TELEVISION / BRIEFING: Of romance and skulduggery

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The Independent Culture
The ELDORADO (7pm BBC1) feeding frenzy has finished; the media sharks will now have to swim off and find a new prey thrashing around invitingly in the ratings shallows. Rarely has a television programme been given such a sustained and vicious savaging. In its fleeting 158-episode life, it has provided enough material to keep stand-ups in gags for years to come. Despite - or maybe because of - this, the Costa del Soap has inspired a doughty 'Save Eldorado' campaign, matched in vociferousness only by the 'Bring Back Dr Who' brigade. Gwen Lamb, one of its leading lights, daily bombards BBC1 controller Alan Yentob with calls, and stoutly defends the programme's oft-derided sense of drama. 'It transports you for half an hour into a dream world of romance and skulduggery,' she told this newspaper last month. Tonight's final episode, written by Tony McHale and featuring the fate of Marcus (Jesse Birdsall), certainly has the air of a dream world, with the sort of revelations and twists a vintage episode of Dallas would have been proud of. What's the betting Eldorado turns up within six months labelled a 'classic' on the UK Gold channel?

(Photograph omitted)

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