ALPHABETICALLY, Zoe comes down the bottom of the list. But Soapland's Zoes - Slater and Tate - are very much top of the pile next week and both have murder in mind.

Zoe Slater finally leaves Walford. Her exit from EastEnders (BBC1) has been one of the most protracted in soap history. Her leaving do seemed to take place months before her departure. Or perhaps she just had difficulty getting a taxi what with the Albert Square cab working overtime transporting people out of Walford like passengers off a sinking ship.

As her father Charlie drives a cab, you'd think getting a lift would be easy. Zoe has confessions to make before setting off for a new life in Ibiza. She has little choice now that the newly-returned Dennis and Sharon are asking questions about their disappearing dad Dirty Den (clobbered with a doggy doorstep and buried in concrete under the floor of the Queen Vic - remember?).

First, Zoe reveals that Dirty Den was the father of her unborn baby. Whoops! Then she tells mother Kat the truth about Dirty Den's death. Double whoops! This particular confession is made in the gents toilet, although the launderette would be a better place to wash her dirty linen.

Zoe - clutching the Albert Square road sign - tries to leave by train, only to find Walford underground station is closed because of leaves on the line. And when she sees the police rushing to break up a scuffle involving her dad Charlie, she dashes back to see what's happening.

Charlie is fighting Minty because he's insulted the Slater girls. Now it's true that his daughters' lives don't exactly resemble the plot of a Barbara Cartland novel (apart from the bit about the heaving bosoms) but he should know better than to try to defend their honour. They haven't bothered, so why should he? Once Kat and Zoe have had their heart-to-heart, the way is clear for Zoe to leave at last. Call her a cab someone.

Over in Emmerdale (ITV1) another Zoe is running riot. It will come as no surprise that Zoe Tate is, to use a medical term, at it again. She has been a schizophrenic, alcoholic, lesbian, nymphomaniac, arsonist, drug addict in her time. She was also a vet but had to stop that because she frightened the horses.

Like Zoe Slater, she's packing her bags for a new life away from Soapland. But bad boy Scott, who raped her and got her pregnant while she was drunk, doesn't want to wave goodbye to their daughter Jean and is plotting to have her taken away from Zoe. Scott's interfering mum Viv reports Zoe to social services. Scott's solution is to propose to Zoe and never mind that he has a long-term girlfriend Dawn. The result is a fight, and not just about the date of the wedding. Scott attacks Zoe, who defends herself by stabbing him with a syringe filled with a powerful horse tranquiliser. She just has to have one lying around the living room.

All those years of training to be a vet weren't wasted after all. With Scott lying unconscious (a state in which he is at his best), vengeful vet Zoe contemplates giving him another dose of horse tranquilliser. This might not kill him but would certainly ruin his chances of winning the 2.30 at Kempton Park.

In Coronation Street (ITV1), no one called Zoe is causing trouble but Charlie, the builder with the big toolbox, is up to his tricks again. Having reduced Shelley to a quivering wreck, he's disappointed to find that she's as cold as the Arctic in the bedroom department. So he points his chisel in the direction of barmaid Violet. Scheming Tracy Barlow gets a dose of her own medicine when she learns that Steve McDonald, the father of her child Amy, is only being nice to her to win custody of their daughter. His actions are worthy of a Zoe.

Published: 16/6/2005