Peggy Mitchell was back in EastEnders, although she wasn’t saying much.
She only uttered five words in fact during half an hour and still made an impact, not least because one of them was ‘the C word.’ No, not that one…
Hopefully – unlike the journalists writing about it – Barbara Windsor wasn’t being paid by the word.
Surprise return: Peggy Mitchell was back in EastEnders on Friday night, although she wasn’t saying much
Mind you, she didn’t get much of a look in. Not with Phil rampaging round, resembling a violent version of the Grumpy Old Troll, in full drunken confessional mode.
She sat there in silence with a look of mortified horror on her face as her bleary-eyed, ruddy-faced, son rummaged through Aunt Sal’s drawers – looking for booze that is.
‘Is this some sort of joke or something?!’ he roared when he found some and it was Cinzano rather than his beloved Teachers or Smirnoff.
Still needs must. When in Rome, et cetera.
Hello mum: Uncharacteristically, Peggy said nothing – about Phil’s drinking, his dishevelled (red) appearance, or his insistence that she hand over Louise’s address
He continued his diatribe, taking swigs from the bottle, and pouring his heart out – about his abusive alcoholic father, his bruvver Grant, Sharon, Ben, and his long-lost daughter Louise who he wanted to track down after eight years.
‘She’s the only one left mum. The only one I ain’t screwed up. She ain’t got any baggage.’
Unlikely, you thought. Phil was her father and she was a Mitchell after all.
Uncharacteristically, Peggy said nothing – about Phil’s drinking, his dishevelled (red) appearance, or his insistence that she hand over Louise’s address.
Then, just when you started wondering whether Peggy had become a Trappist monk, become a nun and taken a vow of silence, or lost the power of speech due to too much sunbathing in Portugal, after 18 minutes she spoke.
‘The cancer’s back ! I’m dying !’ she cried, fleeing to her bedroom and shutting the door.
Shock revelation: Just when you started wondering whether Peggy had taken a vow of silence, she spoke. ‘The cancer’s back ! I’m dying !’ she cried
Phil had been building up to telling her that he had cirrhosis of the liver and given one year to live.
In any case, Peggy had trumped him.
EastEnders is basically like a game of Top Trumps for Misery and where illnesses are concerned, cancer easily trumps cirrhosis and alcoholism. Even Alfie’s brain tumour could not compete, given that it was benign.
Peggy’s behaviour and announcement that the cancer had returned suggested she could be following Fatboy and Charlie Slater in EastEnders’ recent cull.
Saying goodbye: Phil turned up at Louise’s school wanting to give her one of his many holdalls full of fifty pound notes
Mind you, by the way he collapsed at the end of the episode, so could Phil. Perhaps he had trumped her after all.
He had turned up at Louise’s school wanting to give her one of his many holdalls full of fifty pound notes – ‘the rainy day money me and Grant set aside,’ he explained to Peggy. ‘It’s not like he’s going to need it now is it?’
No you thought. Not with all his BAFTA-winning series about gangs on Sky One.
Their muvver, he accused Peggy, had always seen Grant as ‘the golden boy’ and Phil as ‘a loser.’
‘He was like dad, a man’s man. He didn’t stay around when you were ill though did he? Left me to pick up the pieces. You despised me for that though didn’t you? Everything I did for you just made me weak.’
Unimpressed: In return, she said he looked ‘like death warmed up’ and ‘a tramp’ – although to be fair that was generous – and threw the money back at him
It was safe to say sibling rivalry was just one of the issues Phil was wrestling with.
(Kathy, who knew them both VERY well, regarded Grant rather differently, succinctly telling Ben that his uncle was ‘just a thug, a psycho.’ If only he would come back.)
It had been a rough week for Phil to put it mildly as he went on what he called ‘the bender of all benders’ – a result of the cirrhosis diagnosis, Sharon leaving him after he told her he had been driving (drunk) and put Denny in ‘ospital with possible brain damage.
Even an impressive right hook from Sharon hadn’t sobered him up.
We had last seen him on Thursday night, speeding away from the Square (drunk) with Ben’s fond farewell ringing in his ears.
‘Do us all a favour this time and kill yourself !’
Cheers son !
Pain: It didn’t look good for Phil when his face went even redder than ever and he collapsed
Friday’s show opened with Phil waking up in a pile of rubbish bags but heroically still clutching a bottle of booze – surely the lowest ebb he’d been at since he’d been banging Raine’s crack.
Ben was taking Phil’s meltdown with his usual style – a combination of whining self-pity, phoney machismo, and, mostly, drink.
‘Why does he do it mum ?! Why does he screw up all the time?’ he asked Kathy. ‘It’s like he’s got some self-destruct button.’
That’ll be why then…
According to Kathy the answer was that Phil was ‘scared’ – and that ever since she had known him had always ‘played the thug.’
Questions: Ben was taking Phil’s meltdown with his usual style – a combination of whining self-pity, phoney machismo, and, mostly, drink
‘He would try to join in but his heart wasn’t in it,’ she claimed. If this was true he certainly had us fooled. He was so convincing he should join RADA.
He couldn’t persuade Louise that his intentions were honourable though and was giving her the money ‘to set you up – go to college, start a business, go travelling. Whatever you want.’
In return, she said he looked ‘like death warmed up’ and ‘a tramp’ – although to be fair that was generous – and threw the money back at him.
‘You’re just like the rest’ he growled. ‘Do you want to do you a favour? Get in the car and keep driving until I hit the water?’
‘Why are you having a go at me?’ she complained, not unreasonably. (Typical parent: slagging you off even after they haven’t seen you for 8 years.)
They’ve got history: According to Kathy the answer was that Phil was ‘scared’ – and that ever since she had known him had always ‘played the thug’
It didn’t look good for Phil when his face went even redder than ever and he collapsed – although if he does die at least it will be as he would have wanted: with Louise and a pile of 50 pound notes beside him.
It was sobering stuff – ironically – and certainly preferable to the action that had preceded it during the week.
Last Friday’s episode had finished with Stacey on the roof of the Queen Vic, hiding from King Herod and the Devil, waiting for God to save her and Baby Arthur.
She was still there on Monday, rocking and shaking that poor baby, insisting she could ‘smell the demons’ and that ‘someone had hidden the stars.’
Charlie Slater was still lying on the sofa under a blanket – brown bread – waiting to be taken away by the undertakers, having died of ‘an ‘art attack.’
Trouble ahead: Friday’s show opened with Phil waking up in a pile of rubbish bags but heroically still clutching a bottle of booze
‘So you finally killed Dad !’ Belinda accused Kat, which was one way to greet your sister after several years.
She laid into Kat with surprising but frankly enjoyable venom, snapping that their father had ‘never had a moment’s peace with you around. None of us have !’
We knew how she felt.
It capped off a Tuesday to forget for Kat – what with finding out that when 30 years ago she had given birth to a son that her muvver had given away, her dad dying, and her cousin Stacey on the roof of the pub fending off demons and believing Arthur was the Son of God.
So it was the perfect moment for Alfie to tell her he had ‘a tumour, on my brain.’ Perhaps he figured things were so bad one more catastrophe wouldn’t make any difference.
‘You don’t worry about it though. Cos it’s benign.’
Drama: It was sobering stuff – ironically – and certainly preferable to the action that had preceded it during the week
‘Promise me, you’re not going to die !’ Kat wailed.
Will you tell her or shall I?
Peggy’s cancer, Phil’s drinking/cirrhosis, Charlie’s death, Kat’s lost bay-bay, Alfie’s brain tumour, Stacey’s Postpartum psychosis, and Shabnam’s discovery that Kush had slept with Stacey, her best friend, and was Arthur’s father…It was formidably grim.
None of it though was as traumatic as the sight of Bonnie Langford (Kush’s mum) going round to Masood’s house when he was listening to some Marvin Gaye and insisting on them dancing to Sexual Healing. Not just dancing either, judging by the way he was buttoning his shirt back up shortly afterwards and she was purring that he was ‘very generous as a lover.’
On the bottle: Phil had been building up to telling Peggy that he had cirrhosis of the liver and given one year to live
You wondered why given how quickly their wing-ding was over. Sexual Healing was still playing. It must have been his 12” – the record obviously.
It hadn’t taken Kush’s mum long to cheer up after all the trauma of her daughter-in-law Shabnam finding out Kush was Arthur’s father and Stacey having a breakdown and taking her grandson on to the roof of the Vic.
Bonnie Langford and Sexual Healing wasn’t a combination we’d want to see repeated but at least she had a smile on her face. She was the only one.
No winners here: EastEnders is basically like a game of Top Trumps for Misery and where illnesses are concerned, cancer easily trumps cirrhosis and alcoholism