TV Critic Ben House looks at the funny yet surprisingly realistic comedy This Country as it returns to BBC iPlayerWritten by Redbrick on 1st January 2018
Death to Daily Soaps
This week Laura Megatli discusses the significance of British Soaps, and if they should become weekly instead of daily
Since the age of twelve my Dad and I have had an on-going debate regarding the virtues of soaps. And no I don’t mean bath soap, thankfully we both agree that that kind of soap is a good thing. I’m talking about Eastenders, Coronation Street, Hollyoaks and Emmerdale; the likes of which have been welcome parties in my household’s weeknight viewings for as long as I can remember. There my father and I would stand, in our opposing corners, both adamant that our opinion was the only correct view and both prepared to defend said opinion. Him waving the ‘it’s not even entertainment’ banner and me with the megaphone screaming ‘it helps me to relax’. But as the popular saying goes, hindsight is a wonderful thing. Looking back I realise my juvenile argument based on relaxation was lacking in so many ways. For one, what kind of taxing activities had I been undertaking at school that meant my poor young brain needed some time out, also how in the world can anyone describe a half hour of screaming, plotting and let’s face it poor acting as relaxing. Now when I occasionally watch the soaps I find myself getting more and more wound up at the absurd storylines and complete lack of acting abilities.
Daily soaps just aren’t what they used to be, I am fully aware that this makes me sound like a nostalgic Grandmother 'back in the day...', but it’s true. All the storylines and various plots have been done and done again, almost as though there is a competition with the soaps to see who can repeat the same plot the most. Lesbian relationships are no longer shocking, murder is a given, abduction, kidnapping and alcoholism make us yawn and marriage and divorce are as common as explosions. With every possible topic being bludgeoned to death by various producers it won’t be long until Eastenders ends on the cliff hanger of someone losing their shopping list or the mini mart running out of eggs.
I’m not saying we should scrap Enders and Corrie completely but something drastic needs to happen i.e. a face lift, tummy tuck and gastric band, or maybe just turning them into weekly soaps. If the soaps went from daily to weekly, writers would have more time to think through storylines and weasel out the naff stuff. This would give actors more time to rehearse and therefore (hopefully) act better, therefore the audience wouldn’t have to put up with yet another awkward scene where someone cries after some terrible news about their famous brownie recipe going missing or something equally mundane.
Maybe it’s a case of becoming less stubborn and coming round to my dad’s way of thinking, or maybe it’s because I’ve finally opened my eyes and realised what drivel I’ve been watching. Whatever it is, my weeknight ritual of soap watching has come to a halt, and I think the daily soaps should follow suit. And while I’ll never mutter the words ‘my Dad was right’ maybe, just maybe, he wasn’t completely wrong.