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Charlie Catchpole: TV column.

R.I.P. Tiffany, the People's Slapper

DID Tiffany's funeral in EastEnders ring any bells?

Floral tributes in the street. A song by Elton John in the church.

And a bitter attack by the dead woman's brother on her estranged husband's family.

Even Earl Spencer didn't go so far as to call the Windsors "evil" which was how Simon Raymond branded the Mitchells.

"You never loved her. You don't know the meaning of the word" he snarled at Grant.

"She gave you everything... all you've done is to destroy her."

His outburst provoked Phil to leap to his feet for some Old Testament- style smiting.

But Simon and Tiff's father Terry stepped in to play the peacemaker.

Later in the Vic, Dot told Lilly that it was not for Simon or anyone else to condemn Grant.

She proceeded to quote the Bible (something she annoyingly does about every 15 minutes these days): "Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord. I will repay."

Lilly, who'd obviously bunked off Sunday school, replied: "Exactly. He should have smacked Grant one."

At the wake, Simon confronted Grant a second time.

This could have proved as injurious to his health as the outcome of a previous barney in an East End pub, after George Cornell undiplomatically called Ronnie Kray "a fat poof."

Once again, though, Terry was able to persuade Grant to turn the other cheek.

Next day, Simon boasted to Irene: "I could have handled Grant." Yeah, yeah. Like Julian Clary could handle Mike Tyson.

The demonisation of poor Grant and the beatification of Saint Tiff of Walford is a diabolical liberty, as they say in those parts.

Dot would have the right phrase for it: "Judge not, lest ye be judged." Tiff may have turned herself into the queen of all our 'earts.

But let's not forget that while she was with Grant she also bedded her brother's bi-sexual boyfriend (and drug dealer) Tony.

And it was only a blood-test which sorted aht the ticklish question of which one was Courtney's father.

The flowers on the driver's side of Tiff's hearse spelt "Mummy."

I couldn't see the other side.

But "Slapper" would have been a nice touch.

My "Grant Is Innocent OK?" campaign received a massive boost last night when Ricky got hold of the letter that Tiff had given Bianca, shortly before getting her head round the bonnet of Frank Butcher's car.

(Did you notice that Ricky read it without moving his lips? Soon he'll be cancelling his subscription to The Beano and taking The Sport instead.)

The big question now is: Will Bianca do the decent thing and hand the letter over to Inspector McHaggis? Or will Beppe ensure that it gets accidentally- on-purpose mislaid?

Here's another big question: Will Ruth ever get to see Dr Legg? Or is she in for the longest pregnancy in medical history?

Having confirmed that she was expecting Conor's baby (Ugh! Don't even think about it!), Ruth rushed round to the surgery where she was greeted by someone who looked about 12, calling himself Dr Fonseca.

Ruth said she'd rather wait for Dr Legg, but the callow youth told her: "Dr Legg has decided to give up the bulk of his caseload. He's been thinking about retirement for some time, I gather."

This was something of an understatement, considering that the last time Dr Legg had a busy caseload it was because of Jack the Ripper.

He probably started thinking about retirement before Dr Crippen.

SUN RISES ON A NEW ELDORADO

AFTER living so long under the miserable grey skies of Albert Square (and dying in prison), Michelle Collins - alias Cindy Beale - deserved a break.

I'm not sure, though, that she deserved Sunburn (Saturday, BBC1), which contains most of the ingredients that made Eldorado such a huge success.

Sun, sea, sand, sex, silly story-lines and second-rate scripts. But ouzo instead of sangria. Because this time, it's Brits behaving badly in Cyprus, not Spain.

Sunburn could have been inspired by Holiday Reps (the dreariest of all the docu-soaps).

Except that none of the cast is called Kelly and we don't see them attending a special training session to learn how to speak in the same sing-song, brain-dead "Dalek discussing the weather with those girls from the Philadelphia cheese adverts" voice.

Michelle plays Nicki (a spelling mistake), who flies out to Cyprus to become head rep for Janus Holidays (another spelling mistake).

Oh, you wouldn't believe the adventures that befall Nicki on her first day. Because she goes to all the welcome meetings, the other reps think she's a nosy journalist. Well, are their faces red when they discover she's their boss!

(While we're talking about red faces, have you ever seen such a strange shade of crimson as the "tans" sported by those three lecherous lager louts?)

Carol, who's been round the block a few times, sends Greg (who Carol thinks is gay), to chat Nicki up and suss out her game.

Greg brings her over and says: "This is Nicki..."

Carol sips her drink.

"...our new head rep."

Gasp! Ouzo goes everywhere. "Head rep!" splutters Carol, a graduate of the Terry Scott school of acting surprised while drinking.

And there's more.

Nicki is given Greg's room.

BUT GREG DOESN'T KNOW!

So he comes in, undresses in the dark (why, exactly?) and gets into bed...

Nicki shrieks. Pulls sheet up to her neck and furiously tells Greg that just because she had a drink with him it doesn't mean she's going to sleep with him (Nicki is nothing like Cindy, as you can tell).

Then Carol bursts through the door, takes in the scene, and yells: "So you're not gay!"

Well, perhaps it will improve. Like Retsina after the second or third bottle.

The best performances so far have been by the two ladies of a certain age, Edna and Louise, who wanted a twin room but found themselves booked into a double with only one bed.

Louise: "I'm not used to sharing." Edna: "You were married for 40 years." Louise: "We never slept together!"

When the reps eventually found a twin room for them, the ladies said no, they were quite happy where they were, thank you very much.

I suspect they'd be even happier on Lesbos.

LIFE'S THE PITS

FOR OUR TILLY

IN TWO episodes of Catherine Cookson's Tilly Trotter (Friday, ITV), our heroine has been branded a witch, put in the stocks and pelted with rotten fruit (after being caught dancing with the parson's wife in the church vestry), and almost gang-raped by a bunch of local ruffians led by horrible Hal McGrath.

Tilly's grandma's house has been burned to the ground (with her grandma in it) and she's had to move out and live in the woodshed.

(Woodshed? Bloody luxury! We used to dream of living in t'woodshed!)

I wasn't too sorry for Tilly (spunkily played by newcomer Carli Norris) because I know my Catherine Cookson, and I could predict almost to the minute the scene when she'd be lugging her battered bags up the drive of the Big House to take up her new job as nursemaid to the Squire's precocious children.

As the Squire (Simon Shepherd) was too young to have a wrong 'un of a son who could force himself on Tilly then get her sacked, Tilly was able to enjoy herself for a good half an hour or so.

But I don't think I'm giving anything away when I say there's disaster looming at t'pit the Squire owns.

McGrath has been sacked from his blacksmith's job and is muttering threateningly.

And Tilly herself has uttered the fateful words: "My life at Highfield seemed to be running smoothly..."

Uh, oh. Time to pack those bags again, lass.

Charlie's Choice

Midsomer Murders (Tomorrow, ITV, 8pm)

JOHN Nettles returns as Det Chief Insp Tom Barnaby, investigating more heinous crimes in the village of Midsomer Worthy - surely the murder capital of Britain. There were a dozen gruesome deaths in the first series. And by the end of this two-hour special, four more corpses have come to light.

Yet Radio Times persists in calling the place "tranquil."

Charlie's Clanger

GRANT carried Courtney into the church for Tiffany's funeral. But she never came out again!

(And another thing...what happened to the traffic cones Michael Rose placed along the street? When the cars arrived, they'd disappeared.) Like Linda Hinde, of Millom, Cumbria, you could win pounds 30 by writing (on a postcard or back of a sealed envelope only) to: TV Clangers, The Mirror, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5AP.

OP STAR

CUTS UP

ROUGH..

I'M SICK of the sensitive, hand-wringing, non-judgmental do-gooders who mope around the A&E department in Casualty.

So hooray for the pushy, ambitious, cynical and generally thoroughly unpleasant surgeons we've seen so far in the spin-off, Holby City (Tues, BBC1).

The nursing staff are a bit wet but I expect they'll toughen up.

In any case, if the last thing I saw was Angela Griffin (Coronation Street's Fiona Middleton) in a nurse's uniform, I'd die happy.

George Irving as senior consultant heart specialist Anton Meyer turns in the best performance as a rude, eccentric, conceited, arrogant bully in a hospital drama series since Tom Baker in Medics.

Asked to chose between two possible heart recipients, one of whom had undergone a previous bypass op, Meyer snapped: "We'll go for the other. I won't have to negotiate somebody else's handiwork."

He was due to attend a charity dinner that night, so he needed the donor heart by 5.30pm at the latest - "That way, I should get there in time for Paul Daniels."

Nothing fazed him, not even a deranged relative bursting into theatre and waving a scalpel in his face.

Nor the new heart failing to work.

"It's fibrillating! Internal paddles, please!" Oh, please not.

A lackey helped Meyer into his dinner suit and knotted his bow-tie while telling the patient's tearful wife what a success the op had been.

As Meyer's taxi headed off to the hotel, the pager of his assistant Nick Jordan (Michael French) went off.

Another emergency.

We never discovered whether Jordan bleeped his boss in revenge for all the stress he'd put him through.

I like to think he made him really suffer.

By allowing him to sit through Paul Daniels.

Catch Charlie talking television at 6.45pm tonight on Radio 2's Johnnie Walker Show
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Catchpole, Charlie
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 19, 1999
Words:1730
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