Tuesday, March 25, 2008

EastEnders storyline criticised

From BBC News:
A scene in BBC One soap EastEnders [episode written by Simon Ashdown] which showed a character being buried alive has prompted 167 complaints.

The episode, shown at 2000 GMT on Friday night, showed character Max Branning being buried alive in a coffin by his wife and her lover....

The BBC said the number of complaints was proportionately small...

Last month, Ofcom ruled that the soap had breached TV regulations in an episode showing a gang attack on the Queen Vic pub.
max BranningJake Wood as Max Branning in EastEnders (Photo: BBC/Adam Pensotti)

Someone who did enjoy it was The Guardian's TV critic, Nancy Banks Smith.
Max is a man who could hide at will behind a spiral staircase, and Tanya, his long-suffering wife, has suffered long enough. She dispatches Sean, her scruffy lover, to buy a coffin, which proves surprisingly simple ("Cash was it? Got your own transport?") and laces Max's wine with barbiturates. No bon vivant, he quaffs the lot.

Simon Ashdown, the scriptwriter, who is clearly enjoying himself enormously, has read Macbeth to good effect. Tanya and Sean's conversation over the body is staccato and nerve-shredded. "What's that?" "Listen!" "I don't hear anything." An owl hoots, for they are now, of course, in Epping Forest, the traditional place to bury an EastEnder body. All the best people, or in Walford's case the worst, are buried here. Tanya, traditional to a fault, even falls into the open grave in the immemorial fashion of EastEnder widows.

Then she hears a sound. Tap, tap, tap. Max's eyes are open. He says: "Ehwah!" (You deeply suspect that this chilling moment will be resurrected on Harry Hill's TV Burp.) Tanya reminds him, perhaps unnecessarily, that he has been afraid of confined spaces since he was a child. "You'll have hours to think about what you did to me. Bye Max!" And she puts the lid on the coffin. It is not a comfy coffin. No unnecessary money has been lavished on purple satin padding. Let us pray Max remembered to take his mobile.


  1. I'm with Nancy, I thought it made for fun family entertainment - we *all knew* how it would end. I thought the gang attack was more unneccessary in comparison, especially since it didn't seem to be part of organic plotting. At least there was some logic to this, albeit twisted. Tho I read an interview with Jake Wood (Max) somewhere where he said his burial was "handled sensitively" - I wouldn't go that far, he was BURIED ALIVE but it was still good I thought.

  2. I did think it might have played better without Max's slurred "Tanya!" at the end, just after the coffin lid had very dramatically forced a fade to black.

  3. I must say I was surprised that Eastenders went for this storyline, being a programme on before nine o' clock.

    I have found this storyline very gripping, but there aren't many episodes like this which make me think about them much afterwards. It stayed in my head for the rest of the evening because it was such a scary idea.


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