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Love Triangles – The Sexy, The Unbelievable, and The Unbelievably Sexy

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Long time no blog. And a lot has happened in mythical Chester – and indeed, I imagine, the real world – since last we spoke. First and perhaps most importantly, JOHN PAUL IS BACK. That’s right ladies and gents, you heard me right. Returning from Dublin back to Momma Myra’s ample bosom, he hasn’t aged a day, though perhaps the loss of Craig Dean has given him a knowing twinkle in his eye, or – to liberally misquote Hardy’s Tess Of The D’Urbevilles – ‘symbols of reflectivesness passed into John Paul’s face, and a note of tragedy entered his voice…he became what would have been called a fine creature.’ Suffice it to say, he’s looking good, and Leanne’s noticed. Ignoring Texas’s advice and – may I add – all evidence to the contrary, she’s convinced herself she’s going on a proper romantic date with JPM. You wish, Leanne. You wish.

JPM may be looking good but I’m sad to report that former heart-flutterer Will Savage is NOT. Wearing a bandage bandana – the soap shorthand for ‘head injury’ the world over – it turns out Texas may have fully paralysed him. This is pretty heavy stuff. The episode opens with Texas writing an ill-advised ‘Get Well Soon’ card to Will – surely this is a bad idea? It’s a bit like Harold Shipman sending out tons of condolence cards. THINK, Texas, THINK. On the one hand, it’s bitterly ironic, and on the other, surely not a great move legally speaking. Never leave a paper trail, Tex. Though she must be pretty confused and swoony because she is in a love triangle with the Savage brothers, potentially the most swoon-worthy siblings ever to have graced the ‘Oaks (I am here officially including Tony and Dom Hutchinson). And this love triangle has got a Fifty Shades of Grey flavour to it, though perhaps Texas didn’t have to go all Christian Grey on Will’s ass quite so enthusiastically.

Speaking of love triangles, on the other side of the looking glass the unimaginable has happened. Mercedes McQueen – or, for sanity’s sake, Jennifer Metcalfe – has been left by her boyfriend, ice skating idiot Sylvain Longchambon, for another woman. AND IT’S ONLY MARIA FROM CORONATION STREET. Who went out with Tyrone. Who looks like this. What hope do ordinary women have when Mercedes McQueen can’t keep hold of her man? Although Ms Metcalfe has dealt with the situation admirably – tweeting soapy naked shots and sympathizing with scarlet women Samia because Mr Skates is still in love with her – it truly boggles the mind. Samia was probably wearing those weird flesh coloured tights when Mr Skates fell for her as well. Jesus wept.

  1. How long can someone keep on trading on the Hollyoaks name post-departure? I saw a poster for a panto in Newcastle with Kathy Barnes in it, she of ‘I sent a poo to Myra McQueen’ fame. Kathy left Hollyoaks in 2008. That’s half a decade ago. I mean, I loved the poo in the post storyline as much as the next man, but I have my limits.
  2. Isn’t it a massive relief that John Paul has got out of Ireland, what with all this political unrest and flag malarkey that’s happening over there? I know that’s in Belfast and he was in Dublin, but I can honestly say I’ll sleep sounder in my bed tonight knowing he’s safe and home.
  3. Do we think Will Savage was evoking Foucauldian punitive theory when he explained his refusal to tell the police about Texas’s guilt? ‘I can’t ask the police to punish you,’ he told a weepy Tex, ‘because you’re already punishing yourself.’ Wow. I hope they stem that mysterious brain injury soon before all that wisdom just leaks on out.

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Cunning Cindy and Rhys Ashworthless – You Make Me Sick

I cannot believe this whole Rhys and Cindy thing. I keep repressing my knowledge of it so that every night at 6.30 when I loyally tune in, I am horrified anew. Why did this happen? How? Why am I being forced to watch Rhys unpeel his fetid body from that flannel shirt he perpetually wears while singing David Rose’s The Stripper? Why would any man in his right mind choose Cindy Cunningham over Jacqui McQueen? JM has the body of a Russian athlete, the face of an angel, and the mouth of a fishwife. Rhys Ashworth: you know not what you do.

Poor Jacqui. Poor Tony too, obvs, but if we will keep inexplicably seducing hotties who are momentarily blinded to his general repulsiveness and shockingly large forehead, he’s can’t expect unwavering fidelity. I remembered halfway through this episode that Jacqui and Tony had a ‘thing’, didn’t they? ‘This is all a bit incestuous’, I found myself thinking. But then I thought: ‘No, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, incest is the crime of sexual intercourse within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity wherein marriage is legally forbidden.’ You know, like a brother and a sister?

For – LEST WE FORGET – Rhys slept with his sister. I hear you, it was ages ago – bygones and all that. Oh, and he didn’t know at the time, or at least for a bit. The details are hazy, but I recall there were SOME mitigating circumstances. Still though – doesn’t get much more genetically cosy than that. All I’m saying is – if Rhys was properly attractive, like Will Savage for instance, then maybe I’d let it slide. But, let the flannel clad shrimp body speak for itself. Jacqui McQueen threw herself away on this man, and he’s paying her back in spades of BETRAYAL.

  1. How can Teresa McQueen return to Hollyoaks as if nothing has happened? She swans in, hotpant-clad, no doubt fresh from an FHM shoot, and we’re supposed to forget the entire Hollyoaks Later mini-series? It’s like an alternative universe with high profile French stars, better quality film and naked bottoms.
  2. Surely, given Callum’s tache, a fried breakfast is a bad idea? Or maybe it’s the perfect taste saver? He can store bits of fried egg and bacon in it and nibble on them later when he’s in school. Clever.
  3. Why did Katie Price win Celebrity Mum Of The Year while Myra McQueen lives and breathes? This episode alone she dispensed upward of twelve hugs, innumerable plates of toast, and quoted a Boyzone song in a manner akin to a priest intoning Scripture. You was robbed Myra. You was robbed.

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Chester, Mon Amour

‘For the first time in ages, everything seems to be going my way.’ Why, Mercedes? Why? Why would you ever say that? It is the first and most indubitable law of Soapland that you should never ever comment on how well things are going. Hollyoaks’s writers work in much the same fashion as Fate, spinning the narrative threads of the characters they created and control. If you tempt them, Mercedes, they will destroy you.

Not that a second attempt marriage between Mercedes and Riley was ever going to go well. Mercy infamously got hot and heavy with Riley’s Dad – ‘an old muscley beast is tupping your white ewe!’ – and Riley, for his sins, has been doing the nasty with his cousin, Mitzeee. The sheer complexity of the sexual and familial relationships at play here lead me to surmise that the conjugal waters seem altogether too muddied to allow for marital happiness. As always, Carl Costello and I are in moral agreement, and he comes storming back into town to put an end to this ill-fated union. After a quick and perfunctory exchange of unpleasanteries, Riley and Carl – rather implausibly – end up having a heart-to-heart about how sensible it really is to marry noted lunatic Mercedes McQueen. Both Costellos are rocking serious deep-V shirts in this scene, it’s like a father-son heavage competition. The pair are so entranced by one another’s pectorals that they don’t realize the door is open, and eavesdropper Mercedes finds out both that Riley no longer loves her, but also that he’s still been shagging Mitzeee, who – as we have touched upon – is both a criminal, and perhaps more importantly in the eyes of God, a close blood relative. Awkward.

Meanwhile, Brendan is really proving that he deserved that Best Actor gong at the Inside Soap Awards. Confined to his wheelchair, but more meaningfully trapped by his inability to express his love for Ste, the splendidly moustachioed one is being tormented by evil Walker. There’s something unconvincing about Walker. Perhaps because if you really wanted to get evil done in an efficient and diabolical manner, you’d have a sensible haircut that didn’t fall into your eyes and require constant brushing back. What’s more, he can’t really deliver a good villain line without making it a bit…well, silly. Take the moment when he brandishes a photo of his late brother, Cameron, who died after overdosing on some drugs Brendan supplied. ‘He doesn’t look like that now,’ Walker hisses. ‘He looks…’ there is a pause, and he seems to panic, ‘well…dead.’ Not quite the rhetorical brilliance we have come to expect from an ’Oaks bad boy. Walker needs to up his game.

  1. Why is Mitzeee still hanging around? Surely being ‘on the run’ necessitates actually leaving the town where you lived? How bad are Hollyoaks police, really? The only thing Mitzeee’s doing differently is wearing a cap and a hood. If this is all it takes to fool the Chester Met, then I’m surprised they ever put Silas behind bars. He should have just put on some of those joke glasses with a big nose and ‘tache, and he’d still be with us. If only.
  2. How has no one commented on the fact that Bart’s illicit French lover was Lola Créton, the actress from the acclaimed Goodbye First Love, a film which The Guardian’s Philip French described as ‘splendid’ and ‘understated’? Forgive me, but what was she doing in Hollyoaks Later? Surely there was something lost in translation when her agent arranged this gig, or a few white lies on behalf of the Hollyoaks production team. ‘It’s exactly Lola’s style – a searing comment on youth and transience…set in Chester’.
  3. Who has taken Bobby?

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Is This Goodbye, Brendan Brady?

The Greek philosopher Diogenes Laertius wrote that there is nothing permanent except change. Is there a better example of his teachings than Hollyoaks? A week or two is a long time in Chester. Things change. Teresa, for example, has stopped wearing her hair in intricate beehives. Ash is now dating Ally, leaving the way clear for me to make my long calculated move on Will Savage. But some things, mercifully, remain constant. Brendan Brady, namely. He’s still evil, still winningly vulnerable. He’s still longing for Ste from afar. But deep dark forces (specifically, Hollyoaks Later adverts) have lead me to believe that he is heading for crisis, that he might even soon be departing Chester. Is this the end of the road for Brendan Brady? Surely all right-minded people pray it is not.

All the signs are there, though. Hippolytus of Rome wrote that eternity is a child playing checkers. In the grand tradition of Greek tragedy, we can witness the tactical moves being made, played – sometimes inadvertently and sometimes deliberately – that will spell Brendan’s end. Could it be Walker who executes the final checkmate? His brother lies dead following an overdose of drugs sold by the Irish powerhouse, and he’s plotting revenge.  ‘I’m going to make Brendan Brady pay,’ Walker promises his brother’s still luke-warm corpse, ‘He’ll pay. Oh he’ll pay.’ Or could Brendan’s demise come from a softer, less threatening corner, could it finally be for love that he surrenders his King? I’m talking about Ste, though I’m having to fight every natural impulse to avoid obvious and vulgar ‘Queen’ jokes here and for that I think I should be applauded. Ste is Brendan’s soft-underbelly, his weakness because his one true love. Surely he has a role to play in this tragedy?

Brendan’s final farewell seems imminent if only because this episode was almost an elegy to him. Ste did a surprisingly effective Brendan impression. Cheryl talked at length about Brendan’s youth and his undying love for B*witched (‘they’re like an Irish Saturdays, only they’ve got more denim and flatter shoes.’) Even Brendan, when describing why crème brulee is his signature desert, unwittingly foresaw his own destruction in a manner akin to a less clear-sighted Cassandra: ‘You get to use a blowtorch at the end. And that’s awesome.’ Could this be a foreshadowing of his own death? Will he die in a blaze of flame at Chez Chez, following in the grand tradition trailblazed by Warren Fox? To leave aside Greek tragedy for a moment and quote a rather more recent classic, it is surely fair to say of Brendan what Tyrell says of Roy in Blade Runner: ‘The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long – and you have burnt so very, very brightly, Brendan.’

  1. Is Mitzeee singing Sweet Child Of Mine in a strangled undertone while being lead to a psychiatric facility the most haunting image Hollyoaks has yet conjured? The fact that her mother sang her Guns and Roses songs instead of nursery rhymes explains a lot.
  2. Do we want Maddie and Callum to get back together? They’re both so pretty, it hurts my eyes to look at them.
  3. Could Hollyoaks recover if Brendan Brady left?

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Martha Kane Queen of Caners

It’s not that I haven’t been watching it. Hollyoaks is like mother’s milk to me.

Just I’ve been blogging less. By less, read not at all.

But all that’s going to change. Like Martha Kane, I’m taking my life in my own hands.

Never again, upon visiting hollyoaksholysmokes, will you be filled with an aching disappointment that the same old debatably amusing blog with the ‘doing a poo’ picture of Rhys is still up. There’ll be more than you can read. My blogs will go forth and multiply. This I promise, safe in the knowledge that nothing ever truly changes in Fictional Chester (or real Chester? Never been, let me know), and that you probably just reread the Rhys Poo blog unknowingly, perhaps subliminally comforted by its repetitive cadences.

Now, back to business.

I’m so bored by the Texas and Dodger story I’m adopting an ‘I don’t blog about borefactories’ policy (akin to Tony Blair’s ‘we don’t negotiate with terrorists’ spiel circa 2004). I can, however, comment on Dodger’s search for his true father who is, as it turns out, a man rather incongruously called Patrick.

A wheeler-dealer known only as Dodger is surely, in the Dickensian tradition, spawned only of a man just like Daddy Savage? Rough, lovable, the colour of ham, you get the idea? A Patrick couldn’t have produced those muscles and that nose for business, not to mention the twinkle in his eye? I refuse to believe it.

It is fortuitous for Dodger that upon the very day he determines to uncover the Savage family secrets, his (so-called) father decides to hold a car-boot sale apparently selling only items that hold the key to Dodger’s genealogy: specifically, an engraved lighter. Digging around in one’s biological and emotional past is much easier when doing the material equivalent with a load of old crap. The significance of this same lighter could have gone unnoticed by our bemuscled pal, but luckily Pappa Savage spends about ten minutes staring at it intently and then, when questioned rather reasonably by a bemused Dodger, screams like a madman and flings it with a flourish into the nearest wheelie bin. Smooth, Pappa S.

But then he is distracted, nay, crazed by lust, for Myra McQueen has been released from prison and apparently has ‘got a problem with her pipes’. That’s what a dearth of conjugal visits will do to you. Shudder.

Pappa Savage’s delirium is just part of a greater leitmotif running throughout this fine episode, which questions the boundary between the sane and insane. It all gets a bit excessively literal at the end with a montage of characters screaming interspersed with shots of Dodger throwing around high quality furniture with his bulging biceps (making me feel a bit funny inside). On the more subtle end of the scale however, we have a genuinely nuanced, if brief, study of addiction.

The unfortunately named Martha Kane has been battling with her addiction demons for basically ages now (at least 4 episodes). It’s all been a bit predictable so far, until today, when son Callum gave a genuinely moving interpretation of his mother’s addiction to sister Lacey.

In a move that would have Jan Moir choking on the bile she is paid to regurgitate on a daily basis, Callum explained that Martha isn’t simply selfish, but has a disease. Daniel Hannan has written recently on the liberal bias at the BBC. Brother should take a look at what E4 is repping.

Callum’s is a far more compassionate take on the situation than Ash’s. Indeed, despite her psychology degree (see below), when Ash finds out her mother has fallen off the wagon she goes batshit crazy (purely in the proverbial sense). Poor Martha, beset by this wailing harpy, ground into submission, misunderstood, stressed and confused, is driven to utter the line: ‘I’ve had enough of you and your half thought-out childish psychology!’ I could kiss her.

  1. The other day, Brendan Brady was Tweeting. Not Emmett J. Scanlan. The big (fictional) man himself. ‘Tis witchcraft.
  2. If it turns out – as it looks like it might – that Pappa Savage quite literally isn’t the Daddy, what can I call him? Guardian Savage?! Actually, that sounds awesome.
  3. In the absence of a viable Labour leader as we approach an election, I propose that Callum Kane step into Miliband’s brown lace-ups. Get rid of the Hitler ‘tache – mixed messages – and we’re good to go.

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‘You think you’re so smart with your psychology degree’

So this episode Callum found out – via a not at all crudely managed CCTV mix up – that his mother was to blame for the Phoebe K.O. incident. I am surprised to admit that I found Callum truly intimidating as an avenger. I think all of his power lies in the moustache in a Samsonite way – obliquely referencing uber-villain Brendan, it also casts him in a kind of sexy dictator light. You know how Hitler was supposedly very charismatic when chatting Nazi stuff? Like that. I felt myself vulnerable, liable to espouse any cause he championed. A feeling his elder sister did not share. Despite her rigorous training in the complexities of the human mind – she’s a second year psych student now? – Ash is unable to recognize her mother’s alcoholism. I think the layman’s term for this is denial, though Ash would probably know better than me. Because she’s a psychology student. Did she mention that? She studies psychology. ‘You’re quick to blame everyone else,’ she tells her brother, ‘do you know what that’s called? Transference.’ I think Callum spoke for everybody (but this may be my dictator lust talking) when he cuttingly replied: ‘You think you’re so smart with your psychology degree.’ A degree she hasn’t yet completed, may I add, at the risk of over emphasizing a point. Ash reminds me of a girl I met in the first few weeks of Uni, who – embarking on a law degree – saw fit to call herself a ‘lawyer’. Ash is of the same mentality. Her problem is premature qualification. Embarrassing, but it happens to a lot of humanities students.

Rhys, on the other hand, is overqualified and now underworked. Within MINUTES of losing his job, he turns into a hoodie, roaming the streets and drinking to excess. This is what David Cameron is talking about! Our disaffected youth! Before we know it Rhys will be inciting riots through the village, breaking into Drive and Buy to filch some of their luxury items, setting fire to Chez Chez. Topical, Hollyoaks, I salute you. Rhys also calls Tony T-Dog, which is a truly amazing moment. I was relieved to see Tony put in an appearance, the good Ship Hollyoaks cannot truly be said to sail without Captain Hutchinson at the helm. He tells Cindy at one point that he’s taken in Rob as a lodger so that he has someone to watch the Olympics with. I am nearly moved to tears by how pathetic this is.

Meanwhile, the students are having housing problems. Barney cheers everyone up, not just by always wearing waistcoats and sporting jaw-dropping sideburns, but by pouring some warm wine into mugs and passing it round. He talks like a Dickensian aristocrat, referring to their current student accommodation as ‘hallowed halls’ and raising his teacup ‘to you, my friends, and those absent.’ This is how Americans think English people talk all the time. And we should, we really should.

  1. Has the predicted Phoebe make-over finally made a long-overdue appearance? The signs are good. She awoke from her sleep in hospital sporting a subtle but winning combo of eye shimmer and mascara. Times are a’changing, my friends.
  2. Is it really fair to call Joel a ‘pathetic little Warren Fox wannabe’? I’m not sure even Warren Fox wanted to be Warren Fox.
  3. Why did Callum think he could convince Ash by drinking lots of beers then throwing them on the floor? I’m not sure how this illustrated his point. It was, more to the point, quite wasteful in these frugal times (see Rhys, above) and I know from experience that spilt beers stinks and the floor stays sticky no matter how many times you ineffectually dab it with a dirty piece of kitchen roll.

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The Count of Monte Chester

The Savage family is in crisis following the revelation that Will has – maybe – been acting as Silas’s evil agent. Personally, I’m not worried – if there’s one man who can sail Ship Savage through these emotionally stormy (and legally murky) waters it’s Papa Savage, Chester’s answer to Ray Winstone. This is a man who has made the beast with two backs with Myra McQueen. He’s seen things most of us can barely imagine. He can certainly handle a murder investigation. Unfortunately the spotlight shining on Family Savage means Liberty gets a lot more screen time. This is only a bad thing. Granted, she has a singing voice that sends shiver of pleasure down my spine and would no doubt make archangels cry with envy, but her acting skills, HER ACTING SKILLS. They are severely lacking. And not in a funny, Brendan Brady kind of a way. Not even in a ‘itching to strangle her’ Nancy way. More in a crushingly dull, unwatchable way.  Let’s hope she’s next on Silas’s hit-list.

Will’s dealing with the accusation in the only way intellectuals know how. By reading about it. He’s chosen The Count of Monte Cristo. Not sure it’s the best source of up-to-the-minute legal advice for the innocent and accused, but I imagine Will knows what he’s doing. Though he does try to protest his innocence to Brendan, the notorious murderer, headcase and bezzie of Lindsay. This is, to put it bluntly, a course of action that strikes me as rash. Brendan goes literally mental, he speaks exclusively in this episode in an urgent whisper delivered through a tightly maintained underbite. He’s being driven mad with worry about Cheryl’s safety when she returns from Ireland. I’m not sure if he’s looked at his sister recently, but I’m pretty sure she could handle herself. In a fight between her and Silas, my money would be on Cheryl every time. Not only is she strong of thigh and quick of fist, she has the luck of the Irish on her side. Oh, and she’s about six foot tall.

Ash features quite heavily in this episode, acting in her capacity as (second year) psychology student to shed some light on the situation.  ‘Brendan’s grieving,’ she explains to Will, post terrifying underbite scene, ‘seeing you probably brought up a lot of difficult feelings.’ Well, thank you, little Miss Freud. What would we do without your pithy yet nuanced insights into the working of the human brain? I thought Brendan was just suffering from a bit of trapped wind, probably after wolfing down one of his fave ham sandwiches at lunch too quickly. We’ve all been there. But he’s grieving. I see, I see. At the end of the episode, Will does some impressively convincing weeping which makes me feel a bit strange inside. It’s a perfect synthesis of the maternal and erotic, sort of how I imagine Denise Welch feels all the time. Will looks like some huge muscley baby rocking an Aztec print baby-grow. Somehow, Ash holds off embracing him until the bitter end, but finally gives in to the inevitable as the credits roll. I am struck with the horrible realization that this episode may mark the beginning of a romance between Will and Ash. I have the conflicted feelings of a proud mother and a predatory, would-be lover.

  1. Will and Liberty are EXACTLY the same colour. A sort of lovely, caramel tan shade. Do they use the same self-tan? Do they do each other’s backs in a scenario that would be touching were it not a little creepy that they’re siblings and naked, and Hollyoaks has a bit of an incest legacy? Most importantly, where can I buy this tan? I currently look like an orange and I smell like biscuits.
  2. Presumably Ruby has actually broken her arm. That’s right, Hollyoaks writers. You didn’t convince me by hastily putting a line in about her slipping in the shower, a story that has no significance to any other plot! Unless this is a new policy to make the ‘Oaks more realist, more random even, commenting in an oblique way on the ultimate meaninglessness of life and its events. Conclusion re this conundrum to follow.
  3. Casper? Samson? Who are these biblical characters that Brendan and Walker are putting into comas? You miss one episode…

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