Here’s hoping that this long-overdue recognition releases her from Patrick’s shadow.

Yolande. Dear Yolande. After skirting around the periphery of EastEnders’ beefier storylines, Patrick Trueman’s wife disappeared from our screens – and Walford – back in 2008. She escaped for a better life in Birmingham – the Pat-Yolande dream team was over.

You can’t help thinking EastEnders did the former Mrs Trueman dirty and one can only think about what could have been had she stayed, but no matter. Yolande, queen of teeth-sucking and dame of dirty looks returned is back, and finally getting her dues.

It’s been 21 years since we first clapped eyes on Yolande, nee Dukes. Introduced as Patrick Trueman’s holiday fling, he came back from Trinidad with a twinkle in his eye and a God-fearing woman on his arm. Fleeing a loveless, controlling marriage, Yolande saw Patrick as a knight in shining armour.

In the years that followed, we soon got the measure of her as someone to be reckoned with: the ever-changing hairdos, her talent for shade throwing, and a heart of gold.


Together, they became something of a power couple. They ran the Minute Mart, opened up a guesthouse (admittedly, where no one really stayed), took over the car lot and at one point, it seemed like they were on a Walford takeover. But then it all fell apart. Yolande ran off to Birmingham and that was that.

In the void, it left Patrick to continue his journey towards legendary status alone, not that it was difficult. The Trilby, the glistening tooth, the “Yeh, mans!” and finger licking, all turned him into a soap great, all while maintaining one of the most accurate depictions of an older Black character in Soapland.

In the olden days (and possibly even now), pubs, bookies and domino tournaments across the country were full of men like Patrick Trueman, which sometimes made it hard to see what he had in common with Yolande.

Patrick loves wine, women and song, and Yolande doesn’t – she loves nothing more than a sour expression and a Bible quote. But they complemented each other: her saintly behaviour often tempered Patrick, and she wasn’t always serious. Occasionally, we got a peep of fun Yolande, the good-time girl who appreciates a rave up as much as the next woman.


As Angela Wynter, the actor who plays her, sees it, Yolande is many things. Originally based on her own sister, Merlene, who passed away before Yolande appeared in the Square, she describes the character as “bubbly, positive, tough and principled”. But Wynter also sees Yolande as vulnerable, something we’re only now really seeing.

But no matter how you see her, it’s given Yolande Trueman broad appeal, and her fanbase is snowballing by the minute – like she’s never been away.

Forums now discuss how much they love having her back and there are TikToks in her name, and what crops up time and again is her seemingly unintentional humour. Her inability to suffer fools, and her ever-ready wary expressions are perfect, but for some – particularly Black viewers who feel they can relate – it’s the Caribbean accent that does it.

No one in Soapland (and rarely anywhere else on TV), manages to deliver a diss, quip or sage advice in clipped patois quite like her.


Most recently, it came out while consoling Denise about her failing marriage to Jack. Quite simply – and without hint of a smile – the marriage was “mash-up.” And when it came to intercepting Denzel’s parcel of steroids, her tongue-lashing proved to be an instant Yolande classic. For many, it’s funny because they know, and are sometimes related, to women just like her.

It could be coincidence that Yolande’s rise in the Square comes at a time when Corrie’s grip on storytelling seems to be on the slide, but it seems unlikely.

On the face of it, Corrie still does gags, humour and slapstick, and does it like no other soap, but it’s never really mastered ethnic diversity. They’ve tried, but EastEnders has always been one step ahead and it may well be this combination of diversity and character-inspired humour that’s driving EastEnders while Corrie stalls.

Whether it’s one-liners about ULEZ, Felix, a Black drag queen getting one over on Phil Mitchell or Yolande being called a Jezebel, it’s a humour borne out of character and different experiences, kind of like the idea that Corrie’s built on Northern humour.

But it’s not just about the laughs, as Coronation Street is probably discovering. In recent years, families like The Baileys have injected diversity into the Street and, thinking positively, it’s come from a good place. They’re a family first rather than just a Black family. The thing is, they’re just like everyone else on the Street, only less so. Drained of anything that makes them unique, their characters kind of lack dimension.


None of which you could accuse Yolande of. With oodles of character and bags of dimension, some might say she’s got too much for a woman of such religious conviction.

Having burst onto the scene on the back of an extramarital fling, her relationship with Patrick over the years has been one of ups, downs, near-dalliances and physical absences. On top of that, she’s become known for having a temper that’s less than godly.

No doubt familiar with turning a cheek, Yolande prefers to slap it whenever she gets the chance, as we’ve seen on numerous occasions. Having lost her rag with Patrick, Pat, Charlie Slater and, most recently, Agatha, the prayer group gossip, she brings fire and brimstone to quite a few scenes over the years, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

This week, however, we’ve seen a different side to Yolande. For years, her character has been at one with Patrick’s. Whether meddling, cooking, praising or do-gooding, most of Yolande’s storylines have revolved around her relationship with Patrick, but she’s now got a breakout storyline of her own, albeit a pretty grim one.


For weeks, we’ve watched the much-respected Pastor Clayton acting inappropriately towards Yolande and passing it off as a figment of her imagination. The touches, looks and casual appearances at her house all manifested as epic gaslighting and an insistence that she was wrong. But this week, after being sexually assaulted by the Pastor, Yolande’s worst fears came true.

It may have taken over two decades, but Angela Wynter’s portrayal of a victim of sexual assault, and its aftermath, have really struck a chord. Widely praised as powerful, Wynter’s acting has also been recognised, which may be two decades overdue, but better late than never.

EastEnders airs on Mondays – Thursdays at 7.30pm on BBC One. The show also streams on BBC iPlayer, where most episodes drop early at 6am ahead of their TV broadcast.

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