Here’s a suggestion: Baftas apart, let’s not have any more TV award shows for a while – say seven or eight years, or until a referendum’s been held on five tests proposed by Gordon Brown.
We love the soaps, but then we love blackcurrant cheesecake too, and we wouldn’t sit through two hours of Awards For Cheesecake Excellence. But that’s roughly what this bash was, as this significant but nevertheless small section of British TV drama gave itself big lumps of plastic in fit-the-winner categories such as Best Driving Of A People-Carrier Into A Canal and Best Playing Of A Wife Terrorised By A Mad Scottish Husband.
Being actors (behind-the-scenes grafters were kept behind the scenes), the award winners made good, if disappointingly well-behaved, pretences of it actually meaning something. The best acceptance speech came from Reborn-in-Walford Shane Richie, who embarrassed his poor partner with a near-the-knuckle crack about her having to roll over on demand now that he was officially Sexist – sorry, Sexiest – Male.
Meanwhile the “Ah, Bless The Little Lad” (best newcomer) award went to Brookside’s 11-year-old Jack McMullen (Josh McLaughlin), although he did nothing to allay suspicions that he’s actually a 37-year-old midget with a string of minor convictions by wearing a suit that made him look like a racing tipster on a day out at Doncaster.
Most Likeable Winner was Coronation Street’s Andrew Whyment, who seemed genuinely close to tears at receiving his Lump for best comedy performance as dysfunctional wide-boy Kirk Sutherland. It was, of course, Corrie’s night (only fair, since it was EastEnders’ last year), with Richard Hillman (Brian Capron) returning from the dead to help carry off the spoils.
It certainly wasn’t the smaller soaps’ night though, with Emmerdale getting just one award and lower life forms (Hollyoaks, Doctors, the doomed Crossroads) nothing at all. Brookside managed three, although that might have been a sympathy vote as it’s actually not far behind Crossroads in the imminent departure stakes.
There were things we’d like to have seen, but didn’t, such as EastEnders’ Steve McFadden (Phil Mitchell) having a punch-up with the Emmerdale Hard Men over a disputed Funniest Moment nomination, or Brookside getting Saddest Special Effects for crashing the toy helicopter from a McDonalds Happy Meal into their petrol station.
Things we’d rather not have seen, but did, included Corrie’s Candice (Nikki Sanderson) in a frock which showed more of her (just) post-pubescent protuberances than we appreciated while still digesting our teas. But of course that’s what the Soap Awards are really about – a chance to get ‘em out (soap stars, that is) for the celeb magazines to snap on the red carpet, and the 3am Girls to write “Which star had distinctly un-soapy stains on her dress?” stories about afterwards.
If soap stars want recognition, then perhaps the elder statesman of soap, Corrie’s William Roache (Ken Barlow) has the answer. He made an impassioned plea for the shows not to be called soaps any more, but recognised as serial dramas. We agree – stick ‘em in the Bafta drama categories, against the likes of Cold Feet, Cutting It, Murphy’s Law and, for that matter, The Bill. If they can win against that lot, then they really will have something worth celebrating.