Walford Gazette: Queer As Walford: How Gays Are Portrayed on EastEnders

Queer As Walford:

How Gays Are Portrayed on EastEnders

By Phil Hansen

(Editor’s note: The following article contains some
plot developments that may not been broadcast yet on
U.S. public TV, so beware if you don’t want to know
what happens ahead.)

Watching two strands of EastEnders on PBS and BBC
America, what really sticks out to me are 1999
EastEnders and 2003 EastEnders’ depiction of gay
characters. On the episodes showing on my local PBS
station, Tony and Simon have just left, and Dr. Fred
Fonseca has not come out as yet. In the BBC America
2003 EastEnders, Derek now seems firmly established as
part of the Fowler family.

Over the years EastEnders has always strived to
present gay and lesbian characters as part of the
diversity of modern life, with prominent storylines
devoted to Colin and Barry and, later on, Binnie and
Della. How do the current episodes of EastEnders
measure up?

At best, Tony and Simon can only be written off
as ambitious failures. Tony and Simon burst onto
Albert Square as the most high-profile, interesting
gay characters EastEnders had ever shown. Unlike
previous gays in Walford, Tony and Simon were related
to major families in EastEnders, thus ensuring
front-burner status in storylines. The initial plot
of Tony going out with Tiffany only to fall for her
brother Simon led up to a highly controversial kiss on
Blackpool pier. (Reportedly, this gay kiss was snipped
from 45 seconds to about 3 seconds when shown on the
BBC’s Sunday Omnibus replay of the week’s episodes
after viewer complaints!)

The Tony/Simon/Tiffany story was fantastic and
unlike anything EastEnders had shown before.

Unfortunately, all this promise evaporated.
Once Tony and Simon became a couple, Tony seemed to
wake up in the morning and fancy girls again. Polly
(that hair!), Frankie (bitch!) and Teresa (slag!) all
hooked up with Tony to no noticeable dramatic effect.
It seemed like the writers of EE had no idea what to
do to keep Tony and Simon interesting so they made
Tony bisexual. It’s a pity that nothing noteworthy
occurred because of that.

What happened to Simon was even worse. It’s hard
to tell how much of it had to do with the actor who
plays Simon, Andrew Lynford, or the EE writers, but
Simon grew more and more irritating. He forever seemed
to be whining and obnoxious, not having a kind word or
glance for anyone but his Mum and Tiffany. I even
started to like the homophobic Terry and Irene more!
When Simon got a new boyfriend who wanted an open
relationship, I couldn’t help thinking that anyone
with Simon as a boyfriend would naturally want to see
other men!

My dislike of Simon grew to mammoth proportions
after the death of Tiffany. His speech at her funeral,
where he blamed Grant for Tiffany’s death, struck me
as grotesquely inappropriate and in fact spoiled a
moving, dramatic episode. Simon’s kidnapping of
Courtney, climaxing in a ridiculous (literal)
cliffhanger with a deranged Simon on a cliff with
Courtney, felt borderline homophobic in its
implications. I don’t think the makers of EE intended
it to have that effect but, as shown, it felt like the
evil homosexual was being portrayed as a destroyer of
the family and family values.

Simon’s redemption as a result of his almost
burning to death would have been welcome at this
point. What we got instead was an EVEN MORE obnoxious
Simon, who rejected Tony after Tony steadfastly stood
by Simon’s side through his trauma. Tony got Simon’s
flat ready for him and even cooked him dinner the day
Simon got out of the hospital and Simon still threw
Tony out! It is unbelievable that Tony continued to
have such strong feelings for Simon that they were
able to ride off into the sunset together, to travel
around the world presumably forever. Good riddance!

EE’s next gay character, Dr. Fred Fonseca,
barely made a blip on the radar. I must confess I have
not seen as yet the episodes where the good doctor
comes out, or the fallout from that. When I started
watching the BBCA episodes, he was gone. In the
episodes I’ve been watching from 1999, Dr. Fonseca is
bland as tofu. He hardly does anything or speaks to
anyone. Occasionally he doles out medical advice.

Dr. Fonseca is the epitome of a sexless gay
character, whose only purpose is to prop up the more
colorful straight characters. He doesn’t exist as a
character in his own right. This is a waste of talent,
as Jimi Mistry went on to show considerable charisma
in films such as East is East and The Guru. Dr.
Fonseca was a huge missed opportunity for the writers
of EE.

Happily, the same can’t be said of the
production team of current EE. Their sole gay
character, Derek, has unconventionally settled into
the show as a replacement father figure for Mark and
Martin, and as Pauline’s best (only?) friend, making
him and Pauline a sort of geriatric Will & Grace.

It is also notable that Derek is EE’s first
older gay character. Derek’s introduction was
excellent. Pauline ran into her old school friend as
part of the cast of the community pantomime and she
started to fall in love with him, only to discover
Derek was gay when she was introduced to his
boyfriend! After Derek broke up with his lover, he
started to appear more and more in Albert Square until
he was firmly established.

What I love about Derek is how likeable he is.
The story in which Martin rejected Derek because of
harassment by his friends about Derek’s sexuality to
his gradual acceptance of Derek worked so well because
of the sympathy I felt for Derek. It’s great to see
Derek be there for Martin when it looks like Martin
might go to jail.

When Derek fought with Pauline over her recent
disowning of Mark, it was heartbreaking to watch
Pauline lash out at Derek Equally moving was Derek’s
recollection of Pauline protecting him from bullies
when they were at school and their eventual
reconciliation.

It is also refreshing that a gay man can be shown
to be part of a family without having lust for any of
the male members of that family. A nasty anonymous
letter and Martin’s so-called friends accused Derek of
hanging around the Fowlers because of lust for Martin
but that is not the case.

Derek has nothing but unconditional love for
Pauline and her family. While Derek is not defined by
his sexuality, I would like him to gain some kind of
romantic interest, if only to see Pauline’s reaction!
(I can hear her now. “You’re not good enough for my
Derek! He doesn’t need you—he has me!”)

While EE has had mixed results with its depiction
of gay characters, the show has scored with one
fantastic gay storyline that doesn’t have any gay
characters in it.

I’m talking about Steve and Matthew’s hilariously
homoerotic relationship! They are forever acting as if
they are sleeping together and don’t want anyone to
know! Notice how Steve is always touching
Matthew—putting his arm around him or grabbing his
head. His gifts of money to Matthew and Matthew
promising “not to tell” can totally be interpreted the
wrong way. I thought I was the only one seeing this
until Annie Palmer accused Steve of having a
relationship with Matthew! I have such a laugh when
the camera focuses on Annie’s bewildered expression
every time she sees Matthew and Steve together.

Seriously, it is the chemistry between Martin
Kemp and Joe Absolom, who played Steve and Matthew,
that makes for such riveting viewing. That is one
thing EastEnders has never got right: a compelling gay
couple, like Keith and David on Six Feet Under. What
are you waiting for, EastEnders? Give Derek a
boyfriend. Let him be subjected to a typically
tortured Walford relationship!




Walford Gazette: ONLY 16 U.S. PUBLIC TV STATIONS LEFT CARRYING EASTENDERS

ONLY 16 U.S. PUBLIC TV STATIONS LEFT CARRYING
EASTENDERS

NEW YORK—-EastEnders on public television in the U.S.
has gone through a rough patch this year with the
latest station announcing cancellation being
WPTD/ThinkTV 16 of Dayton, OH, on the heels of further
cancellations in Philaldephia (WHYY), San Jose (KTEH)
and Plattsburgh, NY (WCFE).

The Walford Gazette thought that it might be a
good time to take stock of who’s left.

According to BBC Worldwide, which sells the
programs to public TV stations, there are 16 stations
left still carrying EastEnders.

In no particular order, they include:

  • WSKG – Binghamton, NY
  • WLVT – Allentown, PA
  • WPBS – Watertown, NY
  • WGCU – Fort Myers, FL
  • WCVE – Richmond, VA
  • North Carolina Public Television
  • WLIW – Plainview, NY
  • WETA – Arlington, VA
  • WPBT – Miami, FL
  • KUHT – Houston, TX
  • Prairie Public TV, Fargo, ND
  • KTCA, St. Paul, MN
  • WCNY, Syracuse, NY
  • KBTC, Tacoma, WA
  • KOCE, Huntington Beach, CO
  • KBDI, Denver, CO

    The series debuted in the U.S. on approximately
    50 stations in 1988, three years after its debut on
    British television, where it’s an institution and
    among the highest rated shows in U.K. history.

    Meanwhile, in the U.S., EastEnders has never
    grown beyond its cult status, and scores of public TV
    stations have dropped it steadily due to its high
    cost, low ratings and poor financial support from
    viewers.

    Occasionally, the threat of cancellations have
    left the series’ continuation in doubt, such as what
    happened in 1996 when WNYC, the flagship station, was
    sold by then mayor Rudy Guiliani, and the BBC made
    overtures that it would not be able to continue
    satellite transmission if a replacement station in the
    New York area was not found.

    Thankfully, WLIW, picked up EastEnders and has
    stuck by it, although occasionally expressing
    disappointment that not enough viewers have
    financially supported the show.

    The Walford Gazette, which was founded 11 years
    ago to give the stations a premium-incentive tool in
    their fundraising efforts for EastEnders, urges that
    all fans who watch via public television to support
    their local stations with what they can give
    financially when they’re asked to contribute.

    A BBC source said that any further cancellations
    should be known next spring.




  • Walford Gazette: Murdoch Wants BBC to Divest EE

    Murdoch Wants BBC to Divest EE

    LONDON -—If media tycoon Rupert Murdoch has his way, the
    BBC should be forced to sell off its most popular
    programmes, such as EastEnders.

    The proposal, which was made recently by Tony
    Ball, the chief executive of Murdoch’s satelllite TV
    company BSkyB, is the first salvo in the debate over
    the BBC’s royal charter renewal in 2006. The charter
    sets the terms of the corporation’s budget and method
    of funding.

    Under the Murdoch, proposal, the BBC would also
    be banned from buying imports, including Hollywood
    blockbusters like Harry Potter.

    The plan was revealed at the Media Guardian
    Edinburgh international television festival. BSkyB has
    long accused the BBC of squeezing the commercial
    sector with a stream of populist programmes.

    Murdoch’s plan calls for the BBC to put up for
    auction at least six of its most popular programmes
    every year to commercial rivals such as ITV or Channel
    4. The proceeds would be ploughed back into the
    BBC’s budget to replace the lost shows.

    British households are required to pay £116
    (roughly US$174) licence fee, which annually generates
    for the BBC £2.5 billion (US$3.75 billion).

    The BBC responded to the proposal: “We are
    flattered that Tony Ball should be so preoccupied with
    the BBC but his comments have to be seen in the
    context of Rupert Murdoch’s long and hostile campaign
    against the BBC.
    Thankfully for the British public, Mr Murdoch has not
    been successful in this campaign.

    “This speech clearly reflects BSkyB’s view that
    programmes are merely a commodity to be bought and
    sold. The BBC—and probably the majority of British
    broadcasters and producers—believe programmes are
    about creativity, talent and broader cultural and
    social issues.”

    Besides BSkyB, Murdoch’s media holdings include
    the 20th Century Fox film studio, the Fox broadcast
    network, The Times and The Sun British daily
    newspapers, as well as the New York Post.




    Walford Gazette: John Altman on his EastEnders alter ego – Nasty Nick’ ‘99% Rotten COTTON’

    John Altman on his EastEnders alter ego

    Nasty Nick 99% Rotten COTTON

    By Larry Jaffee

    NEW YORK — “There were three,” rattles off John
    Altman, when asked how many people on EastEnders has
    his alter ego ‘Nasty Nick’ Cotton killed since
    February 1985 when the series debuted in the U.K.

    “Reg Cox, Eddie Royle, and accidentally my son
    Ashley [a teenager who hasn’t yet shown up on U.S.
    public TV screens]. And don’t forget I tried to poison
    [to death] my dear old Ma [the long-suffering Dot
    Cotton]. Not too bad, eh?”

    In person, Altman turns out to be nothing like
    Nick and looks great for his 51 years. He usually
    doesn’t reveal his age to the U.K. press, he confides.
    Nick’s tattoos, he smiles, were make-up, as were the
    needle marks during Nick’s heroin-shooting days.

    Altman visited New York in late June on a holiday
    to the States with his 16-year-old daughter Roseanna.
    Staying at the Long Island home of Paul Bennett, an
    expatriate friend he’s known since schooldays, Altman
    paid a visit to WLIW to tape a commercial spot to help
    them promote on-air the then impending EastEnders
    switch to Saturday nights. WLIW’s Matthew Digirolamo
    was good enough to tip off the Walford Gazette of
    Altman’s local presence and how he might be up for an
    interview.

    “I feel quite lucky to have played Nick Cotton
    for so many years,” says Altman. “Some actors never
    get anywhere. And every time I’ve been on EastEnders,
    they have quite meaty storylines for me. From an
    acting point of view, it’s been a good experience.
    It’s a bit of a cross to bear sometimes though—him
    being so nasty. When they’re casting, I tend to get
    overlooked for parts like the warm, loving
    father—which as you can see I am in real life.

    “It’s [playing Nick] a double-edged sword really
    because I’ve been labelled ‘Nick Cotton’ for the rest
    of my life. But it’s been great because I’ve been in
    and out [of EastEnders] the last couple of years. And
    in the theatre I have been able to play Billy Flynn in
    an U.K.-touring show of Chicago.”

    A BBC reviewer on a Norwich performance last
    November wrote: “Altman certainly looks the part, and
    his performance as the silver-tongued courtroom
    attorney draws on his recent TV experience as Dot
    Cotton’s smooth-talking son.”

    As far as coming back again as Nick, Altman
    says, “They’ve left it open.” They being the various
    creative teams that have run EastEnders over the past
    18 years. “I think they keep him like an ace card up
    their sleeve. When it gets a bit quiet, [time to bring
    back] Nick Cotton.”

    Indeed, Nick has probably returned to the Square
    more than any other character, not to mention that he
    was there from the very first episode in February
    1985. I tell him how EastEnders fans often vividly
    remember the show’s first-ever scene of Den Watts
    kicking in Reg Cox’s door; I remember better the last
    part of that episode with Den throwing Nick out of the
    Vic after getting into a fight with Ali. “And Nick’s
    fist comes through the window,” Altman adds, finishing
    my thought.

    Asked whether he thought that the EastEnders
    creative teams ever went too far with his evilness,
    such as poisoning Dot, Altman responds, “Not really. I
    try to find anything really nice about Nick.” He
    thinks a moment. “Well, he gave his leather jacket to
    his son Ashley. He did love his son, you know? And
    when his son dies, he was actually grief-stricken
    looking over at the coffin. I don’t know if you seen
    that episode yet?”

    I tell him no, and explain the time warp
    Americans who appreciate EastEnders find themselves in
    and how I didn’t yet get BBC America when that
    storyline hit.

    Even though Nick was responsible for Ashley’s
    death, explains Altman, “Nick’s warped mind still
    blames it on Mark Fowler. I don’t know what else Nick
    could do really, other than go out like James Cagney.
    Personally I wouldn’t want to see him as a nice guy. I
    don’t think the viewers would want to either. He’s 99
    percent rotten Cotton, yeah.”

    On the Nick Cotton scale, Altman comments that
    EastEnders’ Trevor was “a good bad guy.”

    Altman’s acting credits also include small parts
    in the Star Wars sequel The Empire Strikes Back and
    the 1979 film Quadrophenia, based on Pete Townshend’s
    1973 concept album by The Who.

    For Jedi, “I was only working on it for a couple
    of days. It’s easy to miss me, but I did work on it.
    Quadrophenia was [an acting] learning curve for me.
    That’s a cult movie in the U.K.”

    I point out, “Here too.”
    Another major role outside of EastEnders for
    Altman was playing George Harrison in a 1979 TV movie
    called Birth of the Beatles. A musician in real life,
    Altman felt at ease playing Harrison, whom he closely
    resembles physically.

    Asked whether he ever met Harrison, he regrets
    that he never did, but like fellow EastEnders alum
    Carol Harrison (who played Tiffany and Simon’s flashy
    mum, Walford Gazette, No. 36), Ringo Starr once
    recognised ‘Nick Cotton’ in public, remembers Altman.

    Of what’s on U.S. telly, Altman comments that “24
    is damn good television; there’s so much going on at
    the same time.”

    He mentions playing one of the leads in a play
    called Bouncers, a satire about nightclub life that’s
    booked for major U.K. cities through January.

    Bouncers, written by respected playwright John
    Godber, was first performed in 1977 at the Edinburgh
    Fringe Festival and recently enjoyed a successful run
    in the West End’s Whitehall Theatre.

    The production of the play also stars Terry
    Duckworth, an actor in EastEnders’ rival Coronation
    Street, in an obvious ploy by the producers to bring
    the punters to the theatre.

    The four leads in Bouncers play a total of 47
    parts—from lager louts to handbag-clutching girls,
    reminiscent of the acting trio who comprise the BBC’s
    bizarre series The League of Gentlemen (see page 11).

    Altman described his Bouncers characters to the
    British newspaper The Independent in a recent
    interview: “I switch constantly between three
    characters: Eric, Maureen and Baz. I was told it would
    stretch me! There is Lucky Eric, a bouncer, so-called
    because he always finds a fiver on the dance floor.
    Maureen, a bit busty, but not a bag, likes a drink and
    a bit of a laugh. And a young yob called Baz, fit for
    a fight Friday night—get down there, have a skinful,
    maybe a Chinese chicken-in-a- basket, and try to pull
    a bird. The music will change—different disco
    numbers—one minute I’m a woman, then suddenly I’m a
    man. It’s quite bizarre.”

    Following Bouncers, Altman tells the Walford
    Gazette, he’s set to appear in a in pantomime
    production of Peter Pan, which he also did last
    holiday season. “And after that, who knows?”

    With Dirty Den coming back, I mention that
    there’s probably an opportunity to bring back Nick yet
    one more time given the history (I mention the
    gripping prison scenes) and the fact that there’s no
    love lost between the two characters. “Yes, that was
    when he confessed to murdering Reg Cox, thinking that
    Dirty Den would be impressed. I haven’t heard anything
    [about coming back]. And I’m pretty booked doing
    plays.”




    Walford Gazette: The Public TV/BBC America Timewarp

    The Public TV/BBC America Timewarp

    By Esta Asteroff

    If it’s Wednesday, it must be EastEnders on PBS. No!

    If it’s Friday, it must be EastEnders on BBCA.
    No, no, no!!! If it’s Sunday, it must be the rerun of
    EastEnders on BBC America. No, no!! (Ed. note:
    pre-Aug. 4.)

    If it’s Monday (circa early 2001), it must be
    EastEnders: The Early Years on BBCA. No, no, no,
    no!!!!

    Like a lot of people, I’ve been fortunate enough
    not only to see EastEnders on PBS, but also to now see
    current U.K. episodes on BBCA. Little did I realize
    that there would be a downside to this: total
    confusion as to who is in, who is out, who is back,
    who is dead, and who is alive—to say nothing of whose
    child is whose, who shot whom, is that a new actress
    in that role, and just who is that bloke?

    When I moved from New York City to Florida, I
    quickly learned that neither of my PBS stations
    carried EastEnders. (Many of you would have packed up
    again and left!) But I did get current U.K. episodes
    every Sunday, with a repeat on Fridays.

    To fill in the three-year gap between where I
    left off watching in New York and where I am now on
    BBCA, I’m getting tapes from a trusty friend. In a few
    years, I’ll be about back to where I started. Sort of
    like that old song, “I’m my own grandpa.”

    Meanwhile, although I was never averse to
    spoilers, there was a lot I didn’t know. For example,
    since the storyline involving the Slaters was so
    complicated, I never paid attention to those spoilers.
    Similarly, the whole contretemps of
    Saskia/Steve/Mel/Lisa et al, was too daunting to read
    about without knowing any of the characters involved.

    At the same time, I was forced to wait for weeks
    to get caught up on the PBS episodes. My belongings
    with my VCR hadn’t arrived, so I couldn’t play any
    tapes. I became more behind to the point where I am
    now: totally, hopelessly mired in confusion.

    At long last, the VCR arrived and I popped in a
    tape with PBS episodes. What is happening? Well, Grant
    had begun his affair with his mother-in-law Louise;
    Tiff was on her massage course; Bianca learns she is
    pregnant again; Gianni learns George may be his real
    father; Mark and Ruth are having big problems; Melanie
    Healey and Lisa first appear. Terry and Irene have not
    yet tied the knot; Sonia is living with Bianca and
    Ricky; Peggy and Frank are an item.

    Oh, I’ve finally met Jamie Mitchell. And all this
    has happened in the few short months since I’ve been
    out of the PBS loop. Whew!

    But there is no sign of Samantha’s or Sharon’s
    return; there is no Jim (Carol’s father); there is no
    Laura, Nathan, Janine. Steve has not yet appeared
    (although I hear it’s soon).

    Cut to BBCA. While waiting for my VCR to arrive,
    I still had access to a TV and BBCA. So I tune in, and
    that’s when all hell broke loose.

    All of a sudden there is the malevolent Nathan,
    trying to break up Natalie and Barry. (By the way,
    when did Natalie return? And with a nose job!) The
    whole Steve/Melanie/Saskia storyline is over, and it’s
    not even begun on PBS, so I have no idea what went on
    there. Where is Michael Rose and family? I know
    Matthew Rose has a long sad storyline, but that hasn’t
    started on PBS either. So there are huge gaps in my
    knowledge. Stories and characters have come and
    already gone and I am in the dark.

    On top of that, I’m now immersed in the sad
    spectacle of the Slaters. Little Mo (a more
    appropriate name might be Little Mind) is in jail.
    I’ve met the awful Trevor, but I’ve yet to see the
    episodes where he abuses her and she attacks him.

    Suddenly Sharon and Samantha are back. The new
    Sam, and the new Janine, take some getting used to,
    but I was shocked to hear Sharon returned because the
    wonderful Angie died. I was not prepared for that.
    Mostly, though, I never can remember who is still
    in or out on either PBS or BBCA.

    Why is Lisa hot for Michael when she’s with Mark?
    Oh, that’s because it’s PBS not BBCA. And whose baby
    is it anyway?

    What happened to Sarah Hills? Robbie is back on
    BBCA, but still gone from PBS. Yikes. You really need
    a scorecard here.

    I knew I wasn’t alone in this great confusion, so
    I asked some other fans to share their experiences.
    I’d hoped to learn something about how to handle this,
    and also to help others. Here’s what they have to say:

    Jane Pond, of Philadelphia, reports: “It’s
    interesting to talk about the cognitive dissonance
    between the U.S. episodes and the BBC ones. I found it
    most discon-certing when, arriving in the U.K., I
    would watch the ‘Omnibus.’ Sometimes I would see part
    of a storyline in which I knew very few of the
    characters. I think that one I saw several years ago
    will be coming up soon, involving a new doctor to the
    Square.

    “In November 2000, I caught the
    Peggy/Frank/Pat/Roy episodes. I couldn’t believe my
    luck! I don’t usually read ahead, so don’t know what’s
    going on. Sometimes, when the episodes would show up
    on PBS, I would be reminded of my trips to London.
    Those are nice memories.

    “Here in Philly, I think every-one who is
    currently on (or has just left) from the current
    story-lines has showed up. Interesting that some are
    more glamorous later on than in the beginning.”

    Chimes in Tim Wilson of New York City: “Watching
    EE on both PBS and BBCA can be a fascinating
    experience because, unbeknownst to both, obviously,
    there can be a synchronicity between their EE
    broadcasts. An example which resonated most to me
    occurred back in September 2000. On BBCA in
    EastEnders: The Early Years (reruns of the show which
    harkened back to 1986, and discontinued last year),
    Ethel and Dot were seen in their famous, brilliant
    two-hander episode.”

    Reports Doris Evans, also of New York City:
    “Well, I have been watching BBCA since about Halloween
    time 2001 and I felt giddy for a time shifting back
    and forth.

    “ The WLIW episodes (with Tiffany’s attempting to
    leave Grant) are currently more interesting than the
    BBCA current episodes of the extremely
    dysfunctional family of the Slaters and the constant
    berating of Zoe and Anthony’s relationship; Mark’s
    trying to have a family and relationship with
    talkative Lisa who is a passive trouble maker; Ian’s
    descent into debauchery.

    I’m adjusting, so when WLIW is about to come on,
    I watch the last 20 minutes of the week before, which
    helps centre me to what’s coming, and I travel back in
    time and know everything. I just feel lucky to be an
    EE fan and enjoy every minute of it.”

    Reports Dana Gordon, also of New York City: “I
    tape both the PBS and the BBCA episodes (on the same
    tape) and then watch them when I have the time. I use
    the same tape over and over so not only do I end up
    with different time periods, I get storyline shifts
    from the same period back to back as well. If I’m not
    paying close attention, I can really get
    confused.

    “In any event, I certainly experience that
    disconnect you are talking about. I’ve often watched
    an episode not really knowing what time it’s from and
    being quite startled by a particular character showing
    up. Good thing it’s all on tape so I can rewind and
    follow the story again, this time with the “right”
    time on my EastEnders watch!

    “The most interesting disconnect moments
    are happening now. The WLIW New York PBS storylines
    are about three years behind BBCA, and the gap can be
    tricky to fill, especially where the same characters
    show up in both times.

    “I know that many viewers don’t like spoilers,
    but I’m not one of them. I’ve read Tiffany’s Diary
    (available for sale through the Walford Gazette) and
    Bianca’s Diary books as well as others which include
    current U.K.
    storylines. “The current PBS stories are just what I
    read about a couple of years ago in the diaries. I
    have found that it doesn’t matter what I read about a
    future storyline—when it actually happens, I’m
    riveted.

    “Of course, like many viewers, there’s that other
    source of the disconnect: I make up storylines in my
    head for my favourite characters, so there’s
    been a bit of surprise when something I think “should”
    happen happens sort of the way I imagine it. Either
    that proves the magic of EastEnders, or it proves that
    I am watching far too much television!”

    Finally, someone who wasn’t too confused, fellow
    New Yorker Donna Peet: “I was so thrilled to finally
    get BBC America, that I happily overlooked any
    confusion from watching storylines separated by more
    than three-and-one-half years—although it is slightly
    disconcerting when new characters pop up on the PBS
    series that have either been on BBCA for some time or
    already left. It throws me a little, and then I get
    used to it.

    “I just realized one thing that keeps me focused
    as to which EE era I’m watching: Peggy’s hairdos.
    There are two, but when I see the shorter one, I know
    we’re in the new millennium.”