Once upon a time, soaps were the distributors of natural justice. Dirty Den only had to knock up his teenaged daughter's best mate to deserve being shot into a canal by a man hiding a gun in a bunch of wilting daffs, whereas Emmerdale's Bob Hope was punished for crimes against hosiery by being forced to shack up with Viv "The Quacking Mullet" Windsor for what felt like an eternity. Nowadays, soap stars get off lightly. Nobody's punished. Chester's favourite murderer, widemouthed Warren Fox has come back from the dead and is busy enjoying living his second life to the full, while Coronation Street's John Stape is continuing his career of rubbish villainy while wife Fiz is safely glued to the neonatal unit of Weatherfield General. Abductions, manslaughters, identity theft, underage sex with a pupil - John's criminal record is as long as your arm, and yet everything he does seems so hapless and weak-kneed that I just roll my eyes, like a sufferer of terminal Nintendo syndrome. Maybe the writers just can't be bothered to punish him, but I still don't see why viewers should be punished by his continued appearance on screen. And EastEnders! Normally the one soap that can be relied upon to dish out the grimmest, Victorian reformatory-style moral punishments, this has gone by the wall too, as Ian Beale, after a lifetime of grovelling, sidling, completely irredeemable awfulness, is still getting smart blondes to sleep with him. Honestly, Glenda. Surely you can do better than that.
I'm rather disenchanted generally with soaps at the moment. The constant recycling of characters and plots is getting me down. Squawking tart Kat Moon has dragged her hapless Alfie back to haunt my viewing, and now cousin (and ex-shag) Michael is set to hove into view. Michael is inoffensive to the eye, wears suits and is described as "having his eye on a few Walford ladies". So, not at all like Nick "Every Five Years Like Halley's Shitbomb" Tilsley returning to Corrie with a new face, then. Michael will do the same tired old rounds as everyone else - Kat, Janine, either slapper Roxy or Ronnie the Mucus Queen - then settle for a while with someone. That's what they all do. I'm just praying that this time it will be St. Tracy the barmaid. She's well overdue for someone to put a smile on her face.
But there is good news. Troublesome middle-class Maisie Wylde is set to depart from the Dales with younger brother Will in tow. Maisie can't see further than the end of her Babyliss curling wand, and the ultimate illustration of this is that she accepts, then rethinks and declines a proposal of marriage from Nikhil Sharma before she goes, silly bitch. Nikhil is tall, elegant, wealthy and has an independent income that he has amassed from confectionery. Confectionery, Maisie. I know you're a size eight, but even you ought to be able to spot that you might have been onto a good thing by shacking up with the Sweetie King.
But, as ever, as one soap waxes, another will wane. Maisie may have lightened the load of Emmerdale, but down in EastEnders, pin-eyed, tomato-faced Phil Mitchell is still alive and breeding.
It's like I said. There's no justice in soap any more.