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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Stuck on the Tube with Billy Mitchell

EastEnders stars at the end of their tether

Last night's EastEnders was I think the first time they had ever shot the bulk of an episode in a Tube carriage. You often see the characters have some major argument as one of them tries to leave the show at the mythical Walford East on the District Line. Alternatively, new characters arrive from the bowels of the Tube station, slightly dazed, bags in hand, surveying the delights of Walford Square wide eyed with wonder.

Billy Mitchell on the Tube

But last night Billy went slightly up the wall when his Tube was stuck in a tunnel. It's not great getting stuck in the tunnel at the best of times. Particularly when you have some nutter who's almost climbing the walls, trying to open the doors with buttons that haven't opened doors on the London Underground for years. Billy spent the bulk of the first stuck scene pacing around or standing uncomfortably close to the guy in front of him looking for a Tube station that doesn't exist.

The anguish and awkwardness on the extra's faces was pretty good, as they stared at him and at the same time tried not to catch his eye. Then the brave man opposite tried to calm him down as he was clearly making everyone else feel jittery. "Who are you mate? King of the carriage". Billy mouthed back.

Gradually more and more people moved away from Billy's seat, including the fat bloke next to Billy "Oi, you're taking up too much space. Move your legs".

When King of the Carriage stopped trying to calm Billy down, Billy, rather insightfully for Billy, says "What's up mate, rather listen to the sound of people breathing?" or "You've read that page a lot of times haven't you?".

Billy is finally shamed into silence or a moment of clarity, when King of the Carriage reminds him it's the anniversary of September 11th & in the situation people would rather not be reminded that the Tube was taking too long to move. It turns out that both King of the Carriage and Billy have had a particularly shite day and start opening up.

Tube Fares RiseKing of the Carriage waved a mocked up copy of The Standard with a 9/ll headline at Billy to remind him. It would have particularly clever if the writers had an inkling that around this time of year, the annual increase in Tube fares is announced.

So the rest of the carriage could have thrust non inky London Lites into his face and said "Yeah shut up you little runt, we've got a 33% increase in fares to think about".

Both of the papers must have been in a quandrary about on whether 9/11 or a fare rise should take centre stage. Strange how both decided we'd be more interested in the fare increase. Why? It's hardly news really. The fares increase every single year. I'd find the lack of a fare increase more deserving of front page news.

Back to the soaps, funnily enough on Sunday Neil and myself saw Gita formerly from EastEnders pacing up and down Kew Gardens station with steam coming out of her ears as her North London Line train had been cancelled. Perhaps EastEnders deliberately sends its more miserable stars onto the Tube to do some method acting.


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