Sign of the Times IV

Eastenders

BBC1

Yet again, as one closet door slams shut on Albert Square, another one creaks open.

Now Tony and Simon have mooched off into the sunset, Walford was lacking a woofter. Enter Doctor Frederigo (`Call me Fred') Fonseca. Now he's not a patch on Doctor Legg (probably known locally known as `Doc Hero') obviously, but even arch naysayer Dot Cotton has warmed to Freddie boy, played by Jimi Mistry.

So a little official background on the medic. The Doc is a mere 31 years old, `single' with relationships rather ominously listed as `None ... as yet'. He lives above the surgery - 1 Albert Square, for those who are remotely interested. Fred is a very bad doctor because he eats pizza and swills lager, and will always `be up for a big night out.' (Oi oi! This spells trouble!) And he never wanted to be a doctor. That was his parents: they forced him into it, oh and Daddy's a consultant.

In real life, Mr. Mistry appears to be just that. Despite extensive web crawling I only found one entry, stating that he has appeared in East Is East (1999) and was Sailor Two in the 1996 version of Hamlet. And no I did not contact the BBC for details. They have been astoundingly backward in coming forward to the fax machine.

It hardly seems it, but Doc Fonseca moved quietly, discreetly even, into the Square back in January, no doubt as to keep his holistic style of consulting a secret while he ingratiated himself with the common folk. After the residents spent a week or so whispering about who had been lurking around the surgery, they took to him fairly quickly, asking for one the spot consultations over lunch in the Queen Vic, accosting him on the street and saying `Ooh glad I cawt yer Doc, been meanin' ta ask yer...' And if Fred, clearly aggravated by this, thought that was a trial of fire, wait until he tries to push his closet door open a little further.

Yes it is true. Fred's a homosexual.

Of course, you know and I know, there's a double whammy here. EastEnders never does things by halves, remember? Not only is he gay, but he's a gay doctor. And being a doctor on Albert Square makes him something of a cause celebré and therefore you could easily, even rightly, imagine that this disclosure could cause some seismic reverberations. Let's hope Grant (Ross Kemp) doesn't murder someone and go on the run or get killed before he finds out... there's an image to conjure with. Let's hope the acceptance by Dot Cotton (June Brown) of Mark (Todd Carty) HIV+ status won't affect her friendly, shoulder-rubbing cooing towards the Doc either. And that Peggy (Barbara Windsor, gawd bless `er) will have reversed her anti-gay doctrine and wahn't chuck `im aht the pub. It could even be a triple, as the good doctor lives with the Square's only featured black male, Mick (Sylvester Williams) who's mother Josie (Joan Hooley) is Fred's receptionist.

But Ah, I hear you say, how do we know?

To be 100% sure, we don't. This is all based on rumour and press releases and tabloid fire. It is said that Dr Fonseca will `come out' during October, so by Christmas it should all be ovah an' dun wif, bar the shoutin'. The game has already been given away completely. Mark bumped into a friend of Fonseca's who said, `Why doesn't he come clubbing anymore?' So how could he not be gay, eh? At least it's a step forward: no longer do gay men have sex all the time, nowadays the dance, dance, dance! Of course, Fonseca looked startled at this overt reference to his sexuality (oh weaving a tangled web no doubt) but then he would. For effect, yes?

And the rumour mill has cranked up a gear over the potential partner - if he's lucky enough get one. Could it be one of the Square's regulars? Grant? (this critic pulls a face)... Mick? (critic rubs chin, hmmm)... Robbie? Since Wellard left, he's been lonely and after all, his face has cleared up a little...

And then there's the little trip to the south coast, to Brighton in fact (nudge nudge, wink wink). The good doctor along with Mark, Sam (Danielle Westbrook) and Mick are going to be unleashed from the Elstree set for a tour of Brighton's pubs and clubs... Oh no! Not another gay scene on a pier?

Yet again we have no real idea. Despite rumours that the EastEnders publicity truck is trundling towards the media with its horn blaring, I haven't been able to ascertain diddly-squat. And I sigh heavily again and say We'll just have a wait and see. And while I'm thinking about it, I won't waste any time holding my breath waiting for Coronation Street to wake up to the real world and introduce a featured gay character. But I can certainly dream...

© Megan Radclyffe 2000

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