Soapwatch: JACI STEPHEN’S ultimate insight into this week’s soaps

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Who’d want to be a resident in today’s soapland? As a young person, forget the idea of going out with your mates for a night on the town or having them round for pizza and a movie; trauma – personal, professional and social – is central to all their lives That’s not to say these are not genuine issues affecting youngsters in real life, and soaps are increasingly important touchstones not only for them but for people of all ages  Last week alone, Coronation Street dealt with Asha putting her health at risk in a bid to look whiter, Max struggling with bereavement and ADHD and, in a breathtakingly powerful performance from Peter Ash, Paul being torn apart in a conflict of emotion having been sexually abused as a teenager  Last night’s scene between Billy and Paul was as brilliant an analysis of the nature of grooming as you will ever hear – sublime writing from Jonathan Harvey EastEnders has seen Hunter hunted (the Walford Gazette had a field day with that), and poor Ben, a walking mess who is forever the victim of his screwed-up family Sometimes, the pub is the only answer. We knew when Bex started working on Martin’s stall that all was not well with her move to Oxford  Still with no idea which college she’s attending, what she’s reading, or where she’ll be living, it’s small wonder the stress has been getting to her – and that’s before we get onto how much it will cost  Sonia will doubtless continue her weight loss because she won’t be able to afford food from now on (slimline Natalie Cassidy – Sonia – looks amazing, by the way) On her last day in Walford, Bex has the added anxiety of another surprise party, this time arranged by Sonia It’s only two weeks since Louise threw her one and that turned out to be about as successful as an ice sculpture in hell  This one is worse, and while everyone is enjoying the event, Bex is planning to kill herself  I have every sympathy with anyone suffering in silence, which many students (and others) do, but can the prospect of leaving Walford really be that bad? Most people would be singing from the rooftops After being found unconscious, Bex thankfully recovers. Still with no knowledge of that college, though The historic sexual abuse storyline centred on Kel and Paul is authentic, well-researched and deeply moving  With input from Survivors Manchester, it explores the complexities and psychology of an adult whose childhood was coloured and distorted by a manipulative predator  It is an important story for our times and should put paid to criticism by those who question the time lapse between abuse and accusation  There are so many layers, and in tackling this subject the Street is yet again showing its extraordinary range; this is a commendable storyline that I believe will help many victims After drowning his sorrows again, Paul confronts Kel and, realising his mother’s boyfriend was interested in him only as a young boy, punches him unconscious  After coming round and claiming he was attacked by strangers, Kel threatens that if Paul reveals the relationship, he’ll report the assault to the police  It’s enough to make Paul pack his bags, but will anyone be able to stop him leaving? My money’s on Billy, who regularly clocks up 10,000 steps a day chasing him There’s clearly another psycho on the block in Jade, who added Fiz-like red curls to the figure in Hope’s drawing  Employed as a live-in tutor, Jade bends Evelyn’s ear about her abusive ex-husband  Is she the best person to have around the pyromaniac demon child? Talk about fighting fire with fire Generations of men and women have come up with millions of excuses to cover illicit trysts, but a cattle auction in Gloucestershire shows real genius  It’s what Moira tells Cain when Nate books a hotel. But when she leaves her phone at home, Pete sees a text from Nate, puts two and two together (the biggest sum he has ever mastered) and Nate receives a pointed call from him  Will Pete tell Cain, or will Moira cover her tracks by returning with a cost-price prize bull (I’m not talking Nate now)? If and when Cain finds out, methinks the pair will be Going, Going, Gone – probably six feet under

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