There was a period here in the U. S.
of A. when we got the EastEnders. I don't think it lasted, or rather, it didn't
take off like that Downton Abbey
show. Maybe you had to be there, week in, week
out, in good times and bad, to really get it. From the beginning, to see those
actors age in their roles. John Bardon was one of those actors. He was beloved
as Jim Branning, and when he suffered a stroke in real life, goddamn it if he
didn't suffer one on the show. He came back, disabled, and left again, and when
he died in real life, condolences were paid to his real wife by his TV wife. See
what I mean? It was an institution and institutions have rules that must be
adhered to. He did other things, One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing
standing out among his films away from EastEnders
. But really, once
an EastEnder, always an EastEnder.
He had a backstory.
Jim was born in Walford in 1933. He dated his first wife, Reenie, in the 1960s,
with her giving birth to their oldest child, Derek, out of wedlock. When Reenie
became pregnant again with eldest daughter April, Jim settled in a loveless
marriage to Reenie, having four more children with her. A heavy drinker, Jim
treated his children unfairly, favoring some, neglecting others. When his son
Max was blamed for stealing and losing a medal that Jim's mother was given
during World War II in honor of his late father for bravery, Jim severed all
ties with him and oldest son Derek locked Max in a coffin. He was an amateur
boxer, using the nickname "Basher" Branning, but according to Kate
Lock's book Who's Who
, he had been a "semi-invalid" for
much of his working life following a drunken fall from a bedroom window, though
he managed to maintain a job collecting supermarket trolleys until he was
forced to retire.
And when he came back after his stroke? His second wife (Reenie died) had to
care for him.
Dot subsequently struggles to cope with Jim and is stressed out by the constant
noise of his buzzer. She tells Jim that she cannot cope and later asks Carol
why she had to meet Jim "so near the end." Carol and Max help Dot to
make the decision to put Jim into permanent care, and he is taken away in an
ambulance. Dot continues to visit Jim regularly. In April 2012, Dot goes to
tell Jim that Heather Trott was murdered, but cannot break the news as Heather
was Jim's friend. In December 2012, Max, Jack, and Carol visit Jim to tell him
that Derek has died of a heart attack. In January 2014, Carol and Max go to
visit Jim to tell him that Carol had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Jim's
hands are briefly seen, but he otherwise does not appear.
John Bardon's hands and body
disappeared for good in September, and Drunkasaskunk, over there where they
watch EastEnders, knew it, for the solo and 13 points. For my
shameless cutting and pasting, I thank Wikipedia.
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