In all the years that Viv’s been in Emmerdale, she’s always been something of a comedy character, and that’s ok, up to a point. But I think that point has now been reached, and exceeded, and Viv’s persona – which has become almost a caricature of itself – is now intruding upon the believability of the entire show.
Last night for instance, as Bob and his son Jamie were having a desperate conversation in the pub about Bob’s infidelity with Gennie, and the potential repercussions now Jamie’s knows, Tony Audenshaw and Alex Carter’s performances were top notch; the tension was palpable, the rift wide and in particular, Carter’s portrayal of a son hurt beyond measure was award winning… then Viv arrived.
Let me just say before going any further that Deena Payne is without question a wonderful actress. We’ve seen her in scenes over the years – albeit all too rarely – where her true abilities are allowed to break out of her Viv shell, and she’s shown herself to be more than capable of portraying true emotion. But last night, as with so many other scenes, Viv’s role ruined the whole thing.
It ‘broke’ the scene for me. Viv’s trademark bustling, complete with Lego-like immovable hair, yet another tight jacket, innapropriately short skirt and clacking heels, along with her apparent inability to ‘sense the tone’ and utterly banal lines ruined the pathos that was, up to her arrival, utterly convincing between son and father.
There were similar scenes when Donna was in the car crash as she sped after the man who’d conned and set Viv up to take the rap for the fraud. Viv’s reaction to hearing her daughter was critically ill was typically ‘comedic’, and not in the least in keeping with the rest of the scenes.
Viv’s trademark rudeness to her customers is also being taken way too far. Let’s face it, even in soapland, where kettles in people’s own homes seem to be a rarity, nobody would pay good money to go into a café where a) it’s unlikely you’ll get served within the foreseeable future and b) where the proprietor is so rude to you, you’d be more likely to tip your tea over her head than sit drinking it.
The character of Viv is really not adding anything to Emmerdale in my opinion, and in fact, as I’ve said, I believe she’s taking away a good deal of the drama with her anodyne and predictable-beyond-measure character. I think the writers missed a great opportunity to re-make Viv when she came out of prison, but instead, they just returned her to being the vapid, self-indulgent and egocentric nonsense of a character she’s always been.
Another niggle I have – apropos of not just Viv but the entire Hope family set-up – is where do these twins spend most of their lives? And who, when they’re approaching middle age and have two businesses to run and a household containing two toddlers, has the time to dress, make-up and plaster their hair with hairspray/glue like Viv does?
I know that conveniently disappearing kids is part and parcel of living in soapland – a bit like nobody owning a washer either – and all soapy kids seem to spend years in their bedrooms or at some nursery somewhere, but again, Viv’s stupidity was reflected in even the names of the twins – Heathcliffe and Cathy. It was ludicrous. Who would do that?? Well, maybe Gwyneth Paltrow, but that’s about it.
I really think it’s time that Emmerdale’s writers either give Viv some decent storylines – and indeed, lines – and allow her to stop being this completely implausible caricature, or they need to kill her off.
Bob started out his Emmerdale life as a joke character, as did Jamie to a large extent, but both those characters have been allowed to evolve and demonstrate depth of character whereas Viv has remained the same 2D character she’s been from the get go. Even when she’s had ‘serious’ plotlines, they’ve been parlayed into slapstick by Viv’s persona.
What do you think? Should Viv shape up or ship out or do you like the fact that she’s a firmly entrenched, never changing character? Please let us know your thoughts using the comments box below.