Thursday, August 09, 2007

Sean of the (soon to be) dead

Sean Slater's innocent, idyllic childhood

When they start rolling their eyes like that and stop talking altogether, it can only mean one thing – a time bomb has started ticking somewhere in Albert Squareland and it has the name of Sean Slater smeared on it in bulk bought ketchup from the cafĂ©.

Traditionally in EastEnders there are only four ways of dying. You can either be run down by one of the many cars constantly circling the square specifically for that purpose; you can fall, usually from a height but Pauline Fowler managed to achieve death by merely toppling from her orthopaedic shoes; you can be hit over the head with something quite heavy or you can be shot. In some cases (notably that of Den Watts), you can have more than one of these, together or separately.

Whatever the method, it is ordained somewhere in scriptland that an EastEnder may only die by the hand of another character. The Mitchells are obviously the front runners virtually taking on the sole responsibility of retiring characters that everyone’s tired of, although there is hardly a Slater who hasn’t caused someone’s demise either deliberately or accidentally.

There have been some rather cosy husband and wife homicide teams. Frank and Pat Butcher both ran over people and killed them and, in a touching twist, Martin and Sonia Fowler managed to despatch each other’s nearest and dearests to the hereafter - in Eastenders terms, Openauditionland. In the long term it strengthened their bond.

The disinherited lovebirds headed off to ‘Manchester’, by train naturally. This is the place where Eastenders wait for a big cull in current characters when their hideous breakout series set in a hotel bombs. If they want to go on an actual holiday, they go to Spain, or Brazil if the holiday is not exactly their idea. If they are on the run from the Mitchells, they are usually advised to prepare themselves for a location shoot, literally. In Eastendersland, deaths by natural causes are as rare as washing machines.

So now it’s the turn of pointless Sean Slater to meet his programme maker and pick up his final salary cheque. In the best Grant Mitchell ‘ex-army’ tradition, the mugging of shopkeeper Patrick Trueman, for which he is very obviously not responsible, escalates him from the merely odious into a fully shell-shocked psychopath. Let’s hope he takes whining Carly Wicks with him and that the idiotic duo of Deano Wicks and Chelsea Fox get caught in the crossfire. Maybe the 'Manchester' express will bring back Bianca and Ricky, Martin and Sonia and their rag doll of a child.

Why are all the children in EastEnders ridiculous? And why are there so few of them? And are we ever going to get another Asian family? They’re even rarer than washing machines in Albert Square. And how am I ever going to tie this post into Elegantly Dressed Wednesday?

My only excuse is that I’ve had to channel all my skill for connecting things into my novel – now in its fourth glorious draft. I still can’t believe how crap draft three was. I’ve worked on this thing for over three years. I’ve devoted almost all of the past year to it. It’s only now starting to not be rubbish. I can’t believe what a hopelessly bad writer I am. What is wrong with me and why, oh why, did I steal that bottle of Brigadoon whisky from the Minute Mart and clout one of the few black characters in EastEnders over the head? My only consolation is I probably didn’t kill him because I’m not actually a character. My money’s on Bradley to do Sean in and thereby immediately win the undying love of Stacey who will later sell Lauren a ‘drop dead gorgeous’ frock in which she will, literally drop dead, from gorgeousness. It’s tradition, innit?

Picture of child with hand grenades by DIANE ARBUS


NMJ said...

Hey Pants, When I came to this post, I thought, wow, Pants is blogging about Diane Arbus (I love her work, although I know she was controversial), then I realised there were lots of Eastenders allusions that I didn't understand (I have watched it about three times in my life, there's too much shouting). But what I would just like to say is well well done on your fourth draft. And you know you are NOT a hopelessly bad writer, you just feel that now. It's a phase. I can't even look at mine anymore, it makes me so anxious. x

That's so pants said...


I ought blog about Diane Arbus because I've been a fan for about thirty years and I saw the exhibition at the V&A in 2005 which was stunning.

Of course you are right about the phase thing - I will get through it by draft seven I'm sure. I LOVE 'Pear' - mind you I AM the only one who does - and that took seven drafts.

Thanks but I AM a bad writer because I can't do it properly. I'm like a bad shopkeeper - one who can't remember where the baked beans go and always blows up coke bottles by leaving them in the freezer for too long and drops priceless legs of ham on the floor and washes them under the tap hoping that no one will get sick. I AM that bad a writer.



Anna MR said...

Ms Pants, I have awarded you a Creative Blogger award. Nip over to mine and see.


That's so pants said...

Hi Anna

Aren't you the loveliest and cleverest. I was just at yours but will gladly pop back. Thank you.



Reading the Signs said...

Pants, I'm sure I saw some comments on your Pear excerpt that said how much it was appreciated. Not to mention some of your inspired and inspiring blog posts. My son recently told me about that phrase "what would Jesus do?" (now shortened to WWJD, for those to whom it's a daily importance) - and I think we should have a Natalie Goldberg equivalent. Because she would say that as long as you're keeping your hand moving (fingers tapping) it's good. And the activity itself - well you already know that, and you were actually the one that reminded me, so why am I reminding you?

Anyway, I loved reading all this about Eastenders. Like NMJ, I've watched it about 3 times, or just seen a few minutes here and there. But now I don't have to. I think I'd rather read you writing about it, anyway.

That's so pants said...

Hi Signs

Thanks. You are lovely, as you know. Here's the thing - sweet wonderful people (over 400) have accessed the Pear extract. Not a single one has asked for the whole lot. I'm not doing this for therapy. I don't need therapy. I just need to get better at it faster than I do. It's not really a problem, just something to angst about.



Andrew said...

East Enders has not been on free to air in Australia for around twenty years, but I remember it fondly. I suppose Lou Beale is dead. What about Dot Cotton and her attractive but evil son? (all rhetorical questions really)

The good thing is I suppose, we never have to hear 'Michelle' so awfully pronounced. And they talk about our accents.


That's so pants said...

Hi Andrew

Yes - I recall its short-lived run in Australia on the ABC. Not giving it a chance was a bit mean, after all, it's only 'The Bill' from the villains' POV - and look how well that's done. Besides, we've stuck with Neighbours AND Home and Away. Now THAT'S dedication.

Lou Beale has gone to a better place (pantomime) as has Pauline, Kathy, Pete, Martin, Mark and of course ME-SHELL. The only Beale left is Ian whose contract runs until 2073.

Dot is still around, remarried to a cross-eyed cor blimey in a flat cap but her son Nick bought it, at least once. Dying a few times is fairly standard EastEnders form. They still haven't discovered the classic Days of Our Lives character resurrection device of coming back with amnesia and a face lift and marrying one of your siblings. Maybe they're saving that one for the queen of inappropriate liaisons, ME-SHELL herself.



Ms Baroque said...

Now TSP darling, as Peggy Mitchell might say (bustling into the room doing something with a tea towel), as SOON as I saw your headline I knew what this post was about! The Diane Arbus picture threw me for a second, only till I read the caption. VERY FUNNY, that is Sean's current expression to a T!

It's ab0out the crappest storyline they've ever had, and so sudden that it feels more like a little squall. And Sean's departure hasn't been leaked anywhere that I've seen.

Honestly, though. I, too, am merely waiting for the moment I see that godawful Chelsea marched off in handcuffs. And let that be the last of HER!

Your analysis of the Walfordian Way of Death is spot-on, in-depth, historical and a laugh a minute - just how I like my analysis! You've cheered my day, and I am rewarding you with a Baroque post all your own. Come check it out. (But not till I've written it.)

That's so pants said...

Dearest Ms Baroque

We are having a cyber love-in today as I've referenced you also, although it was your locum Chip Dale's contribution that I have been discussing. I must have been posting when you were commenting.

I'll pop in later.



Miss Hacksaw said...

Most astute observations, Pants. I find it hysterical that nobody can possibly move to, say, Shepherds Bush or Clapham South when they leave the Square. No, it has to be Manchester or Rio (to 'run a shop'/'open a bar' respectively.) I'm still not over the shock of young Bradley Branning having the nerve to work outside of Albert Sq.

That's so pants said...

Hi Ms Hacksaw

High praise indeed from the queen of Easties observations. Re B Branning - I know! AND he can read and write - appparently!