Friday, July 20, 2007
The wedding from Stell'
WEDDING! EastEnders, BBC1, 8.00pm
All good things must come to an end, as a wise person once said. (We think it was Nelly Furtado.) And so it is with great sadness that we come to mark the passing of Sophie Thompson from EastEnders for, in an age where it's quite hard to find good things to say about the show, she's been worth her weight in gold as unhinged, child-terrorising solicitor Stella.
When Stella arrived, she appeared to be a nice respectable professional who was just going about her life with Phil as one of her clients. Of course, this state of affairs could not be allowed to continue for long because soaps, and EastEnders in particular, are profoundly distrusting of the middle classes, and of those who choose to work in a location that is not immediately visible from outside their front door. And so it came to pass that Stella became betrothed to Phil and slowly unravelled (though the show seems to suggest she was like this all along, because well-to-do people are always secretly evil) and waged a campaign of torment against Phil's son Ben for reasons that we were never entirely sure of, but which we suspect are related to a Need To Control and also Her Own Unhappy Childhood. If only she too had been treated to the occasional cockernee knees-up around the old joanna, maybe things would've turned out differently.
We're not averse to a bit of child-bullying in a soap - Clare's campaign against Tom in Hollyoaks was a triumph - and Sophie Thompson sold the hell out of the material that she was given throughout the storyline, as ridiculous as it may have become in places. But villains always get their comeuppance in this show, and just when Stella's at her happiest on her wedding day to Phil (clearly a sign that she's not all there, because no sane person would ever be joyful at the prospect of life in wedlock with the grumpiest potato in soap) Ben finally cracks and her secret shame is revealed. Phil's on the warpath, obviously, and Stella's unlikely to get away with it this time, thanks to those meddling kids. She may have been a monster, but she made the show worth watching for an all-too-brief period. Normal mediocrity presumably resumes next week.