Magazine article The Spectator

Radio: Kate Chisholm

Magazine article The Spectator

Radio: Kate Chisholm

Article excerpt

Credit: Kate Chisholm

Did you hear those bloodcurdling screams from Kirsty? Those long-drawn-out wails that echoed horrifically through the ancient walls of St Stephen's Church last Thursday -- in a strange, unwelcome echo of Nigel's unfortunate descent from the roof of Lower Loxley in 2011? They were enough to make every woman's blood run cold. Kirsty, the bride-to-be, was not just dumped by Tom on her way to the altar but also left dangling in all her finery at the church gate while Tom (what a waster of an Archer) sobbed his heart out in the vestry.

Did you see it coming? (I didn't.) It was a bit puzzling that sparky Kirsty should have gone so doolally about the bridal thing, buying not just one but two hyperinflated dresses in her efforts to 'look beautiful for Tom' (pass the sick bucket). Tom, too, was even more annoyingly self-obsessed than usual, constantly arguing with his Dad and putting money down on a new-build house that's not even in Ambridge. But who would have guessed he would bottle out at the very last minute, letting Kirsty parade herself through the village in her wedding get-up before telling her it was all off? What a gruesome Ambridge moment. It was as if Kirsty was being chastised, medieval style. And for what? Audience figures? To save the soap from becoming too bland, too safe, too ordinary?

No doubt Kirsty's screams were given an added charge by her (or rather Annabelle Dowler's) realisation that it's curtains for her as anArchers character/actress (just as Nigel's screams were Graham Seed's final, memorable contribution after 28 years). Sure enough, Dowler's name doesn't appear in this week's cast list inRadio Times . In a way that must be a relief -- for Kirsty and Dowler. Who would want to stick around in Ambridge after such a humiliation to be turned into a Miss Havisham?

Ask any cleric whether they've ever had to cope with a bride who's been stood up at the altar (or vice versa) and they'll tell you, quite simply, 'No.' It does happen, of course, but so rarely, and certainly not in an everyday country village like Ambridge, and definitely not just as the bride arrives at the church to walk up the aisle watched by all her family and friends. It was such a dreadful romantic cliché. Even Dickens restrained himself from putting us through such an ordeal (and a misogynist one at that). He gives us not the bride but the aftermath.

OnFeedback last Friday, the editor Sean O'Connor, who's still a relative new boy after years of working in TV (including, you guessed it,EastEnders), explained that it was all about 'turning a boy into a man'. …

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