BBC Scotland has its own soap opera, River City, which is broadcast predominantly to Scottish audiences. [People outside Scotland can find it on the BBC Scotland feed if they have access to that via digital, cable or satellite. It's also available via Sky.] The show celebrated its fifth anniversary over the past week with a classic soap storyline: a villain gets his comeuppance from the characters he's been tormenting over weeks, months, even years. The villain here was Archie Buchanan, corrupt lawyer, womaniser and smarmy git.
On last Friday's episode he was going to fake his own suicide and escape to South America with his bit on the side. But his plans went awry, culminating in Archie throttling his longsuffering wife Gina close to death. Archie's mum Liz intervened, smashing an urn containing her own husband's ashes over Archie's head. Down went the big man, cracking his head on the fireplace hearth. That was the big cliffhanger on Friday night - Archie dead, his tearful family contemplating a corpse.
Last night the story spiralled onwards into new heights of delight. Any sane person would have called the police, claimed self defence and pulled out all the evidence they had to back that up. Not Gina. She decided to make good use of Archie's pre-written suicide note. Enlisting the aid of her sister and a reluctant Liz, Gina transported Archie's corpse [in a rather fetching duvet] to a nearby clifftop. Gina pushed the body off the cliff on to the surf-tossed rocks below.
Goodbye Archie. Good riddance to bad rubbish. But no, wait! As the episode ends, the camera panned down to the bloody, sodden corpse on the rocks below. At this point I was expecting a final shot of Archie's dead face, a lingering farewell to the character everybody's loved to hate all these months. And then he moved!
If that isn't the best cliffhanger ever on River City, it's got to be in the top five. Utterly unexpected, teetering on the precipice of unbelievability [I mean, he got sconed in the head, cracked his skull on the hearth, was smothered with a duvet in a car boot for at least an hour, fell nearly a hundred feet off a cliff on to rocks and surf, before somehow getting himself to shore?] and utterly brilliant.
Say what you like of River City, you've got to admire its chutzpah.