From Male-on-Male Rape to Lunatics in Flooded Pubs: Why U.K. Soaps Leave the U.S. in the Dust

John Paul McQueen is about to be raped. That’s the bad news. The good news is that John Paul McQueen is a fictional person and no such real horror will be visited upon the actor who assays the character, James Sutton. But, the fact that he’s about to be raped by another man on television and that the aftereffects will be played out in a long-running storyline, well, that’s something we don’t see everyday. In the United States, that is.

soaps-hollyoaks-john-paul-mcqueen-at-work

Schoolteacher John Paul McQueen (James Sutton) on the U.K. soap Hollyoaks. The deep repercussions of the rape of the popular character will be felt for sometime throughout the fictional Chester village. |Image: Lime Pictures.

Soaps in the U.K. have been significantly more LGBT-inclusive than those in the U.S. I’ve written about a few of my favorites before and John Paul, specifically, here.

James Sutton portrayed John Paul during two stints (2006-8 and 2012-present) which have seen him transition from gay teen to father, schoolteacher and generally upstanding member of the community. The show has never shirked away from hard-hitting explorations of important issues, but one of their boldest may be the upcoming rape of John Paul by one of his students.

As one of the counselors that have been integral to story development notes, this is not about straight men and gay men; it’s about power. I’ve always been one to praise continuing dramas on this side of the pond for tackling big issues, but we’ve never been bold enough to go this far. And that’s a pity.

Here’s a terrific piece about the storyline.

Killer Cameron – The Dales’ Crazed Guy Next Door

At this year’s Inside Soap Awards in London, Dominic Power walked away with the statue for “Best Villain.” I’m not sure there was ever any competition.

I’ve been watching continuing dramas for a long, long time and I am pretty certain that I’ve never seen a portrayal as chilling as Power’s of guy-gone-unhinged Cameron Murray in the exceptional ITV soap Emmerdale.

dominic_power_large

Dominic Power as Cameron Murray, Debbie Dingle’s seemingly mild mannered mechanic/truck driver boyfriend from Jersey who turned the Yorkshire village of Emmerdale on its head.

And I think that the fact that he didn’t look like a serial killer — none of the classic tropes showed up — that audiences were stunned a year ago when he killed village baddie Carl King (and let then-girlfriend Chas take the rap). Surely his comeuppance would be quick and justice swift. Not so. He killed hapless farmer Alex Moss and, just when it looked like he was going to be exposed by Chas’ half-sister, Genny Walker, he offed Genny as well.

soaps-emmerdale-6685-6

During the Woolpack seige in October 2013, the hashtag #KillerCameron was trending worldwide, so popular was this storyline featuring Dominic Power as unhinged serial killer Cameron Murray. |Image: ITV

Eventually he got sent down, but escaped from a prison van and armed with old Zac Dingle’s shotgun, took a dozen people hostage in the village pub, the Woolpack, during a near-Biblical flood.

This was gripping, nail-biting television, folks. Part action movie, part horror movie, part exceptional drama, there wasn’t a second of this story that wasn’t among the best of the best of dramatic television broadcasting.

1486976045_2750688343001_emmerdale-flood

Cameron Murray (Dominic Power) and Debbie Dingle (Charley Webb) in the flooded Woolpack basement just before she gets away and he inadvertently offs himself at the end of the epic “seige week” on the ITV powerhouse Emmerdale. |Image: ITV

And when Cameron finally met his ignominious end — by electrocuting himself with a live light fixture in the flooded pub basement — you realized that nearly every storyline on the canvas was cinched together and drawn taught. A breathtaking thing. Even more breathtaking, I think, than building a replica of the Woolpack basement at the underwater stage at Pinewood Studios and filming the scenes like a major motion picture.

Give ITV props: they don’t skimp on production values. And it shows.

Dominic Power on the end of the Cameron Murray Era

Said Tony Stewart in the Daily Mirror after the Inside Soap Awards:

But the Yorkshire soap should have had more gongs. For their part in the Best Storyline of Cameron’s killer cover-up, either Charley Webb (Debbie Dingle) or Lucy Pargeter (Chas Spencer) should have walked away with the Best Actress accolade, even if Jacqueline Jossa as Lauren Branning has been one of the saving graces of the blighted EastEnders.

Both Charley and Lucy have been consistently magnificent as the lovers of serial killer Cameron Murray – with Dominic Power rightly celebrated as the Best Bad Boy, if only for his body count of three. Or four if we count his own electrocution in a cellar full of water last week. What a way to go!

Stewart did note that Emmerdale did win Best Soap. Like Murray, was there ever reason to doubt?

Now, if we can ever get some real gutsy storylines for Will and Sonny. After all, shouldn’t we be dealing with the effects of Nick Fallon’s prison rape by now? Days of our Lives’ writers might want to tune into Hollyoaks to get some story ideas. Just sayin.’

One thought on “From Male-on-Male Rape to Lunatics in Flooded Pubs: Why U.K. Soaps Leave the U.S. in the Dust

  1. Pingback: Soapland: Corrie vs. the Rest of the World | One Last Word

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s