The secret of acting on Eastenders revealed

How come so many luvvies are out of work and still virtually no-one on Eastenders can act?

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According to Equity your average luvvie only acts 13.2 weeks a year, 80 per cent of them are not working at any given time and 78 per cent earn less than £10,000 in a year from treading the boards.

That may explain why every time you go to the theatre there’s always a frustrated darling in the audience being louder and more attention seeking than anyone on stage.

But what it doesn’t explain is why virtually no-one on Eastenders can act. You’d think that given the number of wannabe Winslets or Blooms floating from audition to audition that they could find at least someone with talent.

Instead, they seem to employ people who have two modes: angry and gloomy. And neither of those are terribly convincing even when combined. Anger involves an open mouth and a jutting out jaw. Gloom an open mouth and a droopy jaw.

Pam St Clements – and this might explain her longevity as downtrodden multi-married Pat - has variations on this theme. Sometimes she juts, sometimes she droops and sometimes her jaw adopts a jaunty angle.

The episode I saw this week involved a very angry man (jutting jaw) forcing various indignant young women to check if they were pregnant after a positive test was found on a bus. No I didn't really follow this bit either.

As things turned out none of them were expecting, instead it was the girl with a very droopy jaw who was down the Vic with her ex and his wife. Meanwhile the angry man was getting pissed and celebrating both his birthday and the fact he was not due to become a grandfather – a scene which appeared to require no acting at all.

Now I’ve calmed down, I can see it’s all quite funny. But last night after seeing Eastenders followed by a couple of the acts on the Royal Variety Performance I was ready to give up the modern world and go and live in Teepee Valley.

Eastenders winds me up because of the ceaseless shouting but the other, well, I’m just baffled. In the section I saw, the comedians weren’t funny, the ‘music’ was embarrassing – Barry Manilow surrounded by busty women – and then there was this inexplicable martial arts act.

What I want to know is who is the variety show for? If you know please tell me.

Or, alternatively, send your answers on a postcard to one of the many Royal palaces because I’ll bet that Windsor lot are intrigued to find out too.

Ben Davies trained as a journalist after taking most of the 1990s off. Prior to joining the New Statesman he spent five years working as a politics reporter for the BBC News website. He lives in North London.
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