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Soaps becoming ‘turn off’ by being ‘too woke’?

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Soaps becoming ‘turn off’ by being ‘too woke’?

Sherrie Hewson, Charlie Lawson and Tina Malone joined Dan Wootton for a heated debate.

The debate on whether soaps have become the wokest of woke took place last evening on GB News. Coronation Street’s Charlie Lawson, Brookside’s Tina Malone and Sherrie Hewson who has appeared in Crossroads, Emmerdale and Coronation Street pondered the subject following reports about why June Brown quit EastEnders in 2020.

The Daily Mail revealed that Brown, who died on Sunday, left EastEnders after she felt her role as Dot Branning was being issued misguided storylines. The newspaper published a letter to a fan from June that said:

Dear Alfie, I couldn’t agree with you more about the current EastEnders episodes and I’m very glad you chose to watch the drama channel. [EastEnders repeats]. The reason I left was that I no longer recognised the character they were writing for me so I’m afraid you won’t see me again. They are already mentioning my character in the current episodes so what rubbish they will write about me is anyone’s guess.

June had publicly spoken out about the decline of ‘Enders in a DistinctNostalgia Podcast in 2020 where she exclusively revealed she’d quit the BBC One saga, saying:

“I don’t want a retainer for EastEnders, I’ve left. I’ve left for good. I’ve sent her off to Ireland where she’ll stay. I’ve left EastEnders.”

In tribute to the iconic character being on the emerald isle she wrote a limerick ‘I went back to do a good story. Alas and alack, when I got back it had gone up in smoke. I got a small part, a very small part. And that ended up as a big wet fart. Alas, and alack, I will never go back.’ Fans have been equally as vocal about the soap losing its way, with ratings falling to some of the lowest in its history during the time overseen by Jon Sen. (2019-2022).

Talking about the change in soaps Charlie Lawson, told GB NewsDan Wootton Tonight programme:

“If we’re going by current trends and what has happened over the last few years, since protests started about something completely different across the other side of the pond. Then there has been a huge change in attitude, and I suspect in every television department, and I suspect that June is not the only one who felt that decisions were being made well above writer and producer and director level and policies were being decided and enacted by people who were responding to things that were going on a lot higher up.

“And for June Brown to feel that doesn’t surprise me. She knew her character backwards. And Sherrie will tell you in these long running serials you create the character and you know the character. Now, for example, it’s no secret I have a conversation with the Corrie producer every year just to touch base and its fairly obvious now … it would be difficult for my character that I played for a long time in Coronation Street to respond to someone who identifies as a bloody plant pot or whatever they want to identify with. I just don’t think he [Jim McDonald] would be able to deal with that situation. Personally, I don’t mind if you identify as a zebra.”

June quit as Dot Branning in EastEnders because the storyline she was last given was ‘a wet fart’.

Sherrie Hewson has starred in Crossroads, Emmerdale and Coronation Street. She’s also been a regular on Loose Women and featured in 2015’s Celebrity Big Brother.

Sherrie Hewson observed that ‘Woke’ is just a new word for ‘social issues’ and noted that Coronation Street and Brookside had both trailblazed ‘social awareness’ at one time or another and this new way of doing topical plots is just an evolution of the kitchen sink dramas. Sherrie added:

“The BBC are now developing a new ‘woke soap’ and they’ve said they will only recruit cast and writers from social media. Now I don’t even understand what that means, but that is the new woke soap… but nothing is new, everything goes around and comes around and we have to call it something.”

Wootton also noted he believed that viewers wanted serials to ‘reflect real life, not this idealised world written by London champagne socialists’. Charlie agreed, adding:

“You’re right, and we’re great at being the silent majority in this bloody country about a great deal of things, and I try not to be to my detriment let me tell you… I hope to God that Corrie and EastEnders and whatever and Emmerdale Farm are around in ten years, but I think, people start to switch off because boxes are being ticked with such heavy black ink, and I mean that across the whole television industry.

“And there is a silent majority out there who just want to say ‘bollocks to that’ and ‘I want to watch what I want to watch’. And as Sherrie said, the sheer thought that somebody even back in the day was saying ‘we can’t have an [abled bodied] actress in a wheelchair’ is just crazy. I was lucky enough to play Jim McDonald for eight months in a wheelchair and two of the best scenes you’ll ever see in your bloody life were scenes I had with Elizabeth Bradley (Maud Grimes) and they were well written, and I don’t think anybody gave a flying fig about the two actors being able to run about [off screen].”

Charlie also spoke about how people can be so easily offended these days, noting ‘People are absolutely terrified of offending people. And that is sort of my complaint about television now, and I hear occasionally from members of the cast from the programme I was involved with, you know you can’t say boo to a goose anymore in case you offend someone and that offends me if I’m honest with you’.

Brookside actress Tina Malone however believes that it doesn’t matter if soaps have become a bit woke, as long as they continue to “reflect society” with the social issues that have been part of the soap opera mix since the very first ones on the radio in America, back in the 1930s.

A social media poll by GB News saw 94% agreeing with Wootton that soap is now woke, while 6% said they were not woke.

The McDonald family in Coronation Street, 1989.

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