Monday 1 July
Introducing Stuart and Callum’s dad to EastEnders (8.00, 9.00pm, BBC1) is a very Kate Oates thing to do. When Oates was the boss at Emmerdale, she bolstered the Bartons, and while at Corrie, she brought in more Barlows. ‘Expand Your Clans’ appears to be one of her mantras, so now that she’s running Walford, it’s no surprise to see her hiring more Highways.
Richard Graham (whose face will be familiar if you’ve seen Titanic, Gangs of New York and Vera Drake) is the actor playing patriarch Jonno. And I’m hoping that his casting will eventually give us a greater understanding of who Stuart is. I can see that they want to rehabilitate the one-time evildoer because Ricky Champ is a charismatic on-screen presence. But how to reconcile this with what Stuart did to both Tina and Linda? My solution: blame his bad behaviour on a traumatic childhood. I have no idea whether this will happen, but I can just see Stuart telling his old man, “I only turned out this way because of YOU!”
Tuesday 2 July
Actress Susan Cookson needs to watch herself because she’s in danger of being typecast. She shows up on Emmerdale (7.00, 8.00pm, ITV) this evening, playing Wendy, the mother of horrible rapist Lee. But it wasn’t so long ago that she turned up on Coronation Street playing Marion, the mother of horrible gangster Callum Logan. On her Spotlight CV, she must list her specialism as “blinkered mums of soap bad boys”. Because, yes, you’ve guessed it, Wendy is convinced that Victoria is spreading “lies” about her beloved son. Elsewhere, for light relief, we have Sam and Lydia streaking across the field at Home Farm, which sounds like the kind of thing that 4K TVs were invented for.
Finally, a warning for those expecting Holby City on BBC1 this evening: it isn’t being shown. Having lost its place in the schedules a few weeks’ back to the Conservative Party leader debate, it’s now making way for the semi-final of the Women’s World Cup. But don’t fret too much – I’m told we’ll be getting two episodes of Holby next week as recompense.
Wednesday 3 July
Why have the women of Coronation Street (7.30, 8.30pm, ITV) all suddenly become such victims? Take Carla Connor, who returns from Carlisle tonight, having been brought back from the psychological brink by her saviour, Peter Barlow. And she’s not the only one who’s found themselves on the back foot of late: Audrey Roberts got fleeced by her own grandsons, an unusually naïve Michelle Connor is being duped by two-timing partner Robert, Geoff is coercively controlling Yasmeen Nazir, while Sarah Platt is now solely defined by which man she’s currently dating.
For a show that basically invented the archetype of the bold, no-nonsense northern heroine back in the 1960s, it feels odd to have the neighbourhood currently peopled by cowed female characters. Only a couple of years have passed since we were celebrating the Queens of the Street on the cover of Radio Times. But, in all honesty, it’s starting to feel like a lifetime ago. Elsie Tanner is currently a blur of faux-fur as she spins in her grave.
Thursday 4 July
EastEnders (7.30pm, BBC1) has quietly abandoned Kat’s (Jessie Wallace) 2018 storylines in order to give her a new focus. Cast your mind back to the start of the year and she was determined to become a taxi driver. Scene after scene would find her saying lines like, “Portland Place to Oxford Street to…oh, Nan, I’m ‘opleless!” as she tried to learn the Knowledge. Then it looked as though she’d be permanently stuck raising newborn Cherry after Hayley hastily exited stage left.
But fast forward to July and there hasn’t been a sighting of either an A-Z or a baby for months. In fact, I don’t think we’ve seen any of Kat’s own kids either. Honestly, one sniff of Kush’s six-pack and she forgot she was a mother at all. Now, though, one particular past plot point is resurfacing as Kat tries to find out who has nicked the money that Alfie left her at Christmas. I reckon those missing children must have swiped the cash and taken themselves off on holiday.
Friday 5 July
You know when Coronation Street (7.30pm, ITV) is suffering when the blokes are in the ascendant. It may sound sexist to say this, but the fellas of the Street exist to be put in their place by the womenfolk. And yet, at the moment, there’s far too much of homicidal Gary, manipulative Geoff and – as we see this evening – the warring Platt brothers. Why isn’t Gail banging Nick and David’s heads together, I wonder? Well, maybe it’s because Nick once injured his noggin in a van crash. But you know what I mean, right?
The Pride festival on EastEnders (8.00pm, BBC1) sounds like it’s going to be much more entertaining than Corrie. After under-representing the LGBTQI community for far too long, ‘Enders is finally unfurling the rainbow flag. It’s almost as if the writers are saying, “yeah, sorry there were no gay people on this show for years – here are loads to make up for it”. But amid all the celebrations, will Stuart end up discovering Callum’s big secret?