Wednesday 16 July 2014

Community as Context: EastEnders, Public Service and Neoliberal Ideology

As part of our secondary research we encountered an article, focusing on the soap opera of EastEnders and how, along with other soaps, it is viewed as a public service, addressing current affairs that informs the reader; this article linked this to neoliberalism.

The article touches upon various views on the British soap opera, questioning 21 viewers about their beliefs and thoughts on the programme. The interview was carried out by breaking the talk in to 6 parts, discussing their thoughts of the soap, concluding that EastEnders was informative however the melodramatic elements and need for entertainment portrayed the information as "distorted".

The article revealed that EastEnders is not "simply a cultural phenomenon" but is, in fact, a "site of neoliberal ideology through the concept of public service and cultural citizenship". It begins to challenge how EastEnders fills the role of representing society, however focuses on the matter that this is not achieved, due to the setting and narrative, which focuses on a small community rather than society as a whole.

One sector of society that isn't portrayed in the soap is the poor/ second class citizens which is apparent in the UK.

"It has not achieved truly hegemonic status in the UK, since it has failed to successfully colonise important sectors of popular culture and civil society more generally and, as Gramsci has argued, hegemony requires 'The ''accrediting'' of the cultural fact, of cultural activity, of a cultural front alongside the merely economic and political ones'."

We see the article address EastEnders as a form of public service, raising issues not just of private concern but also public, with a focus on 'everyday actions'. This considers that the soap opera focuses on informing audience members on current affairs and other issues that could affect them in everyday life, like EastEnders bringing in stereotypical narratives on cheating and alcoholism. The article states that we view EastEnders as a cultural resource, contributing not so much to the classic public sphere, also known as the popular public sphere. Soap operas also stimulate family discussion which may not otherwise be discussed, addressing controversial story lines which are becoming more and more apparent in the modern day. This links to the functions of escapism and social interaction involved in soap operas.

The interviews that SAGE conveyed alerted some trends in viewer beliefs, with audience members contemplating whether EastEnders is realistic or unrealistic, although we should note that there is no evidence that they experience this as being in any way an inevitable contradiction. Many feel that the programme is "exaggerated", "over the top" and in some cases "ridiculous and surreal", however, despite some viewers stating this opinion, there are many aspects that are realistic, particularly the apparent social issues that reflect contemporary affairs, giving a sense of realism.

Some viewers even related the programme to the news due to the fact its tackles “topical issues”, such as the involvement of drugs and other illegal substances involved in society.

"The connection that the participants see between soaps and the news point clearly to viewers' ability to exploit them as sources of information about their society which are 'more open than the news' "

We are then exposed to the question; is EastEnders considered a public service? Many of the participants involved with the article answered in a negative and hesitant manner, although they were not short to acknowledge that EastEnders raised important social issues; they felt that the fact of it being a soap opera put it beyond what they understood as public service, considering the likes of civil servicemen to fulfil this ideology. Some early evening programmes (including soap operas) may be viewed as public service due to the social role and importance they play in airing complex and controversial issues.

"No [laughing]...I should say 'maybe', but no, it doesn't- but in a way I can see that it could be for some people" [in relation to the question listed before]

[Alice and Kira]

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Genre Theory

There are many theories about what genre is and how it affects us as an audience. Alongside the theories are the theorists, some that we have studied are Rick Altman, Jason Mittell and McQuail’s Uses and Gratifications. These all give us a deeper understanding of the various meanings and conventions of a genre in soap operas.
Genre is a type of narrative or item that ties together the aspects of a piece of media, whether film or TV, and labels it in a certain category. This label is identified by the audience member to what is expected of the content, for example, if a film is labelled as a horror, it is expected to denounce death and gore, creating stereotypes.

Genre theorists touch upon what genres are identified as, other by audience or content, and how we are able to find genre in not only film but also Soap Operas.

Barry Keith Grant;
Barry Keith Grant was the theorist behind the creation of sub-genres. He believed that sub-genres gave a more specific categorisation to particular audience members using recognisable characteristics. This identification with a familiar is what labels the media with a particular genre theme, for example a Soap Opera is a genre of media, however, the likes of Emmerdale involve the sub-genres or horror, romance and comedy, using different narrative structures and characters to present these ideas. In Emmerdale, the sub-genre of comedy is pronounced through different characters, such as Sam and David, who are labelled as "dopey" and "clumsy", fulfilling a character profile of a bungler.
This idea of sub-genres gives the audience an idea behind what content is involved in the Soap Opera, as well as the characters and narratives, therefore deciding on whether they would find it entertaining or not.

Soap Opera
Romance, Comedy, Crime, Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Coronation Street
Romance, Comedy, Crime, Mystery, “paranormal”
Romance, Comedy, Crime, Mystery, Thriller
Romance, Comedy, Crime, Horror, Mystery, Thriller, “Paranormal”

As you can see, there are various sub-genres, however most of these are present in various Soap Operas, although the theme of "paranormal" elements has only been seen in Hollyoaks and Coronation Street, with Vera reappearing to take Jack to "heaven" as well as Carmel being visited by her murdered husband telling her to move on with her life. 


One theorist named Buckingham believes that our identity as an audience changes overtime. He studied the interactions of young children and people with electronic media, a device which he believes has sped up the retaining of identity for younger audiences by revealing to them from a young age all negative events which have occurred, such as in Soap Operas when they link to current affairs, for example, ‘EastEnders’ portraying mass murderous villains, like Lucas, and affairs, like the one between Kat and Derek. He argues that as we grow older our understanding of identity becomes more complex, in comparison to the limited identity of children knowing the differentiation between male and female, which contemporarily can be blurred, to us as the older viewer. This is linked to the younger audience of Soap Operas who would most likely interact with the function of personal identity; for example, if someone in ‘Hollyoaks’ (target audience 16-24), were to be stereotyped as a certain characteristic, such as Newt, who dressed in all black with dark make up on, signifying that he was an emo, may present to young audience members other identities other than male and female.
Linking back to this male and female identity, as we become older we understand that there are stereotypes between men and women, which can also be taught to the younger audience who may be unaware, such as the new character in ‘Hollyoaks’, Blessing, who has just been revealed as a male rather than her portrayed female persona.

McQuail touches upon the Uses and Gratifications Theory, which studies the understanding to why people look specifically for media that satisfies their specific needs, such as for escapism or personal identitfication. Although other theories, such as Altman, focus towards the effect of the media on the audience, the Uses and Gratifications theory is focused on how people use the media for their own personal gain.
McQuail gives the examples that people use the media for;

Seeking information
  • Finding out about relevant events in the immediate surroundings, society and the world
  • Seeking advice on practical matters or opinion and choices
  • Satisfying curiosity and general interest
  • Learning and self-education
  • Gaining a sense of security through gain of knowledge

Personal Identity
  • Finding reinforcement for personal values
  • Finding models of behaviour
  • Identitfy with others (for example, their role models)
  • Gaining insight in to their own personality and characteristics

Social Interaction
  • Gaining insight in to circumstances of others
  • Identifying with others and gaining a sense of belonging
  • Finding a basis for conversation and social interaction
  • Having a substitute for real-life companionship
  • Connecting with family and friends
  • Escapism
  • Relaxation
  • Cultural enjoyment
  • Emotional release
This theory by McQuail is related to the functions of Soap Operas and why people watch them, either for entertainment value or for social interaction. For example, EastEnders' story line focusing around Johnny and how his mother was cold towards him after finding out he is gay, lead to some maybe relating to the story if they have been rejected by their families due to their sexual orientation, however it does not affect everyone, therefore representing the uses and gratifications theory to the fact that viewers watch media for different reasons, especially to Soap Operas.

Neale believes that stories in Soap Operas and other media forms focus on the repetition element in order to obtain their audiences and attract a larger amount. For example, a conventional narrative that i popular for a Soap Opera is an affair. Affairs usually occur in soaps, however, by involving different characters, narratives and plot twists it engages the audience, rather than keeping it the same characters and becoming unattractive to the audience.
This happened in the past, for example, Cindy had an affair with Reese when they were both getting married to Tony and Jacqui. However, during a huge disastrous crash at Cindy's wedding, Reese died, although has recently been reincarnated and having an affair with Cindy again, who is now seeing Dirk. Although this includes the same characters in the narrative, there is a plot twist, involving the fact that Cindy has become mentally ill due to the poor health of her baby which is still living in hospital months after birth. As of this, her imagination has conjured up Reese, with her believing she is having an affair when she is not. This creates suspense, and for those that are aware of the story line with Reese it restimulates the story and produces familiarity.
Neale focuses on this repetition and difference and how he believes that, by focusing stories that are often shown, it is those focused around the repeated that include different and unusual narratives that drives audience pleasure; "there would be no pleasure without difference" [1980]. He believes that functions of genre is to guarantee meanings and pleasures, as well as creating a comparison of familiarity and difference within the media piece, such as a typical relationship involving two characters from Hollyoaks, Dennis and new girl Blessing, being changed in to a unique story line by being the first trans gender character in a Soap after Hayley Cropper from Coronation Street. This contrast between the two types of narratives creates audience pleasure as it puts a twist on something well known that is expected.

Rick Altman

Altman’s theory is that the genre helps depict what is to become of the leading film or programme e.g. romance would have a couple fall in love, horror would almost certainly present a horrible death.  He thought that they had particular characteristics that audiences could familiarize with and expect or judge what is to happen before even watching the piece. They develop an understanding that certain expectations can be fulfilled. To link this to soap operas is quite simple; the soap opera genre consists of many sub-genres like drama, romance and murder mystery. When audiences anticipate what is to happen in the soap, they are predicting things like ‘who will marry who? Could it be her that killed him?’ And as this carries through, they are being an active audience member which is what most producers like as it gives them the sense that the audience is intrigued by the piece and is constantly interpreting the stories being presented. The changes through the years of soaps have been very distinct. For example, the growing number of sub-genres like horror or comedy has really made their ‘stamp’ in the programmes. For example, compared to when it first aired, EastEnders has vastly growing number of murders and suspicions of the killer. This has brought the horror genre prominently into the soap which was not so clear at the start of the programme. The use of sun genre links me to my next theorist.

Jason Mittell

Mittell believed that it was better to emphasize a breadth rather than depth knowledge and use of genre. He also believed that the media and producers saw genre as a money making tool and he wished that they would see a relationship between them and the audience allowing a more natural piece to be formed. He was very much against specificity of genres and focused on generality so that they could be used and swapped into different sub-genres.  For example, Dallas shows a generalization of the soap genre; however they do focus mainly on drama but branch further out from that stimulus. They take the drama genre and include different genres like a romantic drama where a relationship is being taunted, much like J.R and Sue Ellen where there relationship went through a rollercoaster of problems, from affairs to secrets being kept and stealing each other’s money. It explored many genres without isolation or strictly sticking to its only connotations. Successfully in some soap operas, Mittell wanted to historicize and contextualize genre.


Soap Opera's Relevance To The News

In the current stage of television, soap operas tend to demonstrate topical issues that may be presented “coincidentally” at a similar time that the affair is being discussed in the news. Some may think that life has more drama than any EastEnders or Dallas; fall out with politicians, politician destroying and creating laws, laws being broken and exposed, exposed affairs of gay marriage, divorces, widowing, and the list goes on and on and on…
But when these issues congregate together in a soap opera with a few disagreeing mothers, jealous sisters and a murderous-next-door-neighbor, things start to get a lot more exciting. Especially if you have an audience that feel very strongly about the matter, most likely is that if they have seen the current affair on the news, they would have discussed it, thought about it, debated the matter and then come to a indisputable agreement on their opinion.
However, some audience members have a good insight to the new structure and tactic of soap operas. They say that soap operas are more successful at raising certain public issues that the news, this could be from maybe the stories are more intriguing and deliver is in smaller portion than it one big “blow”. One person working with a production says “they were looking for some help in understanding why they had lost over a quarter of a million views of their soap”. Unfortunately, using these public issues could be dangerous as if you deliver it the wrong way or just the wrong story, then the public may see the programme in a total different light.
An example of the use of current affairs is the 2013 Lauren Branning alcoholic story. A few months before the story, there was a break out in the news that 36% of teenagers reaching the legal age of 18 are already. The process of Laurens alcoholism started when she underage drank at a party and since then it has been a slow and steady process, but when she could buy the alcohol, it sent her off the rails. This luckily did not cause a stir in the public’s eye because they were aware that such ruthless acts were being performed by such young people. “We have to make it painful to watch because this issue affects people in real life – it actually hurts,” “A lot of people have said that it’s really upsetting to watch Lauren go through this, but I think it’s worth it. You have to go all out, especially on a show like EastEnders.” says Jacqueline Jossa. The night we discovered she was being sent to rehab, the BBC received over 800,000 phone calls to the helpline asking for guidance on their or other people’s alcoholism.
Over all, the relevancy of current news being implanted into soaps can raise awareness, allow the audience to not feel so isolated or alone and make the story-line much more interesting to the viewers. Could congregating one week’s worth of current affairs make the entire country watch? Could we raise awareness easily? The production team are the ones in charge of that fate.


Are Soap Operas considered a Public Service?

"Around the world the genre has succeeded in providing "educational entertainment" - a blend of public service messages and melodrama that has enraptured millions of viewers."
 - Hegarty, S: How Soap Operas changed the world: April 2012 

The cross over of current affairs with the entertainment value that soaps are stereotypically supposed to offer, confuses the audience when taking in to consideration whether Soap Operas are a public service.

A Public Service is a service provided by the government service to people in the country (and/or surrounding area that its "power" applies to) though directly acknowledging the public sector. This term usually applies to the services such as fire brigades, policemen and paramedics. 

This term initially focuses towards these services that are used to help those in need, which, as we are not being "saved" initially by Soap Operas, we are enthused not to label the programmes as a "Public Service".

However, in relation to how the public benefit from these public services, Soap Operas can fit in to the category as they commonly  current affairs, helping audiences realise their surroundings and their own personal identity. Although the likes of the police force and fire service are included in the public service to help those in need, as well as making them safe, they are also used to identify problems and issues that could occur, which could benefit those in the future when it comes to their safety. This is also enticed by the likes of Soap Operas, who make us aware of certain situations and how these could be tackled.
An example of this is, when the story emerged from Hollyoaks involving John Paul as a rape victim, they paid close attention to how this situation could be handled, in order to not offend anyone who was going through the situation as well as providing information for those who could prevent the situation from happening. It showed only the aftermath of the event, portraying the stages of talking to the police through to the investigation. These type of narratives covering current affairs links to the portrayal of a public service as they provide in formation to the public to protect them and their safety, similar to the likes of policemen and other civil servicemen. 

Soap Operas linked to the civil service also provide stories that link to the "real world" that could be seen as controversial, such as EastEnders' portrayal of the first gay kiss in 1989. This caused outrage due to how controversial it was at the time, however it was noted that "on the second kiss there was barely any fuss. By the third kiss hardly anyone noticed," with viewers outlining that maybe it was a normal thing. This information provided to the audience, outlining the contemporary affairs of their surroundings contributes towards soap operas being pronounced as a public service. It is clear that the involvement of soaps in current affairs is the reason behind they are labelled as a part of the public service, alongside the likes of paramedics and the armed forces.

Monday 14 July 2014

Minutes Record Sheet

Date of meeting: 14/6/14
Held at: G2

People present:
- Kira Stokes
-Alice Smith
- Henry Ward

Matters Discussed

Person to take action/discussed by

Date to be Completed






Soap Operas in relation to the Public Service




Soap Opera's Relevance to the News



Genre Theory
Henry and Kira



Producers comments on various Soap Operas

Henry and Kira



Monday 7 July 2014

Claude Levi-Strauss - Binary Opposites

Claude Levi-Strauss is a French anthropologist who was born in Belgium in November 1908 and is well-known for his development of structural anthropology. He was the son of a Belgium artist and a member of an intellectual French Jewish family. He studied law and philosophy at the University of Paris however he didn't pursue his study of law, but aggregated in philosophy in 1931. Later in 1935, after a few years of secondary-school teaching, he took up a last-minute offer to be part of a French cultural mission to Brazil in which he would serve as a visiting professor of sociology at the University of São Paulo while his wife, Dina, served as a visiting professor of ethnology.
What Lévi-Strauss believed he had discovered when he examined the relations between my themes was that a myth consists of juxtaposed binary oppositions. Influenced by Hegel, Lévi-Strauss believed that the human mind thinks fundamentally in these binary oppositions and their unification and that these are what make meaning possible. Furthermore, he considered the job of myth to be a sleight of hand, an association of an irreconcilable binary opposition with a reconcilable binary opposition, creating the illusion, or belief, that the former had been resolved. He came about this theory after analysing his own family as a self-contained unit consisting of a husband, a wife, and their children. Nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents all were treated as secondary. He believed that families acquire determinate identities only through relations with one another which he concluded to be true after analysing his family in detail. Thus he inverted the classical view of anthropology, putting the secondary family members first and insisting on analysing the relations between units instead of the units themselves. He looked at marriages like tribes and noted that the relationship between the uncle and the nephew (Old and young) was to the relationship of the brother and the sister as the relationship to the father and the son is to the husband and the wife. To simplify this and to allow this theory to be used outside the family unit he simplified the theory into letters- A is to be as C is to D. Levi-Strauss wanted to simplify the masses of the data he collected into comprehensible and understandable relations between units. This analytically study allowed him to produce his binary opposite’s theory.

Levi-Strauss supported the idea that a structure of narrative in films, TV and story plots are dependent on binary opposites. This includes a usual conflict between two qualities or terms, for example the difference between young and old, male and female, rich and poor. This creates the idea that binary opposites isn’t only linked to character identity, such as good vs evil, but can be linked to their class or social status also. Furthermore, binary opposites are linked to stereotypes, such as a man being labelled as strong, aggressive and independent whereas a woman is portrayed as weak, emotional and sensitive, emphasising the binary opposites of characters. These sets of opposite values often link to the revealing of structure in narrative, as stereotypically, if a narrative involved good vs evil it is likely that the character labelled good will succeed to events.
Binary opposition can also be linked to setting, for example if a house of a character is large and grand we are given the impression that they are rich and are a part of a higher social class, especially in comparison to another setting which could be based in a dingy flat with low saturated lighting to connote poverty.

Binary Opposites

No technology
Soap Opera examples of Binary Opposites

Carmel and Mercedes (Hollyoaks)
Hollyoaks: Carmel and Mercedes: There are binary opposites involved within family units, portrayed by the characters of Carmel and Mercedes McQueen. Both daughters to Moira, Carmel connotes beauty, with her blonde hair, slim, tall figure and always wearing the colour white, whereas Mercedes connotes deviousness, wearing dark colours, usually reds and blacks, with dark hair and features. Carmel was viewed as the sister that always tried to do well, although she has not been fortunate yet with 2 out of 3 of her husbands being murdered. She had the careers of a police woman, before her first husband was murdered, then becoming a nun. This is different to Mercedes, who has never been seen to work a day in her life, being labelled the “money grabber” after marrying a doctor and a footballer, both being murdered, one by her for their money. This contrast within a family unit represents Strauss’ theory of binary opposites as, something that is supposed to connote similarity, is changed in to a difference. This is the same for the other sisters also, with the family being split in two; Mercedes, Jacqui and Michaela being the dark featured, cunning ones, although Jacqui was viewed almost as a matriarch after adopting Phoebe off of the streets and leaving the programme to save her family that was being threatened. On the other side of the family there is Carmel and Theresa, who are both pretty and blonde, however fit in to the stereotypical category of “bimbo”. Although they are similar in looks, like Jacqui and Mercedes, Theresa is labelled as spiteful, murdering people out of jealousy and selfishness (such as Carmel's first husband, Calvin). The binary opposites of Carmel and Mercedes almost links to that of good vs. evil, as Carmel is viewed as a victim of murder (both Calvin and Jim being murdered) whereas, although Mercedes past 2 husbands have also been murdered, she is the murderer of one.
 Tina and Carla (Coronation Street)
Coronation Street: Tina and Carla: Two unusually beautiful women as many could see. Two very similar looks presented by the colour of their hair or the transparency of their subtle make-up. Two, unusually strange, undying loves for the same man. This was the cause of such juxtaposition. Carla is the older of the two, but unfortunately, not the most mature. When she goes through such a hard time being suspicious that her husband is sleeping with another woman, she turns to drink and shows her dark side by involving herself in dark discussions of other people resulting in people revolving their hate around Carla. Controversially, Tina is the one that stays classy and centred when she is troubled that Carla will find out about her involvement in the affair. She simply keeps her youth, graciously stays quiet and “in the dark” about the whole situation, cleverly taking her out of suspicion that she could be the “other woman”

Bobby Ewing and J.R Ewing (Dallas)
Dallas: Bobby Ewing and J.R Ewing: The two are seen as inseparable brothers in Dallas; always sticking by each other’s side and never letting the other down. However, you could easily split the two apart if it was down to the media binary opposites of good vs evil, portrayed by the brothers. There has always been a highly competitive nature between the Dallas duo; J.R never seemed to aspire to be like his brother, but construct his own way to destroy what he had in order to bring them two back to the equilibrium. But Bobby was “the nice guy” with charming smiles, sustainable success and filled with good will. This was the thing that separated the two the most; the obvious outnumbering of good and evil. This shows a stereotypical outlook on the couple of Bobby and J.R as the contrast of good vs evil is portrayed through an unconventional detail of the family unit that is supposed to connote unison and strong relationships.

The Dingles and The Macey's (Emmerdale)
Emmerdale: The Dingles and the Macey's: The binary opposition portrayed in Emmerdale focuses on the split between social classes, linking wealth as well as job status in to the equation of binary opposites. The most well-known family in Emmerdale is the Dingles, who have been a part of the Soap for several years. The Dingles are often portrayed as lower class, always having money struggles and dealing with family feuds that occur on a regular basis, which is the binary opposite of the Macey family, who is linked to the Dingles through the marriage to Charity Dingle, named a Dingle after her recent marriage to Cain. 
His wealth and the location of his house contrasts with the characters of the Dingles who don’t fit in, although the representation of Charity combines both the wealth of the Macey family and the cunning manipulative personality of a vast majority of the Dingles, excluding the matriarch, Lisa, and her husband, Zak. This difference in social class creates the division through binary opposites, almost connoting logical verisimilitude as it is a binary opposite found in everyday life, rather than the stereotypical good vs. evil, usually a major function in narrative in superhero films. This social class divide, connoted through wealth, is a key element in Emmerdale with a contrast between many families, such as the struggling Spencer family and the wealthy Sharma's.
Dot and Dotty (EastEnders)
EastEnders: Dot and Dotty: “The family affair” duo were brought together by Dot’s money making devilish son Nick, who so unthoughtfully dumped his daughter on her doorstep in order that she would con her innocent grandmother out of hundreds of pounds. Putting this story to the side, we can see a huge contrast between the young and old. We see the difference between the two as Dot is the oldest resident in the square, knocking into her late 80s, whereas her granddaughter Dotty has just about entered the young age of 6. The cute, blameless dolly shoes are contrasted by the beaten and battered brogues. The summery, floral dress infused with colourful pigments, juxtaposed by the dull blue wrinkled laundrette uniform with the never ending tea stain on the pocket.

Kat and Roxy (EastEnders)
EastEnders: Kat and Roxy: they desperately fight over their love, Alfie Moon; however, they could not be more different. Roxy; a blonde haired bimbo in her early 20s, youthful and full of love although still portrayed in some light as feisty, like Kat, who we see as a hard faced woman with jet black hair, hard edged red lip gloss and not to mention a highly provocative dress sense, which use to be in the arms of her so beloved Alfie Moon.


Sunday 6 July 2014

Minutes Record Sheet

Date of meeting: 07/7/14
Held at: G2

People present:
- Kira Stokes
-Alice Smith
- Henry Ward

Matters Discussed

Person to take action/discussed by

Date to be Completed


Binary Opposites















Tuesday 1 July 2014

The Watershed

Broadcasting is the point in time after which programmes with adult content may be broadcast. Examples of the adult content that may be included are: graphic violence, horror, strong language, nudity, sexual intercourse, gambling and also drug use (or references to these without showing them). Watershed times vary around the world and some have multiple watershed layers where different things may be restricted throughout the evening. In the UK the Watershed is between 21:00 and 05:30 for main channels and for pre-pay/premium stations the watershed is reduced to 20:00. However not all programmes are allowed to be aired straight after the watershed has begun, there has to be a gentle transition into the more explicit programmes so those which contain large amounts of adult content and may be seen as an 18 must not air until 22:00. It isn't just television programmes that have to comply with the Watershed but also advertisements. 

‘There is ... a ... subtle sense in which soaps can be considered instructive. Since they concentrate on inter-personal relations ... set in a social and political milieu intended to parallel the surrounding society, they can hardly fail to send messages about appropriate or expected behavior.’ 
[Other Worlds: Society Seen through Soap Opera, D. Anger, Bradview Press, 1999.]

All of the soap operas that we have looked at so far have been shown before the Watershed which means that there may be younger viewers watching and broadcasters and producers need to take this into consideration. Soap operas do however raise awareness of certain situations and create discussion particularly between family members that may not have been discussed before. This is one of the positives of some scenes that are shown pre-watershed however some are considered to inappropriate and graphic for that time. Parents however are concerned although this is decreasing.

Its said that 36% of parents had expressed concerns about their children's viewing habits in 2009, but that figure had now dropped to 31%. In addition, 77% of parents thought the watershed fell at the right time, and 73% believed the amount of regulation of television was "about right". According to Ofcom's research, the types of pre-watershed programmes that caused most concern to the parents surveyed were soaps (14%) and film (14%), followed by reality programmes (12%) and music videos (11%). Ofcom's guidance reminded soap opera producers to be mindful of their pre-watershed audience, particularly with regard to violence.

This followed several complaints investigated by the watchdog - including a graphic fight between the King Brothers on Emmerdale and a gang attack on EastEnders, which resulted in Honey Mitchell going into premature labour. [Source:]

‘The emphasis on the family as a supportive structure and the difference between deviant or troublesome characters within the family and those outside it helps to explain why certain issues are taken up in the way that they are. In soaps ... problems are attached to or worked through with particular characters and the handling of a specific issue depends very much on the way in which that character has already been established.’ 
[Social Issues and realist soaps: A study of British soaps in the
1980/1990s, C. Geraghty in R. C. Allen (ed) To Be Continued ... Soap operas around the world, Routledge, 1995]

If anything within the soap opera is classed as 'distressing' then a helpline needs to be displayed at the end of the episode for viewers to call for any help or information regarding what has been shown during the programme. Most soap operas are shown early evening because this is the most convenient time for the mass audience.

The fact that soap operas raise issues for discussion, either within the family or outside, has

already been seen. Both the viewing of soap operas as a family and this element of
discussion are noted significantly more often in homes where there are children, with family
involvement increasing as a child gets older. []

Soap Opera

Usual viewing time
Coronation Street
Between 7:30-8:30
Between 7:00-8:30
Between 6:30-7:00
Between 7:00-8:00