EastEnders Special: Baby, it’s YOU

So, the most despised soap plot in history has ended a full 9 months early. Happy now? How’s that for irony? You see what idiots can do when they stoke a moral panic? They can turn a time period into a thematically appropriate joke. Sadly that’s all they can do…apart from ruin television they don’t fucking watch.

I refer to this plot as the most despised in all of history, knocking Dennis Potter’s Brimstone and Treacle into second place, but even as I typed the words I knew them to be lies. I told you so back in January, remember? It wasn’t the equine-faced audience of EastEnders that killed the beast, it was YOU wasn’t it? Yeah, you, the one with her teat plugged into the mouth of some pig ugly babe. You, sitting in your detached hovel in leafy Borebastion-On-Rye, with your laminated Mumsnet membership card taking pride of place on the mantelpiece next to that picture of your dullard spouse. You, who hit the Internet forums because you were so bloated on Christmas leftovers that you couldn’t leave the house, spreading dissent about something you knew nothing about, and for what? So you could feel righteous? Well do you feel righteous knowing you’ve succeeded in changing the fate of a smattering of fictional characters in an inconsequential narrative? Does that make you feel important, you self-regarding fucks?

Now the rest of you may not give a womb fart about this controversy, in fact you might have got this far without knowing to what I refer, but even you, the indifferent brigade, would surely agree that as a general principle, a micro-bunch of armchair zealots should not be able to strong arm programme makers into upending their productions, particularly when those placated don’t watch the programme in question.

Perhaps you do watch it and hated the storyline. Yeah, you’re one of those aren’t you? You got sick of all the misery; tired of watching Ronnie stare into the middle distance and fighting back tears; livid at having to watch Kat Slater talk about the pain that would never recede and strangling her husband’s attempt at levity, which being his only trope, has turned the character into a moping bore. Well I was sick of it too, okay? But I was also acutely aware that a year’s worth of plot was being rushed through at the expense of the drama.

You see, these things are best played out slowly. At its worst, EastEnders can be a sausage factory, spewing out contrivance after contrivance in order to keep its incredibly complicated plot ticking over. As it’s a soap it must do this anyway, but its best storylines have always been the ones that are teased out over something approaching a realistic timeframe. Because of Mumsnet, Anne Diamond and this outrage meme that’s been transmitted from viewer to viewer like a plague, in three months characters have been hastily re-introduced, dispatched, couples broken up, only to be reconciled a couple of days later, relationships formed and so on. If it felt to the viewer like these flashpoints were a bit low key and underwhelming it’s because they were. That’s what happens when the writer’s hearts aren’t in it. Having been asked to accelerate the events they’d so carefully planned, maybe abandon large chunks, and make it all look organic, they did their best, but they were fooling no one. One of their best wheezes was deliberated wasted. It had to be, it was ordered thus by YOU.

EastEnders viewer or no, we should all be horrified at the precedent that’s been set by this episode. Maybe I’ll take out my anger on Mumsnet by sneaking into one of their meetings and swapping all their babies around. Yeah, that’d teach the bastards wouldn’t it? Sadly, I couldn’t do it. Not because I don’t want to, you understand, just because such a swap would give the group a real reason to bash the BBC: an excuse for retroactive castigation on the grounds that EastEnders had trivalised their real life trauma both in depicting a similar event for entertainment and indirectly causing it, through my response.

God knows how they’ll respond to the forthcoming Baby Farm and infanticide storyline planned for Lauren and Abi. I can hear them already!

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