Friday 6 December 2019

How to cope without the soap operas now the football has taken over our TVs

The European Championships have pushed soaps off the TV schedules (stock photo)
The European Championships have pushed soaps off the TV schedules (stock photo)
Billy Keane

Billy Keane

There will be hundreds and thousands all across the wailing island of Ireland who will have to go to bed tonight without a bedtime story.

How will ye get to sleep at all? Drink, maybe? Pills? Our people have been deprived of the consolation of a killing or a kidnapping or a huge argument with or without bloodshed or adultery, or any form of vicarious sex.

Withdrawal, it's called. And the fall-out from the fix is all down to the cancellation of tonight's soaps in favour of the soccer.

Men, in particular, may take the cancellation as a cause for celebration. Oh ye of little brains.

Mark my words. Some of you will have to talk to your partners. Yes, talk, like as in about serious matters. The drama will have to be replaced from somewhere.

And you can be certain she will start hoovering all around you and ask you to lift up your feet and go taking the covers off the cushions during the games.

The nozzle will be removed from the top of the hoover and if Herself is a soap fan, well then she will go after the spiders' webs with a vengeance. You yourself might even get sucked up into the vortex of the latest super-sucking Dyson.

Go to the pub to watch the match. Here's a tip.

My friend with the cross wife was in trouble. The talk was excellent and the Guinness was moreish. He was late. So he told me of his cunning plan.

"I'm going to call her at about exactly seven minutes in, tell her I was held up having a drink with my friends, and I will be home later on."

So he phones at seven minutes in. She says, "Go on, go on, go away will you, I'm watching Corrie."

It's a great plan, isn't it? Try to schedule a few extra beers with the boys on nights when there's a wedding. Call Herself just as the organist starts up. 'Here comes the bride'. Which should really be 'Here comes the ride', as the soap star's newly-wed is having a fling with the best man.

Tonight, which to the best of my knowledge is a Monday, 'Coronation Street' has been cancelled in favour of a soccer match. This crime against humanity was criticised in a hard-hitting editorial written by hard-hitting editor Steven Murphy.

He's not my boss here. If it wasn't for me, the shocking re-scheduling would never have become a matter of such national importance. Steven is the editor of the influential 'Inside Soap', which, as you might have guessed, brings us the stories from inside soaps.

Steven thunders: "Bloomin' football! It's a hard life being a soap fan when the big tournaments are on, because as you have discovered, it feels as our soaps are being kicked around the schedule more than the ball."

Tough words indeed from Steven. I'm fairly sure bloomin' means effin' in Irish-English - or Hiberno -English as the scholars call it. I can't say the real 'f word' here as it's not allowed, and rightly so.

(To be fair, I have been given some latitude in the past and I was in fact the first columnist in the history of Irish journalism to use the words vagina and clitoris in the same column. And now I'm the second.)

'Soaplife', another soap fanzine, made an anguished announcement to the effect that: "There will no episode of 'EastEnders' on BBC1 because of live coverage from the 2016 European Football championships in France ."

It was like the sombre notice in the paper when a death occurs. "The premises of Mr Ebeneezer Murphy Junior of Main Street will be closed for his funeral today. Mr Murphy wishes to apologise for any inconvenience caused, posthumously."

There's a fierce rivalry for scoops going on between 'Inside Soap' and 'Soaplife'.

I can just imagine the trauma in the ER or the editorial room when one of the magazines gets one up on the other.

It could be 'Soaplife' brings us news of a serial killer choking people he has fallen out with by stuffing Cornflakes down their gullets. This week, I was sure 'Inside Soap' had the best scoop when they brought us the news of Andy taking his kit off, which is the English way of saying he will reveal all.

This week's soap summary from 'Inside Soap' includes Sarah in a hostage drama; Leanne's up the duff; Grant's naked truth; Holly's drug deal doubt; Myra's stairs death; Reenie returns from prison; Peri throws shade at Jade for keeping Tom; Pierce is seducing Rhona; and Leanne, as in Leanne who is pregnant, has no idea which 'Corrie' character is the father.

'Soaplife' brings us all the plots for this coming week. Roxy begs for drugs. Sonia no longer loves Tina. And there's much, much more but my fingers are getting tired from all the typing. If a man had to watch all that stuff he would be a definite candidate for post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Oops, I've just noticed Andy is topless in 'Soaplife' and it seems he will be caught washing in one of Jack's new flats. I never knew there was so much trouble in the world.

And it goes on and on, full of drama. The worst news is that on July 1, there's no soap either because of the football. I have to admit a weakness for 'Fair City'. I like 'Fair City' and I worry a lot about Bella. Why isn't 'Fair City' in the mags?

Fair play to 'Inside Soap' and 'Soaplife' though. They are saving the HSE a fortune in providing therapy for those of you going through the trauma of facing reality.

So, I ask a lady of my acquaintance why she loves the soaps. "It's escapism," she replies, which pretty much shocks me into saying: "Escapism is it? There's killing and screeching and non-stop affairs and you call that escapism? Hello!" As you can see from the exclamation mark after the 'hello', I was very surprised by her answer, as usually she's much smarter than me.

She replies calmly. "Billy, I watch the soaps because it makes my own life seem so good in comparison."

We hope you survive tonight's enforced abstinence. Please, please, take heed of this warning. You should not under any circumstances try to take life into your own hands. Do not kill anybody or leave anyone or take your kit off, other than to put on your pyjamas.

Irish Independent

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