I am a life long fan of Eastenders. However I have recently stopped watching due to the recasts. The recasts of Lauren, Ben and Lucy are completely unnecessary. Even as a life long fan of Eastenders the recast of Lauren has taken me right out of the programme. And isn’t that the opposite effect an ongoing drama is supposed to have? I know recasts have happened before and I think recasts should be left in the past as an embarrassing part of soap history. Lauren was already being played by an actress. There was no need to recast her. Recasts are insulting to the performer, insulting to the programme and insulting to the viewer. What is the point in an ongoing drama if actors who portray characters are suddenly going to be changed? If actors want to leave or have been fired then the programme should build that in to the story. When Madeline Duggen left the programme it could have been worked in to Eastenders by showing Max and Tanya struggling with the absence of their daughter.
To me, when an actor has left, their character has went with them. And their replacement is an embarrassing impostor , ruining the credibility of the show. When a recast happens it doesn’t just effect that particular character, it effects every character they interact with. For example, when Lauren talks to Max I think “Max, what are you doing, that’s not your daughter”. As such Jake Wood’s acting talent is going to waste. Again, when “Lauren is interacting with Stacey I think Stacey “what are you doing, that’s not Lauren”. Watching Eastenders should be like dropping in on a community. But it can’t possibly be like that if characters are going to be replaced with “new heads.” The look of the show is what draws you in as a viewer. How something looks is the first thing people take in. And as such make their mind up if they are going to be open to the storylines. How realistic something looks dictates ones openness to accept it. Why should viewers have to make their selves struggle to accept a “recast”. What is the point in an ongoing drama if the makers are going to say “you know that character you’ve been watching for the past four years? Well she’s now a different person”. When a recast character is onscreen I can’t help but be reminded of how patronising it is to the viewer and how much little respect producers must have for the viewer and the integrity and credibility of the programme. Madeline Duggan was Lauren. Melissa Suffield was Lucy. It's as simple as that.
Recasts are possibly the ultimate insult to the viewer. I can’t imagine anything more patronising and condescending. It go’s to show in the world of soap nothing is credible and nothing is safe. What is the point in being a loyal viewer if a character you're invested in, is suddenly and pointlessly replaced. As if they never existed. It means a character someone is invested in could suddenly change. So what’s the point in investing any time on the show at all? I watched Eastenders when I was a wee boy and throughout my teens. But Eastenders has now lost me as a viewer. The introduction of the "new Lauren" was the last episode for me.
Wednesday, 8 December 2010
When I was a teenager I used to love channel 4. I used to love staying up late to watch anarchic programmes such as Beavis & Butthead, The Word, and The Girly Show. All my friends loved channel fours late night programmes as well. It’s kind of a right of passage staying up late watching channel fours “forbidden” programmes. Then when I was fifteen I loved staying up through the entire night watching 4later. Again, all my mates loved 4later as well. Eurotika! woke me up to the fact that films were made all around the world. Every weekend I enjoyed being educated about European exploitation cinema. I loved seeing films such as Shiver Of The Vampires, Female Vampire and The Awful Doctor Orlof and really appreciated the thought that had been put in to it. (for example a Eurotika! documentary then a humorous intro before the film, then the film itself) Eurotika! was both informative and funny. Vids reviewed the kind of films I love and was a comedy series in it’s own right, it’s still by far the funniest programme I’ve seen. Prison drama Oz is the most stunning programme I have ever seen, intelligent, thought provoking and shocking. 4later was the epitome of what late night TV should be like. It was alternative, innovative, provocative and sometimes surreal. You got the feeling the people involved loved what they where doing. I didn’t just love the programmes, I loved the animations and idents. I really appreciated everything about 4later, it was really daring and you got the feeling channel 4 understood young people. You could bet none of the other channels would have the balls to do anything like that. As well as 4later I liked the channels extreme cinema strands and animation weeks.
If the channel had an extreme cinema strand now it would probably consist of Scream introduced by Jimmy Carr! The tragic thing is the people currently running channel 4 probably don’t even see what’s wrong with that. Channel 4 was set up to provide an alternative to the previous 3 channels. To “shake up the television industry”. For the past ten years it has been failing in that remit. The channel has turned in to the very antitheses of the channel it used to be and in fact the channel it was set up to be. For the past few years channel 4 has been obsessed with painfully unfunny and just plain ignorant British comedians. As well as endless list shows where the channel tries to force people what to like! The channel even showed police academy recently! The people running channel 4 now should ask their selves what attracted them to channel 4 and why they’ve made it so completely different. The channel kept the dreadful T4 and 4music so why not 4later? There isn’t anything to differentiate between channel 4 and the other channels nowadays. It’s become a safe, mainstream, generic channel like all the rest. Channel 4 and E4 seem preoccupied with aiming their programmes at the makers and readers of heat magazine. I haven’t liked a single programme on channel 4 for about 10 years. I hate everything about it. I hate the overly long, overly expensive idents. I hate the way commercials suddenly interrupt programs (with no advert breakers). I hate how commercials are shown just a couple of minutes into the programme, often before the opening sequence. I hate the fact all programmes are “sponsored” wasting time of viewers lives like the channel couldn’t afford to pay for programmes their selves! Still, if it’s a choice between brain rotting images in the form of “sponsors” or lower pay, I suppose a big fat pay rise for the pompous TV executives is going to win every time! I even hate the more in your face logo, which I now find synonymous with channel fours abysmal, mainstream, bland programmes. And the plain white background is symbolic of the channels now vacuous nature. The channel seems intent on rotting the minds of children with shows like “who wants to marry a shipwrecked average Joe midget millionaire” or whatever on a Sunday morning as a bunch of perma tanned vacuous bimbos vote each other off tacky shows depending on how they look. I think these programmes are detrimental to our society. What do you think is going to happen to a society when a terrestrial television channel seems obsessed with putting on a pedestal people deemed to be psychically attractive and degrading those deemed “ugly”, showing programmes like Your Face Or Mine, Beauty And The Geek, Vanity Lair and Ugly Betty, a programme with ugly in the title! Particularly when these programmes seem aimed at twelve year old girls. What happened to channel 4? Where are programmes like South Park and Frontal? If I was the boss at channel 4 I would axe Hollyoaks and apologise for ever showing it. I mean that. You’re probably thinking “Hollyoaks is gaining in audience numbers.” well that’s just it, just because a programme has large viewing figures doesn’t make it a good programme! Channel 4 was set up for minority interests. All these brainless, tasteless C4/E4 programmes are particularly insulting and infuriating when they are specifically targeted towards “you” or at least your age group. One of the problems with channel 4 is the programmes are about young people rather than for young people. Programmes are aimed at the corporate perception of young people. the really unfortunate and depressing thing is that it is clear from the programmes and style of channel 4, E4, film4 and even more4 that the channels are being run by people who are so clueless that even if channel 4 tried to do something for an audience interested in alternative culture it would probably be a complete mess. It’s clear channel 4 and it’s sister channels are being run by people who don’t care about television.
To the people at channel 4: When you go in to work in the morning do you feel you are changing the face of British television? Didn’t think so. As well as being aimed at the posh, Isn’t channel 4 aimed at 16 to 30 year olds? So why is it all of the channels youth programming seems aimed at 12 year old girls? It’s ironic the channel is obsessed with showing programmes for people who don’t care about television and feel they have to spend lots of money advertising them and will not show any minority interest programmes that would be cheap to produce and build up a loyal following without the need for advertising. A fickle mainstream audience has every channel aiming all their programmes toward them while people who would be appreciative of just one late night subversive programme get nothing! If the channel was to just show at least a few alternative, dark, subversive programmes late at night in the same vein as the channel used to do then I would be more open minded to the channel as a brand and watching it’s more mainstream programmes. But as it is there is nothing for me so it’s went from being the channel that I loved to the channel that I avoid. I am in channel fours demographic and I’m telling you now-you’re not cool. If I was to sum up channel 4 in a few words they would be: Safe, mainstream, generic, commercial, populist and pompous. R.I.P channel 4.