Belfast Telegraph

TV View: By the time EastEnders' Ian Beale realised who'd bumped off Lucy, there was more intrigue left in a game of Cluedo

The programmes to watch and the ones you really want to miss

By Joe Nawaz

Leave it aaht Sharon! A cake fight, a premature birth in The Vic, a dodgy wedding, the possible murder of a rapist, attempted arson, Kathy Beale and Dot Cotton "nicked" for manslaughter (well, Kathy Beale hasn't been done for man-slaughter… yet). Not bad going for the 30th birthday knees up "daan the Square". And that's even before the peace der la resistunce: who killed Lucy?

As football managers and the innumerate say, EastEnders has been giving it 110% in this week's celebratory live broadcasts, all leading to the unveiling (that's a clue, cockney Columbos) of Lucy's murderer last night.

It's fair to say that events had been loaded with an agonising tension that might have caused the less hardy Square-heads amongst us to reach for the beta-blockers. Not so much for the taut build-up to whodunnit, but rather from the stress waiting to see which one of the actors with trapped wind would fudge their lines first. The Branning family duly obliged earlier in the week. First Max (Jake Wood) with his Brando-with-a-bee-stung-tongue impersonation seemed to imply that it was daughter Abi what dunnit or something like that.

Then his ex, Tanya, rolled back into Albert Square to enquire after actor Adam Woodyatt, aka luckless Ian Beale. Everybody could relax after that and get stuck in. And for the grand climax last night they didn't so much nod back to the past as headbutt it.

From the Queen Vic jukebox playing nothing but Tears for Fears and A-Ha a la 1985, to the rather lovely scene round the kitchen table between originals Ian, Michelle and Dot, it was a stagger down memory square, doing what EastEnders does best: throwing any pretence of reality out the window, and cramming as many unlikely events into an area slightly larger than a postage stamp as possible, then watching the fireworks.

After all, this is the soap where, if your character was written out, they either used to send you to Leicester or had you bumped off. In Easties, unlike Leicester, death seems to be impermanent.

Just ask 'Dirty' Den or freshly re-deceased 'Nasty' Nick Cotton, who's somewhat taken the shine off Lazarus' party piece over the past 30 years.

And we've been there for many of its seminal moments. I remember watching the first episode - as grim and compelling as cold refried beans. I remember when Den served divorce papers to Angie on Christmas Day, then got shot by a newspaper.

I was there for Dot saying her farewell to Ethel - one of only two times I've ever spontaneously burst into tears watching telly (the other involved tears of laughter when Frank Butcher turned up at Pat's with little on but Mike Read's face and a spinning bow tie).

So, who killed Lucy Beale then? Does it matter? Should I even say?

By the time Ian had dandered around the square reminiscing in the rain and realised who'd bumped off his annoying daughter, there was more intrigue left in a game of Cluedo.

But it had been replaced by that fuzzy warm feeling of familiarity.

Deaths, births and dodgy marriages: we've had some rare old times together down the Vic over the years, so for old time's sake - change the barrels Peggy!

Oh, and it was Jane whatdunnit. Just wait 'til Ian's mum hears…

Zealotry, blashphemy and the black arts in perfect communion

Was it Satanic hand, human impishness or serendipity that had musical blasphemy and the black art of magic on The Nolan Show (BBC1)?

It had begun piously enough, with the key socio-political issue of gaysandcakes on everyone's lips. MLA Paul Givan said it annoyed the hell out of "The Christian Community". I was hugely impressed that after years of divisiveness and violent seccessionist tendencies, that Christianity had finally wised up and got the band back together.

Did they all now recognise the same liturgical tenets? What was the craic with women clergy? How did they get over the sticking point of transubstantiation? But all I could glean about "The Christian Community" was that they had a beef with making cakes with gay letters on them and enjoyed saying the word "pluralist".

I asked Christian friends of mine about "The Christian Community", but I don't think they'd got the invite.

So it was surely a red rag to a non-papal bull to have illusionist Darcy Oake on doing ungodly things with popcorn, playing cards and girls called "Shin-head". In short, exactly the kind of things that until recently would have had women in Larne put in the stocks to have gravel and hot Bovril hurled at them by pious townsfolk.

Add to that the profanity of the cast rendition of Jesus Christ Superstar, which was surely too much for celebrated Christian Nelson McCausland. There's only so much Lloyd Webber any of us can take, right?

The Mother of Parliaments spawns some weird offspring

"I didn't realise this, but there are all sorts of weird things at Westminster," revealed children's bedtime nightmare and Ukip MP Douglas Carswell on Inside The Commons (BBC2).

Once you'd picked your jaw up off the floor at the industrial levels of unselfawareness, his point was horribly well made. The gallery of grotesques on display made one wonder how these people get elected in the first place, mind you I suppose folks governed by glass assemblies and all that...

There was "eccentric" Peter Bone, for one. Bone has signed several Early Day Motions supporting homoeopathy and voted against regulations which secured equality for gay people. Sound familiar? Jacob Rees Mogg is 45, and of such archaic magnificence, writer Evelyn Waugh would have dropped his pen in wonder. I can see him reluctantly attempting this new-fangled Charleston, whilst fretting about the Indian question and the Gold Standard. Alas, it seems in Westminster that things are what they used to be.

Switch on

Only when it reaches its last do I start to appreciate Count Arthur Strong (BBC) Mugging, malapropism and madness are a painfully funny mix. Spotlight did some good work also and got its own comedy turn out of property magnate David Mahon. He is to the stereotype of venal rural landlords what Father Dougal is to slightly-sheltered priests

Switch off

So, the 1st series of Number 2s (BBC1)wrapped with everyone’s job being saved thanks to a little light blackmail at the highest level. You can’t help wonder if a**e imitated life in this one. Expect series number 2 in the can soon, and a sweating BBC exec wondering how he can get access to those polaroids in Tim McGarry’s safe…

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