The History of Soap Operas-00-3144

By: 4Ps_Marketing

The US enjoyed the glossier versions of soap land like Dallas and Dynasty while Britain introduced new programmes like Brookside and EastEnders in the 1980s. Australia joined in to bring us the daily action in Ramsey Street with Neighbours and Summerbay’s very own Home and Away. The Australian offerings mainly appealed to a young audience with teenagers watching the programmes religiously. Taking heed of the success down under, the UK brought in their own versions of teenage friendly soaps with Hollyoaks rating the most popular.

This change of target audience to include a wider range has made soaps even more popular and yet many of them will feature similar storylines and characters. With the ratings war as tough as it is in the UK, many of the most watched soaps push the limits further and further to gain more viewers than the other with Coronation Street and Eastenders often going head to head for the best soap awards. A British soap opera will run week in, week out with many making special Christmas episodes that will last longer than usual and feature a daring storyline.

The theme tunes to the household names are well known and ring out from television sets up and down the country at the same time, on the same days throughout the year. British soap operas will try to make the storylines as realistic as possible compared to the more glamourous look of the US series. Characters will nearly always include the following: a troublesome teenager, an elderly couple, a young couple, a single parent, a grumpy neighbour, a tearaway, a businessman, a strong woman and a weak woman. People from different ethnic backgrounds and beliefs will also feature and a mixture of races and ages with varied sexual orientations will be mingled together in one fictional street/town where the public sit back and watches in delight as the mayhem commences.

As the times change, so do the storylines and where once an argument outside the Rovers Return was considered scandalous, rape, murder, adultery, theft and fights are now common place. What would Eastenders be without a glass-ashtray-across-the-back-of-the-head storyline and Hollyoaks with faithful couples? The answer is simple; in the reel bin! As the UK audience demands more risqué storylines and each programme competes to outdo one another, the world of soap is arguably spinning out of control (but what fun to watch!) with serial adulterer Kevin Webster and London hard man Phil Mitchell continuing to play their repetitive parts much to the joy of the fans. Where more serious series like 24 would be condemned if storylines followed the same pattern and characters didn’t grow and evolve into something new, soap land thrives on it.

The settings of the British soaps play an important part of the programme and many of the most well known English cities and regions feature in the top rated soaps, including London, Manchester and Yorkshire. The strong regional connections help to create the scripts. The East End of London is often associated with pubs, brawling, single parents and market stalls with everyone calling each other ‘bruv’ or ‘mate’, compared to the Yorkshire Dales where the most scandalous events tend to be a life changing announcement down the Woolpack or the local vet sleeping with the barmaid. But, in true English style, a few murders will always be thrown in for good measure and the revolving life of the soap operas continue to amaze and entertain.

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