In case anybody thinks that I am the kind of person who watches Eastenders, I should point out that I am not the kind of person who watches Eastenders. But last Friday I was polishing my shoes and twas rumoured that there was going to be a hugely exciting hour-long special edition in which “Dirty” Den Watts would get murdered, so I put on the TV and waited to be dazzled.
You don’t have to watch Eastenders to know that “Dirty” Den (played by “Dirty” Leslie Grantham, best known for his role as Kiston in the Dr Who story “Resurrection of the Daleks”) was first killed in 1989. Perhaps one of the reasons he was brought back to life is because the original death was to put it lightly a non-event – the scene, oft replayed on programmes like The Top 3000 Most Thrilling Soap Moments in the World! goes something like this: Den walks along canal, man holding daffodils shoots him, *plop*. So hurrah! when we discovered that he had actually cheated death, swum to safety, had possibly been wearing a bullet-proof vest and at any rate was free to return to Albert Square in 2003 to aid Eastenders’ failing ratings and use the BBC’s dressing rooms for unconventional purposes.
On Friday night he was killed a further two times by being clubbed around the head with a doorstep. In a lovingly crafted tribute to his first death, this was also filmed in such a way as to make it utterly undramatic; heavy though the doorstep looked, it left very little damage – not even a spot of blood. We witnessed Den’s body lying in at least three seperate positions (a deliberately surreal piece of symbology, I am sure), then we saw him leap up unexpectedly, having already been confirmed as dead and pulseless. What is he – a Terminator?
(Well, no – but as people who have seen Grantham’s outing on Dr Who will know, he is one of Davros’ robot duplicates, which explains why nobody can kill him.)
I understand that the special episode was to celebrate the programme’s 20th anniversary, but I can’t quite understand what was being celebrated – shoddy scripting, hammy acting, or just plain improbable storytelling?
It wasn’t much of a celebration, anyway. They should have done another one like that episode that was in 3D and had Albert Square invaded by the evil Rani’s menagerie of monsters in three different time zones. I’d watch it if it was like that every week.