Soap Opera

A soap opera, sometimes called “soap” for short, is an ongoing, [1]

A crucial element that defines soap opera is the open-ended nature of the narrative, with stories spanning several episodes. The defining feature that makes a television program a soap opera, according to Albert Moran, is “that form of television that works with a continuous open narrative. Each episode ends with a promise that the storyline is to be continued in another episode”.[3]

Soap opera stories run concurrently, intersect and lead into further developments. An individual episode of a soap opera will generally switch between several different concurrent story threads that may at times interconnect and affect one another or may run entirely independent of each other. Each episode may feature some of the show’s current storylines but not always all of them. Especially in daytime serials and those that are screened each weekday, there is some rotation of both storyline and actors so any given storyline or actor will appear in some but usually not all of a week’s worth of episodes. Soap operas rarely bring all the current storylines to a conclusion at the same time. When one storyline ends there are several other story threads at differing stages of development. Soap opera episodes typically end on some sort of cliffhanger, and the Season Finale ends in the same way, only to be resolved when the show returns for the start of a new yearly broadcast.

Evening soap operas and those that screen at a rate of one episode per week are more likely to feature the entire cast in each episode, and to represent all current storylines in each episode. Evening soap operas and serials that run for only part of the year tend to bring things to a dramatic end-of-season cliffhanger.

In 1976, [7]


[edit] Plots and storylines

The main characteristics that define soap operas are “an emphasis on family life, personal relationships, sexual dramas, emotional and moral conflicts; some coverage of topical issues; set in familiar domestic interiors with only occasional excursions into new locations”.[9]

In many soap operas, in particular daytime serials in the United States, the characters are frequently attractive, seductive, glamorous and wealthy. Soap operas from Australia and the United Kingdom tend to focus on more everyday characters and situations, and are frequently set in working class environments.[12]

romance novels. Soap opera storylines sometimes weave intricate, convoluted, and sometimes confusing tales of characters who have affairs, meet mysterious strangers and fall in love, and who commit adultery, all of which keeps audiences hooked on the unfolding story twists. Crimes such as kidnapping, rape, and even murder may go unpunished if the perpetrator is to be retained in the ongoing story.

Australian and UK soap operas also feature a significant proportion of romance storylines. In Russia, most popular serials explore the “romantic quality” of criminal and/or oligarch life.

In soap opera storylines, previously unknown children, siblings, and evil variety) of established characters often emerge to upset and reinvigorate the set of relationships examined by the series. Unexpected calamities disrupt weddings, childbirths, and other major life events with unusual frequency.

Much like retcon explained that Taylor had actually gone into a coma.

Stunts and complex physical action are largely absent, especially from daytime serials. Such story events often take place offscreen and are referred to in dialogue instead of being shown. This is because stunts or action scenes are difficult to adequately depict visually without complex action, multiple takes, and post production editing. When episodes were broadcast live, post production work was impossible. Though all serials have long switched to being taped, extensive post production work and multiple takes, while possible, are not feasible due to the tight taping schedules and low budgets.

[edit] United States

[edit] Daytime serials

Publicity photo of As the World Turns.

Soap operas became a staple of daytime television in the United States in the early 1950s. Along with game shows, reruns of situation comedies, and talk shows, the soap opera was traditionally a fixture in the American broadcast networks’ daytime schedules. Christina S. Beck argues the significance of soap operas are based on viewers’ co-constructing narratives to show how both traditional and online soaps help negotiated the lived experience of people.[13]

Many long-running US soap operas established particular environments for their stories. The Young and the Restless first focused on two families, the prosperous Brooks Family with four daughters, and the working class Foster family of a single working mother with three children. Its storylines explored realistic problems including cancer, mental illness, poverty and infidelity.

In contrast, horror storylines. Their characters included vampires, witches, ghosts, goblins and angels.

The American soap opera Procter & Gamble, Guiding Light was heard or seen nearly every weekday since it began, making it the longest story ever told in a broadcast medium.

Originally serials were broadcast as fifteen-minute installments each weekday in daytime slots. In 1956 As the World Turns and The Edge of Night, both produced by Procter & Gamble Productions, debuted as the first half-hour soap operas on CBS Television. All soap operas broadcast half-hour episodes by the end of the 1960s. With increased popularity in the 1970s most soap operas expanded to an hour in length by the end of the decade (The Bold and the Beautiful airs 30-minute episodes.

Soap operas were originally broadcast live from the studio, creating what many at the time regarded as a feeling similar to that of a stage play. As nearly all soap operas were originated at that time in New York, a number of soap actors were also accomplished stage actors who performed live theatre during breaks from their soap roles. In the 1960s and 1970s, new serials such as General Hospital, Days of our Lives, and The Young and the Restless were produced in Los Angeles. Their success made the West Coast a viable alternative to New York–produced soap operas, which were becoming more costly to perform.

By the early 1970s, nearly all soap operas had transitioned to being taped. As the World Turns and The Edge of Night were the last to make the switch, in 1975.

telenovela arcs, but this was rejected.

Though US daytime soap operas are not generally CBS.

Newer broadcast networks since the late 1980s, such as MyNetworkTV, but the experiment was largely a failure.)

Due to the masses of episodes produced for a series, release of soap operas to DVD (a popular venue for distribution of current and vintage television series) is considered impractical. With the exception of occasional specials, daytime soap operas are notable by their absence from DVD release schedules (an exception being the 1960s-70s supernatural soap opera, Dark Shadows, which did receive an almost complete release on both VHS and DVD).

[edit] Actors

See List of longest-serving soap opera actors

Due to the longevity of these shows it is not uncommon for a single character to be played by multiple actors. The key character of Jill Foster Abbott on The Young and the Restless has been played by several different actresses.

Conversely several actors have remained playing the same character for many years, or decades even. Helen Wagner played Hughes family matriarch Nancy Hughes on American soap As the World Turns from its April 2, 1956 debut through her death in May 2010. She is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records[14] as the actor with the longest uninterrupted performance in a single role. Fellow As the World Turns actors, Eileen Fulton and Don Hastings who played Lisa Grimaldi and Dr. Bob Hughes, respectively, played their roles nearly as long, both having joined the show in 1960, and remaining through the show’s 2010 cancellation. William Roache has played Ken Barlow continuously from 1960 on the British soap Coronation Street, which is also the longest-running television soap in the world still in production. In Rachel Ames played Audrey Hardy in General Hospital from 1964 until 2007, and returned in 2009. Susan Lucci played Erica Kane in All My Children since the show’s debut in January 1970 until the show ended in September 2011. Ray MacDonnell played Dr. Joe Martin in that series from the show’s 1970 debut until 2010. Erika Slezak has played Victoria Lord on One Life to Live since 1971 and Jeanne Cooper has played Katherine Chancellor on The Young and the Restless since late 1973.

Starting from the 2000s it had become increasingly common for long-term regular cast members to be dropped from contract status to recurring status, a part of contract negotiations largely restricted to U.S. soap operas. As recurring players they are paid only for those episodes in which they appear; this can be more cost effective for the series in the case of performers making sporadic or occasional appearances.

Other actors have played several characters on different shows. Michael Sabatino have all played multiple soap roles.

[edit] Evolution of the daytime serial

For several decades most US daytime soap operas concentrated on family and marital discord, legal drama, and romance. The action rarely left interior settings, and many shows were set in fictional, medium-sized Midwestern towns.

Exterior shots, once a rarity, were slowly incorporated into the series Ryan’s Hope. Unlike many earlier serials which were set in fictional towns, Ryan’s Hope was set in real location, New York City, and outside shoots were used to give the series greater authenticity.

The first exotic location shoot was made by Rita Bauer’s torrid affair.

Jamaica to tape a love consummation storyline between Garth and Kathy.

During the 1980s, perhaps as a reaction to the evening drama series that were gaining high ratings, daytime serials began to incorporate action and adventure storylines, more big-business intrigue, and an increased emphasis on youthful romance. Serials also focused on developing supercouples.

One of the first and most popular supercouples was Elizabeth Taylor was a fan and at her own request was given a guest role in Luke and Laura’s wedding episode. Luke and Laura’s popularity led to other soap producers striving to reproduce this success by attempting to create supercouples of their own.

With increasingly bizarre action storylines coming into vogue Luke and Laura saved the world from being frozen, brought a mobster down by finding his black book in a Left-Handed Boy Statue, and helped a Princess find her Aztec Treasure in Mexico. Other soap operas attempted similar adventure storylines, often featuring footage shot on location – frequently in exotic locales.

During the 1990s, the mob, action, and adventure stories fell out of favor with producers due to generally declining ratings for daytime soap operas at the time, and the resultant budget cuts. In the 1990s soap operas were no longer able to go on expensive location shoots overseas as they had in the 1980s. In the 1990s soap operas increasingly focused on younger characters and AIDS and death on General Hospital. Other social issues included cancer, homophobia, and racism.

Some shows of the 2000s incorporated supernatural and science fiction elements into their storylines. One of the main characters in US soap opera Port Charles has featured vampires and an angel. Frequently these characters are isolated to one of the ongoing story threads to allow a fan to ignore them if they do not like that element.

[edit] Traditional grammar of daytime serials

Modern U.S. daytime soap operas largely stay true to the original soap opera format. The duration and format of storylines and the visual grammar employed by US daytime serials set them apart from soap operas in other countries and from evening soap operas. Stylistically, UK and Australian soap operas, which are usually produced for early evening timeslots, fall somewhere in-between US daytime and evening soap operas. Similar to US daytime soap operas, UK and Australian serials are shot on videotape, and the cast and storylines are rotated across the week’s episodes so that each cast member will appear in some but not all episodes. UK and Australian soap operas move through storylines at a faster rate than daytime serials, making them closer to US evening soap operas in this regard.

American daytime soap operas feature stylistic elements that set them apart from other shows:

  • A construct unique to US daytime serials is the format where the action will cut between various conversations, returning to each at the precise moment it was left. This is the most significant distinction between US daytime soap operas and other forms of US television drama, which generally allow for narrative time to pass, off-screen, between the scenes depicted.[3]
  • In US daytime soap operas, scenes often end with a pregnant pause and a close-up on the character. There will be no dialogue for several seconds, while the music builds before cutting to a commercial or a new scene. This kind of segue is referred to in the industry as a “tag.”
  • The traditional back lighting to lift actors out of the background. This is useful in programs like soap operas which are shot on videotape in small interior sets. The backlight is frequently more subtle on filmed productions shot on location and in larger sets.
  • Domestic interiors are often furnished with stained wood wall panels and furniture, and items of brown leather furniture. This is to give a sumptuous and luxurious look suggesting the wealth of the characters. Daytime serials often foreground other sumptuous elements of set decoration; presenting a “mid-shot of characters viewed through a frame of lavish floral displays, glittering crystal decanters or gleaming antique furniture”.[8]
  • Few US daytime soap operas routinely feature location or exterior-shot footage (Guiding Light began shooting many of its scenes outdoors in its final two seasons). Often an outdoor locale is recreated in the studio. Australian and UK daily soap operas invariably feature a certain amount of exterior shot footage in every episode. This is usually shot in the same location and often on a purpose-built set, with new exterior locations for particular events.
  • The visual quality of a soap opera is usually lower than prime time US television drama series due to the lower budgets and quicker production times. This is also because soap operas are recorded on videotape using a ABC in January 2012.
  • Soap operas have idiosyncratic blocking techniques. In one common situation, a romantically involved couple start a conversation face-to-face, then one character will turn 180° and face away from the other character while conversation continues. This allows both characters to appear together in a single shot, and both facing the audience. This is unrealistic in real life and is not frequently seen in film or on television outside US daytime serials, but it is an accepted soap opera convention sometime referred to as a Two Shot West.[15]

[edit] Decline


The years 2009 to 2011 have seen the fall of America’s veteran soaps. The longest-running drama in television and radio history, Guiding Light, barely reached 2.1 millions daily viewers in 2009 and was ended.[20] As the World Turns aired its final episode in 2010 after a 54 year run. As the World Turns was the last of 20 soap operas produced by Procter & Gamble, the same company that initiated the “soap opera” expression back in the 1930s.[21] All My Children and One Life to Live, each having an over four-decade run, were both cancelled in 2011, with All My Children airing its finale in September 2011 and One Life to Live last airing in January 2012.

Beginning in the 1970s, as women increasingly worked outside of the home, daytime television viewing declined. Since more people were at work, fewer people are available to watch daytime serials. New generations of potential viewers were not raised watching soap operas with their mothers, leaving the long and complex story lines foreign to younger audiences. As soap opera viewers are aging, ratings continue to drop among young adult women, the demographic group that networks and advertisers target for these types of shows.[22]

Part of the genre’s decline has also been attributed to audiences switching to reality programming as a source of TV melodrama.[25]

In 2012, Soap Life, a film that chronicles the current decline of the genre and looks to what the future may hold for daytime dramas.

[edit] The primetime serial

Serials produced for primetime slots have also found success. The first real prime time soap opera was novel).

The popularity of Peyton Place prompted the CBS network to spin-off popular Our Private World (originally titled “The Woman Lisa” in its planning stages). Our Private World ran from May until September 1965. The character of Lisa returned to As The World Turns after the series ended.

The structure of the Peyton Place with its episodic plots and long-running story arcs would set the mold for the prime time serials of the 1980s when the format reached its pinnacle.

The successful prime time serials of the 1980s included Abby Cunningham and Angela Channing respectively. These villainous schemers became immensely popular figures that audiences “loved to hate”.

Unlike daytime serials which are shot on video in a studio using the single camera setup, and featured much location-shot footage, often in picturesque locales. Dallas, its spin-off Knots Landing, and Falcon Crest all initially featured episodes with self-contained stories and specific guest stars who appeared in just that episode. Each story would be completely resolved by the end of the episode and there were no end-of-episode cliffhanger. After the first couple of seasons all three shows changed their story format to that of a pure soap opera with interwoven ongoing narratives that ran over several episodes. Dynasty featured this format throughout its run.

The soap opera’s distinctive open plot structure and complex continuity was increasingly incorporated into American prime time television programs of the period. The first significant drama series to do this was Hill Street Blues. This series, produced by Steven Bochco, featured many elements borrowed from soap operas such as an ensemble cast, multi-episode storylines, and extensive character development over the course of the series. It and the later Cagney & Lacey overlaid the police series formula with ongoing narratives exploring the personal lives and interpersonal relationships of the regular characters.[26] The success of these series prompted other drama series, such as St. Elsewhere, and situation comedy series, to incorporate serialized stories and story structure to varying degrees.

The prime time soap operas and drama series of the 1990s, such as Friday Night Lights.

The upstart telenovelas (a genre that is similar to a soap opera in terms of content) upon its launch in 2006, but ended its use of the format in 2007 after disappointing ratings.

In 2012, a continuation of the 1980s soap opera, It premiered June 13, 2012. It has delivered solid ratings for cable and has been renewed for a second season.

In 2012, Alcanzar una estrella. It has delivered disappointing ratings, always receiving less than a million viewers.

[edit] United Kingdom

See List of longest-serving soap opera actors

In the United Kingdom, soap operas are one of the most popular genres, most being broadcast during prime time. In comparison to US serials which frequently portray romantic storylines in sumptuous and glamorous locales, most UK soap operas focus on more everyday, working-class communities.

The most popular soaps are Home and Away. The first three of these are consistently among the highest-rated shows on British television.

The 1986 Christmas Day episode of EastEnders is often given as the highest-rated UK soap opera episode ever, with 30.15 million viewers (in 2007, the UK had approximately 54 million viewers). The figure of 30.15 million was actually a combination of the original broadcast which had just over 19 million viewers, and the Sunday omnibus edition with 10 million viewers. The combined 30.15 million audience figure often sees it attributed as the highest-rated program in UK television for the 1980s, comparable to the records set by the 1970 splashdown of Apollo 13 (28.6 million viewers), and Princess Diana‘s funeral in 1997 (32.1 million viewers).[27]

Coronation Street, Emmerdale and EastEnders are popularly known as the “flagship” soaps, as they are the highest rating programmes for BBC respectively. Poor ratings for a UK flagship serial sometimes brings with it questions about the associated channel. The soaps are so popular they are not routinely scheduled against each other. Episodes of serials have clashed only on isolated occasions when extended episodes have been screened.

[edit] Origins

Soap operas in the U.K. began on radio and consequently were associated with the BBC. It had resisted soaps as antithetical to its quality image, but began broadcasting Front Line Family in April 1941 on its North American shortwave service to encourage American intervention on Britain’s behalf in World War II.[28] The BBC continues to broadcast the world’s longest-running radio soap, The Archers, which has been running nationally since 1951. It is currently broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and continues to attract over five million listeners, or roughly 25% of the radio listening population of the UK at that time of the evening.

An early television serial was The Grove Family on the BBC. 148 episodes were produced from 1954 to 1957. The series was broadcast live and only a handful of recordings were retained in the archives.

In the 1960s Coronation Street revolutionised UK television and quickly became a British institution. Another of the 1960s was wiped.

During the 1960s Coronation Street’s main rival was Birmingham motel and, although the series was popular, its purported low technical standard and bad acting were much mocked. By the 1980s its ratings had begun to decline. Several attempts to revamp the series through cast changes and, later, expanding the focus from the motel to the surrounding community were unsuccessful. Crossroads was cancelled in 1988. (A new version of Crossroads was later produced, running from 2001 until 2003.)

A later rival to Coronation Street was ITV’s Yorkshire setting. Increased viewing figures saw Emmerdale being moved to a prime-time slot in the 1980s.

Pobol y Cwm (People of the Valley) is a Welsh language serial produced by the BBC since October 1974. It is the longest-running television soap opera produced by the BBC. Pobol y Cwm was originally transmitted on BBC Wales television between 1974 and 1982. It then transferred to the Welsh-language television station S4C when it opened in the November 1982. The series was occasionally shown on BBC1 in London during periods of regional optout in the mid-late 1970s. Pobol y Cwm was briefly shown in the rest of the UK in 1994 on BBC2, with English subtitles. It is consistently the most watched programme of the week on S4C.[29]

[edit] The 1980s

Daytime soap operas were non-existent until the 1970s because there was virtually no daytime television in the UK. ITV introduced Home and Away was shown on ITV from 1989. These achieved significant levels of popularity. Neighbours and Home and Away were moved to early-evening slots and the UK soap opera boom began in the late 1980s.

When Ricky Tomlinson), a militant trade-unionist anti-hero, was the most overtly political character. Storylines were often more sensationalist than on other soaps (in the soaps history there were two armed sieges on the street) and were staged more graphically with violence (particularly, rape) being often used.

In 1985, the BBC‘s London based soap opera EastEnders debuted and was a near instant success with viewers and critics alike, with the first episode attracting over 17 million viewers. The Christmas Day 1986 episode was watched by 30.15 million viewers and contained a scene of divorce papers served to Angie Watts by her husband Den. Critics talked about the downfall of Coronation Street[citation needed], but Coronation Street continued successfully. In 1994, when the two serials were scheduled opposite each other, and Corrie won the slot. For the better part of ten years[when?], the show has shared the number one position with Coronation Street, with varying degrees of difference between the two.

A scene from EastEnders on Christmas Day 1986, watched by 30.15 million viewers. The story, where divorce papers, was the highest-rated soap episode in British history, and the highest-rated programme in the UK during the 1980s


A notable success in pioneering late-night broadcasting, in October 1984, Channel 5 also acquired repeat rights for a full rerun of the series, starting in 1997. All 692 episodes are now being released on DVD in the UK.

[edit] The 1990s

In 1992, the Family Affairs, which debuted as a five-days-a-week soap.

Brookside’s premise evolved in the 1990s. It phased out the politicised stories of the 1980s, shifting the emphasis to controversial and sensationalist stories such as child rape, sibling incest, religious cults, and drug addiction, including the infamous ‘body under the patio’ storyline which ran from 1993–95, and gave the serial its highest ever viewing figures of 9 million.

Coronation Street and Brookside started to release straight-to-video features. The Coronation Street releases generally kept the pace and style of conventional series episodes with the action set in foreign locations. The Brookside releases were set in the usual series location but featured stories with adult content not allowed on pre-watershed television, with these releases given ’18’ certificates.

The remodelling of the Emmerdale Farm series, led to the Farm being dropped from the title in 1989. In 1993, many of the changes where executed via a plane crash that partially destroyed the village and killed several characters. This attracted criticism as it was broadcast near the fifth anniversary of the Lockerbie bombing. The storyline drew the soap its highest ever viewing figures of 18 million, and helped massively with the revamp of the series which became a success and Emmerdale grew in popularity.

Throughout the 1990s the soap operas Brookside, Coronation Street, Eastenders and Emmerdale continued to flourish. Each increased the number of weekly episodes transmitted by at least one, further defining soap opera as the leading genre in British television.

[edit] The 2000s

Since 2000, new soap operas have continued to be developed. Daytime drama River City, which proved popular and effectively replaced High Road when it was cancelled in 2003. The long-running serial Brookside ended in November 2003 after 21 years on air, leaving Hollyoaks as Channel 4’s flagship serial.

A new version of Crossroads featuring a mostly new cast was produced by Night and Day. This series too attracted low viewing figures and after being shifted to a late night time slot was cancelled in 2003. Family Affairs, which was broadcast opposite the racier Hollyoaks, never achieved significantly high viewing figures leading to several dramatic revamps of the cast and marked changes in style and even location over its run. By 2004, Family Affairs had a larger fan base and won its first awards, but was cancelled in late 2005.

ITV launched the new soap opera Moving Wallpaper. Both Echo Beach and The Royal Today ended after their initial first season. Due to poor viewing figures neither were picked up for a second run.

Radio soap opera Silver Street debuted on the BBC Asian Network in 2004. Poor ratings and criticism of the series led to its cancellation in 2010.[30]

[edit] Format

UK soap operas for many years usually only aired two nights a week. The exception was the original Crossroads which began as a five-days-a-week soap opera in the 1960s, but was later reduced. Things started to change in 1989 when Coronation Street began airing three times a week. In 1996, it expanded again, to air four episodes a week. Brookside began in 1982 with two episodes a week. Starting 1990 it aired three episodes a week. The trend was followed by EastEnders in 1994 and Emmerdale in 1997. Family Affairs debuted as a five-days-a-week soap in 1997 and regularly ran five episodes a week its entire run. The imported Neighbours screens as five new episodes a week, which are shown once at 1:45 pm and repeated at 5:30 pm on Channel 5 each weekday.

Currently Coronation Street (which began screening two episodes on Monday nights in 2002) and Hollyoaks both produce five episodes a week, while EastEnders screens four. In 2002 Brookside went from three half hour episodes on different week nights to airing one ninety minute episode each week. In 2004 Emmerdale began screening six episodes a week. Doctors screens five episodes a week. It is the only soap without a weekend omnibus repeat screening.

In a January 2008 overhaul of the ITV network the Sunday episodes of Coronation Street and Emmerdale were moved out of their slots. Coronation Street added a second episode on Friday evenings at 8:30 pm. Emmerdale’s Tuesday edition was extended to an hour, putting it in direct competition with rival EastEnders.

In July 2009, the schedules of these serials were changed again. Starting 23 July 2009 Coronation Street moved from the Wednesday slot it held for 49 years, to Thursday evenings. Emmerdale’s reverted to screening just one thirty minute episode on Tuesday evenings and the other thirty minute installment was moved to Thursday evenings.[31]

UK soap operas are shot on videotape in the studio using a multicamera setup. Since the 1980s they routinely feature outdoors footage in each episode. This footage is shot on videotape on a purpose built outdoor set that represents the community the soap focuses on.

[edit] Australia

See List of longest-serving soap opera actors

Australia has had quite a number of well known soap operas, some of which have gained cult followings in the UK, New Zealand and other countries. The majority of Australian television soap operas are produced for early evening or evening timeslots. They usually produce two or two-and-a-half hours of new material each week, either arranged as four or five half-hour episodes a week, or two one-hour episodes. Stylistically they most closely resemble UK soap operas in that they are nearly always shot on videotape, mainly in the studio using a multicamera setup. The original Australian serials were shot entirely in the studio. During the 1970s, occasional filmed inserts were used to incorporate outdoor-shot sequences in soap operas. Outdoor shooting later became commonplace and starting in the late 1970s it became standard practice that there will be some location-shot footage in each episode of any Australian soap opera, often to capitalise on the attractiveness and exotic nature of these locations for international audiences.[32] Most Australian soap operas focus on a mixed age range of middle-class characters and will regularly feature a range of locations where the various, disparate, characters can meet and interact, such as the café, the surf club, the wine bar, or the school.[32]

[edit] Early serials

The genre began in Australia, as in other countries, on radio. One such radio serial, Big Sister, featured actress The Story of Peter Grey (1961). Again this was a Seven Network series screened weekdays in a daytime slot, with each episode fifteen minutes in duration. The Story of Peter Grey had a run of 164 episodes.

The first successful wave of Australian evening soap operas started in 1967 with Motel (1968) was Australia’s first half-hour soap opera. Screened in a daytime slot the series had a short run of 132 episodes.

[edit] 1970s hit soaps

The first big soap opera hit in Australia was the sex-melodrama Class of ’74. Its attempts to hint at the sex and sin shown more openly on Number 96 and The Box along with its high school setting and early evening time slot meant it came under intense scrutiny of the Broadcasting Control Board who vetted scripts and altered whole storylines. By 1975, both Number 96 and The Box, perhaps as a reaction to declining ratings for both shows, de-emphasised the sex and nudity moving more in the direction of comedy. Class of ’74 was renamed Class of ’75 and also added more slapstick comedy for its second year, but the revamped show’s ratings dwindled and it was cancelled in mid-1975.

A feature film version of Bellbird entitled Country Town was produced in 1971 not by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation but by two of the show’s stars, Gary Gray and Terry McDermott. Number 96 and The Box also had feature film versions, both of which had the same title as the series, released in 1974 and 1975 respectively. As Australian television was in black and white until 1975 these theatrical releases all had the novelty of being in colour. The film versions of Number 96 and The Box also allowed more explicit nudity than could be shown on television at that time.

Launched on the The Young Doctors, which also screened on Channel Nine starting late 1976. This show eschewed the sex and sin of Number 96 and The Box instead emphasising light-weight storylines and romance. It was also popular but unlike The Sullivans it was not a success with critics. Meanwhile in 1977, Number 96 would re-introduce nudity, with several much-publicised full-frontal nude scenes featured in an attempt to boost the show’s plummeting ratings.

[edit] Rise of the Grundy Organisation serials

Bellbird, Number 96 and The Box were all cancelled in 1977. All had been experiencing declining ratings since 1975 and various attempts to revamp the shows with cast reshuffles or spectacular disaster storylines had proved only temporarily successful. Late that year they were replaced by such successful new shows as the Crawfords Produced The Restless Years (1977–1981) on Channel Ten, which was another teen soap produced by the Reg Grundy Organisation.

The Reg Grundy Organisation subsequently reached even higher levels of success with women’s-prison drama Sons and Daughters (1981–1987) on the Seven Network. Both shows achieved high ratings in their first run, and unusually, found success in repeats after their original runs ended.

The Young Doctors and The Sullivans ran on Nine until 1982. Thereafter Channel Nine attempted many new soap operas, several produced by the Reg Grundy Organisation, including Neighbours, a suburban-based daily serial devised as a sedate family drama with some comedy and lightweight situations, for the Seven Network in 1985.

Produced in Melbourne at the studios of A Country Practice and Sons and Daughters.

After the network cancelled Neighbours, it was immediately picked-up by Channel Ten. They revamped the cast and scripts slightly and from January 20, 1986 aired the series in the 7.00 p.m. slot. It initially attracted low viewing figures however after a concerted publicity drive Ten managed to transform the series into a major success, turning several of its actors into major international stars. The show’s popularity eventually declined and it was moved to the 6.30 p.m. slot in 1992, yet the series retains consistent viewing figures in Australia and is still running today, making it Australia’s longest-running soap opera.

The success of Neighbours prompted the creation of somewhat similar suburban and family or teen-oriented soap operas such as E Street (1989–1993).

Meanwhile Nine had still failed to find a successful new soap opera. After the failure of family drama Chances in 1991. Chances resurrected the sex and melodrama of Number 96 and The Box in an attempt to attract attention. Chances achieved only moderate ratings, although the increasingly bizarre storylines were much-discussed. The series continued into 1992, albeit in a late-night timeslot, and was cancelled in 1992.

[edit] Australian soaps internationally

Several Australian soap operas have also found significant international success. In the UK, starting in the mid 1980s, daytime screenings of The Young Doctors, The Sullivans, Sons and Daughters and Neighbours achieved significant success. Neighbours was subsequently moved to an early-evening slot. Grundy’s Prisoner began screening in the United States in 1979 and achieved high ratings in many regions there, however only the first three years of the series would be screened in that country. Prisoner was also screened in late-night timeslots in the UK beginning in the late 1980s, achieving enduring cult success there. The show became so popular in the UK that it prompted the creation of two stage plays and a stage musical based on the show, all of which toured the UK, among many other spin-offs. In the late 1990s, Return to Eden, two slick soap opera dramas with big budgets and shot entirely on film. Though their middling Australian ratings ensured they ran only a single season both programs were successfully sold internationally.

Other shows to achieve varying levels of international success include Richmond Hill, E Street, Pacific Drive (1995–1997). Indeed these last two series were designed specifically for international sales. Channel Seven’s Home and Away, a teen soap developed as a rival to Neighbours, has also achieved significant and enduring success on UK television.

[edit] Teen-oriented serials to the world

Since 1990, most new Australian serials have been based on the successful Neighbours formula of foregrounding youthful attractive casts in appealing locations. The main exception to this was the Australian Broadcasting Corporation produced Something in the Air, a rural-based serial examining a range of characters in a small country town. This series ran from 2000 until 2002.

Attempts to replicate the success of daily teen-oriented serials Neighbours and Home and Away saw the creation of [34] However, Neighbours and Home and Away both continue to achieve significant ratings in the UK. This and other lucrative overseas markets, along with Australian broadcasting laws that enforce a minimum amount of local drama production for commercial television networks, help ensure that both programs remain in production. Both shows get higher total ratings in the UK than in Australia (the UK has three times Australia’s population) and the UK networks make a major contribution to the production costs.

It has been suggested that with their emphasis on the younger, attractive and charismatic characters, Neighbours and Home and Away have found success in the middle ground between glamorous, fantastic US soaps with their wealthy but tragic heroes[8] a middleground in which they have found their lucrative niche.

Neighbours, which is celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2005, was aired on the US channel The Young and The Restless, and due to low ratings it was cancelled shortly afterwards.

New Australian serial Channel 4 in the UK.

After losing the rights to screen Neighbours in the United Kingdom to Five, the BBC commissioned new serial [38]

[edit] Canada

Due to the economics of television production in Canada, relatively few daily soap operas have been produced on English Canadian television, with most Canadian stations that do air soap operas airing American or British ones. Notable daily soaps that did exist included Canadian content regulations, which require a percentage of programming on Canadian television to originate from Canada.

Notable prime time soap operas in Canada have included Degrassi franchise of youth dramas also incorporated some elements of soap opera.

On French-language television in Le Cœur a ses raisons.

[edit] India

India has many soap operas. These started in the late 1980s, as more and more people began to buy televisions. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, soap operas became an integral part of Indian culture. Indian soap operas mostly concentrate on the conflict between love and arranged marriages occurring in India[citation needed]. Many of the soap operas include conflicts between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law.

The most common languages in which Indian serials are made include Malayalam.

Many soap operas produced in India are also broadcast overseas in the UK, USA, and some parts of Europe, South Africa, and Australia. They are often mass-produced under large production banners, with companies like Balaji Telefilms running different language versions of the same serial on different television networks or channels.

[edit] Europe

[edit] Remakes of Australian serials

Australian serial storylines. They are the highest rated soap operas in their respective countries.

A later Australian serial, Zabranjena ljubav (Croatia, 2004–2008).

Both The Restless Years and Sons and Daughters were created and produced in Australia by the Reg Grundy Organisation.

[edit] Norway

The Norwegian soap opera TV 2). These series are subtitled.

[edit] Netherlands

Serials have included Goede tijden, slechte tijden (1990–present), ONM (1994–2010) and Goudkust (1996–2001).

US daytime serials As The World Turns and The Bold and the Beautiful have been broadcast in the Dutch subtitles.

[edit] Germany

In the 80s, German networks successfully added American daytime and primetime soap operas to their schedule before Marienhof, airing it two times a week.

After successfully creating the first German daily soap, production company Grundy Ufa wanted to produce another soap for RTL. Like GZSZ, the format was based on an Australian soap opera from Unter uns in late 1994 also produced by Grundy Ufa.

The RTL II made its own short attempt with Alle zusammen – jeder für sich.

The teenage soap opera Schloss Einstein debuted on September 4, 1998, and is still running. As of April 2012, 705 episodes in 15 seasons have aired, a milestone in German television programming. Up to episode 740 is planned for season 15. A 16th season for 2013 has been confirmed. The series describes the life of teenagers in the fictional boarding school Schloss Einstein near Berlin.

In 1999, after the lasting success of Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten, Marienhof, Unter uns and Verbotene Liebe, Pay-TV.

telenovelas, all soap operas had to face a decline in the ratings. Unter uns was in a scare of cancellation in 2009, which was prevented by budget cuts and the firing of original cast member Holger Franke. Fans were outraged by his firing and the character’s death, which resulted in a ratings spike in early 2010. After Unter uns was saved, Das Erste was about to make a decision in its soap line-up. Marienhof had to deal with multiple issues in story telling as well as in producing a successful half-hour of television. Several changes were made within months, but in the end Marienhof was canceled in June 2011. Verbotene Liebe was about to get canceled as well, but could convince the network with its changes in 2010 as well as in 2011. The soap opera later was extended to an hour after Marienhof was canceled and the network tried to make up their mind about a new line-up.

While Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten, Unter uns, Verbotene Liebe and Alles was zählt are currently the only daily soaps on the air, the telenovelas Rote Rosen are considered soaps by the press as well, thanks to the changing protagonists every season.

[edit] Belgium

Leah Thys, actress in the Belgian soap Thuis. At the back Peter Rouffaer is visible.

In Belgium the two major soap operas are Thuis (Home) and Familie (Family).

Soap operas have been very popular in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. “Familie” started in late 1991, and with over 5000 half-hour episodes, it has the highest amount of episode of a soap on the European continent. The highest rated soap opera is “Thuis“, airing at “één” since late 1995. “Thuis” often is in the top-5 of most watched Belgian shows and has over one million viewers (with 6.3 Flemmings in total).

In the 90s, foreign soap operas such as “Santa Barbara” was aired in the 90s at VTM for its entire run.

The only teenage soap opera on Belgian television was Ketnet. From late 2002 until 2009, over 600 15-minute episodes were shown. The show got axed after many of the original characters departed and the ratings dropped steadily.

[edit] Italy

The most successful soap operas in Italy are the evening Un posto al sole (A place under the sun), which airs on the channel Rai 3 since 1996 and the daytime Centovetrine (Hundred shop windows), which began its airing in 2001 on Canale 5. A bunch of other Italian soaps have been produced as well such as Ricominciare (Starting over), Cuori rubati (Stolen hearts), Vivere (Living), Sottocasa (Downstairs) and Agrodolce (Bittersweet). The most popular Italian prime-time drama series Incantesimo (Enchantment), that run from 1998 until 2008, has been transformed into daytime soap opera in its final two years, airing 5 days-a-week on Rai 1.

[edit] Ireland

[edit] Television

In the early years of RTÉ they produced several dramas but had not come close to a long running serial. RTÉ’s first Television soap was Tolka Row was based in urban Dublin. For a number of years both Tolka Row and The Riordans were produced by RTÉ, soon however the urban soap was dropped for the more popular rural soap opera The Riordans – which began in 1965.[39] Executives from Yorkshire Television visited the on location filming of The Riordans in the early 1970s and in 1972 began broadcasting Emmerdale Farm based on the successful format of the Irish soap opera. In the late 1970s The Riordans was dropped with great controversy. The creator of the series would then go on to produce the second of his “Agri-soap” trilogy Bracken starring Gabriel Byrne whose character had appeared in the last number of season of The Riordans. Braken was soon replaced by the 3rd “Agri-soap” Glenroe which ran until 2001. RTÉ wanted a drama series for Sunday nights rather than a soap opera, On Home Ground (2001–2002), The Clinic (2002–2009) and RAW (2010 – Date) replaced the agri-soaps of the previous decades.

In 1989 RTÉ decide to produce its first Dublin based soap opera since the 1960s. RTÉ One. With broadcasts of Coronation Street on rival network TV3 moving to Thursday night, the Wednesday night episode of Fair City broadcasts at 7:30pm each week.


Although Ireland has access to international soaps, such as Fair City continues to outperform them all, and is Ireland’s most popular soap-opera, with the show peaking at over 700,000 viewers.

[edit] Radio

On radio You Me Now in September 2010. It is available for podcast on their website.

[edit] France

France had no real tradition of daytime series, until the creation of France 3. It airs every weekday at 8.00 pm. After initial poor ratings, the show became a huge success and has been one of the most highly rated series on the network. Other attempts were made by competitors to create soaps (including Seconde Chance, Cinq soeurs and Paris 16ème) but have not achieved success.

[edit] Greece

In Greece there have been several soap operas.

[edit] ANT1

An early serial was Sti skia tou hrimatos (Money Shadows) (1990–1991). September 1991 saw the debut of Lampsi (the Shining) by Nicos Foskolos. This series would become Greece’s longest-running soap opera. After the success of Lampsi came the short lived To galazio diamandi (Blue diamond) and Simphonia siopis (Omertà).

Lampsi was canceled in June 2005 due to declining ratings. It was replaced by the new soap opera Erotas (Love) which ran from 2005 to 2008. After that ANT1 abandoned the soap opera genre and focused on comedy series and weekly dramas.

Greece’s second longest-running soap is Kalimera Zoi (Goodmorning Life). It premiered in September 1993. It was cancelled June 2006 due to unsatisfactory ratings.

[edit] MEGA

Mega Channel began soap opera production in 1990 with the prime time serial I Dipsa (The Thirst). This series had a run of 102 episodes. Their daytime shows included Paralliloi dromoi (1992–1994) and by Haravgi (Daylight) (1994–1995). The ratings of both shows were low.

Other serials include Apagorevmeni Agapi (Forbidden Love) 1998–2006; Gia mia thesi ston Ilio (A Spot Under the Sun) 1998–2002; Filodoxies (Expectations) 2002–2006; Vera Sto Deksi (Ring on the Right Hand) 2004–2006. Vera Sto Deksi proved a successful rival to Lampsi, causing its ratings to decline.

Ta Mistika Tis Edem (Edem Secrets) debuted in 2008. This new serial was created by the producers of Vera Sto Deksi, and it has eclipsed that show’s success. Its ratings place it constantly on the top three daytime programs.

[edit] ERT

IENED (renamed ERT2 in 1982) was responsible for the first Greek soap operas I Kravgi Ton Likon and Megistanes. ERT also produced long running soap O Simvoleografos.

Since 2000 and with the introduction of private TV, ERT produced further daily soap operas, but these failed to achieve high ratings and were canceled shortly after their premiere. These included Pathos (Passion), Erotika tis Edem (Loving in Eden), Ta ftera tou erota (The Wings of Love).

[edit] ALPHA

Alpha produced Kato apo tin Acropoli (Under the Acropolis) which ran two and a half years.

[edit] Cyprus

[edit] Weekday shows

The first daytime soap opera made by a Cyprus channel was LOGOs TV Odos Den Ksehno (‘Don’t Forget’ Street) which premiered on January 1996 but was canceled by December the same year. It was followed by To Serial which was also broadcast for one year from September 1997 to June 1998. CyBC created the third weekday soap which was Anemi Tou Pathous (Passion Winds) beginning January 2000 and finishing June 2004. It was followed on the CyBC daytime timeslot by I Platia (The Square) which premiered on September 2004 and finished on July 2006. Epikindini Zoni was aired on 2009–2010 season but was cancelled after 120 episodes. Vimata Stin Ammo is CyBC current weekday soap aired since September 2010 and will continue for a second season for 2011–2012.

On Sigma TV their first weekday show was the comedy Sto Para Pente which was shown from September 1998 until June 2004 and is the longest weekday show in Cyprus history. Other Sigma TV weekday shows include Akti Oniron (1999–2001), Vourate Geitonoi (2001–2005) (which is the most successful weekday show achieving ratings up to 70%), Oi Takkoi (2002–2005), S’ Agapo (2001–2002), Vasiliki (2005–2006), Vendetta (September 2005 – December 2006), 30 kai Kati (2006–2007), Mila Mou (September 2007 – January 2009). Its current soap opera is Se Fonto Kokkino shown since September 2008 and broadcast more than 400 episodes.

ANT1 Cyprus aired the soap I Goitia Tis Amartias in 2002 which was soon canceled. Dikse Mou To Filo Sou followed (2006–2009), followed by Gia Tin Agapi Sou (2008–2009) and then by Panselinos (since 2009).

[edit] Weekly shows

The longest-running weekly show on Cyprus television is Istories Tou Horkou (Villages Stories, 1996–2006 and 2010–2011) (CyBC) which was premiered on March 1996 but was canceled on June 2006. It returned for a new season on September 2010 but the ratings were so low, that CyBC canceled the show again on March 2011. Second is Manolis Ke Katina (Manolis And Katina, 1995–2004). Most controversial is To Kafenio (The Coffee Shop, 1993–2000) which premiered on CyBC on 1993 as a weekly show, moved to MEGA Channel Cyprus 6 years later (1999) as a weekday show and then to ANT1 Cyprus on 2000 where it was canceled a year later. Plans of moving back to CyBC again as a weekly show for a 9th season, in 2001, with the original cast never realised. Currently the most successful weekly show in Cyprus is Eleni I Porni (Eleni, The Whore) by ANT1 Cyprus (premiered in October 2010) and Stin Akri Tu Paradisou (At The Heaven’s Edge) by CyBC (premiered in 2007). The most successful weekday show was Aigia Fuxia shown on ANT1 Cyprus (2008–2010).

[edit] Internet and mobile soap opera

With the advent of EastEnders. For those produced only for the mobile phone, episodes may generally consist of about 6 or 7 pictures and accompanying text.

On September 13, 2011, mystery. The viewer had to read Rachel’s and Lorcán’s blogs as well as watch video diaries detailing the thoughts of each character to solve the mystery of missing teenager, Ciara.

In 2011, it was announced that All My Children and One Life to Live would leave television and move their series exclusively on the internet in 2012, effectively making them web series. However, it was later announced that because of economic issues with running daytime dramas on the internet, those plans were canceled.[44]

[edit] Parodies

Several soap opera parodies have been produced.

Crossroads and other British soap operas of the 1970s.

Two of the most famous U.S. parodies were the series miniseries spoof of the primetime serials of the period.

Dirty Sexy Money was in a way a soap opera parody but, in actuality more of a satire that operated in a humorous way that similar to a parody. The series was critically acclaimed but only lasted two seasons.

Let The Blood Run Free (1990–94) was an Australian parody of medical drama series. Shark Bay (1996) was an Australian parody of glamorous beach side soap operas. It featured many actors who had appeared in Australian soap operas Sons and Daughters, Prisoner, Home and Away and Neighbours.

Beverly Hills, 90210.

South African comedian Egoli: Place of Gold.

Second City TV featured “The Days of the Week”. “Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. Friday. Saturday. Sunday. These are…The Days Of The Week.”

Twin Peaks was a primetime soap opera that poked fun at the genre. Episodes in the first season of ‘Twin Peaks’ also included a soap within a soap, a fictional program entitled Invitation to Love.

Roxy Balsom desperately tried saving it, to no avail. A special episode on December 19, 2011 featured the cast of One Life to Live acting out an episode of Fraternity Row in a dream of Roxy’s; the episode poked fun at both One Life to Live and the entire genre itself, featuring many soap opera stereotypes such as over-acting, outrageous story lines, bad casting and incestuous relationships, also parodying some storylines from One Life to Live. The second-to-last episode of One Life to Live showed characters watching the final episode of Fraternity Row, and exposing the last big secret of Fraternity Row; the main heroine and protagonist of the series, Lorraine King Vonvaldenburg Baxter Beumont, was really a man.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ b Bowles, p. 118
  3. ^ c Bowles, p. 121
  4. ^,9171,913850,00.html. Retrieved May 20, 2009.
  5. ^ “Soap star stats: Susan Seaforth Hayes (Julie, DAYS)”. Retrieved May 20, 2009.
  6. 0-345-32459-5 (1st edition).
  7. 0-06-101157-6.
  8. ^ d Bowles, p. 119
  9. ^ Geraghty, p. 30
  10. ^ Bowles, p. 119-120
  11. ^ Geraghty, p. 34
  12. ^ Geraghty, p. 35
  13. ^ Beck, Christina S. (2012 April–June). Communication Studies. 2 63: 152–171.
  14. dead link]
  15. ^ Mittell, Jason (2009). Television and American Culture. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 191–192.
  16. ^ Brodesser-Akner, Taffy (February 19, 2012). “After Some Soaps’ Cancellations, Others Adjust”. The New York Times.
  17. ^
  18. ^ Villarreal, Yvonne. “Show Tracker: What You’re WatchingDisney Junior 24/7 channel launches Friday.” Los Angeles Times Blog 22 March 2012. Web. 19 April 2012.
  19. ^ Waggett (1997). “Soap Opera Nielsen Ratings”. Soap Opera Encyclopedia. pp. 626-628.
  20. ^ “September 14-18, 2009 – SON Community”. Retrieved 2012-04-27.
  21. ^ Carter, Bill; Stelter, Brian (December 9, 2009). “CBS Cancels As the World Turns, Procter & Gamble’s Last Soap Opera”. The New York Times ( Retrieved September 17, 2010.
  22. ^
  23. ^ Kantrowitz, Barbara (September 6, 2009). “After 72 Years, Springfield Gets a Stop Sign”. The New York Times.
  24. ^ Carter, Bill; Stelter, Brian (December 9, 2009). “CBS Cancels ‘As the World Turns,’ Procter & Gamble’s Last Soap Opera”. The New York Times.
  25. ^ Garrett, Jerry (December 3, 2008). “As the Big 3’s World Turns”. New York Times. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
  26. ^ Bowles, p. 123
  27. ^ James Tapper (May 1, 2005). “The biggest TV audience ever… it is now”. London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 2007-05-20.
  28. 0-19-508566-3.
  29. ^ “”. 2005-11-01. Retrieved 2012-04-27.
  30. ^ “BBC Press Release”. BBC. Retrieved 30 January 2010.
  31. ^ Blackburn, Jen (July 8, 2009). “Corries Wed shows scrapped”. The Sun (London).
  32. ^ c Bowles, p. 120
  33. ^ Mercado, p. 231
  34. ^ Kilkelly, Daniel. ‘Neighbours’ ratings a cause for concern” Digital Spy. March 18, 2007. Accessed 2007-05-19.
  35. ^ 13:00 (2009-01-29). “BBC – Out of the Blue – Homepage”. Retrieved 2012-04-27.
  36. ^ “Out of the Blue fails to impress UK viewers”. Melbourne: AAP. May 12, 2008.–radio/not-out-of-the-blue/2008/05/12/1210444287750.html. Retrieved 2008-05-17.
  37. ^ “What’s on TV – Top TV listings guide, plus soaps, news, prizes and previews”. Retrieved 2012-04-27.
  38. ^ “BBC scrap Out of the Blue soap”. BBC News. July 1, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-09.
  39. ^ “”. Retrieved 2012-04-27.
  40. ^ “”. Retrieved 2012-04-27.
  41. ^ “”. Retrieved 2012-04-27.
  42. ^ “”. Retrieved 2012-04-27.
  43. ^ “”. 2010-10-20. Retrieved 2012-04-27.
  44. ^ .

[edit] External links

Source: Wikipedia