Sunday, 19 February 2012

EastEnders first wimp! The Trials of Lofty Holloway

Time to remember one of EastEnders original and best characters. The gormless George "Lofty" Holloway was played by Tom Watt. Lofty is one of the serial's original characters, making his first appearance in the third episode, 26 February 1985. Lofty was generally depicted as a meek, luckless and hapless victim. A long running storyline concerns his relationship with the character Michelle Fowler. Lofty bid farewell to Walford on 19 April 1988.

George Holloway, nicknamed 'Lofty' due to his above average height, serves in the army but has to leave because he suffers with chronic asthma; he settles in Walford and gets a job as a barman at The Queen Victoria Public House. Lofty is devoted to his aunt Irene, who lives in a hospice, stricken with inoperable cancer. He takes on the task of caring and visiting her and is devastated when she eventually dies in 1987. He grows close to Michelle Fowler after she falls pregnant in 1985 and refuses to name the father - the actual father, Den Watts, is Lofty's employer although Lofty never discovers this. Michelle finds the prospect of bringing up a child daunting. Lofty struggles to see Michelle unhappy and chivalrously offers to marry her and help bring her baby, Vicki, up as his own. Although Michelle does not love Lofty, she accepts his proposal, realising that she can never be with her baby's real father. However, on their wedding day, Michelle is visited by Den in secret and this makes Michelle reconsider her options; she jilts Lofty at the altar, devastating him.
When Michelle changes her mind months later, Lofty is overjoyed and sneaks Michelle away for a secret wedding. Money is sparse for the couple and Michelle is never truly happy in marriage; she quickly tires of Lofty. When Lofty begins pressurizing Michelle to have another baby with him and to allow him to adopt Vicki, she is unwilling. She discovers that she is pregnant with Lofty's child and decides to abort. Lofty is devastated with Michelle's betrayal and their marriage breaks down. He grows depressed about losing the child he wanted so badly and amidst continued hostility with Michelle, he decides to leave Walford and take a job working as a handyman in a children's home in Bedfordshire. He skulks away in the middle of the night in April 1988 without anyone but Den witnessing his departure. It is subsequently revealed that Lofty works as a Social Worker.
Lofty (George) Holloway was one of the original twenty-three characters invented by the creators of EastEnders, Tony Holland and Julia Smith. Both felt that to help complete the community there was a need for a character in his early twenties. He had to be someone a bit different. Not brash and confident like a lot of the older men, and not boisterous like the younger ones. A loner, maybe someone forced to be a loner. A person who "stuck out like a sore thumb". Someone that was happiest in a group but still couldn't find one that he fit in with. Tony Holland had previously been in the army and found that ex-soldiers had these problems when they tried to reintegrate as civilians. So they decided that Lofty would be an ex-soldier, forced to quit because of his asthma. He was happiest in the army and felt incomplete without the group setting, the all-male camaraderie and even the security of the uniformity that the army provides.
Lofty's original character outline as written by Smith and Holland appeared in an abridged form in their book, EastEnders The Inside Story.
"Born of a working-class London family, which was very respectable: Church of England and ex-army...Lofty grew up in a house where his father was only really happy when reminiscing about his army days and his mother was ultra-possessive and narrow minded...His friends were always vetted...He grew up to despise his mother and have a tolerant pity for his father...His best moments came in the Boy Scouts, the summer camp, and the feeling of belonging...On his eighteenth birthday, he walked into an army careers office and from then until the age of twenty-one had the happiest years of his life in the RASC...He adored the army - It gave him a uniform, and set the limits...Then the shock - he was discovered to be physically unfit...Dormant asthma...He was invalided out of the service...And, he had no taste for civilian life...His Auntie Irene (now in a hospice) secured the flat above Ethel Skinner's for Lofty...He misses the security of the Army...He works in the pub - cash in hand." (page 60)
The invention of Lofty had been an afterthought, and during the casting he was still considered as something of an "enigma" to the creators and writers alike. This had made casting difficult as Holland and Smith were unsure about what they were looking for. The actor Tom Watt was suggested by one of the writers. Holland and Smith liked that his physical appearance (gauche and childlike) made him stand out (they likened him to the accident-prone sitcom character, Frank Spencer). It was decided that these attributes fitted the character perfectly and Watt was subsequently cast in the role.
The BBC's official EastEnders website describes Lofty as "a mug although a lovable one". In 1987, Bob Shields of the Evening Times described Lofty as a "portable funeral". He added, "Beneath the facade of his National Health glasses smoulders the fire and passion of a cold toilet seat."
One of the most notable storylines Lofty was involved with was his marriage to the teenage mother, Michelle Fowler. Michelle and Lofty's church wedding was a massive target of press speculation before the episodes aired. They wanted to know two things, firstly the design of Michelle's dress, and secondly whether or not she would jilt Lofty at the altar.
Anticipating a press furore, it was decided to shoot the wedding in a church in private grounds where the press would not have access. However the press still turned up in large numbers, and security men had to be hired to keep cameramen away from the story action. Huge lorries were parked in front of the entrance to the church so that nothing could be seen, and the cast arrived in disguise. Finally strong lights were shone into the eyes of the journalists and photographers, making them extremely angry, and they constantly tried to gain access to the grounds by breaking the security barrier and telling the production team that they were really extras needed inside the church.
The entire episode was written by David Ashton, and was devoted to Lofty and Michelle's wedding day. At the time it was deemed as one of the best cliffhangers of the series, with the episode ending as the bride arrives at the church door and hesitates. Michelle and Lofty's eventual marriage helped to consolidate a fast growing audience. The young couple had come together under enormously difficult circumstances. The subsequent storylines were purposefully built to keep the audience guessing about the future of their relationship. Were they married for the wrong reasons? Would the relationship survive? and what would happen if Lofty wanted a child that was their own?
The character remained in the show for three years, and eventually departed in 1988 when the actor decided to move on. On screen, Lofty, heart-broken after Michelle's abortion, moved on to become a handyman in a children's home.

Doctor Who and the Silurians - Episode One (1970)

Somewhere in England, two men are descending a metal ladder into a cave - "potholing" on their time off. They reach the cave floor and began to cautiously explore their surroundings. They hear a strange distant roar but shrug it off for the moment. One of them walks ahead and takes a turn around a rock wall. Suddenly, the roar sounds again -- louder. He looks up to find a huge reptilian creature towering over him, its massive jaws open as it closes in. He screams as it attacks him, knocking him to the ground. His companion flees for his very life.
Meanwhile, the Doctor is happily at work on his newest acquisition. All that can be seen are his long legs sticking out from under a little yellow roadster -- soon the be known as Bessie. A license plate marked WHO1 is at his feet. He is singing happily as he tinkers with the Edwardian sports car.
But he is interrupted by the arrival his assistant Liz Shaw. She's skeptical that the car will ever work, but the Doctor is cheerfully optimistic, eager to take it for his first drive. But before he can go joy-riding, she reads out a message. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart has asked to report "forthwith" to Wenley Moor. At first, the Doctor refuses to obey the orders, but Liz tells him the area is famous for a huge system of caves. They could go exploring. Intrigued, the Doctor agrees to go. He starts up the car (to Liz's astonishment) and the two head out, his roadster speeding through London and into the countryside.
In Wenley Moor, an intense middle-aged man (Dr. Lawrence) is addressing his staff. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart sits to one side in his UNIT uniform. Lawrence tells them to remain calm and assures them they will solve their problems -- despite the presence of UNIT. During his speech, a soldier enters and summons the Brigadier. He leaves and finds that the Doctor and Liz have just arrived. He tells them they are in an atomic research center deep in a cave. Before they can ask any more questions, he drags them into the conference room where Lawrence is concluding his meeting.
Lethbridge-Stewart quickly introduces everyone, including the very friendly Dr. Quinn and the rather suspicious and reserved Major Baker. He asks Lawrence to brief them on the installation. Lawrence explains that they are using a cyclotron to bombard atoms with subatomic particles. The goal is to create a source of safe cheap atomic energy by converting nuclear energy directly to electricity. But the Brigadier notes that there have been two major problems: personnel problems involving nervous breakdowns and, of greater concern, unexplained power leakages from the reactor. He now wants a three-pronged attack on these problems -- with Baker working on security, Liz investigating the personnel problems and the Doctor looking into the reactor problems.
Quinn agrees to show the Doctor and Liz around. Lawrence tells the Brigadier to keep him updated but insists they not disturb the work. It is clear there is some tension between Lawrence and the Brigadier. He is also highly skeptical the Doctor can help. After everyone leaves, Baker asks why UNIT has been called in. Lethbridge-Stewart replies that these are unusual events -- precisely what UNIT investigates. Baker believes the problems are caused by saboteurs working from the inside. The Doctor, Liz and Quinn arrive in the control room. Quinn notes they are at the very center of the cyclotron. The Doctor worries that if a power leak happened at the wrong time, the reactor could turn into a bomb but Quinn tells him that Lawrence is unwilling to slow down the research. While they are talking, Liz seems a little disoriented and the Doctor asks if she's all right. Liz insists she's fine and wants to get started on the personnel files. Quinn and the Doctor talk about the caves. Quinn likes to explore them but is reluctant since an accident involving two technicians. One was killed and the other is still in the hospital. The institute seems to be keeping it quiet.
The Doctor asks if there is a pattern in the power losses. Quinn says there isn't but the Doctor wants to check for himself. He examines the log and finds that pages are missing. Quinn summons Miss Dawson and asks her about it. She tells him that Spencer -- the injured technician -- was responsible for the log and that explains the discrepancy. But the Doctor notices that the pages were ripped out. Liz meets with Dr. Meredith, the physician in charge. He tells her that they've had a lot of problems with breakdowns on their staff. He blames it on being underground for so long. The Doctor arrives and asks to see Spencer. At first Meredith refuses, but the Doctor is insistent. Meredith relents but warns the Doctor that it's not safe.
In one of the patient rooms, Spencer is crouched on the ground, drawing on the walls like cave man. Meredith tells them that Spencer's been drawing since he woke up -- with the exception of attacking Meredith. The Doctor approaches Spencer slowly and asks about the drawings -- particularly one of a strange-looking man with three eyes. The technician whirls and attacks him, grunting incoherently and trying to strangle him. The Doctor manages to calm Spencer down and the man resumes his drawing. The Doctor thinks that some deep terror has thrown the man's mind back millions of years.
In the control room, the technicians are testing the cyclotron. Quinn sends his assistant Roberts out of the room and Miss Dawson hurries over. The two have a frantic whispered conversation. Dawson asks Quinn to "tell them to stop, at least while these people are here." She also asks him to tell the Brigadier or Baker what's happening before someone else gets killed. But Quinn in unphased, telling her the others wouldn't understand or wouldn't believe him. He insists that the knowledge he stands to gain is worth any risk. Baker meets again with the Brigadier. He's completed security checks on everyone there, but can't find any records on the Doctor. The Brigadier deflects him, saying that the Doctor is his personal responsibility. As if on cue, the Doctor arrives. After Baker leaves, the Brigadier tells the Doctor that Baker had a bad slip-up on his previous job and ended up at the institute. The Doctor tells the Brig that he's discovered enough already to get very worried.
In the control room, the power up continues. Lawrence pops in for moment, insisting that they not delay. Technician Roberts is losing his concentration and has to be reminded of the task at hand.
The Brigadier and the Doctor argue over his discoveries. The Brigadier thinks the cave drawing are unimportant but is concerned about the log. He tells them Doctor to keep investigating. The Doctor petulantly replies that the Brig has hardly been Sherlock Holmes. Suddenly, the lights dim. Once again, power is leaking from the cyclotron. "Come on, Watson!" says the Brigadier and they rush off to the control room.
Lawrence is steaming that the cyclotron is acting up again while Quinn is calmly shutting down the reactor in stages. Soon after the Brigadier and the Doctor arrive, Roberts begins shouting and refusing to shut down the reactor. The cyclotron starts to get out of control. Dawson rushes in to shut it down and Roberts savagely attacks her. The Doctor steps in and shuts down the reactor and while the Brigadier restrains Roberts.
Some time later, the Doctor and Liz are in an office. Liz has finished her look over the personnel files. She's concerned about a huge rate of neuroses -- almost all from people working in the cyclotron room. She remembers that she felt strange - almost terrified -- when she was there. The Doctor notes that it is the deepest room in the institute and closet to the caves. Everything keeps pointing back to the caves.
Liz then remembers that the post-mortem on the dead technician has been finished. He died from a blow to the head, but his body was raked with huge claw marks. The Doctor is astonished and now determined to explore the caves for himself.
Once again, the metal ladder is dropped into the caves. This time it is a lone figure descending it -- the Doctor. As he touches bottom, he hears a distant faint roar. He follows in the footsteps of the last expedition, finding their abandoned equipment along the way. He round the same rock formation and suddenly sees a huge dinosaur looming over him, roaring ferociously. He covers his face as it closes in for the kill...