EastEnders Winter of Discontent flashback: CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV
The boys from Brazil: Rise Of The Bolsonaros
Long before she was a Queen Vic landlady, pint-sized Peggy Mitchell knew how to say ‘Git Ahht!’ had to roar. and mean it.
“Ahhh!” she yelled at her sister-in-law Glenda with her two little girls, Veronica and Roxanne – Ronnie and Roxy to everyone following EastEnders (BBC1).
This was January 1979, in a captivating flashback episode of the 37-year-old soap opera that showed us the Mitchells in their Winter of Discontent.
Phil and Grant were looking for work. Their mother cooked mash, made pots of tea and raised their little sister Sam. Papa Eric was a little crook, he robbed warehouses and sold the loot from behind his van.
EastEnders has previously staged glimpses of the past, such as the episode where Dot relived her wartime evacuation years in Wales.
But this was the first time an entire episode of retrospective was set up to explain current storylines — and most importantly, why DCI Keeble is pursuing a vendetta against Phil and his family.
Peggy commanded the episode, feeling her presence even when she wasn’t on screen. The story, which culminated when she held a bread knife to her husband’s chest, was a battle for the souls of her two sons.
The action teetered on the brink of a Sweeney parody, as the Mitchell boys stepped out of the back of a Transit carrying a hackneyed shooter in a leather bag. “Put these on,” Eric ordered, handing out nylon stockings. Young Phil and Grant (Daniel Delaney and Teddy Jay) stared at the hosiery in amazement. ‘On your ears!’ snapped their old man (a threatening George Russo).
The heist was played for laughs—with a night watchman demanding the used nylons as his reward for his silence. But EastEnders has always had a knack for going from comedy to pathos, and it repeated the trick several times in this half hour.
Phil refused to point the shotgun at another guard, but couldn’t stop his father from committing murder. “I have a little girl,” the man pleaded. In a scene that was both emotional and inevitable, we realized a little girl would grow up to be DCI Keeble.
The opening scene saw the Mitchell boys spar in an alley and Phil was beaten up. However, when the punches mattered, Phil knocked his father down to prevent him from assaulting Peggy again.
With all this violence around her, Peggy (Jaime Winstone) never got out of her claustrophobic home. All of her scenes took place in the living room and kitchen, channeling the indomitable spirit of Dame Barbara Windsor.
Peggy commanded the episode, feeling her presence even when she wasn’t on screen.
EastEnders has previously staged glimpses of the past, such as the episode where Dot relived her wartime evacuation years in Wales. But this was the first time an entire episode of retrospective was set up to explain current storylines
The story, which culminated when she held a bread knife to her husband’s chest, was a battle for the souls of her two sons. Either they clung to their mother’s instincts for decency and hard work, or their father’s criminal tendencies would bring them down. That is the story of Phil Mitchell’s entire life, summarized in half an hour.
The life story of Brazil’s populist president is spread across three-hour documentaries in The Boys From Brazil: Rise Of The Bolsonaros (BBC2).
Jair Bolsonaro and his three sons are clearly obnoxious characters, who want to exploit the Amazon regardless of the environmental costs. We saw the city of Sao Paolo in darkness at 3:00 PM, the sky blotted out by smoke from forest fires in the jungle.
But viewers are not trusted to draw their own conclusions. The Bolsonaros, the narrator said, are “a political revolt.”
Cheap graphics depicted the family as gangsters carrying guns and parrots. They were framed by banana leaves. Yes, we get it, this is South America, it must be a banana republic, right?