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Martine still looking for square deal.

Byline: Tony Barrett

LITTLE has been seen of Martine McCutcheon since she departed Albert Square in a coffin all those years ago.

Aside from a one-off appearance in Spooks, the only other occasions Martine has made it on to the screen has been as an almost regular guest of Parkinson and Des and Mel.

Martine has had plenty of time to pick her next TV role, particularly as This Is My Moment became an accuarte description of her pop career and not just the title of her only real hit.

So it is even more surprising that she should opt for a role in The English Harem (ITV1, Tuesday) which was quite possibly the worst thing on television during the whole festive period.

Maybe she got mixed up when she was told it was a drama about Eastern culture.

Perhaps she thought it would be a return to the East End and a nostalgic return trip to the Queen Vic, and not a ham-fisted dramatisation of the lives of Iranians in modern day Britain.

Whatever the reason she should have known she had made a terrible mistake as soon as she walked on set and saw Art Malik wearing the worst toupee since Terry Wogan.

Art and Mart got married and she became his third wife - not even the syrup could put her off - causing much consternation in her family and bringing out the worst in her racist ex-boyfriend.

It is easy to see why someone thought The English Harem was a good idea. A Romeo And Juliet for modern day, culturally diverse Britain was probably how it was billed by TV execs.

But it turned out to be a terrible mess, even being guilty of pandering to some of the cultural stereotypes it should have been looking to attack.

And as for poor old Martine, we can only presume she is now regretting her decision to quit the square and would do anything to turn back the clock to a time before she had an unfortunate collision with Frank Butcher's front bumper.

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HAREM SCAREM: Martine McCutcheon and Art Malik in The English Harem
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 31, 2005
Words:356
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