Momentousnessness. Groundbreakingness. Wowzersness. Just a few of the words being used to describe, by me, quite possibly the greatest moment of Olympicness, er, ever.
I refer, gentle reader in your vest, to last night’s East Enders; the second of the two shows, and the bit where Billy Mitchell finally, after so much Bad Underground Turmoil, Key-Loss, Footwear Cock-Up and Offspring No-Show (all of which make for good Fall song titles), emerged from the subtle symbolism of his basement burrow, to set forth on his Square-Round Odyssey of Torchness.
Up on the pavement, at the top of his basement steps he paused. He jogged a little in place. Camera high to his left. We cut to the countdown timer. Back to Billy. Then, in one deliciously heart-licking moment, Billy to Camera: “Here we go!”
Billy to Camera.
Soaps don’t do ‘to camera’, but it’s long been my fantasy they did. When young I adored, with an accompanying frisson of anarchy observed, Eric Morecambe’s remarks to ‘his’ camera in the wings – and to ‘us’. Later, The Young Ones, and Rik Mayall’s Rick turning to us in an exchange about eating ear wax: ‘And we all know how disgusting that tastes, don’t we, kids?’ – right at us, launching his character out of the pretence, the breaking of that wall, for one line only, and I was enraptured. It was not a new device, not even in TV-land – and heaven knows the theatre work of the ancients will have been bursting at the seams with characters bursting the seams – but it was the moment neatly done for me.
That soap writers, characters (and I include the old Dallases and Dynasties too, whose dining extras I used to will to go goggle-eye, soup-dribbling nuts in restaurant scenes) deny us, the audience, as present is understandable; they’d get nothing done. But just every now and then would be nice. Not so much to unravel the make-believe, but enough to acknowledge exactly what it is we’re all up to. And how much fun it all is.
As for Billy to Camera, I’d long had Michael Moon down as the wall-breaker-to-be… who else?
Over in Corrie? Well now that’s too bed-wettingly lovely even to consider.
© All contents, Steve Mitchell and Fisher Lane, 2012