1 THE oPNtoN

r. I " " : Square, spearheading an fl. y. l " army of returning soagstan

l th World’s a soap

They bump off the ones we like, keep the ones we hate and resurrect those best forgotten. Have the soaps lost the plot? Words: Laura Jane Macbeth

oaps. like nature. abhor a vacuum and the recent slcvv of big-name exits

can mean only one thing in soapland: the dull klunk of the removal van

as a flurry of replacements arrive. The East lind has been hit dramatically of late: slick-haired Steve went out in a fireball none could survive. and vvife Mel soon follovved. stomping off intact but spitting. Nothing stirs up the square like a good cat-fight. after all.

Beleagered club—magnate Beppe di Marco‘s lack of interesting storylines means he'll soon be joining the rest of his family in soap limbo (or Leicester). vvhile northern casualties include impossibly glamorous factory girl Bobbi. and barllies (‘harlie and Doctor Matt in Coronation Street. Over in linrrrrt'rdult'. the

The Front

1 “which

Music Philip Glass (pictured here in his South Park dayS). Teenage Fanclub, Chuck D, Arab Strap, Luke Slater and Pharoah Sanders are just a few of the top attractions in Scotland’s fast- growing music festival. See preview, page 20. Various venues.

2 Panic Room

Film David Fight Club Fincher puts Jodie Foster through the psychological wringer with his latest bleak, black trauma drama. See feature and review, pages 12 and 27. General release.

3 Idlewild

Music Roddy Woomble and his common people romp back to prove they’re more than just the next REM and/or Travis. See feature, page 16. Queen's Hall, Edinburgh.


Art The ever-intriguing Angus Farquhar explores the dark side of Robert Burns with an installation entitled Fall From Light. See preview, page 87. Old Alloway, Ayr.

8 Pants

Theatre Forbes Masson follows up his Stiff and Mince? with a musical about love, pop music and the dysfunctional Scottish male. See review, page 63. Dundee Rep.

lacklustre. mix-and-match .S'mrpsrurs family will be vvannabcs once more. J But recently. culled characters have been making vvay for old rather than new

6 J.M. Coetzee

Books The first man to win the Booker

blood. In the coming months we‘ll see the return of a number of household names: eternal barmaid Bet Lynch (novv

(iilroy) returns to the Sum. Mitchcll-lover Producers Sharon is already back in the square (until have a knack

panto season at least) and Queen Vic legend of not

Angie has made it in a box. the latest to suffer g

the indignity ofbcing bumped offoff-camera. Off CharaCterS listranged couple Ricky and Bianca are to we want to

feature in a one-off special set in .

Manchester: in case vve actually care vvhat d'e

happened to the perpetually bickering pair.

liinally. lirank Butcher. who has yo-yoed more than most. will be turning up

again this summer.

l"or the stars who have never managed to escape their role often because they are really playing themselves it’s a nice little earner (as Frank might say). And for the soap’s producers. they have a surefire ratings-winner. by their thinking at least: bringing back an old favourite prompts an instant response as vievvers don’t have to be ‘introduccd‘ to a character over several episodes.

But as the success of the Slater family proves. fresh characters who haven‘t yet suffered the myriad traumas of soap life can make for much more compelling vievving. Meanvvhile producers have an uncanny knack of not killing off characters we want to die: (iail Platt. for instance.

Stars have alvvays bounced from soap to soap but novv there are more options. even for those not fortunate enough to benefit from the ‘golden handcuffs‘ that keep the Kemps and the ()uthvvaites in inferior star-vehicles. The BB("s rl/Irmlt'r In th/ has become a dramatic springboard of sorts: Phil Mitchell and Beppe di Marco have both bounced from the square into trouble here. And ( usually and [/()//)_\‘ ( 'r’lv seem to be cast entirely from the effluence of other soaps. Will vve never be rid of them'.’

As Dal/as" Bobby livving most famously proved. there is no real death in soap. Now that makes fora really horrible dream . . .

Disagree? react@list.co.uk

10 THE LIST 77'. AV Gil/1a, yew

twice brings us Youth, about a South African boy who learns life the hard way in 608 London. See review, page 102. Seeker & Warburg.

7 About A Boy

Film Hugh Grant and Toni Collette star in the surefire box office winner based on Nick Hornby's male-struggle comedy drama. See review, page 28. General release.

8 Doves

Music Proving that they're not the new Radiohead, Doves go their own atmospheric guitar pop way with The Last Broadcast. See review, page 106. Heaven/y.

9 Beltane

City Life Come 30 April and it's time to head for the Hill and indulge in a feast of sound and vision. See preview, page 99. Ca/ton Hill, Edinburgh.

10 Prague On Film Festival

Film A chance to wonder at the old and the new of Czech cinema, and see how far the country’s filmmakers have been influenced by Hollywood. See feature, page 14. GFT, Glasgow; Fi/mhouse, Edinburgh.