Soapwatch: JACI STEPHEN’S ultimate insight into this week’s soaps

The incongruity between real life and soap life has thrown us all into a kind of surreal universe. Not so long ago, soapland was a fictional world that, while rather similar to our own lives, was far removed thanks to its heightened, ongoing drama.

Now, as we all struggle with the coronavirus and self-isolation, it is we who are living in a bizarre new world – and we find ourselves clinging to our soaps like memories of a life we had lived many moons ago.

Last week, it was hard during Coronation Street not to shout, ‘Stand six feet apart!’ when the Barlows turned up en masse at the vet surgery, or when Mary, Evelyn, Nina and Toyah set off together to join a protest (a gathering of dozens? Yegods! Do they all have a death wish?).

Did you cry when you saw the locals gather together in the Queen Vic in EastEnders, remembering the days when a night with your mates at the pub was as normal as breathing? Were you shouting at Chas in Emmerdale’s Woolpack, begging her to hurry up with serving the pints?

As the old adage goes, ‘This too shall pass’… but until it does and/or until the shows run out of episodes, soapland is about as close to reality as we’re going to get.

CORONATION STREET

COPS AND BOTHERS

Steve and Tracy (pictured left) receive a visit from two police officers, after Amy has friends round and things get rowdy in this week’s Coronation Street

What does it take to get Weatherfield police to respond quickly to a crime? Serial killers, stabbings, robberies… you practically have to handcuff them to get them to your door. 

But when Amy has friends round and things get rowdy (Corey smashes Tracy’s new lamp – oh, the deviousness!), two cops arrive to speak to Tracy and Steve (pictured). 

They were way slower off the mark when Tracy bashed Charlie’s skull in with a statue. 

Maybe the fewer lamps within her grabbing distance, the better; you may have saved her a prison sentence, Corey.

Events at Stillwaters continue to be hilarious – the sublime new setting delivers laughs week on week, It’s great to have Norris back – an exchange with Claudia last week is too near the knuckle to repeat (delicate souls at Stillwaters may be listening); let’s just say it involved Ken’s swimming. And a reference to lengths.

This week, Ken’s campaign to overthrow Charles gathers pace, but no one shows up at his drinks party because Charles is entertaining in the bar. 

Which man will emerge victorious when they go head to head in a fencing match (yes, really)? And what secrets will emerge when Norris discovers the Stillwaters’ Rule Book?

HANDBAGS AT DAWN

Asha (pictured) discovers her photos have been shared in a group chat in Coronation Street

The territory of female teenage love rivals is never pretty – with Amy and Asha interested in Corey, what’s a girl to do? Well, this being the age of the Millennial, get her kit off, of course, so Asha decides to flash her chest on social networking. 

But this is a mystery: it’s not that long since she was traumatised by her appearance, ordering creams to try to look white. 

That’s quite a leap and one she’ll regret when Asha sees the photos are shared on a group chat on her phone.

EASTENDERS

GRAY AREAS

Gray gives Leo’s mum Michaela (pictured) a warning, as she returns with an intent to blame Whitney for her son’s death in EastEnders

Poor Whitney. In her life, it’s not just bad pennies that keep turning up, but whole bank vaults. This week, Leo’s mum Michaela is back and intent on blaming Whitney for his death. 

But it’s Gray to the rescue once more – when Michaela is about to cause a scene at the Vic, he gets rid of her with a warning.

How long will it be before Whitney becomes involved with Gray, do you reckon? When it comes to choosing men, she couldn’t spot a bad penny in her sleep. Perhaps she would be better off in prison.

IT’S AN (UN)FAIR COP

Love’s young dream has quickly turned into a nightmare for Tiffany and Keegan, but will things change when he offers her Karen’s old engagement ring? Doubtful. 

Who’d want anything of hers? The average Christmas cracker is a veritable Tiffany’s (the store, not the woman) compared to her jewellery box. 

There’s trouble at Vinny’s party when Keegan is wrongly arrested for throwing a brick at a police car. 

Despite no support from Jack (the only ex-copper south of Watford Gap), he’s released – however, Tiffany has a bombshell.

EMMERDALE

YET ANOTHER HITCH

Lydia celebrates becoming Mrs Dingle by drinking from a welly in Emmerdale. Pictured: Sam and Lydia, with Samson 

Sam and Lydia are getting married in the morning! Or should be but, this being Emmerdale, the course of true love never runs smooth. 

In fact, it’s stuck on a quiet country road when Mandy decides to take Lydia out for a night on the town and they are abandoned by their taxi driver (really? You’d think he’d be grateful for the work, given that the village sees a cab roughly once every five years). 

The pair become separated (goodness knows how; it’s hardly the O2), but while Lydia arrives home safely, Mandy grabs a lift with a man who turns out to be her ex, Paul. 

When he reveals he’s come back for his son, Mandy lies and says Vinny is no longer around. 

The truth should take Paul all of, ooh, ten minutes to discover – and, sure enough, during the final wedding photos, who should be sitting across the road in his car but… come on, it’s not rocket science.

The wedding itself goes off rather well by Emmerdale standards (nobody dies; nobody gets blown up; nobody is kidnapped), and Lydia celebrates becoming Mrs Dingle by drinking from a welly. By Dingle standards, that’s a veritable crystal goblet.

HOME ALONE

Dan (pictured) has an accident after convincing Amelia that he’s okay to fend for himself in Emmerdale

How does Dan think he’s going to be able to look after himself now that he’s out of hospital? His wheelchair is almost as big as the living room; they probably had to saw the front door off just to get it through. 

Maybe the thought of Kerry cooking for him is too much of a daunting prospect, but when he’s left to fend for himself after convincing Amelia he’s okay on his own, he struggles to make a basic meal and has an accident. 

Let’s hope he can at least manage to read ‘may contain nuts’ on the packets.

We’re not out of the hospital woods yet anyway, because Charity and Vanessa arrive at the hospital’s chemo unit, both feeling scared and vulnerable (I’m not surprised at that, with all the coronavirus patients filling up the wards. You see what I mean about the blurring of fiction and reality?).

Elsewhere, there’s a bit of scandal in the air when Jamie tells Belle that he loves her and he’s going to leave Andrea for her. 

Despite her initial apprehension, Belle succumbs to a passionate kiss. Call me psychic, but methinks this isn’t going to end well.

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