There’s no denying that EastEnders has been down in the dumper for some time now. Ratings have been on the slide for over a year, and even returnee Samantha Womack recently gave an interview recently admitting how bad things had got.
But there are shoots of recovery. Former storyliner Dominic Treadwell-Collins is back as producer and has already started wielding his axe. And some of those changes are already on screen. But what else could he do to liven things up?
1. Let go of this ridiculous notion that Max Branning is some kind of desirable romantic lead.
The man is a Primark sex pest and everyone goes round acting like he’s Harvey Keitel or something.
2. Give Shirley more to do.
She’s one of the most formidable characters and yet has done little more than simper after Phil for the past two years. To be fair, they’re already working on this, bringing in her sister (played by Luisa Bradshaw-White from This Life) and her brother played by DANNY DYER!).
3. If you’re going to bring back iconic characters then at least give them something to do.
In the year that the legendary Sharon Watts has been back she’s had a boring engagement to Jack and a boring painkiller addiction. This is the woman responsible for this!
4. And pack Little Dennis off to boarding school while you’re at it.
Definitely the most loathsome of all the soap children.
5. Get Phil back on the crack.
Because Phil on crack was brilliant.
6. Do more with this woman.
Because Kim is the one genuinely funny and charismatic person on the entire Square right now. Especially now they’re getting rid of Poppy.
7. But at the same time just accept that you don’t really do humour very well.
There have been some noble efforts to relieve the unending misery of life in Walford, but at the same time, this year there was also a week-long story arc about who had taken Dot’s cold cuts out of the fridge. That actually happened.
8. Pull something big out for Christmas.
Christmas is always miserable in Walford, and in 1986, 30 million people watced Den serve Angie with divorce papers after finding out she’d been lying about her illness. Last year’s big reveal of Max’s secret wife went for the same thing but was underwhelming and a bit all over the place.
9. Send this woman loopy again.
Because aside from Ian Beale’s brief interlude as a tramp, grief-maddened babysnatching Ronnie being carted off to prison was the last interesting thing to happen in EastEnders. So far, Samantha Womack’s return has been flat, as she admits herself in that interview.
10. Get rid of this lot.
Treadwell-Collins has already started clearing out deadwood in the form on Sam, Ava, Kirsty, Carl and (quite bizarrely) Poppy. But there is still work to be done. And now that Danny Bloody Dyer is joining, there’s no real use for Shane Richie anymore. Getting him back with Kat again would just be tiresome.
11. Bring back Chrissie Watts.
Admittedly, this is largely a request on behalf of the gays, since Tracy-Ann Oberman’s Lady Macbeth figure was one of the most fabulous things in all of EastEnders history. This photograph we’ve come across was never released by the BBC at the time as it was considered “too camp”. But think about it, bringing back the woman who killed her Dad Dirty Den would actually give Sharon something to work with.
They probably can’t get Barbara Windsor back full time, but her one-off appearance in September made EastEnders feel genuinely buzzworthy again.