Derek Martin, who played Charlie Slater on EASTENDERS for 16 years, has slammed “sensational” storylines in soaps, suggesting that, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, they should contain more humour.
Derek, 88, starred in EastEnders as cabbie Charlie Slater from 2000 to 2016. Despite being a part of some intense storylines on the BBC soap, he appeared on Good Morning Britain on Thursday to argue that soaps should focus on real-life issues and inject some humour into episodes rather than dark plot lines. He slammed the “sensationalist” events depicted in soap operas, claiming that they “aren’t needed.”
“What’s your problem, how was it better in the past?” Good Morning Britain host Kate Garraway asked.
Derek explained: “What I’m saying to you is what Mr and Mrs Joe Public talk to me about in the street.
“They come up and they say ‘Oh Charlie, what’s going on with EastEnders? It’s so miserable, everybody’s killing each other and having affairs.’
“It’s Joe Public who says it and who wants something different.”
“Do people often think back with rose-tinted glasses?” Ben Shephard pointed out.
He added: “Because some of the storylines that your character Charlie Slater was involved in – they were pretty dark.”
“No, I agree with you, but there was more humour,” the actor argued.
“You had Old Mo, my mother-in-law, up to her shenanigans, and it caused a lot of laughs.
“That’s what we need because with all these problems that we’ve got now with Covid and everything else, people need a bit of humour to break it up. To take the edge off it.”
He added: “The media allows too much sensationalism.
“I mean, when Den handed Angie the divorce papers, that was a natural thing – that’s what happens in life.
“You don’t have a train derailing or a plane crashing on a village or a bus tipping over.
“You don’t need all that sensationalism,” says the author, “but it’s done because they want the viewers and the’must-watch’ factor.”
Former Coronation Street actress Nicola Thorp, who played Nicola Rubinstein in the ITV soap, argued against this, claiming that soaps get the balance right.
She remarked, “The scriptwriters know how to mix the light and shade.” “The general public enjoys moaning and complaining.”
She went on to say that soap operas address important issues that need to be addressed.
“There’s something for everybody,” she stated. “There’s three hours of programming every week, there’s no other TV shows apart from soaps who do that.
“So there’s got to be a gritty storyline going on and then characters who provide that comic relief.”
Using Mary Taylor (played by Patti Clare) from Coronation Street as an example, she explained how a mix of personalities within the characters creates balance.
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