The BBC's Mr Soap, Mal Young, is a leftwing Scouser with a chip on both
shoulders, so what is he doing at the BBC.
Some Aquarians do have a conventional streak from Saturn's
influence, but Mal Young's horoscope emphasises the bohemian end
of this sign, big on idealism, brotherhood and friendship. It
would be inconceivable for him not to have a guiding philosophy
behind his work, especially since the inventive Aquarian Water
Carrier is usually ahead of his time, carrying ideas from the
future to illuminate the present. The community and the group
spirit mean a lot: "the Aquarian is involved with people,
humanity is his thing!" (Alan Oken).
But Aquarians sometimes lock on to unconventional ideas which
they refuse to give up on principle, whatever the opposition or
the evidence. Starting with his 1999 Royal Television Society
Lecture, Young has come out fighting for the cause of soaps in
the betterment of society. He reckons that they are educative and
"can unify the nation", and that if Dickens was alive today he
"would be writing popular drama for telly." Dickens, hot on
social truths, was also an Aquarian (February 7 1812) and their
horoscopes have some striking similarities, but Young's belief
that soap counts as great drama with a social conscience has been
met with derision. It does not fulfil the demand that television
drama should give a voice to sections of society that do not
already have one (Kamel Ahmed, Guardian 27/11/99), and even
Young's own staff are said to have named his work 'Malodrama'.
The never-ending, teasing world of the soap only gives us an
imagined intimacy that seldom runs parallel to our own lives.
Most of us don't paralyse the local dope dealer by pushing him
off a railway bridge (the current Eastenders plot), or bury
troublesome people under the patio (Brookside). Here we hit a
peculiarity common to Aquarians. Despite all their
humanitarianism, an Aquarian is "the most lovable robot in the
world, but there's a bolt missing. This tragic bolt is the
capacity for intimacy" (Debbi Kempton-Smith). This is especially
so in Mal Young's horoscope because he lacks water, the emotional
element which engenders empathy and hooks the viewer, so despite
all his clever Mr Soap ideas, he sometimes seriously loses the
He could be in danger of doing so again this year. Boundless
Neptune is conjunct the Sun on his birthday, dominating the year.
Its self-deceptive downside could give him confusing and
unattainable goals, although strong Capricorn influences - bonnet
soaps and historical dramas? - bring him benefits through tried
and tested formulas. But if his Aquarian social conscience is
really serious, this year Neptune calls his bluff as a redeemer.
Phil Mitchell handing out hot soup to the homeless? Somehow, we
don't think so.