WILDLIFE expert David Attenborough could make a whole series out of the courtship rituals in Soapland. They're far more interesting that anything going on in the four-legged animal world. Take tarty, troublesome, two-timing (delete where applicable) Tracy and Ciaran, the barman who looks like a pop star, in Coronation Street (ITV1). The pair have been sizing each other up which, in Tracy's case, was easy enough because Ciaran has taken to parading around in his vest and pants when she calls round.

Poor old Fred, I say poor old Fred, went apoplectic when he spied Ciaran standing on the doorstep in his Calvins - probably because, being a butcher, Fred knows a decent bit of meat when he sees it.

Tracy, having tired of motherhood and looking for something else to occupy her mind, has challenged Ciaran to win her round. This should be easy - Tracy isn't exactly unversed in the ways of the flesh (and we're not talking about what's in Fred's display cabinet). Pretty soon, after a spot of flirting, Tracy and Ciaran are in a clinch. And, as we all know, one thing leads to a spot of the other.

Devious Dev, the corner shop Casanova, is carrying his "buy one get one free" promotional over into his real life. He nearly married Sunny Sunita. He nearly married Mad Maya. He's in love with two people - three if you count himself. Clearly, a man with a plentiful supply of Weetabix on his top shelf is a good marriage bet. He tells one of them he loves her, but which one?

Shelley warns Sunita to be careful of Dev's declarations in the light of his previous treatment of her. Does he really love her or is he just doing it out of pity, knowing that she could be dying - or reaching the end of her shelf life as he'd put it. Personally, if I was Dev I'd be worried how Mad Maya would react to being consigned to the bargain bin if he rejects her. I reckon she's a bigger bunny-boiler than Big Brother's Michelle.

The Ashley and Claire will they? won't they? do we really care? romance continues. The couple are stuck in a Groundhog Day routine of romance, rowing, splitting up, getting together again, romance, rowing... He tells his nanny-cum-girlfriend the truth about his son, little Joshua, and it looks like the romance is on again.

Another of Danny's offspring turns up on the doorstep. How many children has this Baldwin got. A new one seems to arrive every week. Hasn't he heard of taking precautions? His youngest Warren is a footballer who claims he's resting with an injury.

In EastEnders (BBC1), newlyweds Mar-in and Son-yah are planning to move out of the home of mother-in-law from hell Pauline, a woman whose tan gets deeper as her hair gets blonder. The chemicals used in the launderette where she works are having a funny effect on her appearance. I wouldn't want to be Mar-in and Son-yah when Pauline discovers they're on the move. Remember how she bashed Arfer over the head with a saucepan when he did something wrong. Son-yah should run if she sees Pauline coming towards her with a cheese grater.

Paul is still trying to turn over a new leaf by running the basketball team at the community centre. When he drops one member from the team it has disastrous consequences. And another boring Albert Square resident Gus is suspicious of Juley's friend George, who appears to be hiding out in their flat.

These are words I never wanted to hear again in Emmerdale (ITV1): Zoe is behaving irrationally. Could it be the return of her schizophrenia, her drug addiction, her arsonist tendencies or lesbian leanings. She's becoming very possessive of the children, chaining them to their playpens for fear of them being stolen.

Debbie tells Charity, the mother who deserted her as a child, that she wants to move back home to be with baby Noah, the child that Charity gave away and then took back. The big worry is Charity's old (as in elderly, not old as in ex) lover Tom who may not fancy having both a new baby and a teenage tearaway to look after as well as an ex-prostitute for a wife.

Debbie continues to flirt in a Tracy sort of way with Ethan the curate. She's smitten with this man of the cloth, just as Chloe seems to be taken with Carl the killer (it was an accident, m'lud). When Carl hears that Chloe is going to be evicted, he suggests she rents with him. She leaps at the chance and flirts ourtrageously. Clearly, there's an outbreak of flirting in Soapland that gives cause for concern.

Published: 05/08/2004