Will They, Won’t They?

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Will they or won’t they? It’s a staple of television drama: the perfect exploitation of the serial format to keep the sexual tension sizzling. The news junkets, spy rings and runaway dinosaurs might come and go each week, but have a guy and a gal with one finger on each other’s knicker elastic, and the viewers’ll be tuning in again. Here are five of the top couples who’ve trod that tricky path to televisual love.

The Doctor and Rose (Doctor Who)

“And I suppose, if it’s my last chance to say it: Rose Tyler…â€?

The Time Lord and his shop girl could never be together: the Doctor is to all intents and purposes a god, and knows that if he allows himself to love anyone it will mean watching them grow old and die. His loneliness has been a recurring theme since the show’s regeneration, but never was it more acutely felt than as he and Rose said goodbye on a windswept beach. Rose eventually found love in the Doctor’s half-human clone. Which is, um, novel, I guess.

Steed and Mrs Peel (The Avengers)

“Mrs Peel, we’re needed…â€?

Opinion was divided as to what the story was with this pair of swinging Sixties super-spies. Brian Clemens (one of the writers) assumed they’d had an affair some years previously. Patrick Macnee (Steed) thought they were in and out of bed the whole time. Diana Rigg (Peel) took it to be nothing more than an extended flirtation. Whatever the case, there can’t be many who didn’t smile at Emma’s final scene: Mr Peel, previously presumed dead, turned up alive, well and (from what we saw of him) looking exactly like Steed.

Gene Hunt and Alex Drake (Ashes to Ashes)

“Now then Bollinger knickers, are you going to kiss me or punch me?â€?

Life on Mars made Gene Hunt an unlikely sex symbol among the ladies of the buttoned-up middle classes. While any romantic suggestion between Sam Tyler and he was, you’d hope, unintentional, the sequel series gave the Gene Genie the chance to get some proper flirting done. There was more than a little of the Lady Chatterley about his and
Alex’s love-hate relationship, but, a couple of chaste kisses aside it wasn’t to be. Gene had to be strong and help Alex move on: even if it meant staying still himself.

Maddie Hayes and David Addison (Moonlighting)

“You look at everything like… a woman first and then a person second.â€?

The pair that define the “will they, won’t theyâ€? plot for many are also the most infamous example of how to balls it up. Cybil Shepherd and Bruce Willis made this witty detective duo into one of the hottest team-ups on TV in the mid to late Eighties – until they made the mistake of hooking up. They say the mystery goes out of a relationship once you’ve seen the other person with their pants off and that proved the case for Moonlighting: the
tension was gone and the viewers followed.

Freddie Lyon and Bel Rowley (The Hour)

“I hate you. I hate you.â€?

“I hate you too.â€?

Plenty of people scoffed at the BBC’s Fifties-set news drama, but the hot journo action was always second to its bittersweet portrait of love. Hacks Bel and Freddie showed just how cruel both men and women can be to those they care for the most, and that sweetness, as well as passion, can be the marker of true love. The Hour may have been
unceremoniously dumped a few weeks ago, but fans have been left with the perfect open ending: did they or didn’t they? It’s up to you.

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