-Thursday June, 15th-
There’s a new family in the square. I forget their name. Something like the Turdburglers or Boozies. Either way, they’re going to mix things up, tread on a few toes, ruffle some feathers and so on. Or, at least, that’s what the show’s writers want us to think. God knows they dropped enough clues.
The episode started with an elderly couple – whose house, incidentally, looked like the interior of a plush caravan – chatting over breakfast about just how peaceful it is living in Albert Square. They even stopped to watch a goldfinch dance along their garden wall, peacefully:
‘I told you it was peaceful here,’ said the old man (or, as Danny Dyer would call him, the old pot n’ pan).
‘Yes,’ his wife replied, ‘it is peaceful…’
What, or who, could possibly disturb this relentless peace? Anyway, more of that later.
Johnny Geezer is still spending far too much time with Honey for my liking. There’s trouble a-brewing. She’s a married woman, for goodness sake. Tonight she was helping him find a nanny online. I initially hoped the storyline was heading in a Mrs Doubtfire direction, with Mr Geezer himself dressing up as an old dear and putting on a dodgy Scottish accent. Sadly not. Johnny needed professional maternal help. Honey agreed to show him round the relevant websites (MakeshiftMums4U, GlumSingleParentSolutions, LasagnaFail.com). She started typing the word ‘nanny’ into his search engine:
‘Hang on,’ she said, ‘what’s this in your search bar? Hot UK nanny takes four young c-“‘
‘It’s nothing!’ shouted Johnny, leaping across the room to slam down the laptop lid. His face bright red. ‘It’s nothing.’
(This didn’t happen.)
Wrapping both hands around her warm cup of coffee, Honey joked that even she could do with a nanny sometimes because she gets so annoyed with her husband leaving wet towels on the bathroom floor. (I’m not sure she fully understands what a nanny is; I think she’s confused it with a cleaner.) It’s yet another danger sign. Slagging off the husband. Classic soap opera, pre-affair fodder. The whole scene is a masterclass in soft smiles and raised eyebrows. It’s like one of those 80’s Maxwell House adverts.
Why am I getting caught up in this?
I found out a bit more about Ian Beale in this episode. I didn’t want to, but I did. He’s still eating healthily. He was shaving a carrot in the kitchen and moaning about it (out of the side of his mouth, as per). To be fair, it must be galling for a soap actor to get a script in the post and find out that the writers have all got together and decided you need to go on a diet. (Sharon Mitchell must open new scripts with dread every day.) Granted, Ian has put on some weight, but, for reasons I can’t define, he still looks distressingly malnourished. There was an allusion within the episode to the fact that he still owns the hilariously-named chip shop, Ian’s Plaice. But, ever the entrepreneur, he also has a fancy bistro which, like every other business in Albert Square, is doing a roaring, inflation-defying trade. It has the decidedly un-hilarious name, Beale’s. What a wasted opportunity. ‘Beale’ is superbly pun-friendly.
Here are some other business endeavours in which Ian could put his surname to good use:
Beales On Wheels – Door-to-door meal delivery
Beale and End All – Funeral director
Beale’s About – Travel agency
Navy Beales – Walford-based special military operations force
Beale Live In A Yellow Submarine – something to do with The Beatles. Don’t know what, yet. Leave it with me
Talking of business endeavours, Danny Dyer was still umm-ing and ahh-ing, literally, about what kind of ‘grub’ to ‘dish aht’ in the Queen Vic for Father’s Day. The Rod Stewart lookalike, who, it transpired, is his mother (surprise, surprise), still thought he should do ‘summink tradishnal’ like ‘chicken, beef or powk’. The young blonde ‘sort’, however, maintained that Danny should provide pre-cooked meals. The poor oaf didn’t know what to do for the best: should he please his old blonde mother or the young blonde ‘sort’? It was almost Freudian.
‘Cushty mushty,’ he said, by way of a response, his eyes rolling from one side to the other to signify confusion.
I wondered if any other actor had ever produced such a soulless performance and received money at the end of it.
There was no mention of the tube stalker storyline tonight. Disappointing. But there were a couple of plot plants for the entirely unmissable upcoming Community Centre showdown. Having gone thirty years without anyone in Eastenders ever bothering to mention the idea of community, the writers have been busily laying foundations all week. Tonight, two of the female characters were voluntarily doing up the public garden. When asked why by a passer-by, one replied, ‘It’s called doing your part for the community…’ Johnny Geezer and Honey exited the pink front door (more Freud) and joined in the discussion. Light-hearted banter was flying left, right and centre. The Albert Square garden was a right hub of community spirit. (Gee, just think, these people are going to be furious when their Community Centre – the actual centre of their community – comes under threat from Max Branning and his dodgy deals. I’m rubbing my hand just thinking about it!)
The general camaraderie was punctured by the violent honk of a horn, accompanied by increasingly loud rhythmic beating, like the distant marching of the Zulus. ‘Buckle up’ the BBC announcer had warned at the start of the show. And this was the reason why: The Turdburglars. Or Boozies. The new family. The exciting new family. The feather rustlers. The toe-treaders.
Their techno-booming white van turned the corner into the Square, into Eastenders history. They’d arrived. (They’ve probably already got a Wiki page.) They were everything you’d expect an exciting new Eastenders family to be – largely because they were like about forty other ‘exciting new families’ the show has had over the years. They were, in summary, the archetypal stage school imagining of ‘scumbags’: shouting and being all lairy whilst brazenly showing off how they don’t dress proper nor talk proper neither. Most of them were fat. Even the dog. The viewers, refined sophisticates all, had one job: to hate them.
The matriarch, Ma Turdburglar, was the star. Squat, loud, bossy, brash, flabby. They dressed her up in tight-fitting clothes to make sure we got the joke. At one point she hammered a nail in with a broken sandal. Of course, she’s destined to slowly reveal her heart of gold over the coming months, and win a National Television Award in 2019 for her powerful performance in the storyline about her abortion of Max Branning’s baby. But, for now, she’s pure scum, cut straight from the under-class. She started life on the Square ordering her legion of children in and out of the house, carrying boxes of DVDs and un-laundered laundry. One of her ‘kids’ was called Keanu. He looked old enough to remember Follyfoot.
Back outside, Ma Turdburglar plonked her arse down on an armchair on the pavement and said ‘I’ll do me bit when arv ’ad me ciggy.’ Meanwhile, the tight, unshakeable community looked on from the communal garden, appalled. The vile matriarch then introduced herself to a passing Sharon Mitchell. Sharon stopped, smiled and enquired whether Ma’s youngest should be at school. And then she asked whether Ma knew any of the children’s fathers. Admittedly my knowledge of Eastenders is sketchy, at best, but I think I’m on safe ground when I make the suggestion that Sharon Mitchell is one of the last people who should be moralising about family planning. Especially as in the first episode of this week, you may recall, she was trying to seduce her daughter’s doe-eyed boyfriend. Like a tuna and pasta bake from Beale’s, the whole scene left a sour taste. Are we really supposed to believe that the people of Albert Square are now warm-hearted socialites? And that this new family are of poorer stock? Bullshit. Just by watching the trailers alone, you’d know that Walford’s finest are among humanity’s worst. Under a dictatorship, this lot would be first to swing.
The episode ended where it began, in the caravan-esque lounge of the old couple who couldn’t believe how peaceful Albert Square is, or, rather, was. I say ‘was’ because, would you Adam & Eve it, the Turdburglars only went and moved in upstairs! The camera zoomed in on the elderly duo as their ceiling thumped and shook to the sound of Ma Turdburglar’s thundering hooves. On the caravan-esque shelving behind them, whereas the Turdburglars had vibrators and flick-knives, was a commemorative plate celebrating the blessed union of Will & Kate (the sort of thing available for £79.95 from the back page of the Sun TV Guide). There was also a 1000-piece jigsaw of an Austrian mountain village. Not a vibrator or flick-knife in sight. These two sets of people, you see, are worlds apart (figuratively; I don’t mean they’re the short-lived 90s boyband, World’s Apart). Outside, the goldfinch, which once danced peacefully along the fencing, had had its feet nailed in with a broken sandal and a housing benefit form stuffed down its throat.
Peace: shattered. Community: troubled.
One day left.