Ongar. EastEnders have put it on the map, only, cruelly, to take it away again with the deaths of Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell.
Having had a festive break, I’m just catching up with the TV I’ve missed, and the spooky, watery death of R & R puts paid to any thoughts the pair had about the new life they were planning in the civil parish in the Epping Forest District in Essex.
There, you see? I Googled it. Twenty miles north east of London, there is a railway station and, um . . . well, to be honest I can’t see much else. Ongar. The name makes me giggle. I have no idea why. It means “grass land”, and quite why Ronnie had chosen to start her married life there is anybody’s guess (did she know how many Albert Square residents have been buried in that forest?). Every time the word came out of her mouth, it sounded as if she didn’t really understand it, either.
EastEnders can’t resist a bit of festive rigor mortis; it’s sort of their trademark. The sisters’ death – the worst kept secret in the soap’s history – was particularly dramatic. First, they were drinking too much while sitting on a ledge in the building where Ronnie had just tied the knot with the divine Jack. Alas, instead of hopping into bed with his beloved, Jack was forced to read a bedtime story to . . . I don’t know . . . some sleepy kids (to be honest, I lost count of whose kids are whose in the show years ago).
The week had already seen Lee contemplating suicide by jumping from a ledge, too, which makes me think there might have been a writer of the Christmas shows just trying to conquer his/her acrophobia.
Anyway, Lee didn’t jump and decided, instead, to confess all to Mick about his part in the robbery of the Vic. Mick was not happy. In fact, if there had been a ledge, Mick would have pushed Lee off it.
But back to the sisters. So, having survived the car journey in which viewers thought their fate was sealed; having survived the slip on the ledge with bottle in hand . . . what do they do but nip off to the pool for reasons that were even less comprehensible than Ronnie’s sudden love for Ongar.
One minute, Roxy was laughing; the next, there was silence. So, what did Ronnie do but dive into the pool to save her sister – the sister who had already ruined the wedding day and was set to ruin Ongar, too, with Ronnie insisting that she move with them.
To be honest, that dress was always going to be the pair’s downfall. Not since the Andrex puppy went berserk in the bathroom have I seen so much flotsam and jetsam just crying out for a disaster. Jumping into the pool to save her sibling, Ronnie couldn’t cope with the frock six feet under, and, if you were looking for a murder weapon, it was the dress wot dunnit. Oh, Ronnie, Ronnie. Don’t drink and dive.
Had the pair gone in a car crash, there would have been two livers that would undoubtedly have been ripe for Phil, who had been languishing in hospital waiting for a transplant. But another donor had already turned up for him and, post-operation, the job lot of yellow make-up the show had been reliant upon to display Phil’s jaundice was suddenly surplus to requirements (does the yellow colour really fade within minutes of the anaesthetic wearing off? Just a medical query. I worry about these things).
I was always a tad concerned about the way that car crash story might have gone, though. Livers are like buses. You wait for ages for one to come along, then three come along together. Luckily for Phil, in the end he didn’t have to choose. He wouldn’t have wanted Roxy’s, anyway – a liver I suspect was in an even worse way than the one that had already given up on him.
And so, the double whammy brings to an end the age of Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber, the sisters who never realised there was anywhere else to go on holiday other than Ibiza and for whom Ongar was the Downton Abbey of their whole miserable existence.
At least it leaves Jack a single man again – and for that, I suspect, he will be eternally grateful. No more Ronnie. No More Roxy.
More to the point: no more Ongar.
Praise the Lord!