Anne Kirkbride, who played Deirdre in Coronation Street (a highly popular UK soap opera) recently died after a short illness. It was all over the UK media and many people were saddened by her passing. It got me thinking about the major differences between soap operas in the UK and the US.
|RIP Anne Kirkbride aka Deirdre Barlow. A soap icon in the UK.|
Soap operas are hugely popular over here, and back home in the UK. Soaps here in the US are shown during the day and therefore have a more limited audience, while in the UK, the main soaps are shown during prime time in the evening and therefore have a much wider audience.
American soap stars look mostly like this:
|This is Susan Lucci, I have no idea what soap opera she is in because apparently American soap stars regularly switch between shows!|
|This is Carly from General Hospital. I have no idea what her real name is either. GH is actually one of the only American soaps I have ever watched.|
|Jason Morgan, again from GH, and again, I have no idea what his real name is. Just Whoarrr!!!|
You get the picture. American soap stars are glamorous, beautiful and not really similar to normal, everyday kind of people. British soap stars on the other hand, mostly look like this:
|Gail from Coronation Street, real name Helen Worth.|
|Tyrone from Coronation Street. Not exactly Jason Morgan...|
|Mo from Eastenders, definitely not American soap opera material!|
Although obviously there are also some attractive people on Coronation Street and Eastenders too, British soaps are so much more realistic. It's rare to see outside shots in American soaps, most are set in studios and have the obligatory fuzz/golden lighting to make everybody look even more beautiful. British soaps have scenes in the street, down the market, in the garden, you name it. It's real life baby!
British soap stars pretty much have celebrity status throughout the UK. Even if you don't watch the show, it's pretty likely that you'll have heard of most of the major characters in it or read about them in one of the national newspapers. The 2 main soaps, Coronation Street and Eastenders are watched by millions and even have Christmas Day specials, usually filled with doom and gloom, that are actually a part of most families' Christmas viewing. Not so over here.
Even the soap names are totally different. The Young and The Restless, The Bold and The Beautiful, Days of Our Lives - compare that with Eastenders and Coronation Street. I guess because Britain is such a small place compared to over here that it's only natural soap stars will be more widely known. You definitely don't get actresses like Anne Kirkbride or Helen Worth on US soaps.
Although I'm not really a fan of American soaps, I did watch General Hospital for a while when the husband was deployed to Afghanistan, and I enjoyed the little bit of escapism it offered. But I definitely enjoy the more gritty, sometimes comical soaps from back home a lot more. I'm sure most Americans probably wouldn't enjoy our type of soaps either, so I guess, each to his own. But even the husband agrees that British soaps are more entertaining and realistic than those over here, and it's not very often that he even watches TV! I'd be interested to hear my readers' thoughts on soaps too, so please feel free to comment, just as long as you're not into sex funerals...!