“Welcome to Eldorado: A coast of golden dreams and deep dark secrets. A world of hedonism, hope and heartbreak – And the sun drenched setting for BBC1s’ new three times a week drama serial” Soap operas are diverse dramatisations of the everyday human life. Being the most popular of TV Programmes they receive massive viewing figures. There are many soap operas in today’s television from Eastenders, set in a typical London suburb, to Neighbours, a quiet street in the heart of an Australian town.
The term “soap opera” is used to describe a set of continuous programmes that concentrate on real life, things such as; family matters, friendships and primarily relationships between friends, neighbours and family. The nickname “soap operas or soaps” emerged from the United States of America in the nineteen thirties. Companies, who made soap powder, such as Proctor & Gamble, sponsored radio serials that targeted house bound women. They hoped they would hear the serials, listen to the adverts in-between and be inspired to buy that companies soap powder.
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Soap operas command huge viewing figures and this is due to the producers appealing to every multitude of civilised life. Each and every soap offers a sense of escapism to the viewer and can relieve them of their everyday problems. Soap operas are often action filled although the verisimilitude of the programme is sometime doubtful. Such issues such as sexual abuse and homicide do add to the realism of the soap opera as these things do happen in the real world and are often exaggerations of what happens to people in real life.
Remarkably these issues do offer compelling viewing and the viewing figures confirm this. Soap Operas can be seen at numerous times during the day with Eastenders airing at eight o clock to eight thirty but Crossroads at five thirty five. This is mainly due to the target audience of that particular soap. Target Audiences are very important to the TV Companies and they undertake extensive research to ensure the scriptwriters of the soap know the target audience for whom they are writing for.
Two popular soaps Eastenders and Neighbours have completely different storylines because of their target audience’s. The main issues in Neighbours are love, family issues and arguments, in essence relationships on the whole. Eastenders however appeals to a much broader audience by having more of an assortment of storylines, which are much Adam Tkacz 10 JSB GSCE Coursework – Media Essay 10 A1A Soap Operas Pg 2 harder hitting than those in Neighbours. Issues such as rape, AID’s and terminal illnesses are raised although the basic family topics, relationships and friendships are still present.
Interestingly, Eldorado is aimed at the whole family assuming that Six Forty Five is just after most people’s teatime. Stereotypically families would be sat down, relaxing and all watching the television. The target audience is specifically families and this is reflected in the story lines. The first episode of Eldorado will be referred to just as Eldorado. The storylines in Eldorado are generally a mixture of minor hard hitting, Marcus Tandy being extradited for embezzling people in England and “soft” relationship issues, such as the marital breakdown of Gwen and Drew.
To compare it with a nowadays soap opera, for instance Coronation Street, the issues are not as intense, the teenage pregnancy and near death of Sarah-Lou are extremely hard hitting compared with the subtle hints we get of Trish inner self and her decomposing love life. The British Broadcasting Corporation attempted to make Eldorado a soap with a difference and I deem this to be why they set it in a typical Spanish coastal town. Soap operas rely on large casts, large enough to sustain several interlinked storylines at a time but small enough to allow the audience to keep track.
As a result soap operas usually centre around a small communities for example Eldorado set in a middle sized Spanish coastal town, a mixture of the old town and its Roman Catholic church and the new with a modern holiday apartments and marina. Most soap operas today are centred around small communities. Eastenders is cleverly set in a suburb of London and the main public place is the Queen Victoria, or Queen Vic. Many soap operas have on predominant public location in Emmerdale; the Wolpack, Coronation Street; The Rovers Return and Neighbours; The Coffee Shop.
Soap operas depend on the audience to be able to easily relate to the characters. Within these settings there are a variety of locations where people meet, these places have to include public and private settings. Peoples home usually provide great insight to there private lives and show the many different sides to characters. In Eldorado we see Trish as a very happy, confident and outgoing person, this persona she has adapted outside of her home, in Public we see her like this but when the camera peers into her house we are presented with a Trish in an insecure state, broken down and crying Adam Tkacz
10 JSB GSCE Coursework – Media Essay 10 A1A Soap Operas Pg 3 after arguing with her toy-boy Dieter. As well as these private locations there has to be public locations otherwise the audience would soon get bored with the soap opera. Within Eldorado the public places are locations such as Joy’s Bar and the market place, these are incorporated to ensure storylines can develop into larger events and also were soap opera gossip can spread around the community. Other places in soap operas such as Emmerdale we see public places like the Local Shop owned by village gossip and matriarch, Viv, as well as the local public house The Wolpack.