Follow TV Tropes


Series / Night and Day

Go To
Stop talking, fridge!

"My name is Jane Harper. Welcome to my life."'

A stylised and frequently bonkers soap opera that ran on the UK’s ITV network between 2001 and 2003. Aiming to recapture a youth audience lost to the channel with the poaching of Australian import Home and Away by the rival Channel 5, Night and Day revolved around six dysfunctional families living in and around the fictional Thornton Street in Greenwich, south-east London.

And did anyone mention the talking fridge of doom?

The show has often been described as 'experimental' and 'a British Twin Peaks' - not least due to its trippy dream and fantasy sequences; an eccentric cast of locals, including resident Wicked Stepmother-figure Rachel Culgrin (extravagantly portrayed by UK TV veteran Lesley Joseph); and a central storyline which revolved around the disappearance of the enigmatic Jane Harper on her sixteenth birthday.

Played by acting newcomer Georgina Walker, Jane frequently cropped up in flashbacks, daydreams and visions - sometimes comic, sometimes chilling - to haunt the family, friends and lovers she had left behind.

Oft-revisited footage of Jane walking in slow motion through a cemetery before literally vanishing became a visual touchpoint for the show. The image was also invoked in the soap’s infuriatingly catchy theme tune ‘Always and Forever’ - performed by former soap icon Kylie Minogue - with the haunting lyrics: ‘Night and day, say goodbye then slowly fade away...’

A second visual touchpoint (pictured above), which was also the final image of the show, featured Jane embracing the mysterious Josh Alexander, then turning to the Fourth Wall with a finger to her lips.

Complemented by a raft of secondary, more traditional soap opera plots (albeit frequently played out in a way that lampooned the genre), the primary narrative explored - often at glacial pace - which of Thornton Street’s residents might have been responsible for Jane’s vanishing act, and possibly, her murder.

Night and Day’s second key gimmick, embodied in its title, was that three 25-minute-long ‘day’ episodes aired on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday teatimes, while a re-cut, hour-long omnibus aired on Thursday nights. This ‘night’ edition introduced new and alternate scenes which didn’t appear in the daytime versions - usually featuring sexual references, violence or other adult themes - whilst condensing or excising many others.

Despite critical acclaim from some quarters for its quirky presentation, gothic atmosphere, immersive storylines and innovative use of popular music, mediocre ratings quickly led to cold feet by ITV executives, who unceremoniously ditched the daytime editions less than six months into the soap’s run.

The night-time omnibus survived for more than a year longer, though - allowing the show to accrue a minor cult following as ITV gradually pushed it later and later into a Thursday night graveyard slot, sometimes even running it without commercials in the wee small hours of Friday morning.

Happily for the diminishing band of diehard fans desperate for answers, a significantly advanced filming schedule allowed producers to respond to the show’s eventual cancellation with a firm, though characteristically wacky, resolution to Jane Harper’s story. This final episode aired at midnight on Friday 6 June 2003, to virtually zero fanfare - many TV guides having erroneously declared that the show had finished five weeks earlier.

Spoiler Note: Since Night and Day ended more than a decade ago, and is neither commercially available nor likely to become so, spoilers on this page remain untagged until somebody qualified decides otherwise.

This TV show has examples of:

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Played straight to the extent that Josh Alexander, the primary love interest of Jane and after her disappearance, Della, appears on the surface to be the archetypal bad boy, all brooding biker and leather jackets. But blackouts and spooky demonic phase notwithstanding, for the most part he's one of the nicest and best-adjusted of the teenage male characters on the show.
  • Alone with the Psycho: Jane’s final encounter with Danny in the catacombs fit this trope. He also has several disturbing sequences alone with Della.
  • Alpha Bitch: Kate Ellis and Jane both embody this at times, but the show is also careful to depict their vulnerable, human sides. Indeed, parallels between the two girls are drawn in an episode focusing on Kate’s birthday, which mirrors the show’s first episode (centred on Jane’s birthday) in several respects – and even features Kate, who has never met Jane, being berated by her in a daydream sequence.
  • Angel Unaware: In one week of episodes, time itself stops dead, and a mysterious man called Gabriel (played by The Wire’s Clarke Peters) questions Thornton Street’s residents about Jane’s disappearance, before reporting back to Jane herself in the graveyard about what he’s learned. The characters have no memory of this when time resumes; but later, two of the characters see a grave with Gabriel’s name on it and think it seems familiar.
  • Animate Body Parts: In the night-time omnibus editions, the character Will Radcliffe is frequently spoken to by a voice emanating from just below his waist. 'Little Will', who speaks in a deep American accent, is solely preoccupied with matters sexual, as one might expect - but other characters are apparently unable to hear him.
  • Arc Words: Someone has written ‘Who Am I?’ on the wall in the catacombs, which forms a basis for much of the later narrative including Jane’s amnesia story.
  • Arranged Marriage: Natalie Harper and Rachel Culgrin plot and scheme to bring about a marriage between Jane and Sam.
  • Artistic Title: Night and Day's stylised opening sequence features video headshots of the main characters (either smiling or scowling, usually towards the Fourth Wall), in a series of quick transitions incorporating images from the show's locations. Colouring is predominantly red and black, as with the final title card and break bumper; and the sequence ends on a smiling Jane, while the words 'NIGHT' and 'DAY' drift from left and right towards a static 'AND' in the foreground, with the 'D' in the AND and the DAY eventually overlapping so that it finally reads 'NIGHTANDAY'.
    • The characters of Steph and Kate, who weren't present at the show's outset, are added a few weeks into the run. But curiously, the show later on occasion uses a rare version of the titles that not only reverts to the original sequence without these characters (despite them still being in the show), but also omits the actual title of the show.
    • Curiouser still, a second rare version exists whose only difference from the usual sequence is that the whole title of 'NIGHT AND DAY' (unmerged at the D, and with spacing added) drifts in from the left. Whether these oddities are stylistic choices or production mistakes is unclear.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Strongly implied with Jane in the final episode, when she returns to Thornton Street to speak to family and friends after her death, before walking through the graveyard for the final time.
  • Ascended Extra: The character of Celeste Dexter has a walk-on role as one of Sam’s conquests very early in the run, then returns nine months later (and not even pregnant!) as a prominent character, remaining in the show until the end of the series.
  • Back for the Finale: The last episode featured a montage roll call of the most significant characters from throughout the show’s run. Jane Harper herself returns in the flesh for the final few episodes, although she has been present as a ghost/vision more or less constantly throughout.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Possibly the motivation for Steph McKenzie setting fire to the Halfway House – either to avoid being killed by Danny, or by her brain tumour.
  • Big Bad: Danny, Dennis’s absent father and the man who switched Jane and Della at birth. His dangerous aura looms over much of the show, although he doesn’t actually begin to appear until late on in the run.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Doyle-Wells clan has it all: inadvertent father-daughter incest between Alex and Jane; inadvertent cousin incest between Della and Tom; Alex's secret son with Steph the vicar; Dennis's father switching his half-sister Della at birth; a pair of Creepy Twins; Django plotting to seduce stepmother Dona and murder dad Charlie; sixteen-year-old Jimmy getting his aunt Begonia pregnant; and to top it all off, the family ends up inheriting the Harpers' evil fridge.
  • Book Ends: Both the first and last episodes end with Jane walking through a graveyard before disappearing – in the final episode, forever.
  • Cast Full of Crazy: Evil ‘Aunt Rachel’ Culgrin is perhaps the most outlandish, but Jane Harper’s sociopathic brother Ryan also deserves an honourable mention. Towards the end of the run, Frankie Radcliffe and Kate Ellis lose the plot with their book-burning Virgin Army – but in truth, most other characters also display considerable eccentricity at one time or another.
  • Content Warning: Parodied in one episode with messages overlaid on-screen during scenes in which Natalie behaves entirely out-of-character. Progresses from 'Warning: smoking kills', to 'Warning: Drinking may cause a downward spiral into the abyss', to 'Shagging your daughter's ex-boyfriend can seriously damage your health'. This last one is particularly fitting since Josh, the daughter's ex-boyfriend in question, has apparently become possessed by a demon.
  • Creepy Cemetery: Many of the show’s most pivotal scenes take place in the graveyard at St Vincent’s church. For extra shivers, there are underground catacombs too - usually reserved for violent scuffles, sexual encounters, demonic episodes and monster sightings.
  • Creepy Twins: Alex and Roxanne Doyle’s daughters Laura and Becky. They not only wear the same clothes and never appear apart; they also deliver all their lines simultaneously.
  • Damsel in Distress: Jane's mysterious disappearance forms the backbone of the show, although the irony is that her dysfunctional friends and family need saving just as much as she does.
  • Dead All Along: Jane in the series finale.
  • Demonic Possession: Josh, apparently. For the most part he’s a kind-hearted, if mysterious, soul – but later in the series, he begins to act demonically at times, taking pleasure in the suffering of others and apparently gaining the ability to harm people simply by staring at them with menacing red eyes. On at least one occasion 'Josh' explicitly states that he is not Josh, apparently suggesting that a parasitic entity of some form is responsible - although its influence on him appears to be intermittent. The nature of the possession, if that's indeed what it is, is never really explained, though it appears to be triggered when Alex punches him and he hits his head. It may be related to his blackouts and/or a quasi-symbolic side-effect of his parent issues. The phenomenon, which also deploys aspects of the Romantic Vampire Boy trope (see below), has vanished by the series’ close, with just as little explanation as with its introduction.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: Della and Josh sing ‘Always and Forever’, the show’s theme tune, to one another during the final episode.
  • Demoted to Extra: Towards the end of the series, Will appears to take on a much reduced role – often appearing in a background or supporting capacity – until he’s unceremoniously killed off when, during an argument with her virginity fairy (don’t ask), Kate accidentally drops the Complete Works of Shakespeare on his head.
  • Dramatic Spotlight: deployed to sinister effect in our first introduction to the Big Bad, Danny. In the middle of a crowded pub during his son Dennis's birthday party, we cut to entirely to black and silence with the exception of Roxanne, Dennis's mum, who is lit by a single spotlight. We then hear Danny's voice say: 'Hello, Red.'
  • Dream & Fantasy Sequences: Crop up rudely and frequently, whether characters are awake or sleeping. In addition to frequent imaginary conversations with Jane Harper, viewers could expect the full gamut of scenarios, including but not limited to: film noir, Biblical tableaux, a Britney Spears drag act, medical burlesque, virginity fairies, the Grim Reaper, magic carpet rides, bad porn parodies, a builder's-van reimagining of 'We Go Together' from Grease, and the creepiest Pinocchio skit you've probably never seen.
  • Driving Question: Where is Jane Harper; is she dead; and if so, who killed her? Further related mysteries pop up later on to help drive that main narrative – such as who got Jane pregnant, who sent her creepy text messages, and who sent Roxanne the poison pen letters?
  • Drugs Are Bad: Parodied late on the series, when Ryan Harper begins dressing like a two-bit rap artist and selling confectionary to fellow school pupils. One is even seen snorting sherbet in the toilets.
  • Dysfunction Junction: In spades, with pretty much every character of note. Many of the weekly episode blocks/omnibuses will showcase a ‘breakdown of the week’ – to cite just a few examples, Jane's mother Natalie randomly becoming a prostitute; hairdresser Roxanne attacking the barnets of all who have wronged her; Mike Brake stuffing himself with junk food to a cartoon-like degree; and a suicidal Duncan Harper, Jane's dad, holding his friends hostage with a grenade in a church as they confess their sins, in an attempt to talk him out of detonating it. Lampshaded in the final few episodes, as all the characters begin to book in therapy sessions with none other than the Big Bad, without any sensible explanation.
  • Easy Amnesia: Jane was lumbered with this on her much-anticipated return to Thornton Street towards the end of the show’s run, in order to string out the mystery of her disappearance right up until the finale.
  • Enemy Within: Towards the very end of the series, a black, reptilian/humanoid monster begins to appear – hiding under clothes, stalking the catacombs or simply sitting at the Harpers' breakfast table. It’s never directly explained, but it seems to fulfil a symbolic function, representing the darker side of various characters, and perhaps humanity more generally.
  • Evil Twin: Gwen, Fiona Brake’s identical sister. Not outright evil, but certainly an antagonist, who swiftly makes a beeline for Fiona’s husband Mike.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Roxanne dyes her hair black when she reverts to her given name of Helen, while Natalie adopts a World War II hairstyle during one of her personality crises.
  • Fille Fatale: Jane Harper, as revealed through the flashbacks and visions of some of those she leaves behind when she disappears. Not that this remotely justifies some of them sleeping with her when she was underage. It's subverted in that sense, in that we learn as the story progresses how bad experiences with men made Jane the way she was, and that she wasn't always that way. Meanwhile, her personality as seen in visions etc probably says more about the characters imagining her than Jane herself.
  • Foreign Exchange Student: Jane’s French penpal Francoise Jardin descends on Greenwich for a sustained period near the beginning of the show, before mysteriously disappearing, just like Jane. It becomes clear that Francoise knew more about Jane and her secrets than many of her friends and family.
  • Foreshadowing: Often takes the form of spooky or otherwise supernatural episodes. Premonitive consultations with psychics abound, as do individual character visions – for example, while in the catacombs, Josh has a vision of a man with a gloved hand passing a black chrysanthemum to a girl. 'The Black Chrysanthemum' later turns out to be the name of the club where Jane is alive and working as a geisha. (Holly also appears to have an unexplained vision of Jane as a geisha.) Also, an ‘alternative reality’ episode around halfway through the series explores what might have happened if Sam and Jane had married – and many of the events that occur in this episode eventually come to pass in the show’s real timeline.
  • Friends with Benefits: Tom and Della became this towards the end of the series – this before learning that, biologically speaking, they are cousins!
  • Gayngst: The writers manage to stretch this out over the entire eighteen months of the show with Mike, a middle-aged married man with a son. He finally comes out towards the very end of the show, and is seen with a male partner during the series finale, which revisits the characters four years in the future.
  • Geisha: Jane is one of these by the time we finally re-encounter her in the flesh, a full year since her initial disappearance. She's now black-haired, amnesia-stricken, and in residence at a club called the Black Chrysanthemum, where it seems she is required to work as a prostitute.
  • Grim Reaper: Charlie is repeatedly stalked in vision sequences by a Grim Reaper, in the form of an old man in a hooded black cloak, complete with scythe and a pair of dice which he tells Charlie he must roll. Footage of the Reaper is frequently juxtaposed with that of Charlie's son Django until, at the climax of the storyline when Django almost murders Charlie, the Reaper's face actually morphs into Django's own and back again.
  • Happily Ever After: It took them eighteen months (in real-world time) to get there - but after an unfortunate Demonic Possession, a foray into vampirism and a 'crap, we're siblings' moment which later proved a false alarm, Josh and Della finally got their happy ending – and even some adopted kids for good measure. Fans were kept hanging until the very last episode, though.
  • Hate Sink: Frankie spent most of the show's run self-righteously berating father Will and anyone else who'd indulge her for having the temerity to be sexually active, culminating in the foundation of the Virgin Army - a militant hyperfeminist sect dedicated to misandry and book-burning. In truth though, even Frankie was a relatively complex character as far as soap opera goes, and it's easy to sympathize with her when you see her tearfully clutching her stuffed panda; she's simply a young girl who's absolutely terrified of losing her dad, and of growing up.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Dennis and Sam spent much of the series sharing a double bed.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: Pretty much all of the younger characters, but especially Tom and Frankie. Then again, most of the adult characters in the show act like Hormone-Addled Teenagers, too.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Fiona and Mike, despite many years of marriage.
  • Instant Drama, Just Add Tracheotomy: Ryan has to perform one of these on Josh when a birthday cake triggers a nut allergy. As a result, Josh decides he owes Ryan his life, and voluntarily becomes his slave.
  • Intersex Tribulations: Alex Wells and Roxanne Doyle's baby, Alex Jr, is born intersex, leading to a disagreement between the couple over whether to subject the baby to an operation. An adult intersex character, Patrice, is also briefly featured as part of the storyline, when Roxanne attends an intersex support group.
  • Invasion of the Baby Snatchers: Jane Harper’s disappearance, and subsequent prostitution. Child abduction is also repeatedly touched upon; Jane and Della Wells are swapped at birth by Danny Dexter, who also later shows up at a zoo when the girls are seven years old, and uses balloons and ice-cream to temporarily lure them away with him.
  • It Came from the Fridge: One (minor) plot point that remains intriguingly unresolved is the significance of the Harpers’ large, noisy and somewhat sinister black refrigerator. Actually pictured on publicity photos for the show along with the human members of the family, the tombstone-like appliance was heard by Natalie on one occasion to say the word ‘dead’ repeatedly, and administered her an electric shock on another. It’s no wonder that, towards the end of the series, Natalie resolved to donate the monstrosity to Roxanne, warning her ominously to look after it.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: And stretched excruciatingly over 80 weeks for maximum immersion, at that.
  • Jumping on a Grenade: Steph heroically does this following a tense confessional with a suicidal Duncan at the vicarage. The grenade doesn't go off.
  • Kissing Cousins: Tom and Della (unwittingly).
  • Large Ham: When she’s not plotting and scheming to win custody of her nephew and niece Ben and Lucy, or lusting after her male school pupils, the deliciously over-the-top Rachel is most likely to be found berating her neighbours with pompous Shakespearean diatribes. Even her visions of Jane get it in the neck: ‘Begone, vile figment!’ Ryan is similarly larger-than-life, and delights in concocting amusingly verbose insults.
  • Local Hangout: The Nautilus pub is the main venue of choice, owned and run by Charlie Doyle and wife Dona. A café, a steam room and the murky Darc Bar are also among the regular sets.
  • Love Dodecahedron: The whole cast is embroiled in an especially large, crazy and frequently intergenerational one.
  • Love Father, Love Son: Though she didn’t know it at the time, Jane with Alex and Josh.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: ostensibly parentless Josh turned out to be Steph's son, and then Alex's.
  • Mirror Monster: In one episode, Jane catches glimpses of a monster in her bedroom mirror – with the image flickering at one point between that of the monster and that of her mother, Natalie. Jane’s brother Ryan frequently has conversations with his mirror self, who’s usually depicted as even more of a sociopath than non-mirror Ryan. The mirror in Josh’s bedroom (in which visions of Jane sometimes appear) is smashed, and we occasionally see glimpses of him having punched it in flashback sequences.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Tom and his best friend Jimmy Doyle, after they're seen in bed together because Jimmy was scared of a spider and didn't want to sleep on the floor.
  • Mood Whiplash: Does this deliberately and in spades, never taking itself especially seriously despite some relatively dark (for a soap opera) subject matter - and punctuating pathos-driven scenes with madcap fantasy sequences or comical interludes.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Alex during the final episodes, on discovering that he slept with his own daughter.
  • Non Sequitur: Full of them - a symptom both of the show's attempts at surrealism, and of the condensed night-time omnibuses, which cut many contextualising scenes. Since the daytime episodes were axed fairly early in the UK run (though still produced in full and distributed to foreign markets), sometimes events that had occurred in axed scenes were alluded to in the omnibus or pre-titles recap, leading to confusion for viewers. Other events were simply unexplained altogether for stylistic reasons, leaving viewers to ponder on the ambiguities for themselves. These two factors combined to create an unsettling, disruptive effect which arguably added to the show's sense of mystery and atmosphere. For example:
    • Holly admitted to having sent a series of poison pen letters to Roxanne, then weeks later admitted that she didn't send them after all, with very little by way of explanation for the earlier admission.
    • In another episode, Natalie's assertion to Roxanne that she believes Danny - a character who has been absent for 18 years - to have killed Jane, and that he wants to 'destroy us all', seems to come entirely from nowhere.
    • Josh's period of Demonic Possession and apparent vampire tendencies are played incredibly ambiguously, with no real attempt to define their cause or the reason for their resolution.
  • Odd Friendship: Lots of them, but Ryan and Josh is an especially strange one. Ryan has good reason to suspect that Josh may have killed his sister during a blackout, and frequently torments him about it – to the extent of deliberately inducing another blackout in Josh and making him believe he's hurt Della while he was out of it. Yet their friendship is surprisingly tender at times, with Josh frequently trying to bring out Ryan’s better nature. The oddness is cranked up a gear when Ryan saves Josh’s life, and subsequently decides he ‘owns’ him – making him sing ‘I’d Do Anything’ from Oliver! to prove it. Josh later shows Ryan how to kiss a girl by offering his hand as a stand-in – and then by demonstrating his own kissing technique on the object of Ryan’s affections, Celeste.
  • Parental Abandonment: Plenty to go around. Steph left Josh in a church doorway as a baby; Danny abandoned Dennis and his mum Roxanne when he was a baby; Django Doyle was so eaten up by his father Charlie's abandonment of him as a child that he arrived with the intention of killing him.
  • Parental Incest: The affair between Alex and (at the time, underage) Jane, who are revealed at the end of the series to be biological father and daughter, is a central plot point. In the late-night omnibus editions, Steph also fights off a seduction attempt by her biological son Josh – and appears at one point to have a sexually-charged daydream involving being strangled by him.
  • Precision F-Strike: The perennially mild-mannered Duncan is memorably goaded into using the word ‘puppyfucker’ by an imaginary taxi fleet controller.
  • Psychic Link: Rachel and her nephew Sam appear to have this for a time during his disappearance. On occasions when he is in pain or danger, Rachel seems to experience similar symptoms simultaneously, despite having no knowledge of where he is or what is happening to him.
  • Put on a Bus: Surprisingly for a soap, almost totally averted (probably because it was so short-lived). All of the main characters introduced in the first episode remained right to the end, in one form or another.
  • Red Herring: Plenty during the entire ‘where is Jane?’ arc that lasted for most of the show’s run. Francoise’s disappearance after meeting Alex in the graveyard is later proven to be a red herring, when we learn she’s safe and well back in France. Creepy Malcolm is thought to have killed Jane and is even caught digging a grave, but it turns out to be just for his dead dog. Likewise, Josh’s blackouts prove to have had no involvement in Jane’s disappearance.
  • Robot Me: Having accidentally killed Will with a copy of the Complete Works of Shakespeare, Kate "hired a number of electrical engineers, and, with the latest nanotachnology and a lot of hard work", created a robotic replica - which looked uncannily like the human Will, covered in silver spraypaint. Naturally, Will's daughter Frankie is thrilled to have her dad back, particularly when he declares her 'the boss'.
  • Romantic Vampire Boy: Elements of Josh's Demonic Possession story (above) play out like a bananas, prophetic parody of the Twilight franchise - invoking vampiric behaviour as an extended metaphor for sex and in particular the loss of innocence, whilst continuing to advance the ongoing Josh/Della romance. Given the show's ambiguous presentation, it's not clear how much of the apparently supernatural content in these scenes is literally happening, or should simply be regarded as symbolic.
    • Josh's attempts to violate Holly and Kate with his demon eyes appear to be successful, leading to their both collapsing to the floor and screaming. In the latter case, Kate screams the word 'sex!' (softened to 'sin!' in the daytime episodes). It's partly this episode which causes Kate to declare that she hates all men, leading to the formation of her Virgin Army. But when Josh attempts the same technique on Della, he says she is 'too pure' for it to have any effect on her.
    • Later Della finds what looks like a bite on her neck, and has been feeling very weak. Natalie confirms it's a bite, and says Della must have had a night-time visitor. After that, Della deliberately leaves her window open; and the following night we see a reflection in the mirror of Della's duvet being lifted apparently by itself. When we pan across to the real bed, we realise it's Vampire Josh doing the lifting - but when Roxanne checks on Della from outside the door, he seems to vanish suddenly without a trace.
    • In order to tame Josh's wild side, Della adopts a wild new persona of her own: Desire. In more vampire-trope-heavy scenes in the catacombs, she ties Josh up with a belt, scratches him on the face, and licks the blood from the wound, before interrogating him about his role in Alex's arrest on suspicion of Jane's murder. The confrontation leads to them sleeping together for the first time, shortly before Josh discovers they are half-siblings and leaves town (though in fact they are not half-siblings, as revealed at the end of the series).
    • During this storyline, Tom Brake reads from the short story 'The Fall of the House of Usher' by Edgar Allan Poe, which contains themes of vampirism. While discussing their book club, Kate also reminds Della that: "the gothic heroine only lives if she's a virgin."
  • School Play: The tendency of TV and film works to use a school play scenario (usually Shakespeare) to advance romantic and other plotlines is lampooned, as Rachel and Josh pen a Shakespearean medley, throwing all of the Bard's greatest characters onto the stage simultaneously. The storyline continues for several weeks.
  • Sex Is Evil: Characters’ tendency to link sex and sin is a running theme, but as an in-universe phenomenon, it's frequently played for laughs. It’s most overtly exemplified by Frankie, who is in denial about sex to the degree that she founds a Virgin Army, dedicated to excising racy passages from Victorian novels. Other characters frequently display hang-ups about sex and morality – not least Rachel, Kate, Ryan, Mike, Natalie and Sam. That said, the show also features plenty of not-for-laughs references to the dark side of sexuality, for example including Parental Incest as a central plot point.
  • The Snark Knight: Ryan, to the very core. There is literally nobody who escapes his sneering and vitriol. He even delivers people's names in a sarcastic way, emphasising every consonant with dripping disdain to reflect the utter contempt in which he holds them.
    • In the show's first episode, on his sister Jane's 16th birthday, his present to her is a blonde-haired plastic doll, the implication being that that's what she is. When Jane says it's nothing like her, Ryan responds: "My mistake. That one's got a personality."
    • Once Jane has gone missing, Ryan gleefully announces to their mother Natalie that he's in a good mood because he had the bathroom to himself this morning, adding that he: "always wanted to be an only child." As his parents sit around on edge waiting for the phone to ring, Ryan inhales helium and calls the landline (which he's hidden in the evil fridge), introducing himself to a desperate Natalie as "Walt Disney's cryogenically frozen head." This earns him a gigantic slap from Natalie, and he responds: "You really are the world's best mother," before walking off upstairs cackling.
    • In a Spaghetti Western-style fantasy scene, Ryan ventures to a "common" area of London where he vanquishes two thugs who accost him on a council estate, entirely by insulting their sartorial choices. The scene is dubbed in Italian, with English subtitles; and gunshot effects are heard as Ryan delivers each crushing blow to the thugs' self-esteem.
    • Later in the series he reserves a special loathing for his mum's "disgusting, common" new boyfriend Woody Dexter, whom he frequently compares to an ape - to his face. On their first meeting, Ryan says: "Excuse me if I don't shake hands; I just don't want to touch you." On one occasion, when Woody responds to his unpleasantness with an: "easy, son," Ryan replies: "Don't you dare call me that. I'd rather stab myself in the throat than entertain the thought that we could be related."
    • He's even especially unkind to his own girlfriend Celeste (partly because she's also Woody's daughter) - on one occasion publicly telling her that she's "cheap" and "disgusting" until another slap is elicited.
    • Ryan also fits the bill for Stepford Snarker, owing to his many insecurities.
  • Spear Carrier: Dennis is given this exact role in-universe in the school play, which reflects how he feels about himself; but it's not especially an accurate assessment of how the show treats him.
  • Supernatural Soap Opera: Plays constantly at the edges of this, as many of the entries on this page demonstrate. While the supernatural elements - ghosts, monsters, vampirism, angels, demonic possession - aren't vital drivers of the ongoing plot, and could often be considered as existing within characters' imaginations and/or symbolic rather than literal, the ambiguous presentation means they can't easily be dismissed as such.
  • Switched at Birth: Jane and Della, by Danny – as revenge for being driven out of town by Jane’s mother Natalie.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Fiona and Dennis. Troublingly, there appear to be no consequences whatsoever for Fiona’s career, despite the fact that by the end of the series it's the show's worst-kept secret. (Similarly, there appear to have been no legal consequences for Alex having slept with fifteen-year-old Jane after it was revealed in the finale.)
  • Teen Pregnancy: Jane Harper fell pregnant with Sam Armstrong’s child aged fifteen, but had an abortion.
  • Transvestite: Fiona and Dennis both have forays into cross-dressing; Fiona in a bid to seduce her gay husband, and Dennis because he briefly thinks he might be intersex. Also, in in the final episode, set four years into the future, we learn that Ryan now wears women’s clothes and goes by the name of Beverly.
  • The Trickster: Holly, through and through. One of the show's most mysterious characters and frequently ambiguous in motivation, she often spreads falsehoods for fun and will periodically pop up like a pagan deity to play mind-games and wreak chaos - especially with Alex Wells and, prior to her disappearance, Jane Harper. On one occasion she even manages to trick Alex into admitting to assaulting Josh Alexander by making him believe that he killed Josh, and that she's buried the body for him. Appropriately, during the School Play storyline, she is initially cast as Puck from Midsummer Night's Dream.
  • Twinkle Smile: the show repeatedly superimposes a cartoon-like twinkle (complete with Audible Gleam) on the teeth of character Django Doyle; he's a cheesy pop star and superficially charming chap, and on the surface this trope is used to imply a kind of physical perfection. However, the show blurs the border between this and Audible Sharpness as it becomes clear he's in fact come to town with the intention of murdering his father. His shark-like quality is played upon repeatedly, to the extent that he is often seen lurking menacingly in the Doyles' hot-tub, and at one point performs a fairly disturbing rendition of the song 'Mack the Knife' (which references sharks repeatedly).
  • Twisted Christmas: Averted. Since the show progressed at a slower pace than real life and therefore hadn’t actually reached Christmas by real-time December 2001, it used the episodes that aired over that period to explore the events of the previous Christmas in Thornton Street, through the power of flashback. A refreshing change from the usual festive soap misery, which also provided an opportunity to bring more depth to many of the characters and storylines.
  • Two-Teacher School: For the most part, main characters Rachel and Fiona are all we see of the faculty at Kingshurst School – and they both seem to spend more of their time lusting after the pupils than actually teaching. Arguably lampshaded by the occasional appearances of Mr Truelove the headmaster, who’s always shrouded in darkness when we see him.
  • The Un Favourite: Ryan has evidently lived his whole life in sister Jane's shadow, which probably explains why he's so bitter and twisted. Dennis also feels like an un-favourite since he's the only child in his family who has a different father (or so he thinks), though Alex pretty much treats him like a son.
  • Variations on a Theme Song: While the opening version of the theme tune (Kylie Minogue's Always and Forever) was always the same, unusually there were four alternate versions of the closing, which were used on rotation: an extract from the chorus, two extracts from verses, and an instrumental version of the chorus which was increasingly used towards the end of the run.
  • What If?: At around the halfway point of the series, an alternate reality episode imagined how the lives of Thornton Street's residents might be different had Jane kept her baby. In which Django murders Charlie, Natalie plots to sell Jane's baby to Rachel, Steph randomly turns demonic, and Jane jilts Sam at the altar - then disappears, of course. The whole scenario is Natalie's daydream; and on its conclusion she decides that there's no point wishing for what might have been, as it all seems pretty horrific.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: After the penultimate episode closed on Jane stabbing Danny, Josh apparently stabbing himself and (less surprisingly) Roxanne shrieking at Alex, in the finale we revisited the residents of Thornton Street four years on, on Jane and Della's twenty-first birthday...
    • Natalie and Duncan have moved out of the neighbourhood, but are still apparently together.
    • Ryan is now a transvestite going by the name of Beverly, and still with Celeste.
    • Della and Josh are living Happily Ever After at St Vincent's, with their own adopted children and £1m in the bank after Josh hit the jackpot on a TV gameshow.
    • Alex has moved back to his hometown of Liverpool, while Roxanne is now a social worker, still living in Thornton Street - but there are hints that they may now reunite.
    • Dennis is now a firefighter; he and Fiona have a son named Gabriel, and are cohabiting with Mike and his partner Jeremy.
    • Tom has become a renowned pornographer, and lives with a partner and son, Bjorn, in Amsterdam.
    • Jimmy and Begonia are expecting again, while Charlie and Dona bring up their first child, Fidel.
    • Sam is training to be a rabbi, and announces his engagement to girlfriend Zoe.
    • Lucy appears to be living happily with Rachel.
    • Kate and Frankie continue to command the Virgin Army, with help from robotically resurrected Will.
    • Steph has died, and Josh is seen visiting her gravestone.
    • Holly is conspicuously absent - but on the videotape message Tom sends his parents, does the voice of his partner - who is curiously both pixelated and obscured from our view by Dennis's foot - sound familiar?
    • Jane arrives for the celebrations, claiming to have been granted day release from a secure psychiatric unit, where she's been serving a sentence for Danny and Malcolm's murders. But her family later learns that she died in her cell earlier that morning - leaving us to conclude that it was in fact her ghost, having come to say her goodbyes before disappearing for the final time.
  • William Telling: One of the show's many fantasy sequences featured Charlie Doyle imagining himself in the role of William Tell, shooting apples balanced on the heads of his former and current wives.