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Read this: Have soaps run their course?

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Have soaps run their course?…

BBC sounds music Radio podcasts from BBC Radio 4 in March this year the BBC One of its biggest soaps Holby City and do not resuscitate order after 23 years in July Channel 5 decided we no longer needed good neighbours and the sun went down on Ramsey Street after 37 years because your mind back to Christmas Day 1986 anyone remember this petition muddyfox Happy Christmas

That was dirty Den handing Angie Watts divorce papers after she lied to him about having 6 months left to live 30 million people tuned in to watch that episode of EastEnders more than half the population today the show averages between 4 and 6 million per episode much of it through iPlayer so it's matter anymore.

What's their place in the cultural landscape? Are we going through a messy Dan and divorce with them or is it still in during laugh like Scott and Charlene I'm joined by Phil Redmond creator of three of the biggest British types of all time Grange Hill Brookside and Hollyoaks Danny Kelly is soaps editor for entertainment news website Digital Spy TV credit and soap fan Emma bullimore is here and Charles Collingwood who's been farming flirting and digging into his wife venison pie for a whopping 47 years as Brian and the Archers welcome to you all and thanks for coming on the show if we start with you all the big soaps EastEnders Coronation Street Emmerdale have seen huge.

Shops in audience numbers in recent years you've criticise soaps for not tackling big social issues like they used to do you think it's the end of the road for them and climates and it looks quite a mistake.

I believe they shouldn't because you have to go all the way right back to the the cave drawings and people have always had this insatiable Desire for storytelling and run all the way through history to the beach tragedy is etc to Shakespeare to Dickens people always one original story time that one original drama even now and if you look across the steamers and understood all looking for long run as they're looking for things that will have sequels are looking for things that are franchises of the Marvel Universe example this once you've got something that the audience latches onto you want to keep it keep doing it.

I think it's the cheapest form the most effective form to keep that connection and satisfy the insatiable appetite original storytelling.

I'm in Neighbours and Holby both come to an end this year as I said was it a coincidence that they finished within months of each other and what are the reasons behind this decision to ask them will be asked or completely different reasons and much to do with the ratings in the case of Holby City BBC was ready open about the fact.

I wanted to film or drama outside of London so it took money, but it was spending on Holby and it's taking that money now to reboot Waterloo Road another considering drama, which will be strong Manchester so I think in that case it shows that the BBC isn't turning it's back on continuing drama.

It's pretty much replacing like-for-like but in a different location and in the case of Neighbours again that was completely different reasons.

It was still doing very well.

It was one of the top-rated shows on Channel 5 even though.

The daytime daytime advertising revenue right.

Yes, it was appetising revenue obviously daytime advertising revenue isn't as big as in the evening Channel 5 at 14 years old it was better to invest in post watershed shows obviously channel has reinvented itself pretty well in the past 9 p.m.


Andrew documentary is something I mean one thing we do know is that soaps face stiff competition for me know the likes of structure of reality shows that are also highly personalized social media feeds like tiktok know how can compete with that.

It's really tricky and Anna just thinking about the case so many people that haven't watched it for decades and was still devastated.

It was going you know the relationship.

We have with these soaps.

We want them to be there even if we're not actually engaging with them anymore so much nostalgia that

In terms of you who is who's taking the view of the way, I don't think it's a simple as everyone watching Love Island or everyone's watching I'm a Celeb it's it's not that straightforward though.

It does a lot of choice how much more choice you know I got a house or with the TV was always on and if there's nothing on those for channels.

Well, you just pick the find the best out of those worst thing so many different options and you don't have to even rely on what is streaming or on TV at that time you can go back and watch a box that whatever it might so there's so many demands on your attention and I think you know when do you think as well? There's nothing better when you get really looked into one of those storylines with characters that you've known for years in some cases, but they have to be strong enough.

They can't just rely on their brand to get people to watch will come onto the storylines later Charles I wonder from the perspective of you in the green room and Amber GRP

Nervous about the Demise of so people worried about their jobs and we getting their agents on the phone as they might need something else.

I mean actors are always worried about their jobs and you're acting Factor when I first joined it in 1974 as a young man.

I remember going up so lucky to be wonderful to be in a program with so much security and through gritted teeth.

She looked at me and said it is very secure it makes us feel insecure and it was absolutely right because you can never be telling me my character yesterday.

Thank God you know what a life support machine in Birmingham it a general hospital in me knocked over by car.

Mileage from going to plug it into the ground and is he or she said no it doesn't crash alright? I want to get on with Phil on to sort of the process of putting soaps together McDonald just before we do that.

What kinds of numbers briefly do the big so let's get these days and how much of it is Lenny of us about 3 and 5 USD into the time of year depending on if there's a big story line at the catch-up ratings tend to be about 1 million for the big so I think EastEnders isn't used anymore on iPlayer than the TV shows are with the ITV Hub phone you know let's have a look at the creative process the turnaround time for making soaps really fast as I understand it from commissioning a story to transmission is around 16 weeks for a Daily Show like EastEnders 20 weeks for a weekly show like casualty, Phil you spent most of your life putting characters.

Time some pretty horrific ordeals, let's just had a bit of that was it the same person I want to kiss you in 25 helicopter getting a bit close, so that was Brookside Eddie finding Trevor's body under the patio Beth and Margaret lesbian.

Kiss arson, and the Dixons house and the infamous helicopter crash when you're tackling.

Choose sometimes very thorny issues like sexual assault of drugs.

He must know that is going to cause a stir.

What do you want to achieve so when you're coming up with the stories all those things are really just a quarter highspots that you actually sorting entice the rest of the media in to talk about the shop to get some yeah.

Yeah, I'm just being cynical ratings grammar exercises and you know my point of the media is your point is what I'm not doing that you was just to get the biggest biggest numbers that we could for Channel 4 that's the way I was interested when you it's about time story line script.

I think that's one of the big problems that happened you know that people have forgotten how difficult they are actually to me and asked for Elisa

2-years animation unity 2-year 18 month 12-month long-term planning are there storyline conference every every month and I think that says there's been a lot of Caroline disrespect ready for both the production and also for the audience in soaps over the years.

How do you decide on storyline? Do you sit down or did you sit down with writers and think you know I don't know drug addiction and then decide they will be going to give it to that character.

Is it as mechanical as that you then sort of credit through and those years were you thinking about you need people really enjoyed the phone and really enjoyed that creative challenge revisiting the same storyline with a different perspective with different characters because we didn't even have a list on the door on the upstairs.


We do drugs.

No worry about it was whatever was growing within Society what would people actually concerned about you know right now.

You know it's fantastic story storyline coming out.

Coming out of brexit.

Don't worry about the cost of living you know the taking the immigrants coming in Ukraine is so fantastic be fertile ground for what the people are really interested in doing it on the soaps you think I don't I don't seem to see it across the landscape and if you do it, they will listen to it because remember that are you still say to you have to remember and needed to earlier television is a second choice activity people flock to watch when they got nothing else to do as well.

We used to be used to lose one-and-a-half the clocks went forward and people realise they had an extra hours of daylight to go outside but these days you know people away stand 30-minutes 45 minutes going to a streaming platform trying to find some what are they give up so there is an Audience with an appetite for drama.

That was ready to be picked up on you.

Don't so I just think it's gonna like finding the right q and finding the right storyline.

You know and I'm putting on the right platform at night-time story lines here.

We talking about some of the issues that could be going to say that let me know there's been a big store in in Charles show about domestic abuse amongst all the places your drug addiction Whatever by to your mind as soaps that right vehicle for the dishes.

How do they do them differently to do with there is no the programme where you can live with a character for 20 years and see them four times a week and really feel that there's somebody that has visited your home if you think about the way that Hayley died in Coronation Street one of the biggest storylines of the last couple of decades the reason it was so powerful is because we felt like she was a friend with live with her would love to ups and downs and then it just absolutely was a sucker punch so I think that's where they can be so recently soaps about this obsession with gangsters of notice that all these and I just think that's that's totally just coronavirus bill with Luton to the wrong way to go want to see our own.

In a heightened way, we are not looking for everything to be super realistic, but you want something that you can sort of that John Sue is interesting thinking about that you made possible to have a new soap and stream as the problem with that.

They got no patience.

You know was saying them things after 1 Series just because they didn't quite do as brilliant news.

They wanted them to that's so different from the old model of television.

You know something.

I Only Fools and Horses did really badly in the first couple of series and they buy series 3 it kind of got some momentum did well, there's so many examples of that there's no more about the business model their business model is changing their business model is trying to find new subscribers to get me subscribers.

You got the concert a new content in about 30-minutes 45-minute bodyweight trying to find you things it's like new today released today now coming 10-minutes next next 10 minutes next so then I t I mean.

How to say like quality is not really that on top of the list its newness and the amount of cash that's coming through in the subscriptions allowance then just by that new audience all the time to give to change so I mean Italian in now the best friend in 12 million or 15 million 20 million dramas, and it's not lasting you know and then someone says 50 and 20 million that will keep 1 million people coming back every single day.

That's where the journey takes a while to get I'm going to bring Charles because obviously the Archers is always quality and Bryan's big storylines was the affair he had the Siobhan which resulted in a son Rory what is it like as an actor to be at the centre of something that everybody is talking about career changing for me because suddenly it was so popular that people will ring me up soon if you look at Frost on Sunday this morning.

We've been reviewing the papers.

I'm talking about the news looking at pictures of you and your Island from a child in your mistress.

That's what he's talking about these stories stories come along and a soap opera every now and again mostly.

It's run-of-the-mill.

You know it's called an everyday story of country folk and mostly.

It's like that and so when when you bring in a story like I had to give the whole thing a lift people as a phrase with a story as strong as that and it's up to me as an actor to make it as exciting as believable as possible in people seem to be quite happy with it.

So you touched on earlier and you saying getting you know a bit of abuse from the media saying I die storylines are getting ridiculous, but did you did you ever think I don't know where the brainwashing hostage situations hitmen, did you ever think we have gone a bit too far with this one?

You know I've always depended on production issues have also also defend the real the production through are so because one of the issues that happened in this sort of 90 is really starting the broadcasters themselves get asking for more and more and more and more sensation in a bit wanted more and what he wants more more episodes who wants a bigger than bigger storylines and now I never be left to try to top the last one trying to talk the last one and one of our watchword was ok.

That's the big story now.

It's back to put up shelves because you have to sort of take those beats you have to take those posed with the throwing it in if you burn off storyline so fast in the end it just because it's just because wallpaper in the end and what did you know about your audience? How much did you know who your audience is wearing you were Tailoring it for them and that sort of days is steaming back now.

We do people were telling the truth that was interesting thing which is a big challenge these days, but with you exactly you know which bands were who were watching when they were watching what they were doing that one of the interesting thing is because when you tell about before about the competition for television a competition for soap Brookside started there were three places to eat in chippy for posh restaurant, Wembley he finished 11% of people without eating at any one time in 24-hours that was 11% of the audience that was no longer available to view think about being inside.

Let's talk about being in them Charles you join the Archers in 1975 almost 50 years ago, so I guess you've got the best insight of what it's like to be in a soap.

How much say do you get over and what happens if you don't take a story lines right for Bryant well? I'm friends you bite the bullet and say the words actors are giving the scripts in television.

The pages over silent and sometimes if you don't like the story we say it well.

We say it anyway, because I'm getting paid I've always thought with for me joining all those years ago, but the writer's didn't know who Brian was a 74 hours a vehicle to marry Jennifer and there was no TV with a cardboard cutout going up this woman and I said to the producer Brian have some history and it would guess so the next time I was in the episode.

I was a drink with Tony Archer come from I was on in Paris studying and then my parents were killed in the car crash and so a lot of money and I've been when I was younger, so I bought home Farm that can I buy you another time for the lines?

Develops and and I personally at the thing and I would say this to young actors who joined the Archers now one of the television still know when I started playing Brian I try to the character that the writer's had initially thought themselves to give them a hug and so I did actually slightly to my character which was made in a womaniser of interview plenty of soap actors.

What was life like for them being in the soap and indeed being dumped from a soap.

I think it can be difficult when someone has been there for a long time and are Renault part of a big story line and obviously now because of what we've mentioned earlier in the shoulder a lot more appointment to view take storylines involving stunts and

Fabulous teens I would stay if you're going to leave the so but I think it's much better to go out in a big explosion or a big crash and just kind of leave in a car, but everyone forget so that I think if you get a big like that you definitely leave a like a sea in the shower, so you're smiling there by me how much notice do actors get when you know they get a face some sort of gruesome ending on characters are not the actors in cells.

Do they get time to look for a new job? I mean we still be like this 12-month contract and then let them know it's all three months ahead of the end of my contract.

What did it with it will come for a little bit earlier because the story of the long-term storyline planning conference would have the rice on the wall anyway sometimes things happen and you just have to take some very quickly you know I know I know I've been in situations like that when you said biting the bullet sometimes.

I've got to put the bullets out sooner so and then you after this length of time.

Episodes after being rewritten euro 20 after being shot that kind of thing but generally you have a good thing left a transgress, then they suddenly disappeared asking what happened to someone so exactly what we had as when we had a falling out about the way the story he just said that's it.

I'm off to Walk off the set and then so we still texting.

How do we have you manage that you know so I called the right next to next you won't believe this is gone to get dance for the support solidarity.

What were your dad say?

Big blown Apple or something off like that rather than getting in a car with you there's no there's no special way and being written out of anything it.

Just stop being paid so if whatever you get blown up or just going to the pub and never seen again the checks will not be there the following month not recording in fact.

I remember when when Siobhan my mistress in The Archers tragically died the week and then she was dying of cancer and the actress Karen lemon bread week 4 min barely barely said a word she was just breathing and they had her there and then she died and I had with her dead body and then again the studio in my book and there instead of Caroline was a cushion because you don't.

That's what we do.

Have a quick thought about the future of soaps.

You know the BBC has reportedly spent £87 on new EastEnders set and I got a new executive producer Chris clenshaw.

Also and they clearly are signalling that EastEnders is you know on the up Emma do you think things are looking brighter for the residents of Bulford it's difficult to be that optimistic off the covers.

They should have been having but I still think that you know like I said when they have really good story like when they're really trust in their characters.

There's nothing better, but it's just have the courage of convictions Danny Dyer's character when he came in here and Kellie Bright places wife they were supposed to be the married couple that nothing was going to break them and fantastic and a few years.

I suppose that was the case and now they split them up because they have to have an infidelity storyline and alcoholism storyline of this kind of stuff and you lose faith in those carry.

When different show runners come in and out the characters seem to morph into people that you don't recognise so I think it's about having people that are willing to be consistent that care about this characters that about the audience and I still think there's something fantastic there, but there is a lot of competition.

You know we're going to have to accept that we're not going to see the viewing figures that done and she got again, but that doesn't mean they can't have success with autumn coming which I think is a big time for soaps as they starting a Sowing The Seeds for those Christmas storylines Daniel what can we look forward to this year? What do you know about any big story coming up or what we should be watching the big one is Emmerdale turns 15 in October and they have announced.

They will have a big storm storyline so a deadly storm will hit the village and various characters will be in parallel.

Might be saying goodbye in that story-line EastEnders something really interesting soon.

Which is doing a flashback episode which will take us back to 99 and it will be a bit of a glimpse of the Mitchell family in the earlier years and they have cost Jaime Winstone to play Peggy Mitchell which I think is a brilliant custom she also played Barbara Windsor in the programme that was on a few years ago, so I'm trying to do something different trying to have an appointment to view story.

Hopefully bringing some last few minutes seconds even I was going to ask a question.

He will fill alluded to earlier perhaps that start with you if you getting a brand new site today perhaps even or what would it be to be something that reflects Britain right now is the time?

You perfect for you, so because she survive because there was it was time to read to read look at the phone so migraines you're staying with Hollyoaks and I think it now it's time to really go back and look what's going on, but I think I think finally what I say is that everyone should look back to the Archers the artist Kane vs.

A collaboration between the BBC Birmingham council and the Department of Agriculture and that was bringing together something that would actually teach people more about food and land was working everything that's the way forward.

I think the BBC be Prime to work with all the other public services the NHS and agriculture and education and that's all you're funded to Charles an idea for a soap or is it just more than getting a check at the end of the day Daniel Emma if you were if you were creating a soap now as you have an idea for one.

You won't be characters now.

Just realised I will she said it in Westminster I don't know but the one thing I probably would do is try and make it shorter episodes.

I think you know the answer is a child child in that way.

We seeing a sorted now towards 20-minute programs 15-minute programs.

I think that could be an interesting ways go Daniel I think I would like to see something that film mentioned the few years ago which is trying to launch and you and then we could have a global so I can watch all over the world have a feeling it that way to happen.

It might have to be slightly more genera in order to have a possible audience but I don't think I'll be ready very good at the streamers.


That is a brilliant to end on.

Thank you so much.

We have managed to make it through half an hour without any arguments 240x Persians thank you all bye guess the Phil Redmond soap create extraordinary and monks many other things digital spies dance kilkelly tv.

Critic Emma bullimore and Charles

Better known as Brian in The Archers I will be back at the same time next week until then two-channel Peggy Mitchell get Outta my pub.

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Friday, 16 September 2022

6:46 PM

The masses need something non taxing to watch whilst eating their chicken nuggets.

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