Stacey and Eastenders

I have a confession. I watch Eastenders. For those from less rainy shores than these, it is the most popular soap opera in the UK. Not exactly high-brow but I enjoy it!  I have watched Eastenders roughly from when it first started and while I’ve never got into Coronation Street or Emmerdale, I’ve always had a soft spot for the London-based soap (Ok, I had a ‘Neighbours’ phase when I was at school but that was just because of the times it was on!).

Yesterday was one of the peaks of the storyline which will see one of the main (young) characters (Stacey Branning)  coming to terms with Bipolar Disorder.

Eastenders likes ‘issues’. I haven’t always been terribly impressed by some of their portrayals but it seems that they have MIND onside for this one and Stacy is presented in a sympathetic enough way (to me anyway. ) for her distress to be noted.

I think that addressing the effects and the reality (although it is obviously intensified for the sake of television) of the distress of a mental illness may help to increase wider understanding – after all, you can put on all the worthy documentaries you like – but if you really want to capture public attention you go for the soap operas!

Although Stacey’s behaviour has been a little erratic consistently, yesterday the thought that it was actually related to an illness was presented straight out.

MIND’s Chief Executive, Paul Farmer says

“The degree of research and consultancy they have undertaken to ensure an accurate and honest portrayal of how mental distress affects not only the individual but also family and friends is to be commended. For many people with mental health problems the stigma and discrimination they can face can be a bigger obstacle than the illness itself. We hope this storyline will help to dispel the myths about mental health problems and help the public to be more informed about this issue.”

And if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me!

I will be interested to see how the storyline develops… solely for the sake of research, of course!

10 thoughts on “Stacey and Eastenders

  1. I don’t watch Eastenders, but I was aware of the mental health storyline about Stacey’s mum, and when I walked into the room whilst my mum was watching it the other day the first thing I said was “…is she getting manic?”. Heh. Is that worrying?

    Neighbours had a bipolar disorder storyline recently, which was good until it turned out that the sufferer was manipulative and nasty – possibly not the best way to portray it, huh.

  2. I don’t watch it although we can get it [a year or 2 behind] on BBC Prime over here. I’m glad they are tackling this issue as it is not talked about much. Do keep us updated!

  3. ITT – Yeah, I can see how they were building up to it – especially with the mother character but I have hope they are going to be sensitive not least because they’re working with MIND.

    WL- I’ll try to!

  4. I watched it, and thought it was very good, although it did take me back into dark memories of my own past at times! It certainly captured the furious energy and irrationality of mania perfectly, as well as the worst nightmare situation of finding you are ‘just the same’ as your bipolar parent. I have been impressed with the programme’s handling of the whole storyline over the months, and just hope it helps to educates the general public in another small way about the realities of mental distress…

  5. I watched Friday’s episode yesterday on iPlayer and thought it was really very good.The use of a few strange camera angles reflected Stacey’s increasingly ‘odd’ behaviour really well too. Particularly thought the scene where Jean confronts Stacey was portrayed exceptionally well and captured that heartbreaking moment brilliantly. I hope it gave those not in the know a bit of insight into bi-polar.

  6. I’m an absolute soap junkie. It’s a brilliant idea for soaps to delve into different illnesses and how they effect the individual and those around them. It can help to educate the public and will give more understanding of the effects, not just physically or mentally but holistically. It may also help those suffering with symptoms of, for example bi-polar, with getting help and support. There should be more stories like this, it’s obvious that a lot of time and research went into this story line – I’m looking forward to seeing how the story develops – bravo Eastenders.

  7. We watched it by mistake on Sunday after a long decorating week, followed by a mass lunch in and pressing the remote. The story line just popped up and we found ourselves (architect, research psychologist, finance manager and marketing consultant) saying ‘this story is manic…it’s like a mad incestuous soup….what’s going to happen next…until Stacey’s mum gave her the genetic lowdown on how she couldn’t escape her fate as she pointed to the broken window…’ do you think this is good tele?

    The jury’s out here.

  8. I thought it was pretty good but might have to be seen in the context of the build-up of the storyline – I’m not sure just seeing Friday’s episode would give a fair representation in itself! (that’s my justification – I HAVE to keep watching now!).

    And thanks for stopping by and commenting, Seratonin Sister, sw2be, KDx and Soapsoane!

  9. I’m not normally a fan of EastEnders, but when I heard about this storyline, I actually made the effort to watch. Having bipolar disorder myself, I take a keen interest in the way the media portrays mental illness, and I have to say I think EastEnders are doing a terrific job. Lacey Turner is brilliant – she is capturing the essence of bipolar and making it very realistic. I look forward to seeing how the story pans out.
    I’ve written a novel about bipolar disorder myself. It’s always interesting to see how other writers deal with it.

  10. I do hate how MIND insists on talking about mental “distress”. I have a mental _illness_. That is why I see a doctor and take medication. I find using the term “distress” unwittinglly contributes to people thinking mental illness isn’t real.

    But I’m glad Eastenders had a sympathetic portrayal. Although, it being ‘enders, something BAD has to happen to the character at least once per episode now.

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