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Television YOUR ESSENTIAL TV & SATELLITE GUIDE FOR THE WEEK AHEAD; Martin Kemp's screen wedding to Tamzin Outhwaite is fraught with the typical soap dilemmas, says MERLE BROWN.

Byline: Merle Brown

EASTENDERS

BBC1, Monday, 8.00pm; Tuesday, 7.30pm; Thursday, 7.40pm

HOLD on to your hats - it's another soap wedding and that means secrets will be told, tears will be shed, and nothing will go completely to plan.

Will Mel (Tamzin Outhwaite) and Steve (Martin Kemp) make it down the aisle? And just what secrets come tumbling out of the closet before they do?

The lead-up to the nuptials has hardly been normal, with Mel sleeping with Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) - her fiance's arch-enemy and the ex of her best friend Lisa (Lucy Benjamin).

Phil, who has turned into the devil overnight, isn't in love with Mel or Lisa, who walked out on him when she found out about his encounter with Mel.

Lisa, true to her word, has said nothing to Steve about Mel's indiscretion.

But Phil, rejected now by everyone, is having a problem - his macho pride is getting the better of him.

And so his wedding gift to Mel and Steve is to let the cat out of the bag.

As he falls dramatically, and very publicly, off the wagon after gatecrashing Steve's stag night at E20, Steve finally finds out what his darling Mel has been up to - thanks, of course, to the moronic Mitchell brother.

Mel has no idea, but clearly feels a little bit nervy as she gets ready for her big day. She was lied to by Ian (Adam Woodyatt), after all, in her first wedding at the end of 1999. And now she's doing the same thing to Steve. So will he forgive her?

Probably, but not before some serious soul-searching. As for Phil, he has other things to worry about.

Yes, an old familiar face is back in the Square, and he's hell bent on revenge.

We all know Phil's getting a bullet in his back, but could it be Dan (Craig Fairbrass) the orange-tan man, who pulls the trigger?

As if that wasn't enough, Mel has already made a massive faux-pas by inviting Steve's mother Barbara (Sheila Hancock) to the wedding.

That means his sister Jackie refuses to go - as mother and daughter can't stand the sight of each other - and, as Martin Kemp explains, Steve is not a happy chap.

"Steve was very reluctant to have his mum at the wedding in the first place - but Mel managed to persuade him," he says.

"He didn't want her there because Barbara is a scary woman. She has obviously had a lot of control over Steve in the past and it frightens him. He doesn't like that because he likes being Steve Owen, the guy who everyone respects.

"Steve's also worried about what his mum is going to say to Mel," Martin adds. "Barbara has always wanted her son to marry one of his ex-girlfriends, whom she got on very well with. And now that Jackie's not going to the wedding, Steve is naturally upset."

Add to that, the revelation about Mel, and it's not exactly going to be day without incident.

And just how is Mel going to get through the day?

Tamzin Outhwaite explains: "With Ian, Mel was the one who didn't want to go through with it. This time around Mel is the one who is apprehensive, hoping Steve will be there for her. If he isn't, she has no reason to stay in Walford. This really is make or break time for her."

And excellent viewing for us.

FILM of the week:

THE LAST EMPEROR

Saturday, BBC2, 11.05pm

THIS powerful film tells the dramatic true life tale of Pu Yi, who became emperor of China at the tender age of three.

He was the Lord of Ten Thousand Years, the absolute monarch of China, born to rule a world of ancient tradition, but nothing prepared him for a world of change.

Told in flashback style, we learn of Pu Yi's childhood, the time he spent imprisoned in the Forbidden City, his term as the emperor of Japan's Manchukuo reign, and his eventual release back into public life in 1959.

This epic film tells the tragic tale of a boy who assumed political control at a young age, but grew up imprisoned by power.

His whole life is spanned, from childhood to his ultimate fate as a gardener in Mao's People's Republic.

Bernardo Bertolucci's lavish spectacle is a fascinating insight into history, but rather confusing at times as it looks at 60 years of Chinese politics.

Nevertheless, a cinematic masterpiece worthy of it's nine academy awards, including Best Picture. An unforgettable true story, don't miss it.
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 24, 2001
Words:762
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