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Soon-To-Be Thirty Neighbours Congratulates EastEnders

With all the celebration that has been surrounding EastEnders thirtieth birthday celebrations, it’s very easy to forget that there’s another legendary soap that’s less than a month away from turning thirty. That’s right – our favourite Aussie soap Neighbours began the same year as EastEnders and it quickly became a hit this side of the world.

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So just when you thought the soap-themed posts at Nostalgia Pie were almost over, there’s going to be another bumper crop starting very soon as Neighbours reaches it’s fantastic milestone. In the meantime, check out this hilarious parody by the Neighbours cast as they congratulate EastEnders on reaching thirty – great effort with the Cockney accents! I almost had a bit of a lump in my throat as I realised just how loved our home-grown soap is.

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Hopefully EastEnders will return the kind sentiment.

http://www.channel5.com/shows/neighbours/clips/happy-birthday-eastenders

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2015 in TV Shows

 

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30 YEARS OF EASTENDERS: EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT IT

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It’s impossible to have failed to notice that EastEnders is about to turn thirty. It’s unbelievable! I remember being a kid and watching the trailers for a new BBC series that was about to hit our screens in which a host of characters introduced themselves and their families. At the time I was too young to understand what was happening, but looking back it’s very obvious that hopes were high that this soap was going to be something huge – and it was! Thirty years on, EastEnders is still going strong but it’s so surreal to think that there are people under thirty who will never have known a time when EastEnders wasn’t on the box.

When the Cockney soap, which is set in the fictitious London borough of Walford, was first screened, it was only shown twice a week: on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 7:30. As the show gained in popularity, I began to look forward to Tuesdays and Thursdays which became known as EastEnders days, and felt quite bored on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays – which became known as Wogan days – because there wasn’t anything worth watching. Unless Terry Wogan had some interesting guests on!

In the early days, EastEnders centred primarily around three families: the Beales, the Fowlers, and the Watts. It was only when the character of Dot Cotton was introduced several months later, did the Cotton family become another well-known family in the Square – although many would say that it was for all the wrong reasons!

Over the years, EastEnders went through periods where it was gripping, unmissable stuff to times where I’d rather have a nap than tune in to what was happing in Walford. In fact from early 2011, I pretty much stopped watching the soap – something I never thought would happen. It was a combination of ridiculous storylines, dull characters, and awful actors that just made me want to switch off. And I know that I wasn’t the only one who felt that EastEnders had lost the plot. But I have to say that in recent months, the show’s gotten to be very interesting again, and it takes me back to the days when EastEnders was nothing less than brilliant. But whether I tuned in regularly or not, one thing was for sure – that missing the Christmas Day episode of EastEnders was not an option! It has been a family tradition for so long, and it doesn’t matter what we’d be doing but everything stopped as soon as we heard the familiar opening bars of the EastEnders theme tune. My Aunt and Uncle have been having huge Christmas bashes at their house for years but as soon as it was time for EastEnders, everyone would huddle in their front room; it was an episode not to be missed.

The dominant storyline right now in EastEnders is the murder of Lucy Beale whose killer is going to be unmasked during the week of live episodes – and we cannot wait. It’s absolutely exciting stuff and I’m so glad that EastEnders is back on form. So to celebrate this momentous occasion there’s going to be a host of EastEnders-inspired blog posts honouring this legendary soap and having us skipping down memory lane. In this post, we’ll look at thirty factors that make EastEnders what it is…

1. THE QUEEN VIC

The Queen Victoria public house is the hub of Walford and was named after er, Queen Victoria. It’s where the locals meet and have a night out. And if any of the residents are having a wedding, funeral wake or christening, you can be sure that they’ll hold their event at The Vic. And let’s not forget it’s also been the venue for many a showdown, bust-up and shocking revelation!

When EastEnders first began, The Queen Vic was home to the Watts family. Since then it’s been owned by the Mitchells, the Butchers, and run by Kat and Alfie. Nowadays it’s very much the domain of the Carters.

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2. THE LAUNDERETTE

It appears that no one in Walford actually owns a washing machine, so they’re always popping into the laundrette with bags of laundry, keeping Dot busy with service washes. It’s also quite bizarrely something of a meeting point and quite a few argy-bargies have taken place there. A bit like the Vic but without the drinks!

Dot has always worked in the laundrette and she used to work there with Pauline Fowler. However the often-mention Mr.Papadopolous, the laundrette’s owner whose name cannot be pronounced by Dot, rarely appears on screen.

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3. THE CAFE

It was first owned by Sue and Ali Osman, a couple who made Den and Angie look like Terry and June. It was later taken over by Kathy Beale who thought that Walford needed something a little upmarket and transformed the day-time café into a late-night bistro. But I don’t think the locals were fooled – it was still the café! Today it’s owned by Walford’s answer to Alan Sugar, Ian Beale. It’s the place where everyone meets, especially when they have private matters to discuss, because let’s face it, there’s not much chance of anyone overhearing your conversation in the café!

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4. THE FRUIT AND VEG STALL

It may just be a humble fruit and veg stall but it’s been a part of EastEnders from the very beginning and you just can’t imagine Walford without it. The fruit and veg stall has been in the Beale family for years. Viewers first saw it run by Pete Beale with help from his then wife Kathy and son Ian. After his death, the stall was run by Pete’s nephew Mark Fowler for years, and it’s currently Pete’s grandson Peter who now works the stall. Although most of us tend to visit the supermarkets for our five a day, the Walford locals won’t think of going anywhere else for fresh fruit and veggies.

Who’d have thought the stall could be a nice little earner?

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5. THE MARKET

I remember when Angie Watts used to head ‘up west’ on many of her numerous shopping expeditions despite having a market on her doorstep. These days, the market seems to be the only place the locals will shop. They buy just about everything there including outfits for a night out. And many of the Square’s residents have been market traders at one time or another including Sanjay and Gita Kapoor, Bianca Jackson, Stacey Branning, Zoe Slater, Kat Moon and Ronnie Mitchell’s long-lost daughter Dannielle.

And who could forget slimy market inspector Richard ‘Tricky Dicky’ Cole? A corrupt lothario, Richard was more concerned with trying to get into the pants of the female population of Walford than the stall holders selling them! And when he wasn’t on the look-out for new conquests, he wasn’t averse to taking a few backhanders from stall-holders. Of the monetary variety of course but there were a few times he got himself a well-deserved slap!

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6. THE CAR LOT

Even though it’s now owned by Max Branning and was previously run by David Wicks and Roy Evans, whenever I think of the car lot, I still think of Frank Butche as he’s the one who opened the car lot in the square. It may just seem like an ordinary car lot but if the walls of the portacabin could talk, it would have more than a few stories to tell: romantic trysts, dodgy deals, vicious attacks… it all took place here. And that’s before we even get to Frank torching the place as part of an insurance scam in which a homeless man was killed.

I still remember the episode where a few of the Square’s residents went to Spain and David Wicks picked up Sam Mitchell in a bar not realising who she was. She then told him about the car lot her father-in-law used to own.

“But it’s not like the car showrooms you have,” Sam said, “it’s just a tatty little  car lot.”

“Yeah, I think  know what you mean,” David smirked.

Indeed you did, David. Indeed you did!

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7. THE ARCHES

The Arches – a garage – was what brought the Mitchell brothers, Grant and Phil, to Walford, and it was always considered Mitchell territory. Well at least until recently when Max Branning conned Ben Mitchell into signing it over to him. Like many of the establishments on the Square, The Arches have witnessed it’s fair share of drama including Ricky Butcher and Natalie Price conducting their affair behind Bianca’s back; Ben Mitchell undergoing a personality transplant and attacking his friend Jordan, and that fight between Phil and Grant after Grant discovered what Phil had been getting up to with Sharon for months. mechanics who have worked there included, Phil, Grant, Ricky, Gary, Minty, Jase and Ben.

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8. ALBERT SQUARE

I don’t know why but for a long time, I thought that ‘Albert Square’ referred to the little bit of enclosed greenery where the residents often sit and mope. But it isn’t – that is actually the Square’s gardens. Albert Square refers to the row of terraced houses where most of the residents live and it is named after Prince Albert. The Beale family live at number 45, which used to be home to the Fowler’s when the show first started. The Masoods live at number 41; Phil and Sharon are at number 55; Patrick Trueman resides at numbers 19-20 with Kim and Denise, while Ronnie and Roxy live at number 27. And of course The Queen Victoria is the focal point of the Square.

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9. THE GARDENS

The gardens are central to the Square and it houses Arthur Fowler’s bench which was placed there in his memory. There is hardly an episode that goes by when someone isn’t sat on that bench – known by viewers as the Bench Of Tears –  crying, brooding, sulking, moaning or threatening another resident. Though as they all have houses on the Square it’s not quite understood why they can’t do all the above from the comfort of their own home and not publicly out in the Square!

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10. THE MORE-THAN-EXTRA EXTRAS

The Queen Vic’s resident barmaid Tracy has been in EastEnders for years. The pub is always changing hands but it doesn’t matter who the new owners are – Tracy stays! Then there’s Winston who runs one of the stalls in the market who’s been in EastEnders since 1986 – who my family absolutely loved and cheered when he made an appearance.

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But get this Tracy and Winston aren’t members of the main cast but humble extras. They’re often seen whenever there is an important event in EastEnders and every now and again, they may get the odd bit of short dialogue. Tracy did have a (speaking) part in a storyline that was fairly major (for her) when she was attacked by Sam Mitchell as Sam dug up the body of Den Watts on Dennis and Sharon Rickman’s wedding day. That’s the closest she’s ever got to having a role in a major storyline and there are often calls from the public to give both Tracy and Winston more prominent roles – and I agree.

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And we can’t forget Big Ron played by actor Ron Tarr. Big Ron appeared in EastEnders since 1985 but was never given a main role. I remember that in the 1990s, a TV mag even had a campaign for Big Ron to get a bigger slice of the action but it never happened as Ron Tarr passed away in 1997 after battling cancer.

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11. THE FOWLER HOUSE

Just like The Queen Vic, 45 Albert Square stands the test of time – and is probably the only house where people tend to enter via the back door rather than the front! Now owned by Ian Beale, at the start of the show it was still very much the residence of Ian’s grandmother Lou Beale who lived there with her daughter Pauline and her family. Back then the house seemed very small, cramped, and extremely dated, but nonetheless it had a certain charm to it. Of course when Ian bought the house, he set about making changes, turning it into the more roomy, modern pad that it is today.

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12. THAT THEME TUNE

Composed by Simon May and Leslie Osbourne, the Eastenders theme tune is easily one of the most recognizable theme tunes around. Producers had requested May to come up with something melodic which would “bring people in from the kitchen or garden” – and that’s exactly what they got. The theme tune is so iconic that people know the show is starting when they hear it without having to look up. I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t whistle or hum that tune every now and again.

In 1986 the theme was turned into a song called Anyone Can Fall In Love sung by Anita Dobson who played Angie Watts,which reached number 4 in the charts.

The EastEnders theme tune has undergone a few tweaks and changes over the years although it has generally been kept as close to the original as possible. During the mid-nineties, the theme tune underwent a major revamp which didn’t go down too well with viewers, so it went back to the original tune.

13. ‘DOOF DOOF’ SCENES

Every EastEnders fan is familiar with the ‘doof doof’ scene. It’s that famous drum beat that can be heard at the end of the last scene which signals that the episode has finished and that that famous theme tune is about to begin. This type of scene is now synonymous with EastEnders.

It wasn’t until the late nineties that I realised that this type of scene actually had a name. It was Tamzin Outhwaite, who played Melanie Owen, who said in an interview that cast members naturally wanted to be in the ‘doof doof’ scene, especially if it featured a cliff-hanger. The scene got its name from the sound of the drum beats that sounded like ‘doof doof.’

I was impressed that the scene actually had a name!

14. THE OPENING CREDITS

The opening title sequence of Eastenders is as well-known as its theme tune. It’s been revamped a few times but it’s essentially a map of the East End of London. It starts by zooming in on the River Thames before panning out to give an ariel view of London. Easily one of the most iconic opening sequences.

15. CHRISTMAS EPISODES

There were always two things we had to do on Christmas day without fail. The first was go to mass, and the second was to watch the Christmas day episode or episodes of EastEnders. This was something we always looked forward to, and it didn’t matter whose house we were celebrating Christmas in, as soon as we heard that familiar theme tune we dropped whatever it was we were doing and gathered in front of the telly. Not only was it a family tradition, but we also knew that the Christmas day episode was one that was guaranteed to have us on the edge of our seat. Yes, the public often complained that the episodes were often depressing and full of misery and often featured someone dying, but most of us found them to be full of drama and either featured a whopper of a cliff-hanger or resolved one.

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16. WHODUNITS

Anyone would think that Ms. Marple resided in Albert Square with the number of murders, attempted murders and other crimes that take place. The very first episode of EastEnders opened up with the murder of Reg Cox and these whodunits have been keeping us enthralled for years. There was the shooting of Phil Mitchell (the first time) the murders of Dennis Rickman, Eddie Royal, Archie Mitchell and we’re currently gripped by the mystery of who was responsible for the death of Lucy Beale which is going to be revealed very soon.As with the murder of Archie Mitchell, many of the cast members only found out at the same time that the public did in a live episode – and that’s exactly what’s going to happen when the Lucy’s killer is going to be unmasked.

And let’s not forget there are whodunits of a different variety, which have nothing to do with crime,  where pregnancies are involved where viewers are trying to work out who the baby’s father is as in the case of Michelle Fowler’s, Laura Beale’s and Heather Trott’s pregnancies. There was also one occasion when viewers had to work out who a positive pregnancy test belonged to with suspicion falling on the Fox-Wicks women.

It eventually turned out to be Dawn Swann’s.

17. THE NEIGHBOURING STREETS

Although most of the residents live on Albert Square, many of the small businesses are based in neighbouring streets such as Turpin Road, Bridge Street, and George Street. These places are often mentioned by the characters.

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18. JULIA’S THEME

Julia’s Theme is named after the show’s creator, Julia Smith. It is used in place of the regular theme and emphasizes a particularly emotional event such as a character leaving or dying. Each episode normally ends with the ‘doof doof’ drum beats, but with Julia’s Theme, the ‘doof doofs’ are replaced with a slow melody played on piano.  Julia’s Theme has been revamped a number of times, so there are different versions of this tune. Sometimes the beginning of Julia’s Theme is used as the intro to EastEnders‘ main theme tune.

I remember Julia’s Theme being played when Lofty proposed to pregnant Michelle Fowler, after Debbie Bates had been killed in a road accident; as Cindy Beale fled to Italy with her sons and was forced to leave her daughter behind; while Sharon watched Phil and Kathy embrace on their way home from France, and when Jim Branning proposed to Dot.

19. THE TRAILERS

Right now we’re all a bit spooked after watching the trailer promoting the unveiling of Lucy Beale’s killer. But spooked or not it’s a fantastic trailer, and you can’t expect anything less from the show who release great trailers whenever a major, new character is about to descend on the Square, a new storyline is about to hit, or when an old face returns. I especially liked the ‘Everyone’s talking about it’ slogan which accompanied some of the trailers.

Trailers were used when Kat and Alfie returned to the Square, just before Archie Mitchell’s killer was revealed, for Den Watts’s shock return, the Zoe, Dennis, Sharon love triangle which exploded on Christmas Day, the murder of Den Watts, Sharon’s return, and the arrival of the carter family.

20. SUNDAY OMNIBUS

When I was growing up, we all looked forward to the omnibus edition of EastEnders where Tuesday’s and Thursday’s episodes were repeated for those who had missed them. Well I say we all looked forward to them, but I’d say it was probably us kids who looked forward to the omnibus (nicknamed the ‘lonely bus’ by my brother) because we would watch it whether we’d seen the episodes during the week or not! I’ve lost count of the times Mum or Dad would walk into the living room see us all glued to the TV and exclaim, “But you’ve already watched this!” That’s right and now we’re watching it again! The EastEnders omnibus was the perfect lazy Sunday afternoon.

In more recent years, there has been a change in the scheduling of the omnibus but it has now emerged that the BBC are going to scrap the Sunday omnibus from April of this year, as the thirty day catch up on iPlayer means that broadcasting the omnibus is no longer necessary. I agree but it’s sad to lose this classic Sunday afternoon tradition.

21. THE FAMILIES

EastEnders is just about people being miserable; growling at each other; screaming their heads of in the market, or starting fights in The Vic. No EastEnders is all about family and the importance of familial relationships –  or perhaps I should say faah-mily! During the last three decades there have been many prominent families who have made their mark in Albert Square: The Watts; the Fowlers; the Beales; the Mitchells; the Jacksons; the Butchers; the Slaters;  the Wicks; the Brannings; the Moons; the Masoods, and now the Carters.

In each of these households there’s usually a fairly loud-mouthed matriarch who comes across as bossy, domineering, interfering and in danger of suffocating their children. But at the end of the day, to these women, family is everything. Who can forget Pauline Fowler bleating on about the importance of family? Or Peggy’s famous, ‘You’re a Mitchell’ line. I even heard Cora Cross tell Tania that she’s ‘a Cross’ but sorry – it doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as the Mitchell line!

Of course there were some families who couldn’t quite cut the mustard and were sent packing. When you think of the great families who graced the Square with their presence, who thinks of the Kapoors, the Ferreiras, the Di Marcos or the Flaherty family?

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22. THE PETS

It’s not just the characters who have endeared themselves to the public, but we’ve also grown quite attached to the four-legged, furry creatures that have appeared in the Square. Wellard, Roly, Freida, Ghengis, Terrance, Bella and Betty – we loved them all. And during the eighties, we were asking everyone if they’d ‘seen my Willy?’

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23. FAMOUS FACES

A few famous faces have popped up in Walford either as a cameo or a guest role. There was Robbie Williams using the phone in The Vic; Goldie played a gangster; Susan George appeared as Terry Raymond’s love interest; Bobby Davro played Shirley’s on-off boyfriend, and Madhur Jaffrey appeared as the Ferreira matriarch. Mike Reid, Shane Richie, Phil Daniel, and Samantha Womack are long-established actors or comedians  who had or have long-term roles in the soap. And of course after Barbra Windsor started her role as Peggy Mitchell, no one ever saw her as the girl from the Carry On movies again!

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24. CROOKS AND GANGSTERS

As the East End is Kray’s territory, it goes without saying that there have to be a few major league villians. Phil and Grant Mitchell might have fancies themselves as a couple of tough nuts but compared to the likes of Jack Dalton, Johnny Allen, Andy Hunter, Steve Owen, George Palmer, not to mention Den Watts’s associates, they were pretty much small fry!

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25. TWO-HANDERS

I don’t think I’ve ever seen another soap opera do a two-hander: an episode which has only two characters. The very first one I remember was back in the eighties and it featured Den and Angie Watts. Den announced that he was leaving Angie for his mistress Jan and Angie played her trump card, telling Den that she only had six months to live. Another memorable two-hander was when Michelle Fowler finally told Sharon Watts the truth regarding Vicki Fowler’s paternity. Other two handers have included episodes featuring Den and Sharon, Phil and Grant, Dot and Ethel, Max and Stacey among others.

There have also been three-hander and four-hander episodes too. The episode featuring Phil, Grant and Sharon after Phil and Sharon had slept together for the first is particular memorable, as is the episode featuring Grant and Michelle, and David and Cindy in two different sub-plots where the two couples, er get it on!

The reason for these two/three/four hander episodes was that it sped up the filming process, and while the two actors were filming the two-hander, the rest of the cast could be filming another episode. These special episodes look like mini-plays and are a pleasure to watch as it relies usually on just one storyline and a limited number of actors, and it’s very clever of EastEnders to come up with that.

Incidentally, there has only ever been a single one-hander episode in the show’s entire history which featured Dot Cotton.

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26. GRITTY REALISM

EastEnders isn’t one for shying away from hard-hitting social issues. It’s tackled storylines involving cot death, homophobia, prostitution, rape, mental health issues, HIV, paedophilia, child abuse, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, domestic abuse, alcoholism, racism… the list is endless.

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27. RATINGS WARS WITH CORRIE

There were other soap operas around when I was growing up, but when it came to ratings, it seems that it was firmly between Coronation Street and EastEnders. The Sunday papers would always show who’d hit the top spot in the TV pull-out section and it would alternate 9or so it seemed) between EastEnders or Corrie. The others didn’t even get a look-in!

28. COCKNEY ACCENT – WITHOUT THE RHYMING

You can’t have a soap set in the East End of London and not expect to hear a few Cockney accents. And being a real-life Eastender myself, I’ve always said that Cockney accents are the most endearing in the world – although I’ve never used rhyming slang, and it very rarely features on the show. I hardly ever hear real-life Cockneys use it so it just wouldn’t be realistic.

Of course in recent times, there have been complaints that the EastEnd just isn’t Cockney enough and there are too many different regional accents. But then anyone who’s ever lived in the East End will know that it’s not just Cockneys who live there. There are people from other parts of the country and of course other parts of the world. My complaint is that I don’t hear Cockney accents enough where I live and I’m sure that the show is reflecting the diversity of the area.

29. THE CHIPPY

You can’t have an East End district without a fish and chip shop so thank goodness for Beale’s Plaice – although when Ian first purchased the shop, no way was it to be called a chippy. Ian was aiming for the rather more upmarket sounding ‘fish restaurant’!

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30. THE AWARDS

To say that EastEnders is an award-winning soap is something of a understatement. So far it has won around 316 awards (roughly ten a year) and just like in the ratings wars, it often goes head-to-head with Corrie for the Best Soap category.

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Posted by on February 12, 2015 in TV Shows

 

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OMG! 20 Years Of Friends

Genre: Sitcom
Started: 22nd September 1994
Ended: 6th May 2004
Created by: David Crane and Marta Kauffman
Series: 10
Episodes: 236
Main Cast: David Schwimmer – Ross Geller
Courtney Cox – Monica Geller
Matt LeBlanc – Joey Tribbiani
Jennifer Aniston – Rachel Green
Matthew Perry – Chandler Bing
Lisa Kudrow – Phoebe Buffay

Guest Stars: Elliot Gould – Jack Geller
Christina Pickles – Judy Geller
James Michael Tyler – Gunther
Maggie Wheeler – Janice Litman
Helen Baxendale – Emily Waltham
Tom Selleck – Richard Burke
Paul Rudd – Mike Hannigan
Jane Sibbett – Carol
Jessica Hecht – Susan

Plot: A group of six from New York who are very different in terms of personality but are firm friends nonetheless. They live in the same neighbourhood and are known for always hanging out at the same coffee shop, Central Perk. When they are not there they can usually be found at Monica’s apartment. The show focuses on the group’s strong friendship, as well as their romantic and career escapades with hilarious results.

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So no one told you life was gonna be this way…

I really, really cannot believe that this year marks twenty years since the first episode of Friends was aired. That’s right, the hit American sit-com about the lives of a close-knit gang of six New Yorkers first hit American screens in September 1994. That’s right – twenty years!!!! My goodness where has the time gone? Since then we’ve been glued to the antics of Joey, Rachel, Phoebe and co. And incidentally it’s been over ten years since the last episode aired in May 1994.

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I can’t put into words how special Friends is to me. Some might even think that’s weird. I mean it’s a television sit-com. Who gets sentimental over a television sit-com? Well, I do! Friends brings back great memories of school days, teenage years, and family moments. Plus it’s as funny as hell! What’s there not to like?

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I first started watching Friends when I was in my mid -teens. Thursday night was treat night, so after a hard night hitting the books, I’d grab a ready meal and settle down in front of the telly to watch my fave show… Channel 4’s Whose Line Is It Anyway?  But before Whose Line began, I’d manage to catch the last few minutes of a new American comedy. It wasn’t long before I started taking my study breaks a little earlier on a Thursday night so I could watch this new American comedy from the beginning of each episode. It was really funny and thoroughly enjoyable… but even then I didn’t realise just how huge it was going to become.

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It wasn’t long before the rest of my family got in on the act. By then Friends had gone from the near-enough graveyard slot to become prime time viewing on a Friday evening. So Friday evenings were spent with us gathered around the telly after dinner, laughing our heads off. Apart from me, my little brother was the biggest Friends fan in our house. We never missed an episode, and it in fact became known as ‘our tradition.’ And every Christmas, my brother would get a new Friends video (yes, it was videos back then) which he would practically watch on repeat. It wasn’t long before we knew practically every line of the script – and used to quote the characters to the point where it both amused and annoyed our sisters.

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Over the last twenty years, we’ve all lost count of how many times Friends has been repeated on the telly. But the thing is that it never gets old. Every time you tune in to each episode, you laugh like you’ve never heard the gags before – and I guess that’s the beauty of the show. In all these years, I’ve only met three people who have said that they can’t stand Friends. That’s just left me wondering what’s wrong with them!

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So in honour of Friends’ twentieth year, we’re taking a look at twenty things closely associated with the show that have made Friends so unique; this includes our favourite memories and things about the show that – without wanting to be dramatic – actually changed our lives.

1. COFFEE SHOP CULTURE

Today, teenagers hang out in coffee shops up and down the country. And right here in England they have plenty to choose from: Starbucks, Café Nero, Costa, as well as millions of independent coffee shops. Yep, word has gotten out that coffee is big business!

When I was a teenager, we hung out at either McDonalds or the local chippy. If we really wanted to push the boat out, then we had Pizza Hut. But Friends changed all that once we saw how much fun the Friends gang were having at Central Perk. We decided that coffee shops were the only place to lounge around in too. And it seems that we’re not the only ones who thought it was a great idea, as coffee shop culture has now taken off all over the world.

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2. SOFAS IN COFFEE SHOPS

The sofa at Central Perk was very much the gang’s domain. Remember the gang’s dismay when another group took over the sofa?

I’d never seen a sofa in a coffee shop until I started watching Friends. We certainly didn’t have them here in UK coffee shops. But I thought it was a super cool idea. There’s nothing like getting comfy on the sofa with a steaming cup of coffee whilst having a natter to make yourself feel really at home. Now you can find a comfy, cosy sofa in just about every coffee shop – and I’m willing to bet that that’s mostly thanks to Friends.

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3. JENNIFER ANISTON: HAIR ICON

When Jennifer Aniston accepted the role of Rachel Green, I bet she didn’t think that her hair would become just a tad bit more famous than her. The ‘Rachel’ cut was the Farrah Flick of it’s day, and the most requested hairstyle in salons worldwide.

I sported a similar do for a while but it was probably not as fab as Jennifer’s. Her hairdo was a layered, longer length bob but it was the savvy way she wore it that made it such a hit. This particular style paved the way for Ms. Aniston to enter into hair icon territory, because even though the numerous great hairstyles she sported throughout the series never quite eclipsed the success of the ‘Rachel,’ Jennifer inevitably became known as ‘the one with the great hair.’

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4. SMELLY CAT

Phoebe may have known how to rock a guitar but when it came to songwriting, she was known for some rather dubious lyrics. But despite this fact, Smelly Cat became something of a classic – and proof to aspiring musicians everywhere that inspiration for a hit can come from the most unlikeliest of topics!

5. MONICA’S APARTMENT

Who wouldn’t want a spacious yet cosy apartment as inviting as Monica’s. There was criticism that a waitress (Rachel) and a just-starting- caterer (Monica) could never have afforded an apartment in NYC as cool as that in real-life but who cares? It was nice just to dream about it! And even though Monica and hubby Chandler eventually bought a house in the suburbs to raise their family, I think it’s definitely Monica’s apartment that’s the place to be.

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6. RACHEL’S AMBITION

Rachel Green may have started out as something of a rich, spoilt brat but she eventually learned to stand on her own two feet when Gunther hired her as a waitress at Central Perk. However Rachel’s real dream was to work in fashion – a career she’d pursued once she’d found the confidence to do so.

This resonates well with me because I’ve been there too (no, not the rich, spoilt brat bit!). We’ve all had to abandon our dreams at some point in our lives because real life got in the way. But Rachel showed us that with a little perseverance and dedication, it’s possible to get there in the end.

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7. WE WERE ON A BREAK!

Rachel wanted a break from her relationship with Ross. Ross thought that meant he could date other people – so he did. This didn’t go down too well with Rachel when she found out, so she decided that their temporary break should become a more permanent one.

This Ross and Rachel saga struck fear into the hearts of most people who were going through a rough patch in their relationships causing them to spell out exactly what ‘being on a break’ meant!

8. NEW YORK BECAME THE PLACE TO BE

OK, so even before Friends, New York was hardly on the bottom of everyone’s ‘must visit’ list. In fact for many people it was at the top of their ‘must live there’ list! But Friends – along with Sex And The City – was a great advert for New York City and made those who didn’t live there want to take an even bigger bite out of the Big Apple (even though the show was filmed in California!)

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9. ROSS: THE PATRON SAINT OF GEEKS

Straight-laced, socially-awkward brainiac Ross Gellar who revelled in his staus as ‘Dr.Gellar,’ was overly-enthusiastic about science and loved his career as a palaeontologist, was the saviour of academics, and dare I say it, geeks everywhere! He proved that you didn’t have to be the coolest kid on the block to land the hottest girl.

10. THOSE CATCHPHRASES

Oh…My…God! How you doin’? Could you be any more stupid? We were on a break!

If you’re a Friends fan, those catchphrases will need no explanation!

11. THE ONE WITH THE…

Friends writers knew that even if they gave episodes an actual name, that viewers would refer to these episodes as ‘The one with the eggplant,’ or ‘The one where Rachel finds out.’ So that’s exactly what they called these episodes with the title beginning with the words ‘The One…’. No other TV show has done this and I think it’s quite clever really!

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12. EVERYONE HAD A FRIEND WITH THE WORD ‘FUN’ IN THEIR NAME

Remember Monica’s ex-boyfriend, Fun Bobby? He was the life and soul of the party… until everyone discovered that without alcohol, he really wasn’t that much fun!

Nonetheless some of us took to prefixing the name of our loudest and wildest friend with the word ‘Fun’ so that it became a part of their name. I know I did and I have to say that hanging out with Fun Lucy was always a barrel of laughs!

13. IT’S OK TO GET WITH YOUR FRIENDS

So serial divorcé Ross got with Rachel, while his sister Monica cured his commitment phobic friend Chandler. Both couples highlighted the pitfalls of dating a good friend – but in the end, it all worked out for the best. And Friends’ fans cheered when these couples got together – and probably plucked up the courage to ask their best friend of ten years who they’d secretly admired from afar out for a drink.

We all waited for Phoebe and Joey to hook up but the scriptwriters had other ideas. Perhaps they didn’t want to be too predictable. Perhaps they thought Mike Hannigan was better for Phoebe. Perhaps they wanted to give Joey his own show…

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14. SIMILAR SHOWS

To say Friends was huge is like saying that water is a little bit wet. It was a phenomenon – and still is! It wasn’t long before other program makers the world over got in on the act and tried to recreate the show’s winning formula: a group of close friends who are almost like family in an apartment/coffee shop/bar setting, who support each other through trials and tribulations especially romantic disasters. Unlike soap operas were friends could stab each other in the back, in these types of shows, friends had each other’s back.

Some of these shows popped up even before Friends had finished its run, and not all of them were sitcoms, but the ones that were injected the same kind of wit and humour that made Friends so popular. So before we knew it, we were settling down to watch Cold Feet, Coupling, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, Sex And The City, and That 70s Show.

But of course, as awesome as these shows are, and I do enjoy watching them too, there can only ever be one Friends.

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15. THE CAST BECAME MEGA STARS

The cast of Friends were all established actors before they played our favourite group of New Yorkers. But they hadn’t reached the dizzying heights of stardom with any of their previous work (although I remember Matt LeBlanc’s Heinz ketchup commercial very well!) But Friends changed all that for the six actors who went on to become household names. And ten years after the show ended, they’re still very much in the spotlight.

I also think that it’s fantastic that all six actors wanted to remain in the show through the course of its ten year run. Nobody chose to quit the series to concentrate on other projects which meant that all six of our favourite characters appeared in every series and were played by the same actors during the course of ten years which I think is amazing and quite unusual.

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16. IT BROUGHT THE WORLD CLOSER TOGETHER

I’m wondering if there’s a country in the world which hasn’t broadcast a single episode of Friends… no, I didn’t think so! Maggie Wheeler who played Chandler’s ex-girlfriend, Janice, expressed her surprise when a fan from India approached her to say how much she loved Friends, proving just how much of a world-wide phenomenon the show had become. Despite the hit comedy being dubbed in multiple languages, everyone understand the language of friendship, and it’s great to know that you can go anywhere in the world and you’re bound to bump into someone who knows who the Friends gang are.

I wonder how you translate, “How you doin’?” in Cantonese…

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17. TACKLING SOCIAL ISSUES WITH HUMOUR

Looking back, it amazes me that my brother was allowed to watch Friends at such a young age because as funny as it is, it did deal with some pretty adult themes: divorce; infertility; surrogacy; adoption; single motherhood; casual sex; alcoholism… not exactly a barrel of laughs. But despite the heavy content, each issue was handled with humour and sensitivity so you didn’t feel as though you were watching the most depressing show on earth.

Eastenders, take note!

Ross with his son Ben - who lives with his two mums

Ross with his son Ben – who lives with his two mums

 

18. WE WANTED OUR OWN FRIENDS GANG

I had a friend at university who explained that his posse were “just like Friends from off the telly.”

“There’s six of us as well. And we all hang out at a coffee shop too. And each one of us are just like one of the characters.”

Well he ‘s not the only one who thought that way. The truth is we all wanted our own little Friends gang, and we could relate to at least one of the characters. Me? I’m a strange mix of Phoebe and Rachel!

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19. THEME TUNE

There can’t be a single person on the planet who doesn’t know the words to that famous theme tune or who wouldn’t be able to recognise the melody. Performed by The Rembrandts, it is without a doubt their biggest hit and the one they’ll always be remembered for.

The lyrics fit the concept of the show perfectly and furthermore illustrates the meaning of friendship.

20. FRAMILY

Most of us were brought up on the mantra that family comes first – and for the most part that’s how it should be. But the show taught us that it was possible to love your friends like family. It’s not always about blood, genetics or DNA – it’s about the strong bond of genuine love, respect and friendship. Even the friends cast have said that they’ve become like family which is most inspiring.

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So there you have it – all the things that makes Friends so fantasically unique and one of a kind. I’m so glad that Friends is as relevant today as it was when it began twenty years ago. Whereas a lot of once popular comedies now appear dated, I really do believe that Friends will remain a classic.

Here’s to the next twenty years.

 

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Posted by on December 27, 2014 in Comedy Shows, TV Shows

 

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E(xpress) Y(ourself) C(learly): I Feel It!

EYC: Damon, Dave and Trey

EYC: Damon, Dave and Trey

I got a text from a friend last night in which she told me that she’d been to a club and heard a song that we used to love when we were teens (music was so much better back then!) This led to a conversation about other groups and songs we used to jam to back in the day, and I remembered a group we really, really used to love way back when. I cannot believe I ever forgot them in the first place but it’s as though a piece of the jigsaw that is my memory has finally slotted back into place!

It’s no secret that I was and still am a massive New Kids On The Block fan. But there was another American boy band in the early nineties who arrived on the scene just as NKOTB were preparing to make their long awaited comeback. They may have been tagged with the boy band label but the truth is they were a lot slicker, edgier and cooler than all the boy bands who had popped up after the New Kids split. They veered more towards r’n’b/pop rather than cheesy pop, and for all those who think that boy bands are for twelve year old girls, well, this was a boy band with a difference. They were a raunchier, sexed-up version of a boy band with a more mature look and sound. In interviews, they certainly didn’t act as though they’d never been kissed and that’s putting it mildly! Yep, this was definitely one for the adults.

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Who am talking about? EYC of course! In fact said friend pointed out that we first spotted them more than twenty years ago. Twenty years? That’s crazy! I swear it was just last week!

WHO ARE EYC?

EYC – which stood for Express Yourself Clearly – comprised of the gorgeous Trey Parker, Dave Loeffler and Damon Butler. They formed in 1990 and were signed to MCA Records. The band were influenced by R n b, hip-hop and gospel music. Their motto was express yourself clearly, but their catchphrase was “EYC-ya!” which they yelled at the end of performances and interviews.

Their debut album

Their debut album

The first time I saw them perform was when they appeared on The Smash Hits Poll Winners Party back in December 1993 where they won the award for best new act. Rumour has it – and this is just a rumour – that EYC were scheduled to perform in order to fill in for NKOTB who had been due to make their first live UK appearance since getting back together. However, the Boston boys had been asked to change some of the lyrics to their controversial new single Dirty Dawg, so they refused to perform and pulled out from the show. Enter EYC! Incidentally, there’s also another NKOTB connection as before they formed the band, both Damon and Trey were backing dancers for teen sensation Tiffany… when she supported the New Kids on tour!

While sat at home watching The Poll Winners Party, I wondered who these guys were. They were awesome! I liked their style, their moves, their vocals, their energy, their stage presence… and their song Feelin’ Alright wouldn’t leave my head! For guys who were relatively new to the scene, they arrived with an almighty bang! And at school the next day, EYC was all my classmates and I could talk about:
“OMG! Did you see those three guys?”
“Do you mean EYC?”
“Yeah, I did!”
“OMG, they’re so hot!”
“I like the blond one.”
“The one with the brown hair’s really cute.”
“When’s the single out?”
“What happened to New Kids? I thought they were performing?”

Trey Parker

Trey Parker

After that Damon, Dave and Trey were everywhere, and I do mean EVERYWHERE! Their faces were on the covers of teen mags; you couldn’t watch Saturday morning TV without seeing the band; they regularly performed on Top Of The Pops and other music shows; they toured all over the world… In a nutshell, EYC were making it big! I specifically remember an interview the group gave to Smash Hits magazine in which the topic was… cola! One member of EYC said that he loved Coca-Cola, another said he preferred Pepsi, while Dave, bless him, said he’d never touch either – or any kind of fizzy drink for that matter – because it always made him feel as if his teeth were disintegrating! One thing I loved about EYC is that they really seemed to gel and they worked well together. You got the feeling that they weren’t just members of the same band – but that they were great friends as well.

Dave Loeffler

Dave Loeffler

A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE GUYS

All-round entertainer Trey had worked in film, TV and musical theatre when he moved to California from Alabama in the hope of hitting the big time. There he met dancer Damon from Los Angeles, and the two hit it off and became firm friends. They both later became backing dancers for Tiffany.

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Trey then met Dave, who was also from LA, at a party and after introducing him to Damon, the three teenagers, drawn together by their love of music and dance, decided to form a group and began working on material. Thus EYC was born.

GETTING STARTED

Despite being so young when they started out, the trio knew that they wanted to have creative control and a say in what they did as a group, and were desperate to avoid falling into the manufactured band trap. They were lucky when they signed with MCA that they were allowed a say in their image, their sound, who they worked with etc. Industry puppets, they were not!

imagesLVQ57FL7 Their first album, Express Yourself Clearly was written and produced in a year.

THE FAME GAME

However, it was in 1993 that EYC really hit the big time – the same year they released their self-titled debut album and picked up a Smash Hits Poll Winners awards. In 1994, they toured Australia with Salt n’ Peppa. The following year, EYC opened up for Irish boy band, Boyzone, on their UK tour. They had also supported Prince and Whitney Houston, and even won an Australian Grammy. Furthermore, they came extremely close to touring with one of their idols, Michael Jackson, but turned down the opportunity to embark on their own international tour as the headline act. In addition, Dave bagged himself a girlfriend in the form of British then-model-now-presenter Lisa Snowdon. Lucky, lucky lady!

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It was also in 1995 that EYC released their second album Put It On. Unfortunately it didn’t do as well as their first album, Express Yourself Clearly. but they managed to get things back on track for a while when they recorded a Dr. Pepper commercial in 1996. After years of solid touring, writing and recording, Damon, Dave and Trey decided that they needed a little time out and to take things easy, which sadly meant that their fans saw a lot less of them. However, in 1999 EYC went back to doing what they did best and embarked on a national US tour; made appearances on Nickelodeon, and supported The Backstreet Boys – another American boy band who’d experienced success in Europe before cracking the market in their homeland; and crack it they did! EYC put out their third album, I Feel It, which was released in the United States only. The bad news for fans was that I Feel It turned out to be their final album, as EYC disbanded in 2002, when Trey, Damon and Dave decided to concentrate on separate projects.

The boys released seven singles and put out four albums. I actually received their debut single Feelin’ Alright as a Christmas present from a school friend who was also a massive fan. I’m actually surprised that despite all their success, their highest chart position was No.13 for Black Book. And I was shocked to realize that EYC hadn’t even scratched the surface of the American market. They only releases two singles there, where their highest chart position was N0.30 for This Thing Called Love. I vaguely remember reading a magazine article in which the band were interviewed and they revealed that they had not yet cracked America, deciding instead to concentrate on Europe first. I was stunned as I had assumed that they were already huge in their homeland, and being the kind of act that EYC were, I would have thought that the Americans would have been eating them up with a spoon. One explanation could be that during the early to mid nineties, the United States were grunge mad. Oh well, America’s loss was our gain.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW

They may have put away their baggy pants and stopped wearing their caps back-to-front but Damon, Dave and Trey are still involved in entertainment – the industry that they know and love.

Dave is now described as an entertainment mogul. He is a producer, promoter and co-manages Usher. He has also worked with Justin Bieber. He has also cut his long brown locks, opting for a much shorter style. Trey resumed his acting career and was also in a band called The MVPs. He is also the owner of an entertainment company, The LA Allstars, and has worked with artists such as Anastasia. Very little is known about Damon but after the group split, he had starred in some movies including Hairspray.  It is believed that he still works as a dancer and has appeared on Broadway. With so many bands making or attempting to make a comeback, it doesn’t seem likely that EYC will ever reform as they all seem to have moved on. But one can only live in hope. They really were an awesome band. eyc2 EYC-ya! RELATED LINKS: http://luxepearllife.com/2013/02/09/memorable-cuts-feelin-alright-by-eyc/ gingham-apron-pie-lady2

 

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Don’t You Know That The Time Has Arrived? NKOTB’s Star On Hollywood Walk Of Fame

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Don’t be alarmed if you see an overly ecstatic woman wearing a smiley face t-shirt and a peace symbol medallion doing cartwheels down the street. Chances are she’s a Blockhead and she’s got a great reason for being super thrilled!

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Us Blockheads knew that we’d be loving New Kids On The Block forever but on Thursday we were prouder than ever as the Boston supergroup were honoured with the 2,530th star on Hollywood Walk of Fame in front of thousands of screaming, banner-carrying fans who were out in full force to share this very momentous occasion with their idols. I have no idea why it took so long but it was well worth the wait. It was an emotional moment for band members, Jordan Knight, Jonathan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg and Danny Wood as they received this prestigious tribute – a poignant reminder that they will live on in entertainment history. And it was undoubtedly an equally emotional moment for the fans as we saw just how far they’d come from their humble beginnings to become one of the most famous musical acts ever. No doubt thoughts turned to the first time we ever saw them or heard one of their songs. For some of us, they were our first crush, but for all the fans, they have continued to live on in our hearts – and maybe even still have their posters occupying  wall space! These five special guys played a part during our childhoods and teenage years, and I’m delighted that all these years later, they’re still here and they’ve been given the reward they so richly deserve.

THE CEREMONY

“Fans have been asking for quite a while now when the New Kids on The Block were going to get their star. We want to thank them for “Hangin’ Tough” for waiting patiently to hear the announcement of their favorite boy band star ceremony.” Ana Martinez, producer of the Walk of Fame ceremonies

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Even though I had to make do with watching the ceremony from the comfort of my own home – I so wish I could have been there – I could tell that the atmosphere in Hollywood Boulevard was electric. Fans who have been on this three decade long ride with the New Kids were screaming their heads off and waving banners as though they were still fifteen (I’m surprised no one fainted!) Donnie got very emotional, comedian and friend to the New Kids, Arsenio Hall, paid tribute to the band – and our favourite boys from Boston finally got their star.

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Donnie, Danny, Jordan, Jon and Joey looked super hot – and it had nothing to do with the LA sun – as they stepped up to the podium in co-ordinating suits complete with pink ribbons pinned to their lapels for breast cancer awareness. Even though they smiled and waved to the crowd as speeches were being made, it was evident that they were totally overwhelmed. I suppose that’s the feeling you get when you know you’ve been immortalized forever.

Leron Gubler, president and CEO of Hollywood Chamber of commerce was the first to welcome the band onto the podium, but before he did, he took a little time to remind the crowd of NKOTB’s numerous achievements and accomplishments, including their work for charity, especially for breast cancer awareness, hence the pink bows.

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A very excited bunch of New Kids appeared which drove the crowd wild – and they were very closely followed by Arsenio Hall who has been a supporter of the band from the very beginning. He shared his memories with the fans and explained why the world loved the band so much before it was the turn of Los Angeles City Council’s Mitch O’Farrell to say a few words, who then presented the band with their individual certificates of honour.

It was then time for the band to speak.

With Arsenio Hall

With Arsenio Hall

 

It was Donnie who gave the speech and he revealed that for the first time ever, none of the band wanted to speak because they were so completely overwhelmed and blown away by the day’s events. However I’m not surprised that it was Donnie who got to step up to the mic because he always came across the leader of the group, and the hinge that held them all together. He’s also known for having a way with words which is why my sister and I nicknamed him Words-Of-Wisdom Donnie. And after the speech he delivered, he’s definitely worthy of the name. He talked about the band’s hard work and aspirations from the early days; gave thanks to the band’s family and friends, in particular their children; mentioned all those who were instrumental in their success from the beginning, and remembered those who were no longer with them. Poor Donnie got a little emotional and teary, and I’m sure there wasn’t a Blockhead present who didn’t want to rush up onto the stage and give him a big hug.

Donnie gets emotional

Donnie gets emotional

 

And talking of hugs, I thought the big group hug the others gave Donnie after he’d delivered his speech was so sweet. I love the true friendship that the five of them share. They have a rapport that I don’t see with other members of similar bands. Yes they’ve had their ups and downs over the years, and we all know that there were times when they couldn’t stand to be in the same room. But they’ve grown up and worked out their differences. Whereas most bands are seriously manufactured and thrown together by a record company, the New Kids – with the exception of Joe – all knew each other before they joined the band, so there’s definitely a bond there. Donnie summed up the closeness between the five at the ceremony:

‘We’ve been together for pretty much 30 years. We’ve been friends for longer. We’ve been through the droughts of droughts, the highs of highs. We’ve been through things that most people could never imagine… I think I speak for all of us in saying that I would not have wanted to spend one moment of the last 33 years doing this with anyone besides this team right here. We say it often but we are brothers. And it’s real.”’

THE STORY SO FAR:

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The New Kids formed in 1984 in Boston, Massachusetts when producer Maurice Starr – famous for discovering New Edition – put together brothers Jonathan and Jordan plus their high school friends, Donnie and Danny. Joey completed the line-up and the rest is history. New Kids On The Block superseded the success of New Edition by far, and became more famous than anyone could ever have imagined. They are considered to be the blueprint for boy bands as we know them today, though in my opinion the New Kids set the bar staggeringly high because over the years, boy bands may have come and gone but there’s only ever been one for me… and all my fellow Blockheads know what I’m talking about!

 

But along with the highs came the lows, and the New Kids have experienced more ups and downs than a lift in a tower block. Their meteoric rise to fame; the mass hysteria that had not been witnessed since the days of The Osmonds; their eventual decline and virtual disappearance have all been well-documented. They took a break at the end of 1991, and after a brief comeback in 1994 – complete with abridged name and new image – NKOTB disbanded, seemingly for good, much to the devastation of their fans. For more than a decade, very little was mentioned about the members of the defunct band. Yes, we knew that Jon had moved into real estate; Jordan was working on solo material; Danny popped up as a member of Upper Street; Joey was still involved in the music industry but had also branched out into acting, as did Donnie, although Donnie’s fame was now eclipsed by that of his younger brother Mark Wahlberg, who was fast on his way to becoming a respected Hollywood actor. And of course there was talk of girlfriends, wives and babies – things that had to be kept under wraps when the band were at the height of their fame. With the former New Kids following their own paths in life, a reunion seemed out of the question. Who could forget Bands Reunited where only the Knight brothers agreed to return? As the years went by, the odds of NKOTB making a comeback were very, very low.

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Well it’s a good job I’m not a betting person or I would have lost. As much as it would have been a dream come true for me for my fave band to reunite, I wasn’t going to hold my breath. I’d gotten my hopes up before with their 1994 comeback, plus the boys appeared to have moved on and expressed no interest in reuniting. But to prove that miracles do indeed happen, New Kids On The Block announced that they were getting back together again in 2008 and the world cheered – well us Blockhead’s did anyway! Their first release in nearly fifteen years was Summertime from their album The Block and they’ve been going strong ever since.

With Maurice Starr

With Maurice Starr

 

That’s why their recent accolade is so poignant. If they had not reunited they would have just faded into obscurity and they would have been known as ‘that band what used to be famous.’ When they hit the big time, they had to put up with sneers from critics. When they disbanded they had to put up with even more ridicule and had to watch as part of their fanbase (not the real fans) moved onto the next big thing and forgot about them. They went from being everywhere to being nowhere. They were no longer taken seriously or regarded as cool.

But they rose above it all… and look where they are now…

THE FANS

A fan at the ceremony

A fan at the ceremony

 

“If we are the star that’s going to be on this famed boulevard with these legendary names for the rest of time, then you guys are the soil and the concrete – the foundation that inspires us everyday to get up, keep going and say, ‘To hell with the naysayers,’ and ‘To hell with our crinkly bones.’ You are our fuel, our energy and our inspiration.” Donnie Wahlberg

New Kids On The Block really do have the best fans in the world – even if I do say so myself. However, I know it’s something that the group agree with.

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NKOTB’s  real fans never forgot them or gave up on them and the band are lucky to have such a loyal, strong and supportive fan base. Even though we might have grown up – with a lot of us having New Kids of our own – we’ve grown up with them and their music. And what’s so important about the star that the New Kids have been honoured with is that it was something that the fans called for, especially Melissa Buja, a Blockhead from Massachusetts, who led the campaign for the group to receive a star for the last three years.  As a result, Donnie gave a special mention to the fans during his speech.

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When New Kids first burst on the scene, the whole world went New Kids barmy. We’d had Bros, Brother Beyond and Wham! before them but I’d never seen anything like it. We wore ripped jeans like they did; we made up dances to their songs; we wore black rubber bracelets; we thought rat tails were cool; we went to the concerts we bought anything that had their faces or the band’s logo on it… in short our lives revolved around New Kids On The Block. And it stayed that way until they split.

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Most of us were delighted when they returned in 1994 with Face The Music. We had images of New Kids world domination taking over again. But alas it was not to be. A lot of the fans who used to like NKOTB had now lost interest and were into other boy bands who had formed after seeing the success of the New Kids. No one had ever told either the bands or the fans that imitation is never as good as the real deal! What was sad after the group split was that it was suddenly seriously uncool to admit to liking the New Kids. We were supposed to hate them and toss out all the memorabilia. So I collected all the New Kids goodies that no one wanted any more – and accepted the ridicule that went with it. I look at my vast collection of New Kids memorabilia and it was all so worth it. As far as I’m concerned, the New Kids have always been in and always been cool and I really don’t give two sh**s what anyone thinks. At least I don’t have sheep mentality.

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I’d met and formed a friendship with another Blockhead after the group broke up. I always liked meeting people who were still very much Blockheads and proud of it, who said that she was a Boyzone fan because out of all the boy bands out there, they were the best of the bunch. But her heart well and truly belonged to the New Kids – especially Joey McIntyre. It still does.

Us fans have never been prouder of being Blockheads than we were on Thursday!

WHY WE LOVE THEM

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Goodness – where do we start! The New Kids are mega talented, gorgeous, they sing beautifully, have great moves, write amazing lyrics, show love to their fans, are very family-orientated, still love their hometown… I could go on forever. It’s so difficult to put into words why we love them. They’re a band like no other. They’ve captured our hearts and there will never be another group like them.

The Bean Town posse proved that it was possible for the ordinary kid on the block to live the dream and be a success. They proved that it was possible to get back up on your feet when you got knocked down and come back bigger and badder than ever. And they weren’t afraid of hard work. I remember listening to an interview with the New Kids when the interviewer, Clive Warren, remembered going on tour with the boys and described just how hard they worked:

“You would have breakfast just before the evening show,” Warren revealed.

"I don't care what any of you say, this selfie is way cooler than Obama's..."

“I don’t care what any of you say, this selfie is way cooler than Obama’s…”

I also remember how Take That took a pop at them back in ’94 when the New Kids were making a comeback. The delightful Gary Barlow said that the boys would probably be opening up for Take That. A very dignified Joey McIntyre refused to rise to the bait but did say that he didn’t think Take That would be saying stupid things like that if they were all in the same room.

Too right! And far be it for me to gloat but I think we can all see who’s having the last laugh now.

I love the New Kids. Totally love them. I always will. I have been a proud Blockhead since day one – and I could not be prouder. Thanks for all the magical memories, New Kids. I look forward to many more and huge congrats on your success. You’re awesome!

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 “You know why I love them? They make us happy. You cannot listen to a song or watch a video and not smile. Their songs will be our oldies when we’re old. We’re going to have the greatest oldies in the history of music… because we have New Kids.” Arsenio Hall

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Goodbye Gran: Edna Doré Passes Away At 92

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She may have been ninety two years old but it was still a shock to hear about the sad passing of actress Edna Doré  who died peacefully in her sleep just before Easter. Those who knew the Kent-born actress have revealed that she was as tough and as fun as the characters she was known for playing, and to her audience, she gave the impression who would live forever. And through her vast amount of acting work on stage, screen and radio, she will.

In Open All Hours

In Open All Hours

Born Edna Lillian Gorring,  Doré entered the world of showbiz as a dancer in the 1940s. After a long and successful career in theatre, she then turned to television acting in 1960 while still continuing to act in theatre. Over the years the actress had roles in many well known TV shows such as The Liver Birds, Tenko, Terry and June, Open All Hours, The Bill, Casualty, A Year In Provence, Love Hurts, Eyes Down, and Gavin and Stacey. And that’s not even a fraction of the talented actress’s work!

In Eastenders with Pat Coombs

In Eastenders with Pat Coombs

 

However for many, Doré  will always be best known for her role in Eastenders as Mo Butcher, Frank Butcher’s battle-axe mother who really knew how to put the fear of God into her family. This was the first time I’d seen Doré on screen and she played Mo from 1988 until 1990 and funnily enough, she’d trained to be an actress along with the late Anna Wing, who played the legendary Lou Beale. A harsh, bad tempered, old lady with an intense hatred for her daughter-in-law, Pat, not to mention a dislike for her grandson Ricky’s Asian girlfriend, Shireen, Mo was initially not a likeable character.

Even though I was only a little girl at the time, I knew that Mo was not a nice lady, and she was often horrid to Pat – I remember Mo once giving Pat a whack across her face. However, after a while, Mo started to soften a little; she was less sharp although she never lost her toughness. She was later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and went to live with her daughter, thus marking Doré’s departure  from the show. The character eventually died off-screen in 1992. It was a storyline for which Doré received acclaim and prior to this, she had also played another character suffering from Alzheimer’s, Mrs. Bender in Mike Leigh’s 1988 film, High Hopes.

As Eastenders' Mo Butcher

As Eastenders’ Mo Butcher

 

Doré went on to star in other films including Nil By Mouth, Tube Tales, Weak At Denise and All Or Nothing and also acted in radio, performing in a number of plays, one of which, Bringing Eddie Home by John Peacock featured ex-EastEnders actors Bill Treacher, Tilly Vosburgh, Todd Carty and Joe Absolom. It seems as though there wasn’t anything that this talented lady couldn’t do.

 

One of her roles which I don’t think is spoken of enough, is her role as Gran in the 1980s BBC comedy series Streets Apart, written by Adrienne Conway. Once again Doré played a tough-talking, no-nonsense lady who did as she pleased but was definitely more likeable than Mo Butcher. Gran raised her granddaughter Sylvia from the time she was a little girl, and even though Sylvia went on to become a huge success as a literary agent and moved a world away from her East End roots, the two characters have a very special bond, despite the differences, which is lovely to see. In fact, it is these very differences between Gran and Sylvia which created a lot of the humour in the show: Gran is very feisty and direct with absolutely no heirs and graces and her antics often annoy or embarrass Sylvia. To most people, Edna Doré will always be Mo Butcher, But to me, she will also always be Gran from Streets Apart. And if ever I’m fortunate to be a gran, I know exactly what kind of gran I’d like to be – a very mischievous one with a great sense of fun!

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Her personal life seemed to be as successful as her professional life. Doré married  the actor, stage director and writer Alexander Doré in 1946 and they remained married until Alexander’s death in 2002 – a feat virtually unheard of in today’s showbiz world. The marriage produced a son, Michael and Edna later became a grandmother of four.

A young Edna Dore

A young Edna Dore

Edna Doré’s agent, Belinda Wright paid tribute to the actress, saying, “I’d known her for more than 30 years and she was a wonderful actress and great fun.”

Paul O’Grady, her co-star in BBC sit-com Eyes Down, also paid tribute, describing Doré as “a remarkable lady” and “a bundle of fun.”

“We got sent home from rehearsals one day for laughing,” began Paul, “I won’t tell you why but Edna said: ‘In my 70 years in the business, I’ve never been sent out of rehearsals’.

“She had a remarkable career. She might be gone but she’s not forgotten by me. I had a ball with Edna, what a laugh she was.”

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Those of us who were not fortunate to have met her can believe that because her sense of fun came through in many of the roles she played. What a lovely way in which to remember her.

Rest in peace, Edna.

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Posted by on April 27, 2014 in Gone Too Soon

 

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I’ll Be Loving You Forever: NKOTB Celebrate 30 Years With Vegas Bash

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Back in 1994, I was listening to a radio interview on Capital Radio where presenter Clive Warren was speaking to Boston boy band New Kids On The Block as they made their comeback after an absence of three years. During this interview, Donnie Wahlberg revealed that the band had been together for ten years.

“Ten years!” exclaimed Warren, “that’s incredible!”

As they were back in the day!

As they were back in the day!

And indeed it was. Despite a few exceptions, pop acts aren’t expected to last longer than a couple of years so ten years seemed like a lifetime, and as I sat at home listening to the interview while having naughty thoughts about that Jordan, I shared Warren’s sense of amazement.

The very first album cover three decades ago

The very first album cover three decades ago

 

Fast forward to 2014 and guess what? New Kids On The Block – or NKOTB as they like to be called – have announced that they will be hosting a four day party and concert extravaganza in sin city itself, Las Vegas, to celebrate – wait for it – thirty years since the group was formed. That’s right – THIRTY YEARS!!!

Las Vegas: The soon-to-be scene of much musical mayhem!

Las Vegas: The soon-to-be scene of much musical mayhem!

It’s not a typo of any kind – the New Kids were formed by Maurice Starr in 1984 when they really were just, er, New Kids. Many Blockheads have taken to the forums to say that although they are delighted by news of the Las Vegas residency at the Axis at Planet Hollywood and the fact that the beloved boy band have been together for thirty years… the news also made them feel very old! Thankfully for me, I never did get past the age of fifteen, so I don’t feel old – but I am wondering where all those years went…

 

I still remember the very first time I saw the ’80s favourites. It was November 1989 and I was sat at home watching Top Of The Pops with my dad and sister. The New Kids were starting to make a name for themselves on this side of the Atlantic. I’d already heard (You Got It) The Right Stuff played on the radio a million times which was just as well because I never got bored of it, and all my classmates couldn’t stop going on about them (I went to an all-girls school!) I’d had phases of being into other pop acts: Wham! Duran Duran, Bros, Brother Beyond, Kylie and Jason… but seeing NKOTB for the first time doing the New Kids dance was something I will never forget. Was it possible to get five hotties in one band? Did Jordan Knight need a license to be that gorgeous? Where did they get those magic feet from? Damn, they could sing! I fell in love with Donnie, Danny, Joey, Jon and Jordan there and then and it has most definitely not been a phase because I’m still besotted with them after all these years.

New Kids On The Block And Backstreet Boys Shop At Sugar Factory At Paris Las Vegas

The band went on to sell over eighty million records; become the kings of merchandising; have their own cartoon show; appear on just about every music program and talk show (as well as in our dreams!) and generally conquered the world with their combination of smooth vocals, choreography that kids were trying to recreate in school playgrounds and drop-dead-pass-out-and-die looks. They were also the boy band who gave us the erm, boy band! Love them or hate them for that, there is no denying that there have been a zillion boybands since them, all trying to emulate the success of the New Kids. Take That were formed as a British boy-band to rival the New Kids, and Boyzone’s Shane Lynch has revealed that he harboured ambitions to join a boy-band after seeing New Kids On The Block on the telly. To be honest, I really do wish that boy-bands had began and stopped with the New Kids because there hasn’t been a group who has been even half as good as the New Kids – not really a surprise as you can’t improve on perfection!

Beautiful Boston where it all began

Beautiful Boston where it all began

Sadly along with the highs, there have also been a lot of lows. An extremely loud cracking noise that could be heard all over the world in 1991 was identified as the sound of millions of young hearts breaking as New Kids On The Block announced their split amid rumours of escalating tensions and rivalries among the band. Even before that there were scandals as Donnie Wahlberg was accused of starting a fire at a hotel and was rumoured to be living with a much older woman (remember this was in the days when teen heart-throbs couldn’t admit to having a girlfriend!) The comeback in 1994 proved to be short-lived: NKOTB went their separate ways for good (so it seemed) once die-hard fans ripped up their posters and moved on to the latest pop group du jour. Jordan Knight later admitted in interviews that launching a solo career was hard as he was regarded as a has-been at the tender age of twenty six and couldn’t escape the band’s perceived cheesy image.

The NKOTB dolls

The NKOTB dolls

During the years that followed, the New Kids virtually faded into obscurity and never again graced magazine covers or were top billing at any show.  There were a few precious glimpses of our favourite Bostonians over the years: Donnie and Joe were both forging ahead with acting careers; Jordan embarked on a solo career, and Danny got a place in short-lived boy-band Upper Street. Jon was the only one who withdrew completely from the crazy world of showbiz and settled for a more quieter life, although he did make the odd television appearance.

As cartoon characters

As cartoon characters

But then everything changed in 2008 when a miracle happened and the five bad brothers from the Beantown decided to make one final attempt at pop domination. And thank goodness for that because they’ve achieved what they set out to do plus healed the hearts of the fans who never went away. The rest is history and the band are still going strong.

I was so sure I was going to be Mrs. Knight... along with a million other girls!

I was so sure I was going to be Mrs. Knight… along with a million other girls!

The last thirty years have been one hell of a ride! Speaking to People magazine, Jordan Knight revealed that passing years have done little to curb their enthusiasm:

” It is cool because it is still the same because no matter how old you get, there is still a kid inside of you.”

Knight also went on to say that it was the success of their annual cruises that gave them the Vegas idea and inspired them to host the residency and have a “cruise on land” in order to do something special to mark this momentous occasion – and the boys are really looking forward to performing at night and hosting pool parties during the day : 

“At the end of the four days, I’m sure we will be almost dead. But it is fun and kind of intoxicating just hanging out with all the fans.”

Donnie Wahlberg added in a statement:

“The band has been focusing on all sorts of solo projects and now prepping for our European tour, but we knew we wanted to do something special Stateside for 2014. We knew we had a limited time block where we could do something fun and we knew we had to make it memorable! What better place than Vegas?”

Paul Natkin

 

And what better people to party with than the New Kids On The Block? The short festival will be called After Dark and kicks off on July 10. Tickets go on sale on 4th April. Will I be going? Well, I’m trying to twist Hubby’s arm and convincing him we need a Las Vegas holiday around that time but he’s having none of it. I am working on it though. After all i’s not every day your fave pop band celebrates their thirtieth anniversary.

 

Damn! Now I do feel old!

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