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Slippery soap opera

“So Madge spoke to Harold…”

Neighbours. Always about The Neighbours. My friend Sarah is attempting to explain her Great Analogy on relationships, via her favourite soap opera of all-time. This isn’t surprising. “I’ve seen the 1pm and 5pm one today,” she’d confess. She even treats it in the same BBC vain since its move to Channel 5. The dedication is incalculable. That said – the last time I watched it, I’m sure Madge was still alive. Hang on. Isn’t Madge dead?

“Isn’t Madge dead?”

“Oh, yeah, she came back from the dead. Anyway –”

“What? How?”

“Harold was hallucinating. She came to him in a hallucination.”

Hallucinating? I couldn’t imagine Harold Bishop on LSD but I didn’t want to probe this. I thought the man just went around eating biscuits. Just what had Channel 5 done to him?

“He hallucinated her? Well, that’s one way to get on the payroll. I can only hope one day Harold Bishop hallucinates me…”

Harold Bishop
Harold Bishop: husband, hallucinator, Hobnobs.

Christ. Just what is it with past soap characters conveniently rising from the dead when the storylines dry up? Not that I’m completely sure Harold Bishop hallucinating meant Madge was resurrected on Ramsey Street, as opposed to in his (drugged? Biscuit deprived?) head.

Anyway, turns out hologram Madge is a stirrer who should just keep out of real-life relationships. The cameo probably earned her the equivalent of a private consultation with Karl Kennedy at the very least. But still. Still. It’s one thing Harold returning from ‘the dead’ as someone even he couldn’t remember. Now we have his dead wife returning from the dead in the form of a hallucinated Jeremy Kyle. Are you following this? No, no you're not.

Now they’re all at it. Nick Cotton. Dirty Den. That one off Emmerdale. All coming and going like that t-shirt you’re still not sure about. It’s sick, wrong and will only end up in some form of bible (Lad or Holy). In the spirit of Easter, I explain why.

Save it for Sci-Fi

Back when there was no kale or mystery or Wi-Fi, soap audiences talked about a lost sheep or someone falling over for weeks. Stories which screamed, “Basically real life but a bit worse.” With affairs and deaths now done to the aforementioned, producers are forced to take everything to a whole new genre. The genre reserved for horror and zombie films. Not a fictional suburb of Chester where a squirrel steals your lunch.

There’s fiction and there’s fiction

When Madge waltzes into a cafe to reunite with Harold after his five-year disappearance, hardly a tear is shed before they all just get on with it. “Well if I really am this Harold Bishop, I suppose I’d better get used to the name, eh?” accepts amnesia-laden Ted – I mean Harold. Come on, Madge. At least look like you’ve seen a ghost. Or a talking gerbil. Your dad on Facebook. Anything vaguely unnerving. The entirety of Pat Butcher’s earring collection couldn’t give any weight to that exchange. I don’t care how dangly they were.

There’s dying for your sins – and dying for “other projects”

Because that’s what they say, isn’t it? “Killed-off actress Michelle Keegan leaves Coronation Street to pursue other projects.” One day – and we’re not sure what day but it doesn’t really matter – one day, Michelle Keegan will realise those projects aren’t working out and decide she wants to be resurrected as Tina McIntyre once again. And there we’ll see her, sat in the Rovers Return like it never happened. We read it on the Mail Online. It happened.

Should I be sad?

When Jamie Mitchell was killed off after a Christmas car accident (when else?) that, according to Wikipedia, attracted 16 million viewers and was named one of the best soap exits of all-time, I vividly remember my family gathered around the TV sobbing into various furniture. Jack Ryder then went on to divorce Kym Marsh, become the next Justin Timberlake (on Stars in Their eyes; don’t worry) before disappearing into the soap opera abyss. Job done. Will things ever be guaranteed this emotional, this raw – this final ever again? No. No they won’t.

Well. Except if you’re Arthur Fowler. Or Pauline Fowler. Or Pat Butcher’s earrings. We’re still getting over that one.

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