663 hours a year watching the soaps… time well spent?

Keeping on top of your favourite shows can seriously damage your social life

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A committed soap fan must watch nearly 13 hours of first-run programming a week in order to stay up to date with just six of the most popular soaps screened in Britain, an exclusive RadioTimes.com study can reveal.

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In total, watching every new episode of Coronation Street, EastEnders, Emmerdale, Hollyoaks, Home and Away and Neighbours requires an incredible 663 hours and 40 minutes a year, enough time to make four round trips to the moon.

To put it another way, if your full-time job was watching the soaps – presuming you worked 40 hours a week and got bank holidays and weekends off – if you started watching on 1 January 2011, you wouldn’t have finished until 3 May.  And if you were earning the national minimum wage for over 21s you would have racked up £3,935 in that time.  

According to our analysis of data from 1 May 2010 to 1 May 2011, Emmerdale is the most prolific soap, broadcasting 295 episodes a year.  That’s 8,019 minutes or nearly 134 hours of Yorkshire based ITV-tainment annually.  If you’d prefer to spend that time in another way, you could fly around the world three times in a Boeing 747. 

The rural soap’s stablemate, Coronation Street, isn’t far behind, delivering a whopping 261 episodes a year. That’s 7,147 minutes on the cobbles… just over 119 hours to you or me.  In that time you could have obtained a private pilot’s licence and then watched two more friends achieve their “wings” so you’d have some flight buddies to share your Bigglesesque stories with.

Fans of teen angst and pretty people spend 7,112 minutes a year (around 118 hours 30 minutes) keeping up to date with the 254 episodes of Hollyoaks screened on Channel 4.   If they were to give up their Chester fix completely, they’d have the spare time to knit an extremely complex Norwegian sweater with integral zip.

Similarly, to watch all 248 episodes of Channel 5’s Neighbours and keep fully abreast of all that you need to know about Ramsay Street, you need to set aside 107 hours 30 minutes (6,488 minutes) a year.  That’s enough time to prepare 1,622 perfect large soft-boiled eggs.

The BBC’s flagship soap, EastEnders, is a video short compared to some of its more epic counterparts.  The stats show that it only takes 96 hours and five minutes a year (5,765 minutes) to keep on the ball in Walford.  That’s roughly the number of hours’ community service you might expect to receive if you’re convicted of killing a cat in Colorado.

However, the soap that’s least demanding on your time is Australian beach-fest, Home and Away.  With only 88 hours and 45 minutes needed to get through the 213 episodes served up each year, it’s hardly worth giving up, because even if you did, you’d only have time to drive from Land’s End to John o’Groats four times in a JCB 3CX excavator every year.

So, with all these facts in mind, maybe you’ll think twice before you next sit down in front of the idiot box, eh?

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Additional reporting by Sam Proffitt