Just how much of a superbitch one can be in Walford has always been a matter of contention. It’s not Denver, Colorado – Janine would never be the kind of superbitch Joan Collins was in Dynasty, largely because she doesn’t have the means. Or the wardrobe.
Janine’s a Poundland version of a superbitch, and knows it. She may have mastered the arched eyebrow, half-cocked smile and treacherous gaze but she’s still fairly powerless.
Alexis Carrington could have wiped out the whole of Denver if she’d wanted to. Janine couldn’t even get Beale’s Plaice closed down without the help of the local council.
We’ve watched Janine scheme, endure prostitution, blackmail the weak, and push her husband off a cliff but it’s all still a bit low rent, really. And now all that’s over, now she’s got a kid, she’s become even less of a superbitch.
Instead of being evil, Janine is now more like someone who’s missed the last tube and knows she’s got no way of getting home: pissed off and looking for someone to blame. Just not good enough for a superbitch of any standing.
Eastenders likes to perpetuate the myth that Max Branning – part Mongoose, part businessman - is something of a don, a player, a man so desired by women that they breed at the sight of his gingery face. From Tanya to Stacey to his current squeeze (the one with the unfeasibly large lips), everyone’s immune to his charms.
Funny thing is, no one outside the Square can fathom what those charms are. He’s a liar, a cheat, he walks without picking up his feet and always, ALWAYS, chucks his keys onto the table when he walks into a room. What a dreamboat.
Max is a man who thinks charisma is an aftershave, so how the writers expect anyone to believe that this man is the Casanova he is, is anyone’s guess.
It’s a shame about Pat, it all started so well. Plonked into the Square with nothing more than a suitcase full of earrings and a dubious past to her name, Pat’s role was primarily that of strumpet-turned-home-wrecker, which was fine until she got older, exhausted all possible love interests and the writers seemed to forget about her.
Her blousy brassiness lost a lot of its sheen when she ran someone over, went to prison for half-an-hour, got off with Patrick Trueman and began the transformation to Eastender non-entity. By the end, Pat was merely a shadow of her former self, so maybe her departure was for the best.
When Phil and Shirl got together it was like watching him grapple with barbed wire. They were ‘good togevva’, that’s what they kept telling themselves, but was anyone really convinced?
It speaks volumes that Shirley seemed far more cheerful in ITV prison drama Bad Girls than she ever has in Albert Square. Back then, before Eastenders turned her into some kind of Tim Burton animation come to life, she was softer, less spikey, wore far less mascara.
In reality, we all know that Phil would rather smoke crack for the rest of his life than be with Shirl and, likewise, Shirl would rather chuck knives into a dartboard of an evening than snuggle up to the world’s worst hardman.
I don’t want to wish a lifetime of lonliness upon Shirl but she’s a far better character when propping up the bar, sweeping the Vic with an evil eye.
Boo, hiss! He’s behind you!
Not really. Nasty Nick Cotton’s not really behind you because he was shunted off to non-Walford land a while back, taking his wretched stink of sub-standard acting with him. Following a particularly grim bout of mother-baiting, Nick disappeared into thin air. It’s a shame, really, because he was always guaranteed to liven the place up with his Fisher Price villainy.
Scuttling around the place like a leather-clad cockroach, people locked their doors, hid their purses and turned off the lights when he appeared; presumably frightened of his over acting.
Only ever a puff of smoke away from turning Eastenders into a pantomime, Nick Cotton brought spectacularly singular dimensions to his plot lines: from racism and theft to assault, extortion and heroin abuse.
I mourn his passing and long to hear him sneer, ‘aw’ight, Ma?’ to a goggle-eyed Dot once again, which, if the Eastenders are as predictable as I think they are, should be some time soon.
Yeh, Maaan! Still rocking The Windrush chic since the 50s. You can’t fault Patrick on the attire: the waistcoat, the jauntily cocked hat, the clincking glass of rum permanently glued to his hand - it’s all 100% accurate. The only thing missing is anything resembling a realistic, daily life.
He'll pop up every now and again with a glint of a gold tooth and some dreamy anecdote about Trinidad but that’s about it, really.
It’s the writers I blame – have they never seen him in Love Thy Neighbour?
Ian Beale is possibly the most unbelievable entrepreneur in the history of entrepreneurdom.
At some point in the 1980s, Ian got himself an ill-fitting suit, a fairly attractive wife and a couple of lucrative businesses. In reality, he’d have left Walford at the first opportunity to set up home in a mock-Tudor, suburban palace. But no. In Eastenders, no one leaves (unless they’ve got the sniff of work elsewhere), so Ian’s stuck it out, living in the same rabbit hutch as his dad and his dad’s dad.
Of course he’s had his ups and downs. Quite recently, Ian went mad, grew a beard, got homeless and started picking up fag ends for a living, but in the space of a couple of months he was back to wearing cheap suits and parting his hair in the middle. He’s now working his way to being the Square’s answer to Jamie Oliver.