No Surprises with the return of Dirty Den. The storyliners have been torpidly at work for the last n-1 months* coming up with a plausible reason why someone would be out of the country and never in touch again with his adopted daughter. The storyliners pass it on to the scriptwriters, who in turn pull out none of the stops, to give us a confrontation between father and porcine daughter that they HAVE TO SHOW, but which we don’t care about. The scriptwriters pass it on to the actors who get to revel in the pyrotechnics of it all, unaware that we’re impatient to get the all important mechanics out of the way. Sharon (turning purple and dribbling sick and snot) “Why didn’t you get in touch, even when X bad thing happened?” Boyard (for it is he) “Well Princess, it’s because even the scriptwriters at the time thought I was dead”

A real surprise could have been pulled out of the hat/scraped out of the barrel, if just as Den steps out of the shadows “Hello, Princess” he turns to another character also lurking in the shadows “Hello, Ang”**. With all the Den’s Return publicity they could have been using it as a stalking horse for any number of returning characters for a genuine shock. Why not Angie? Among all the superfluous dialogue dedicated to explaining away D’s return, we, the viewers, are casually reminded that just as Den’s realactual Death was only alluded to and not shown***, Angie’s passing away was done, less teasingly, entirely off-screen and down the phone.

Storyliners – why stop here? There are real challenges in bringing back more palpably dead characters. If you could manage a Jonathan Creek crossover, it would be ace to see Alan Davis mumbling a hand-waved “of course” explanation of how, with loads of witnesses (including the camera), a man completely-exploded to bits in a car that rockets up in the air turning end-over-end into scrap could… and out of the shadows steps Steve Owen. Would that be way too desperate?

* Where n is the number it would actually take
** Why didn’t Den comment on the hilariously named “Angie’s Den” where he first re-appears, eh?
**Reminding me at least of all those fan-fiction explanations of how Avon escapes at the end of B****s 7.