Thursday 7 August 2014

Analysis of Soap Opera Title Sequences

Over the summer we were set the task of watching and analysing 4 soap opera title sequences, these had to include 2 UK, 1 American and 1 Australian titles. I chose to look at Coronation Street, Emmerdale(UK), The Young and The Restless (US) and Neighbours (AUS).

UK soap operas- Coronation Street and Emmerdale

Coronation Street's title sequence- The programmes title sequence has changed over time and in total there have been 8 main title sequence changes which have all largely followed the same format and layout which follow on from one another with only slight variations to incorporate recent trends.

It was when their broadcasting channel became available in high definition the soap decided to change their title sequence and make them more modernised, it was first used on television on Episode 7351 on the of May 2010. The title sequence incorporates scenes from the centre of Manchester where the soap opera is based as well as other shots from around the set, the title doesn't actually show any of the shows characters or current storylines and is based around the location of the programme as this will not differ for the majority of the episodes unless the cast are on location. Regular viewers will be familiar with the shots used within the title sequence and this may evoke happy memories from watching the soap opera for some years; this is particularly key for the shot with the cat as this has been an essential ingredient in Coronations Street's opening title sequence for four successive title sequences. Shots of the Rover Return and slate tiles on the roofs of the houses are easily identifiable and are notoriously associated with Coronation Street. The simplicity of the title sequence really reflects the verisimilitude of the soap opera and connotes the feeling of simplicity to the audience members. The soap has been on television for 54 and the non-dietetic theme music has only been adapted over the years to modernise the soap, this iconic music allows audience members to instantly recognise the beginning of the programme and even for people who do not watch the soap they are able to identify the soap opera without even being in the room.

The title sequence also doesn't show any characters which emulates just how iconic the soap opera is and also allows them to keep the same titles for many years unlike soap operas like Hollyoaks where the cast is often changing so they need to ensure their title sequence is kept up to date and also introduces new popular characters to the audience. Coronation street however has never shown any characters within its opening sequence and this is almost a tradition which they wish to continue.

Emmerdale's title sequences- 

The title sequence to Emmerdale traditionally contains various shots of the Dales (the setting for the soap opera) followed by an aerial shot of the village and also a close up. Since the beginning of the soap opera there have been 9 changes to the title sequences however they all contain and follow a similar structure and format to help the soap opera flow and to continue continuity throughout the episodes. However this was changed when producers decided to modernise the title sequences in 2011 where they chose to incorporate more iconic images and locations from the soaps setting. This include scenes in the Dingle family home, The Woolpack and also the king family home all of which are iconic and associated with the soap opera. Although the soap opera has been modernised and changed dramatically from the previous images of the rolling hills they still incorporate the final image of the aerial shot over the village followed by the appearance of the logo.

The producers that created the new updated title sequence stated "We wanted to challenge perceptions of Emmerdale, but at the same time, ensure what we created was true to the programme’s heritage. We took our inspiration from the surprising narrative aspects of Emmerdale. What you see isn’t always what you get, stories unravel and secrets are revealed. We created a completely new brand identity, new opening titles, updated logos and a refresh of the renowned theme music."

Initially the show focused on the farm and the Sugden family who lived on and ran it. As time went on, the show's focus moved to the nearby village of Beckindale. To reflect this change, the show's title was changed on 14 November 1989 to Emmerdale. The original theme tune created by Tony Hatch was the longest ever to be used. For a number of episodes in 1972 a longer version was used to open episodes but from 1973 a shorter version was used. In 1992, an upbeat piano version was made and used for the opening and closing credits. When the titles changed again 1993 the original theme was used for the closing credits again. But when the titles changed in 1994 the new theme tune was used until the big change in 1998. In 1998, the theme tune was re-recorded for a more orchestral sound to coincide with the move from Esholt to Harewood. It was given a slight tweak in 2003. In 2011, it was re-recorded to give a contemporary fresh look with a modern synthesizer to create the sounds needed.

Again as previously mentioned Emmerdale's title sequence contains no characters as seen in Coronation Street, this is common in UK soap operas and is only challenged by Hollyoaks and Doctors where they include extracts from previous episodes and characteristics represented by props and colours surrounding each character.

American soap operas-

The Young and the Restless

While many soap opera opening credits go through a complete change when they are redesigned, The Young and the Restless (Y&R) chose to just update their contract players main images which are shown at the beginning of the title sequences and scene images when their name and likeness appears on screen. The same, look, feel, and graphics template and music (Nadia’s Theme) are still played throughout the titles it is simply the images which have been changed. The iconic image of the woman walking through the hall way is still shown however the most recent titles have been shown in black and white compared to all of the previous sequences which have been in colour, some may say that this has made the titles look more dated however many agreed that this felt like there was quite a large change to the feel and look of the programme and in fact modernised the programme more than they had expected. Not everything on screen is in black and white however the writing that reads the characters names and also the Y&R logo is written in red to help it stand out and also relate to the sex appeal associated with the soap.

Australian soap operas-


The soap opera were forced to change their title sequence after recent cast changes which meant that the sequence was no longer relevant and correct. This may have been seen as confusing for new viewers which is when they decided to update the 'old fashioned' titles. Since the beginning of the soap in 1985 there have been many different versions of the title sequences which are played at different times throughout the week and allow alternative versions to be shown every other episode. The first title sequence contained 3 different versions compared to today's title which includes more than 5 different versions. Neighbours use their title sequences to introduce new characters and also show familiar & popular characters which regular viewers will recognise.

The residents of Ramsay Street are depicted outside their respective houses coming together for a street party, complete with pavlovas and cricket, a celebration of the show’s community spirit and idyllic Australian lifestyle. The modernisation of the title sequences also incorporated the soaps new logo which was based around the same idea as the sequence 'community'. The new logo incorporates 6 overlapping circles which represents the 6 houses off Ramsay Street. The bright summer colours which are used through out the whole of the title sequence is used to represent the summery, happy Australian lifestyle which the soap opera looks to portray. All of the characters shown within the extract are smiling and having a great time which is what peoples stereotypical view of Australia consists of, this is key to the soaps success especially over here in the UK where the soap is also shown. If the stereotype was not met then the soap may not have been so successful and attract as many viewers as it does. 

The healthy lifestyle and bright and sunny atmosphere of Neighbours is noticeable almost immediately, in the opening credits as well as reflected in the non-dietetic music that is the theme song, these lyrics haven't changed much since the programme started back in 1986, the meandering lyrics, 

"Neighbours, everybody needs good Neighbours 
With a little understanding, you can find the perfect blend 
Neighbours, should be there for one another 
That's when good Neighbours become good friends"

These are sung as different extracts of daily activities and family scenes are played out for the viewers, although the changes to the cast have meant the titles are often changed the concept of the sequence is often the same; depicting family and friends having a good time amidst lush green grass. The idea of the neighbourhood was reinforced in the 1990 credits as they began and ended with map-like images of streets (one drawn, one satellite image-like), highlighting the cul-de-sac and starting the episode on a ‘feelgood’ note. While the opening credits and exact song changed over the years, many qualities of that original opening sequence remain in the current Neighbours title credits, which have been used since 2007. The song lyrics, updated and simplified; 

Neighbours, everybody needs good Neighbours 
That’s when good Neighbours become… 
When good Neighbours become good friends 

are sung at a more energetic tune, as images of the cast on brightly coloured backgrounds weave through the screen. Alternating between showing characters happily posing with family members in a photo booth (2002 titles) and images of characters interacting over a myriad of drawn settings (on a dock, walking along the beach, canoeing, sitting on the front steps to a house), the opening credits shown in 2003 show all of the cast members happy and enjoying themselves with their family and friends. The idea of the show being not only about neighbours, but friends, is reinforced by the lyrics of the theme song. The credits close with several of the photo booth images propped up in drawn grass, a “Ramsay Street” sign in the background, with the title “Neighbours” coming into focus.

Wednesday 6 August 2014

Soap Opera Opening Titles Analysis


Hollyoaks’ main title sequence includes the listing of all characters involved within the soap. It shows each character through small snippets rather than a listing of names that are usually shown in the credits, presenting the characters and their story lines before the soap opera episode begins. This connects the regular viewers with the programme as it gives them a sense of familiarity, which is a stereotypical convention of a soap. This familiarity means that they are most likely to watch and engage with the narrative and characters before the episode even begins, with the title sequence also paired with an overview of what has been going on in the last few episodes to keep everyone up to date. Also, they update their title sequence regularly, with characters entering and leaving the show regularly to update their programme. As of this, often they will include the new characters in their opening scene before they are even introduced in to the show. This causes the regular viewers to wonder who the characters are, enticing them to watch more carefully for the introduction of the characters.

On the other hand, for those that do not usually watch the soap opera, it informs them on the cast before they have even watched an episode, showing each character in a series of events that portray their character; for example, Patrick Blake is portrayed wearing a suit looking in a mirror showing his high authority in comparison to other characters. This means that they feel as though they know a little about the programme instead of “blind watching” which occurs when the audience are not informed on anything to do with the programme. Pairing this with the plot overview at the beginning, it means that audience members are highly educated on what is happening in Hollyoaks, whether they have religiously watched it, missed a few episodes or never watched it before.

Coronation Street;

The opening sequence of Coronation Street sees the iconic street which it is set being filmed from different angles, presenting the well known set pieces, such as the Rovers Return and Norris' corner shop. Regular viewers are able to identify with the opening credits due to the familiar setting which is being portrayed, rather than the characters being shown, like in Hollyoaks. This means that, as the set never changes and has been based on the same road for the past 54 years, the opening sequence doesn't have to be updated as regularly as the Hollyoaks opening as they focus on the characters which are changing frequently to attract new audiences. The familiarity that viewers, even those that may not watch the soap, have with the setting lets them acknowledge what they are watching straight away before the soap logo has even appeared.
For those that do not watch the soap, as it has been on for a long time, the music that has never changed, only been tweaked, as well as the iconic scenery shown in the opening, they are able to identify this with the soap; the non-diegetic sound of the opening is one of the most recognisable sound motif for a soap opera, alongside EastEnders. This familiarity that people have when it comes to the long-running soap means that anyone can identify with it, and as those that don't even watch the soap have also heard it, they are aware of what is on at that time without them having to check.

Days of our Lives;

The opening sequence to Days of our Lives is different to both Coronation Street and Hollyoaks that both help the audience connect with the story plot, settings and characters involved, not showing any content of the Soap Opera in the opening. This connotes mystery which may influence some audience members to be more intrigued and watch the soap. The "animated" opening title seems to contrast with the function of soap operas, which are based around realism and current affairs; however the animation presented in the opening sequence suggests to viewers that the content of the programme is fiction.
The title is present from the beginning, presenting what the show is, only labelling without presenting content. This makes it difficult for those that are not aware of the content (those that have not watched the programme before) to connect with the show and start watching it from that point on. Therefore, it is clear that Days of our Lives is easily connected with their viewers who may not need prompting on the characters, settings and plot, like prospective viewers might need.

Home and Away;

Home and Away opens with a stereotypical look at what many associate with Australia, for example the beaches and surfing. The most recent openings have not presented the characters like they used to, however, like Coronation Street, they advertise the setting of the soap. Unlike Days of our Lives, Home and Away have always advertised their setting as well as frequently their characters, which helps them to link to their frequent viewers as well as advertise the soap to prospective audience members. The opening sequence for Home and Away is very similar to the opening of Hollyoaks, however with Hollyoaks presenting characters as well as plots, Home and Away focuses on setting as well as their characters. By involving these within the opening it makes it easier for viewers to identify with the soap; current viewers are able to relate to the opening as they are knowledgable of who the characters are as well as where the setting is; however this also advertises the programme to prospective viewers. By advertising the content of the programme through the opening credits it makes it easier for the audience to be more connected to the story plot and be less of a passive viewer and interact with the programme more.


Producers Comments on various Soap Operas


Dominic Treadwell-Collins is the producer of the popular soap, EastEnders, being involved since 2005. He started as a story editor with the soap, prior to his career producing for the ITV show, Midsomer Murders, becoming the producer of EastEnders in 2007. His first characters he produced were sisters, Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell, that have been involved in major narrative on the soap, such as the baby swap incident involving Ronnie swapping her cot-death baby with Kat's, as well as Roxy a few years later, after Kat and Alfie's break up, becoming Alfie's new girlfriend. His most popular storyline with the audience of EastEnders was the story of Syed Masood, who struggled to come to terms with his sexuality following his faith, paired in a relationship with character, Christian Clarke. This is followed by the live episode of 2010 that he produced, titled, 'Who Killed Archie? whodunnit', that racked up ratings of 19.9 million cumulative viewers.
Treadwell-Collins was the producer of Eastenders from 2007 to 2010, later coming back 2013, intoruding new characters and axe-ing those bought in by the previous producer. He believed that the hcharacters involved were not able to fit in to the narratives he wanted to reintroduce, such as Kirsty Branning, Max Branning's secret wife, and Carl White.

"We watch a lot of telly, and we want to surprise the audience. We want to shock them. We want gasps. We want to tell stories in different ways. We want more secrets throughout the year. I love it when you watch an American show and you go wow and are thrown by the storytelling" Treadwell-Collins, D: Dominic Treadwell-Collins reveals Upcoming Plots 

Dominic has mentioned that his idea on attracting audiences is to give them a new twist on storylines, saying that “many shows sometimes fall back on the conventional narrative plots”. Soap Operas before 1975 were filmed with a live audience; however EastEnders decided that, as it wasn’t a stereotypical convention of a Soap Opera nowadays to produce a live episode, that by fulfilling this in 2010 he could attract a wider audience, boosting their figure of ratings from the average 8 million viewers to just under 20 million. Although this isn’t the first Soap Opera to do a live episode, it helped the show boost ratings as everyone was interested in the concept.

Treadwell-Collins has mentioned his utilisation of planning ahead, mentioning that he has “planned the tent-pegs between now and February 2015, our 30th anniversary”. Planning up to the 30th anniversary means that Treadwell-Collins is fully prepared for any storylines, and if any want to be changed they can. Giving this guideline means that they are aware of what is going to occur, especially for such a big event as their 30th anniversary, which he has already revealed is going to be “unmissable”, rumoured to be revealing the conclusion of the biggest storyline from EastEnders this year, Lucy Beale’s murder.

He also focuses on how certain soaps often focus their storylines around one specific character or group of characters for a storyline, only showing small narratives from the rest. However, he believes that what makes EastEnders so popular is that it focuses large storylines with a vast majority of characters at once, for example the murder of Lucy Beale, Stacy Slater’s return, Carol’s cancer story, all happened around the same time. This means that the audience are engaged throughout the programme, rather than just every now and again when the larger storylines are being shown; “It’s not going to be The Carter Show. It’s not going to be the Stacey Slater show. It’s going to be EastEnders. This show works best when there’s a bomb going off at the Vic and a Bomb going off at the Beales' and a bomb going off at the Brannings.”



Philip Capice was an American television producer, most notable as the executive producer the first nine seasons of soap opera Dallas. He is the longest runner in the executive producer role for Dallas and created some of the most memorable moments of Dallas. Capice began his broadcasting career at New York advertising agency Benton & Bowles in 1954 and then was director of special programs at CBS from 1969-74, where he developed its Charlie Brown and Dr. Seuss animated features, among other programming He is a multi-award winning producer winning:

· Emmy Award in 1977
· Peabody Award, 1977 and 1978
· Humanitas Prize in 1978
· People's Choice Awards in 1980 and 1982

It was a controversy that everybody thought that men were having better story lines than men and therefore did not show much of the women. Capice taking this criticism with a pinch of salt, he put forward numerous storylines and new cast and scenes that would create a better atmosphere for the women of Dallas. Other producers like Larry Hagman and Leonard Katzman did not agree as such with how the show was carrying on, despite the audience’s agreement of Capice’s decision. Philip was unfortunately executed from the role of executive producer of Dallas.

“Being a producer allows you to input your imagination freely into a TV Soap or film. However, to ensure you fit your imagination to the audience’s preference, now that’s another skill, very few people have. An audience is your success dangling in front of you… now if you don’t sing and dance and rub it the right way, you might as well say goodbye before you even start. What you must do is take a step back and analyse everything the public they see and adopt their favoured TV listings and connotations of the programmes and include that as subtly as you can. Now that, is how you please your audience” - Philip Capice

From this quote, we can see that Capice describes his audience as “your success” as if they are a money-making specimen (which technically for him we are) but it seems he wished to only tackle our needs for money and success, not pleasure. However he did listen to and analyse the audience’s preference from other TV Soap criticism and general public speaking, which is how he corrected the Dallas story lines by putting women more in the light than the men. He was quite devious when stealing other people’s corrections for his own improvements, almost like a magpie watching all the comments and controversy about the other programmes. Overall he took his role as executive producer seriously by gaining all enhancements from the audience.