Why the EastEnders Pat Swap Plot Must Be Stopped: An open letter to Bryan Kirkwood

Dear Bryan,

Earlier this year I was upset to learn that Pat Evans, an EastEnders institution, was to be closed after 168 years. All your viewers adore Pat; she’s the former prostitute and Grandmother we never had. I look at the folds in Pat’s puss and I’m reminded of nature’s bounty and time’s beneficence to my baby blues. I never felt I deserved Pat and now, as if to confirm that thesis, you’re taking her away. SORT OF.

I understand that Pam St Clement, one of the few people not to play herself on the show, is tired and wants to step away from the role after 25 years. It can’t be easy for a well spoken lesbian to devolve her speech and pretend to be sexually attracted to hulking hairy cavemen with ugly groin protuberances. All those scenes with Mike Reid must have disgusted her. It would have been difficult enough for a heterosexual woman. Pam’s suffered for her art and our cheap entertainment. Understandably you don’t want to lose an asset like that just yet, but your solution beggars belief. It might just be the most desperate conceit ever inflicted on the British public.

I first learned of the Pat Swap plot yesterday afternoon. I got a call from a friend who hangs loose in showbiz circles. She knows a man who knows a woman who once slept with Winston from the market and word trickled down after a member of the cast, who I won’t name to protect their job (Shane Richie), left a script open on the bar of the Queen Vic while extras rehearsed pretending to have a silent conversation.

Bryan, the entire plot is absurd. I’ve dealt with all sorts in my EastEnders viewing career, but this story doesn’t ask me to suspend my disbelief, so much as sack it. In scenes to be broadcast on New Year’s Day, you actually intend to introduce a new family, the Morlocks, who move in next door to the Butchers and who, it just so happens, have a dying, rotund matriarch, with an uncanny resemblance to our beloved Pat.

That would be hard enough to swallow but then, in a sequence of events that’s going to astound the nation, and not in a good way, you intend to show poor Ricky Butcher, a character already dumb as a rubber knife, coming home to find our favourite dispenser of home truths dead in her boudoir. Ricky, I understand, unable to revive Pat, panics, and rather than dial 999 (he can’t call the local G.P as he burnt to death on Christmas Day), hauls Pat’s hulken mass out onto the front porch, screaming for help. Having received none, because the other characters are too blind drunk on cheap whisky and crack, he flutters about in despair only to be stopped dead at the sight of the new Pat-a-like, lying pale, covered in a blanket and surrounded by packing boxes in the Morlock’s new front room.

Now this is the moment that EastEnders, in my view Bryan, jumps the jellied eel.

Ricky, doped up on grief, has a mini-nervous breakdown. He climbs through the part-open window of the Morlock’s house, the others nowhere to be seen, strokes Grandma Morlock’s face and says “Pat, it’s you innit, you’re not really dead. Nah, nah, you’re not dead.” Next thing we know Bryan, we’re watching Ricky put this uncanny look-a-like into Pat’s bed only to cut to a horrific scene with the Morlocks returning from their New Year’s drinks at the Vic to discover the woman they think is the head of the family, dead on the sofa.

I’ve just got one question for you, Bryan; do you seriously expect anyone to believe this shit?

I can’t tell you how insulted I am, especially as a life long fan, to be treated with such unmitigated contempt by you and your writers. One only has to think about this storyline for a few seconds to realise that the problems just pile up.

Do you really expect us to buy into the idea that the Morlocks wouldn’t instantly recognise that it was a different woman? Alright, you’ve cast her to look a lot like Pat, from her build to her crumpled frontispiece to those earrings, but even so, they’ve known this woman all their lives! Of course they’d work it out! Then there’s the Butchers. What happens on January 2nd when Grandma Morlock opens her mouth? Alright, according to my source she has advanced dementia so is soon convinced by Ricky that she is in fact her deceased neighbour, and fine, you’ve written a scene where Ricky explains to his family that Pat had a mini-stroke in the night that had a detrimental impact on her speech, height and ability to recognise her friends and family, but even a dead head like Bianca would see through that, surely? Tiffany’s sharp as an axe, she’s going to pull this shit apart in five minutes.

I’ve also learned that you intend to keep the plot running for a year. A year! Are you fucking mad? If this is a means of giving us all a soft landing – a way to cope with our grief at Pat’s departure, then you’ve badly misjudged your audience, Bryan.

As a life long fan of the show I’m begging you to reconsider this story. It’s not too late to shoot some emergency scenes, maybe bring back Poppy Meadow for a few weeks; just her talking to the rest of the cast about boys and makeup, while you film new footage to cover the fallout from Pat’s death. A story like the Pat Swap could break this show, Bryan. It could be the end. Think of the offence it’s going to cause to people who don’t watch the programme but have elderly relatives dying of cancer. Think about the older viewers with parents that have dementia who will learn about it in the Daily Mail about a week from now. You’ll get a million complaints, you cockend, don’t do it.

I love Pat and I’m going to miss her but I want a dignified ending for the character. Not this, Bryan. It mustn’t end like this.

Yours four times a week, not that you deserve it,


Published in: on December 31, 2011 at 01:37  Leave a Comment  
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