If you hate soap operas, be warned: as of this week, they’ll be even harder to avoid than usual. Turn on the TV from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. any night of the week and you’ll find yourself in danger of slipping on a solid block of soap.
A major schedule change that went into effect yesterday means Emmerdale, airs five nights a week with an hour-long episode on Fridays, moved from 7pm to 7:30pm. This makes it in direct competition with EastEnders, broadcast Monday through Thursday at the same time.
Now you can enjoy four miserable nights in Walford without any respite.
In the past, the BBC and ITV have gone to great lengths to ensure their soaps never clash. Coexistence makes more sense than competition, which neither side benefits. Looks like the gentleman’s deal has been broken.
Street opening, meanwhile, there are currently three three-hour episodes a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Oh, and don’t forget Fair City (I tried, believe me!), which adds two hours to the weekly TV soap diet.
The impact of all this is Virgin Media 1’s News at 8, which has established a good niche in the schedule and built a strong brand identity, has become News at 7.
Given that the news has always struggled to keep its place on commercial channels around the world, it’s hard to see any of these particular side effects.
If all of these reforms prove to be anything, it’s that soap is still hugely important to terrestrial broadcasters, even though viewing figures have plummeted.
The Christmas Holiday episodes of the great UK soap trilogy were once considered bankroll pieces. However, last year’s figures were pathetic.
Opening the street attracted 3.25 million viewers, Emmerdale three million and EastEnders 2.9 million. The only BBC One Christmas Day that offers worse fares is Mrs Brown’s Boys, didn’t even make the top 10.
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Yet despite those dismal numbers, which often means canceling a TV series, the BBC is happy to spend £87 million (€100 million) – several million more than it cost. bringing BBC3 back to television – on a new series for EastEnders at Elstree Studios took 5 years to complete.
On the face of it, this seems like a colossal waste of money that doesn’t make any sense. In fact, it makes perfect sense.
Soap gives broadcasters something no other type of TV series can: it’s relatively cheap to produce and fills hundreds of hours of airtime year-round.
Usually, the production cost of a TV series such as, for example, Line of Duty, Peaky Blinders or ITV’s epic new adaptation of Ippress . File run into the millions. They require extensive location filming, multiple sets, large scale stunts, elaborate special effects, lots of props – including, if it’s a period drama, costumes complex and classic mediums – and a famous cast does not offer their services at bargain prices.
And for all that investment, you can get no more than six hours of television viewing. The same amount would extend even further for soap.
They are filmed – or more accurately, recorded – in a no-frills style on a small number of fixed sets used hundreds of times a year. Think how many actions in Street opening, for example, takes place in pubs, taverns and cafes.
They only asked to film the occasional location, such as when a few characters started going on vacation.
The embryos are also relatively cheap. According to 2020 estimates, the highest-paid soap stars – often older actors who have been with the show for years – can earn anything between £150,000 and £250,000 a year.
But the job entails starting early in the morning, working long shifts, and six days a week. Young drama school graduates eager to find a foothold on TV, where supply is plentiful, will be paid significantly less.
When you break it down like that, £87m for a set expected to last for decades is probably a bargain in the long term.
Ratings drop or not, as long as soap gives broadcasters a steady supply of cheap, full-time TVs, they’ll stay.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/television/tv-news/despite-falling-ratings-soaps-like-eastenders-coronation-street-and-emmerdale-are-here-to-stay-41420533.html Despite the falling ratings, soaps like EastEnders, Coronation Street and Emmerdale are here to stay