Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Catch Up TV... Missed the TV Moment Everyone's Talking about? Alastair McKay Says Farewell to EastEnders' Peggy Mitchell While Welcoming Gerard Depardieu in Marseille

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Catch Up TV... Missed the TV Moment Everyone's Talking about? Alastair McKay Says Farewell to EastEnders' Peggy Mitchell While Welcoming Gerard Depardieu in Marseille

Article excerpt

Byline: Alastair McKay

THE ghost of Pat Butcher. Can we leave that on the table for a moment? Pat Butcher, the Widow Twankey of EastEnders (BBC iPlayer), a spectre in chandelearrings and Barbie lipstick, back from the dead.

This was, by any stretch of the imagination, a peculiar moment in soap history, though it's true that EastEnders has been showing signs of middle-aged bewilderment of late. For the casual viewer, 'Enders is like a tribute act to itself, with old characters reappearing all over the place, and the newer intake struggling to acquire the gravitas of the previous generation.

A full-blown spook takes things to another dimension. Now that Walford includes the afterlife Mitchell and Butcher (Deceased) who's to say that the whole thing isn't a hallucination, the death-dream of Mark Fowler, perhaps? Will we be having time-travellers next, journeying backwards to try and dissuade Arthur Fowler from pocketing the Christmas club money? Tom Stoppard had a line about how we cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, leaving us with nothing to show for our progress but a memory of the smell of smoke. So it was with Peggy Mitchell, back for a final tour of the Queen Vic. Dear Peggy, whose fictional history is so entwined with the nation's regard for its alternative monarch, Dame Barbara Windsor, found herself having flashbacks, to a time before the implementation of the Health Act (2006), when the East End was "proper" and a karaoke knees-up in the boozer could be wreathed in a peasouper of cancerous fug.

Adding to the air of unreality, grunting Grant Mitchell was back too, wearing a leather blouson indoors while acting in a threatening manner to his alcoholic brother Phil, who now talks in a voice like a cockney bison. "You're a mess," Grant told him. …

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