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Top 10 Weirdest Storylines in British Soaps

VO: Ashley Bowman WRITTEN BY: Marc Turner
There’s drama and there’s melodrama. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Weirdest Storylines in British Soaps. For this list we’re looking at the most bizarre and nonsensical moments and plotlines from British soaps. Special thanks to our user WordToTheWes for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Top 10 Weirdest Storylines in British Soaps

There’s drama and there’s melodrama. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Weirdest Storylines in British Soaps.

For this list we’re looking at the most bizarre and nonsensical moments and plotlines from British soaps.

#10: Tanya Buries Max Alive
“Eastenders” (1985-)

When Tanya Cross learned her husband Max had been cheating on her with daughter-in-law Stacey, viewers were looking forward to the beautician taking revenge. But what follows is more in keeping with a Stephen King film than a pre-watershed show. With the help of toy boy Sean, Tanya drugs Max, drags him through a wood, then buries him alive in a shallow grave. Because what else is she supposed to do, right? The episode prompted dozens of complaints to Ofcom, forcing the BBC to apologise for the harrowing scenes.

#9: Fake Gavin
“Coronation Street” (1960-)

Soaps are often populated by charlatans, and Corrie is no exception. In this storyline, Andy steals his friend Gavin’s identity and fools Gavin’s father, Michael, into believing he is his long-lost son. Just for a joke, you understand. But things get out of hand when Michael collapses, and soon everyone on the Street knows the truth about Andy except for his hapless “father”. In case you were worried the story might have a happy ending, the real Gavin, the fake Gavin and Michael all eventually die. Never a dull moment.

#8: The Teenage Serial Killer
“Emmerdale” (1972-)

In 2018, Emmerdale seemingly transformed into “Game of Thrones” when teenage serial killer Lachlan White went on a killing spree that would impress even Ramsay Bolton. By the time White’s reign of terror ends, he had either murdered or attempted to murder his parents, Gerry, Freddie, Paul, Liv, Robert, Rebecca and Sam. Despite the rising body count, White is somehow able to evade justice for crimes even the Keystone cops would solve. By the end, many fans were begging soap bosses to end what they called the “ridiculous” storyline.

#7: The Runaway Tram
“Coronation Street” (1960-)

History has shown that there is no more dangerous place to live than in the world of a soap. In 1993, Emmerdale suffered a catastrophic plane crash, but for this list we’ve gone with the events of so-called “Corriegeddon week” in 2010. An explosion from a gas leak is followed by a freak tram accident that kills off several key characters and leaves the Street looking like something from a disaster film. Amusingly, some viewers reportedly contacted Metrolink afterwards to confirm that services were still running after the crash. Oh dear.

#6: The Wrong Archie
“Emmerdale” (1972-)

Another case of mistaken identity, and this time it features Archie, the son of businessman Jai Sharma. After Archie’s mum, Rachel, disappears with the boy, Jai is contacted by a sketch man who offers to sell him back his son. Sounds legit, right? Amazingly, Jai agrees to the deal, and hands over £40,000 to a complete stranger while somehow failing to notice the child he receives in exchange isn’t actually his son. Nor does he ask what had become of Archie’s mother. No prizes for guessing it was a scam.

#5: Enjoy the Ride
“Hollyoaks” (1995-)

You’ve heard about “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, but what about two weddings and four funerals? In this storyline from 2012, a minibus crashes into a wedding venue after an improbable series of events including faulty brakes and a girl stepping into the path of two speeding vehicles. What follows is the biggest explosion since Luke Skywalker destroyed the Death Star in Star Wars, and the death of key character Maddie from falling wreckage is more farcical than tragic. No wonder the soap is nicknamed “Deadlyoaks” by fans.

#4: The Unlikely Serial Killer
“Coronation Street” (1960-)

Another mass-murderer for our list, and this one comes in the dubious form of teacher John Stape. The actor who played him, Graeme Hawley, once said that everything that happened to Stape “bordered on the absurd”, and he’s not exaggerating. More a comic character than a true villain, John still managed to rack up a list of crimes that included murder, kidnap and identity theft. But arguably his silliest moment comes when he falls from a hospital roof and still manages to walk away afterwards. What are the odds?

#3: Dirty Den Returns
“Eastenders” (1985-)

In 2003, Dirty Den Watts became the first British soap star to prove there is life after death when he returned to Albert Square following a fourteen-year absence. After he was shot in 1989 by a gangland organisation, Den’s body was identified by his adopted daughter Sharon, and he even got a funeral. But years later he makes a controversial return, and we learn that he has been sunning himself in Spain for the past decade. Too bad he only survived a few years before being killed off again.

#2: The Deadly Virus
“Brookside” (1982-2003)

Brookside saw many sensationalist stories in the ’90s including religious cults, suicide pacts and incestuous relationships. But for this list we’ve opted for the mysterious killer virus in 1995 that the characters blame on everything from pizzas to chickens. After three people die, the Close is quarantined until the matter is resolved – because remarkably the virus hasn’t spread anywhere else. And just like the expendable redshirts in Star Trek, the more minor characters are the only ones who end up dying to the illness. Imagine that.

#1: The Worst Ending Possible
“Crossroads” (1964-88; 2001-03)

Every show wants to finish on a dream ending, but the Crossroads script-writers took things a bit too literally in 2003. After two years of crisis as a hotel boss, Angela is roused from a daydream, and we learn that the entire plot of the soap is nothing more than the fantasy of a checkout worker. What a cop-out. Worse, the idea isn’t even a new one, with US soap “Dallas” once using a similar plot device in the ’80s to explain away the “death” of Bobby Ewing.

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