When was the last time you saw an actor from a British soap in a film? Or a successful, mainstream tv series? I bet you’re struggling to think of one, aren’t you? No, Barbara Windsor doesn’t count, she was famous BEFORE she went into soap. No, nor does Kylie Minogue, she’s Australian and besides, she went into the music industry, I’m talking about people who found fame in British soaps and then went on to become part of a successful film or television production. It’s a hard thing to do, and while they are some, they are few and far between. So, why is it that some of the most famous and hard-working people in British television fail to find work when they leave soaps?
Soaps tend to be right at the bottom of the TV drama shaped barrel. Despite the fact that millions of people watch them almost everyday and many have been airing for decades, there is still a lot of snobbery when it comes to considering the quality of soaps. I should probably elaborate on exactly what shows I’m talking about here. Originally, the ‘big three’ were considered to be Emmerdale (1972-present), Coronation Street (1960-present) and Eastenders (1985-present) but in recent years Hollyoaks (1995-present) and Doctors (2000-present) have joined the fray. All of these shows have received criticism from many for being overrated, poorly acted and using overthetop plots that never occur in real life. This criticism is unjust, I’m not an avid soap watcher but I know enough to say that soaps are actually really important and well made.