It seems to be the year of anniversaries for soap fans, with EastEnders and Neighbours both celebrating their 35th birthday, Hollyoaks its 25th, Doctors its 20th and Coronation Street’s big 60th all in 2020.
And what a week it’s been for EastEnders fans, with the boat tragedy serving up some huge drama, and little Denny sadly perishing at the end of it all.
These big budget weeks are not only exciting, but they’re important to the very history of soaps. What other show celebrates its own legacy in the way that soaps do?
It’s big, it’s dramatic, it’s a cast shake-up and it’s what long-running shows should really take inspiration from.
In the space of one week, EastEnders has hit upon several huge storylines which play in a domestic and a dramatic setting. We have Whitney’s stalking ordeal coming to an end and her guilt over finally being free from it, Bobby’s horrific anti-religion abuse which left him fighting for his life, Bex’s drug addiction and overdose, Sharon’s single-mum plight before giving birth and Ian’s struggle to get on with his (almost step-son), Callum’s kidnapping, Linda’s alcoholism and Mick’s torture on whether to stay by her side, and of course, the Mitchells being the Mitchells.
Breathless? Me too – and I haven’t even mentioned what will happen to the Queen Vic now the beloved bust is at the bottom of the Thames! But thank goodness we have soaps like EastEnders that can tackle all of the above – and more – within a week.
Sometimes, it takes something like a big birthday for us to really appreciate exactly how hard soaps work.
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Every single week, EastEnders, Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Hollyoaks, Neighbours, Home and Away, Doctors and even The Archers, confront huge issues, confidently and with panache.
It’s only on a major anniversary we realise just how much a soap deals with. And how we should cherish them.
In no other genre would you find Big Mo and Denise yelling for a stripper on the boat at the same time as a young child drowns.
And honestly, here’s to the next 35 years of EastEnders, and a lifetime filled with soaps – please never change.