our life, and we need to rework it if we are to live better lives. Such important imprints are not easily replaced.

Alfie is no stranger to criminal activities either; identity theft, bigamy, and arson. He is always trying it on, trying to make things better. Trying to find a short-cut to happiness and wealth. In the end, the charming, sweet Alfie starts again and again from zero. A perfect host to others, but to himself, he is not true. Alfie promises the moon but barely gets past the cheddar cheese.

We all know an Alfie. They are sweet kind people but in the end, do so because they also hope you will also in the end really look after them. Alfie is very co-dependent, and his very own existence is determined by others. We all in some way are co-dependent, but Alfie has it perfected to an art-form.

Only a co-dependent like him would be able to live with someone so borderline or bipolar as Kat. Kat is unpredictable, and the very seeming predictable Alfie likes the ups and downs that Kat brings to their lives to avoid making his own decisions. He is so busy fire-fighting the entrails which Kat leaves in her wake that he does not have to do anything about his own life. You meet these people sometimes. Sweet helpful, always thinking about others. He can be hot and cold and committed and avoidant too.

Avoidance is very accepted today. We can avoid relationships, discussions, what counts by – by watching lots of TV, looking over and over at mobiles, playing online games, by lots of sex, food and alcohol; behaviors which seem so acceptable nowadays. All often accounted with a “I’m just having fun”. There is a tipping point, though, to avoidance. A point when it becomes unhealthy. Its fun to drink, eat and have sex. But there is a point when it really starts to have a negative effect on ourselves and those around us.

Alfie does it with his relationship with Kat. But at the end of it, they really need to stop avoiding. But the stopping of avoiding is unexpectedly harder to do then to continue with the avoiding. But hey, where would we be without the fun, unpredictability, and avoidance of Alfie and his hot and cold relationship with Kat. Life would be so boring if he were reasonable, organized and settled. He is such an important character that keeps the EastEnders storyline moving. ©2016 Yaz