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The British soap opera

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Have you ever heard of soap operas? They are fictional series on television or radio that follow a group of families and show us the events of their everyday lives. Soap operas take their strange name from the past, when soap manufacturers used to sponsor the programmes. Soaps  are well known for being quite dramatic and often the characters have a lot of arguments or emotional dilemmas. Here are some of the most famous soap operas in the UK today:

1) Coronation Street
Coronation Street first aired on British television in 1960 and has been running ever since, several times a week. The street is located in the fictional town of Wetherfield, in the North of England. Some important places in the TV series are the café, the corner shop and the Rovers Return pub where lots of the characters meet up for a drink and a chat. The street is made up of terraced houses and an underwear factory called Underworld.

2) EastEnders
Coronation Street’s main rival is called EastEnders, set in East London. It began later, in the 1980s, and follows the residents of Albert Square in their lives at home and at work. In this soap opera, there is a lot of drama, including murder and adultery. The opening theme for this programme shows the River Thames.

3) Emmerdale
Emmerdale is based on a town in the Yorkshire Dales, the green countryside of the North of England. The series follows a group of families in the small village of Emmerdale, who mostly work on farms. The setting of this series is similar to the one of The Archers, another long running soap opera broadcast on BBC radio. It’s the second oldest soap opera in the UK, first aired in 1972.

Soap operas are usually not realistic at all but they are a chance to see some elements of British culture like what houses look like and the importance of the pub! The characters often have quite strong accents, for example the accent of Manchester in Coronation Street and the strong East London one in EastEnders. They also speak very quickly so it makes for some challenging listening exercises for English learners. Their storylines can be quite addictive. Some people never miss an episode because they are so involved in the show.


Do you like watching soap operas? Would you like to watch any of the soap operas that Eleanor mentions?


Harabeli Supersweet's picture
Harabeli Supersweet 18 August, 2014 - 16:54

I rarely watch soap operas. Now I'm watching "Hallo Robbie", a German soap opera. I have watched "Downtown Abbey" and I really love it. When I was younger I used to watch Latin soap operas, but now I don't like them. When I have school, I don't usually watch TV.

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MALINE's picture
MALINE 16 August, 2014 - 23:18

Some people consider México to be one of the best places for soup operas.A lot of soap operas have been translated over 30 idioms and it is said that two countries were in war but they stopped attacking each other during the transmission of the soap opera, I don´t know if this is an urban legend or if it´s true.
Here the soup operas lasts from 6 months to a year,I can´t imagine a suop opera with more of fifty years on the screen!
Another thing about soup operas here is that each episode is about one hour,well just about 40 minutes but you expend 20 minutes watching ads during the episodes,I belive that in British t.v. there aren´t any ads is that true? I can´t imagine tv with out ads,it would be very strange yet fantastic.

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Tina - Coordinator's picture
Tina - Coordinator 17 August, 2014 - 09:26

Hi Maline
You are partly right! In Britain the BBC don't have any commercial advertisements but most of the other tv channels do.
Do you watch any soap operas? What's your favourite?
Best wishes Tina (LearnEnglish Teen Team)

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saba's picture
saba 24 July, 2014 - 12:49

i like soap operas if i had the time i would definetly go
when i go to these kind of places i feel so good and it's like i get posetive energy!

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Niluh's picture
Niluh 16 July, 2014 - 16:44

So, can i conclude that soap operas is similar with TV series? In my country it called Sinetron, it has a very long story and divide into many episodes even till a thousand episodes, and yeah people are so addicted with it, they can feel particularly regret when they missed one of the episodes, they are hooked with that!

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Jo - Coordinator's picture
Jo - Coordinator 16 July, 2014 - 17:05

Hi Niluh,
Exactly right! There are different types of TV series but most of them have an ending. Maybe they have twelve episodes in the series (or season in American English), and then you have to wait to see if there will be another series. A soap opera is different because it never ends. As long as people watch it, the story just goes on and on. Coronation Street has been on TV in the UK for over fifty years!

What does everyone think? Are you hooked on any soaps? Why do people love them so much?

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Niluh's picture
Niluh 16 July, 2014 - 17:25

Hi Jo!
Thanks for answering,
Oh really? It has been over fifty years? Wow, i cannot guess how the story from the beginning till now and how the crews thinks and struggle about what's next on the story. Unbelievable, we never have a very very long TV series like that!

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Bosnianchild's picture
Bosnianchild 15 July, 2014 - 20:39

I love watching soap operas. I would like to watch British soap operas, but not operas which Eleanor mentions. :D

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