30 December 2008
BUPA, who put high prices on health and breathing, have moaned that our soap opera characters with bad habits don't show enough symptoms or side-effects from their vices.
Oh, just shut up.
It's fiction. It's drama. As engrossed as I am by Coronation Street, I know it's not real, therefore nobody in their right mind is going to be influenced by the activities of a fictional character.
I also know that there are few smokers in Weatherfield these days. Becky Grainger lights up constantly but doesn't have a hacking cough. This is because the actress, Kate Kelly, doesn't smoke in real life and therefore she sparks herbal fags. As good an actress as she is, I suspect a hacking cough in which oysters are regularly hawked up is quite hard to feign if your airways are, in fact, clear as glass.
After her, who else smokes? Liz and Steve McDonald (though Steve didn't seem to start until a couple of years ago, oddly) plus Lloyd Mullaney, Janice Battersby, Peter Barlow and that new limping Windass fella, the one who separates his fry-up on dinnerladies and doesn't seem to have anything more than the tiniest dog-end on the go anyway. None of them smoke indoors as the homes on the Street are, of course, really workplaces and therefore the scripts avoid the issue as nobody is allowed.
I no longer watch EastEnders but I know Dot Branning still smokes like a chimney, and proper fags too. BUPA says she should be struggling for breath all the time. But if June Brown - who mirrors Dot in her longtime habit of chaining real fags - isn't breathless, then why should her alter ego be? Drama is supposed to reflect life and, sorry BUPA, but while bad habits are to be discouraged, it doesn't mean that everyone who smokes (or drinks a bit, or has a bad diet) is going to be severely ill, earlier than expected.