5 Best British Soap Operas

Friday, January 28 by Sandi Harrison

There are numerous soap operas in Britain and these are the 5 best British soap operas currently. It appears that the most successful soap operas in Britain deal with realistic characters and everyday situations. Strong characters, humor and varied interactions among the characters also keep the viewers interested.

  1. “Emmerdale” (formerly “Emmerdale Farm”) stars Elizabeth Estensen, Mark Charnock and Lucy Pargeter (1972 to present). The show originally started on a farm and later moved to the town of Beckindale (which was later changed to Emmerdale). The soap did not receive as much attention as other soaps at the time, until a plane crash in Beckindale in 1994 drew the attention of viewers. This event brought new life to the soap and many new viewers. Over the years the focus has changed from the Sugden family to the Tate family, and presently different families take center stage. The cast consists of a variety of characters which keep it interesting, as well as the number of disasters that happen.
  2.  “Hollyoaks” stars Nick Pickard, Gerard McCarthy and Ashley Taylor Dawson (1995 to present). This British soap opera follows teens and their families as they go from grade school throug high school and college, and finally into the working world. It is set in the fictional Chester suburb Hollyoaks at the Hollyoaks Community College, which used to be a technical college in the 1950s. The target audience is older teens and young adults.
  3. “Coronation Street” stars William Roache, Helen Worth and Simon Gregson (1960 to present).  This is the most successful British soap opera and the longest running one. It started out as a thirteen-episode series originally called Florizel Street, but its realistic depiction of everyday life in Weatherfield, which is a working class region of northwest England, made it popular. The cast of characters is strong and the scripts which are skillfully written are often humorous. Instead of dealing with social issues, the soap opera deals on relationships between families. The show is also famous for producing independent, strong women who often encourage the viewers to make moral judgments of a particular character’s behavior. It has also been the base for many novice actors and writers. It has an average of sixteen million viewers.
  4. “EastEnders” stars Steve McFadden, Adam Woodyatt and Pam St. Clement (1985 to present). This British soap is set in Walford in London’s East End. It mainly focuses on working-class families that are often interrelated. It illustrates the mix of people who actually live in urban Britain. The characters are multi-racial and varied ages, genders, and personalities, allowing for greater audience identification. Approximately eight families are showcased in various scenes. The story encourages viewer involvement with the characters and their lives. It portrays social issues such as abortion, drugs, AIDS, racism, domestic violence, homosexuality, teen pregnancy, and violence with the hopes of educating the public. The cast portrays middle class life with ordinary-looking, unsuccessful people, which makes it much more realistic to the viewers.
  5. “Doctors” stars Christopher Timothy, Ariyon Bakare and Tom Butcher (1999 to present). This British soap opera is filed at Mill Health Centre and Letherbridge University’s Campus Surgery. Christopher Timothy stars as “Mac,” a general practitioner who is a reformed alcoholic, but much respected. Each storyline begins and concludes in one episode, but may have a sub-plot that could run over several episodes. The episodes often star familiar, well-known actors. This soap has changed actors and locations many times over the past years and is still waiting for a coveted evening slot. It is now produced in HD and won two British Soap Awards in 2010.
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