EastEnders is reborn but the same old bias is still there for wall to see

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EASTENDERS 2.0 arrived with a thud, last week, as Vinny Panesar took a fire ­extinguisher to the back of Martin Fowler’s head in the Minute Mart.

Why?

EastEnders 2.0 might be a technical triumph, but it’s still an agenda-driven monster of yore

Some botched insurance scam, I think, but who really needs a ­reason. Fruit and veg boy’s had it coming for years.

Vinny’s sister Ash seemed genuinely concerned, however, in the panic-stricken aftermath, when she exclaimed: “He could be brain damaged.”

Unlikely, I’d have thought.

Martin once went six years without selling a single banana at his market stall and never noticed.

UNDYING LOVE

Even if he was vegetated, though, he could just get another head. Martin’s had three different ones already and hasn’t noticed that either.

Such is life on EastEnders, both past and present.

Although, straight off the bat, I should say the post-lockdown version of the BBC soap is a technical triumph compared to ITV’s Emmerdale and Coronation Street, which both now look like they’ve been filmed by a DSS snoop and rarely feature anything more than 1.34 people on screen at any one time.

In Walford, by contrast, you can see as many as four people in the same shot and very nearly all of Jags Panesar who is, to use the most inclusive term I have at my disposal, “a unit”.

Artistically speaking, it’s a bit more of a mixed bag, obviously, but the opening week certainly had impact.

As well as poleaxing Martin, someone else must have brained Ian Beale as he declared his undying love for Sharon Watts, on Thursday’s episode.

Certain continuity questions still hang over the show, like where the hell has Hungry Hanks gone?

But long-time observers will be relieved to know EastEnders finally seems to have resolved the issue of Ben Mitchell’s hearing.

Having gone from not deaf to deaf to not deaf and back to deaf again, he is definitely now not deaf, until further notice.

One storyline saw Martin Fowler be KO’d, for apparently no reason
In another we saw wife-beater Gray Atkins force long-suffering partner Chantelle to hold her breath underwater

If you’re waiting for me, at this stage, to tell you EastEnders has also transformed itself into The Sopranos, I need to manage those expectations fairly urgently.

It hasn’t.

EastEnders remains the preening, self-satisfied, agenda-driven monster of yore, with the same half-dozen storylines circulating in their usual demented fashion.

Weirdest of last week involved wife-beater Gray Atkins forcing long-suffering partner Chantelle to hold her breath underwater.

A development which, I have a horrible feeling, is linked to events in America, much like the large mural of a black woman that’s suddenly appeared on the side wall of Ian’s house — accompanied by a characteristically grandiose statement from the show.

“EastEnders reflects events in the real world.”

    EMPTY GESTURES

EastEnders has a nerve, frankly, given the fact even hardcore fans would struggle to name ten decent black female characters it’s featured in all of its 35 hectoring years.

As for reflecting events in the real world, though?

Well, it does when those events match the show’s own political agenda, but EastEnders certainly didn’t feel the need even to mention London’s 7/7 bombings or either of the  London Bridge terrorist atrocities, which had a much more direct effect on its city than anything that’s happened recently in America.

As far as empty political gestures go, of course, the mural’s been eclipsed by Diversity’s routine on BGT.

As monuments to virtue-signalling go, though, it gives you a fair idea of the huge task facing the BBC’s new Director- General Tim Davie, who’s made all the right noises about Auntie’s political bias, so far.

But the time for talking is over now.

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, tear down this wall, Mr Davie.

Snarky Sue mex me sick

IF it’s true that the level of terror a middle-class BBC host is experiencing can be directly measured by the number of times they describe a place as “vibrant,” then Sue Perkins’ internal organs had gone into full spasm in downtown Tijuana.

And no wonder.

Sue Perkins failed to mention that Tijuana is the murder capital of the world – instead she bleated on about its ‘vibrance’

It’s the murder capital of the entire planet with 2,367 “extremely vibrant” homicides in 2019.

A fact Sue conveniently neglected to mention on her two-part BBC1 documentary Along The US-Mexico Border because, if she had, it would’ve destroyed the entire point of her visit and explained exactly why a lot of Americans quite like the idea of putting a barrier between themselves and total carnage.

Without this statistical context, Sue was free to moralise and despair as much as she wanted (a lot) and ask really dumb questions like: “Why doesn’t the news tell you about the people who want to stay in Mexico?”

WHY? For the very same reason you’d blow a right-on fuse if Huw Edwards reported: “Millions of Americans weren’t fleeing to Cuba last night.” It’s not news, is it.

On top of that idiocy, of course, there was a bit of dressing up and a lot of snark aimed at all the Americans who didn’t run a craft stall or agree with her about everything.

It was the self-deception that really grated, though.

’Cos you know as well as I do that if Sue had the talent, like all the noisiest “creatives”, she’d be hot-footing it to Hollywood quicker than you can say: “Meghan Markle”.

Instead, there she was covering Mexicans in another worthless layer of First World condescension as she smiled and grovelled and shouted: “Adopt me, you beautiful nation.”

Papers are signed and ready to go whenever you are, Sue.

A case of choc and awe

YOU can work out for yourself the chances of Channel 4 making a light-hearted documentary about a group of black female strippers performing for a largely white, male audience.

They’re less than nil.

Dante and Louis, joint managers of The Chocolate Men, are the real stars of The Black Full Monty

You can also get angry, if you like, about the obvious double-standards of The Black Full Monty.

Personally, though, I was completely disarmed by the supply-and-demand honesty of Dante and Louis, joint managers of The Chocolate Men, who made it clear there were only two qualifications, beyond the obvious, for joining their troupe.

Firstly, the blokes had to be “good dancers”.

Secondly, they had to have – how can I put this politely – exceeded their “hand baggage allowance”.

To the extent that when one of the strippers, Anthony, tripped over, running to the stage, you couldn’t rule out the possibility he’d tripped over another part of Anthony.

As always with this type of documentary, there was a separate film to be made about The Chocolate Men’s superfans, like Norma, 71, who was busy knitting 13 one-size-fits-all willy-warmers at her bungalow in Derby where she told the camera: “Between the Sixties and Seventies I left my husband and turned to the other side. Black men.”

What The Black Full Monty was missing, of course, was any clue as to what the boys had been doing during lockdown.

What Norma’s been up to, though, should be obvious.

She’s still knitting.

Lookalikes of the week

Robert Peston has something of a resemblance to David Tennant as mass ­murderer Dennis Nilsen

THIS week’s winner is Robert Peston and David Tennant playing mass ­murderer Dennis Nilsen in ITV’s Des, which I’ll deal with next week.

Emailed in by Ian ­Kingsland.