Did we like it?
Quality has been variable since creator Paul Abbott ran out of time to write the hyper-real saga of life on the chavvy Chatsworth, but Ed McCardie’s opener to series six was a triumph, weaving together four plots and throwing in some surrealism, too.
What was good about it?
• Baby Stella’s telepathic conversation with useless parents Frank and Monica, using bad language (“No swearing before you’re six months,” says her father) and vowing to stop eating unless they could find one decent person on the estate. Shockingly, that one decent person turned out to be useless Frank – who we must thank for stopping Tom (most beautiful blue eyes on TV) killing himself when Debbie refused to live with him.
• The opening scene. We’re led to believe that the credit crunch has caused The Jockey to be deserted on a Friday night. Things must be serious. Karen, Jamie and Ian have nothing to do. So Jamie goes outside. “All right, fuck the law – smoke inside,” he says – and the mayhem we’ve come to love is restored.
• Kelly smoking during (the non-existent) pregnancy (“I’m trying to keep it small because I’m too posh to push.”); the crazed Polish priest; the chasing chavs in the background of external scenes; Mickey’s attire; Shane without messy stubble.
• The absence of MiMi Maguire (espeically now we know, thanks to Celebrity Big Brother, thatr Tina Malone is just being herself).
What was bad about it?
• Ian’s gone. We struggled to cope without his brother Lip, now TV’s best gay character has deserted us. Okay, he doesn’t belong amid the underclass (“Why would I want to remember this?”) but we deserve one resident who isn’t a schemer or waster.
• The demise of Debbie and Tom’s relationship.