I’ve been back in Ireland for about 48 hours and already I’m in trouble. I’m fighting an addiction – not the fags – haven’t had one since I left Budapest and it’s not bothering me at all. What is bothering me though is that after months of absence, I’m hooked again on the soaps.
In the Australian soap, Home and Away, Marilyn’s concerns that the honeymoon period is over (even though they’ve only been married three months) mirrors similar concerns that Laurel is having in the British soap Emmerdale. Thousands of miles apart, completely different writers, and both come up with the same story line? The mind boggles. It’s business as usual on Ramsey Street, in Neighbours, as Susan and Karl are still dithering about their relationship – how many years has it been? [20 – I checked.]
Coronation Street sees the annoying Gail being even more annoying than usual and in Eastenders, everything is still the same on the square. Ireland’s longest-running soap, Fair City, outstrips them all though – but I can’t keep track of who has died.
Six soaps and even though I’ve not been paying attention for months, just two days in and I’m back in the midst of it all. It’s amazing how much I identify with the characters and how easily they can irritate me. I find myself talking back to the screen, doling out advice as if they could hear me. And that says a lot more about me than I should be sharing. And it explains why I cannot have a TV in my flat.
But what of the actors who, day in and day out for years and years and years have grown old in their characters. Eileen Derbyshire, who played the irritating, gooder than good, Emily Bishop on Coronation Street, did so for 53 years. Ray Meagher has been playing Alf Stewart in Home and Away for 26 years. And Martina Stanley has been doing my head in on Fair City as Dolores Molloy for 22 years. I wonder how sane they all can be? If you play the one character for so many years, not alone must you grow up with them, you also run the danger of growing into them.
I’ve reinvented myself a number of times. Moving to new cities/countries where nobody knows me gave me licence to be anything I wanted to be. And it worked, because one thing was lacking – expectations. No one had any expectations of me. No one knew me. I had nothing to live up to, to measure up to. I could literally turn a page and write my own script. Of course, my expectations of myself didn’t go away or change or meld into anything beyond recognition, so the reinvented me didn’t differ too much from the previous me. I just lost some of the irritating stuff 🙂
I’ve been playing myself for years now, and the drama has ebbed and flowed along with my ratings. Right now though, I’m happy enough with the storyline and am looking forward to a new me evolving next year.