Grace Dent on the golden age of soaps: ‘They gave the nation something to gossip about'

To show how very long ago it was when I was given the “soap column” World of Lather for the Guide, I remember taking the news on a Nokia 5510, then dancing to a CD single of Independent Women, the red-hot new track by Destiny’s Child: “I buy my own diamonds and I buy my own rings,” I sang victoriously. I was giddy I was being offered actual cash to write about EastEnders, Corrie and Emmerdale – which were at that point getting 7 or 8 million viewers per episode. (Brookside was almost in its death throes.)

Related: The Guide: Staying In – sign up for our home entertainment tips

Things were different back in 2001. The internet was new, mysterious and operated via slow dial-up that you could only use when your mum didn’t need to talk to Aunty Sheila. Soap operas, meanwhile, felt like a pivotal part of society. They were cultural behemoths that dominated the TV schedules. From the 70s to the 00s, I devoted thousands of hours to the goings-on of the Rovers Return and Albert Square. Back then, real British people were actually rather private and would rarely publicise their own family woe, or God forbid, film it, share it or ask for comment. Soap, on the other hand, showed us family life, warts and all: the addiction, the infidelity, the scandal.

We adored the constant aggro provided by gobby characters such as Peggy Mitchell and Janice Battersby. It gave a nation something to gossip about. I lived for moments like Janine Butcher pushing Barry to his death off a small hill and Den Watts coming back from the dead. The powerful sexual magnetism of Max Branning and his affair with Stacey Slater, culminating in a Christmas Day post-lunch family fight, was the highlight of 2007. On Corrie, the love life of Gail Rodwell, AKA Potter, Tilsley, Platt, Hillman and McIntyre, was never short of exhilarating, particularly in 2003 when her then husband, serial killer Richard Hillman, tried to kill her mother Audrey, murdered Maxine Peacock then drove Gail’s family into a canal.

© Provided by The Guardian Blood on the cobbles … Coronation Street wrong ‘un Richard Hillman. Photograph: ITV/Rex/Shutterstock

I adored soap because the viewer was omnipotent, flying around the houses, knowing everyone’s secrets: that Janine had her former stepmother’s name in her phone as Fat Pat; Sally Webster’s constant quest for social betterment; Peter Barlow’s drinking; Heather Trott’s love of George Michael. These people felt like friends: we knew their quirks, weaknesses and motivations.

I wrote World of Lather for nine years, an exceedingly daft whistlestop tour around the cobbles and pub snugs. I’d settle down, blinds shut on the sunniest days, to consume hours of deceit and brawling. The column was surreal, pithy and often scathing but came from a deep love for soap. I regret many of the mean things I wrote as they’re a million miles from the woolly, zen person life battered me into by my 40s. Dev from Corrie, I’m sorry if I was horrible about your acting. Please forgive me, creators of the EastEnders dragon slide disaster. I was just young-ish and showing off.

I slipped away from soaps over the last decade. During lockdown, I got back into Emmerdale, where everyone is now young, pert and gorgeous. It’s set in a mysterious part of the remote Yorkshire Dales where access to Shellac nails, spray tans and highlights is plentiful and every fortnight there’s an attempted murder. It was the definition of escapism, but as soon as bars reopened, I freed myself from soap’s clutches.

Viewing figures have slid generally. I think social media is killing soaps off, providing an infinite supply of real people broadcasting direct from their dirty laundry baskets. In 2001, I’d wake up to BBC Breakfast discussing Kat and Mo Slater; now I wake up to a WhatsApp group brimming with screengrabs of our favourite influencer “calling out” another for fraud and stealing her fiance. I make a coffee, tune in and stay hooked. I’d like to tell you I’m too grown up for this soapy tittle-tattle, but ask me in another 20 years.

Grace Dent is a critic, broadcaster and author. Her Guardian podcast Comfort Eating is available now

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

For Dudamel, the trauma of COVID-19 turned personal: 'I am not the Gustavo of 2010'

All summer at the Hollywood Bowl, Gustavo Dudamel showed signs of a new gravitas. Despite the vagaries of the amphitheater, with its typically limited rehearsal time and easily distracted audiences, ... Read more »

Savannah Music Festival Jazz Academy expands to Savannah-area students of all ages

Eleven-year-old Jaden Cooper is seated behind the keyboard on The Salvation Army church’s burgundy carpeted stage. He’s bobbing up and down and snapping his fingers along to a jazz piece, rigorously keeping time during a ... Read more »

Michael Jordan's 1984 Nike Air Ship trainers break records after selling for $1.42m

The iconic red and white sneakers were worn by the NBA superstar in his fifth game in his rookie season for the Chicago Bulls on 1 November 1984. Read more »

Musician robbed, run over before show in Deep Ellum

A New York-based musician is injured after he was robbed and run over by a car prior to his band’s show in Deep Ellum on Tuesday. © Provided by KRLD Radio Dallas ... Read more »

7 Artists You Should Know Now

© Erin Taj and Hannah Minn From photographers to painters to multimedia creators, these artists are ready to make their indelible impressions on the art world. © Erin Taj and ... Read more »

With 'Prohibition' concerts, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra is saluting the birthdate of its new home

In a throwback salute to the origin of its new home, the Milwaukee Symphony will be “Puttin’ on the Ritz” Oct. 29-31.  © Sean Turi Jeff Tyzik arranged popular music ... Read more »

Katie Couric says controversy surrounding her new book is a 'strange, willful misinterpretation'

Ask Katie Couric what she, veteran journalist, former “Today” co-host and first woman to anchor an evening news program solo would ask about her new memoir and she’ll give a ... Read more »

Snoop Dogg Remembers His Mom With Heartfelt Tributes

Snoop Dogg Snoop Dogg has paid tribute to his mom Beverly Tate, the author and evangelist who passed away Sunday (Oct. 24), at the age of 70. The hip-hop great ... Read more »

Lightning Roulette, Blackjack & Poker: Most Popular Live Casino Games To Be Played

The live casino sector has continued to experience a growing trend in recent years as it has continued to gain popularity amongst the gambling community. Live casino games are online ... Read more »

PlaySation 5 Tips: Here's How To Connect PS5's DualSense Controller To Smartphone, PC

© Provided by News18 PlaySation 5 Tips: Here’s How To Connect PS5’s DualSense Controller To Smartphone, PC Sony’s PlayStation controllers have always been iconic. From DualShock to now DualSense, the ... Read more »

Top 5 Most-Earning Online Business Niches

We believe that many of the finest startups have yet to be found. As a result, if you really want to begin a viable enterprise but don’t know where to ... Read more »

Review: Bar Goa, an Indian-Portuguese escape interrupted

There’s a moment when a tropical drink hits your table when you escape to a place remembered or imagined. © Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune The interior of Bar Goa, 116 W. ... Read more »

South Bend bassist joins Chicago's Steepwater Band in time for the 'Turn of the Wheel'

Joe Bishop was a fan of The Steepwater Band long before he joined the group as the bass player in 2019. © PROVIDED/TIMOTHY M. SCHMIDT Chicago’s Steepwater Band will perform ... Read more »

Chuck Prophet mines 'The Land That Time Forgot' on new album, tour that includes The Acorn

© PROVIDED/CHARLIE HOMO Chuck Prophet and his band, The Mission Express, will perform Oct. 28, 2021, at The Acorn in Three Oaks. Chuck Prophet and his band, The Mission Express, ... Read more »

Queen Elizabeth skips church service after hospitalization

According to royalty journalist Angela Levin, skipping church may seem like a small step, but for the queen it is “a big one.” “She is very religious and it is ... Read more »

Barry Atsma returns in third season BBC series The Split

Barry Atsma returns in the third season of the BBC hit series The Split. The Dutch actor has confirmed this after reports in the British media. The third season was ... Read more »

ShowBiz Minute: Tyler, Baldwin, BTS

James Michael Tyler, who played Gunther on “Friends,” dies; Crew member: Baldwin careful with guns before fatal shooting; BTS stream virtual concert BTS Permission to Dance on Stage. (Oct. 25) Read more »

Art Center Sarasota to present annual 'Instructors and Students Invitational Show'

© Courtesy/Art Center Sarasota Elizabeth Goodwill is Art Center Sarasota’s education director. Art Center Sarasota will present its annual “Instructors and Students Invitational Show” Nov. 4-27, including an opening reception celebrating the ... Read more »

Audacy's Alternative Pick of the Week: Jungle - 'Truth'

This week’s Audacy Alternative Pick of the Week is JUNGLE with “Truth.” © Provided by Audacy Jungle When you hear our Audacy Alternative Pick of the Week on your favorite Audacy Alternative ... Read more »

Op-Ed: When a woman sings tenor, it's a superpower

When I was 18 years old, I wanted to sing tenor. © (Chris Maddaloni / CQ Roll Call via Getty Images) Choral singing has long had a gender-bending history, but ... Read more »

Listen to the Superstar Power Hour with Carrie Underwood

Audacy’s Katie Neal welcomes Carrie Underwood to our airwaves as this week’s co-host for the Superstar Power Hour on all your favorite Audacy Country stations nationwide. © Provided by Audacy Carrie Underwood One of five nominees ... Read more »

A Q-and-A with Jefferson Starship's David Freiberg in advance of band's Owensboro concert

At the forefront of the late 1960s to early 1970s San Francisco music scene, ranging from Quicksilver Messenger Service to Jefferson Airplane to Jefferson Starship and other stops in between, David ... Read more »

On with the show: After 20 months, Broadway in Boston returns to with 'Hadestown'

© T Charles Erickson Kevyn Morrow as Hades in the Broadway touring production of “Hadestown.” Opening nights are always a big deal. But if the reception that “Hadestown” received when ... Read more »

Frank Turner holds sway over sold-out, hastily moved Basement show

Two hours before the doors were set to open for a sold-out Frank Turner concert at The Basement, the whole thing was nearly scrapped. Sunday afternoon, the English folk/punk rock ... Read more »

Mojo's Boneyard blues venue, bar and restaurant celebrates 10-year anniversary in Evansville

EVANSVILLE Ind. – Mojo’s Boneyard, the East Side bar, restaurant and Jazz/Blues music venue, turns 10 years old on Tuesday. © Aimee Blume, Courier & Press Mojo’s BoneYard is located ... Read more »

These 3 Under-the-Radar Stocks Are Great Buys Right Now

You’ve probably found that the best restaurants are frequently off the beaten path. That’s true of other things as well. Music venues and vacation spots come to mind. And so ... Read more »

Two killed, five hurt after drag racer slams into Texas spectators

A driver lost control during a Texas drag racing event and slammed into a crowd of spectators, killing two and injuring at least five others Saturday, authorities said. Read more »

Monica is romantic in Paris and Kim-Lian resists gray hair

Sometimes you have to escape the crowds in the Netherlands for a while. That’s exactly why Monica Geuze and her boyfriend Robert sought romance in Paris. It doesn’t matter much ... Read more »

China Cases Grow; HK Banks Want Restrictions Eased: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — © Photographer: China News Service/China News Service China Outbreak Widens; Singapore Fake-News Notice: Virus Update Most Read from Bloomberg Cities’ Answer to Sprawl? Go Wild. Hamburg Is at ... Read more »

Fans flock to Minneapolis for Rolling Stones concert

Fans of the Rolling Stones remember the first time they heard their favorite tunes from the legendary band. “The first time I heard ‘Sticky Fingers’ with the zippers, I was ... Read more »

James Michael Tyler: Jennifer Aniston leads tributes as star who played Gunther in Friends dies at 59

Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow and Matt LeBlanc have also shared tributes to James Michael Tyler, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018. He was unable to attend the recent Friends: Reunion show because of his illness. Read more »

Speakeasy markets Blind Tiger non-alcoholic mixers with help of Cleveland company

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Like many bar and restaurant owners in the last year or so, Rebecca Styn learned she had to alter her business model during the coronavirus pandemic. © ... Read more »

On This Day: 25 October 2005

In 2005, the music of Johnny Cash was celebrated at a tribute concert, ahead of the release of biopic “Walk the Line.” (Oct. 25) Read more »

Pandemic Strips $1BN From Australia's Live Entertainment Sector: Report

Sydney, Australia BRISBANE, Australia — The pandemic punched a A$1.4 billion ($1.04 billion) hole in Australia’s live entertainment industry, as touring ceased, venues shuttered and the number of tickets to ... Read more »

Robert De Niro avoids handing half of his $500 million fortune to his estranged wife

Robert De Niro has avoided having to hand over half of his US$500 million fortune to his estranged wife. The 77-year-old actor has been in the process of divorcing Grace ... Read more »

Adele Roberts: Radio 1 presenter and former Big Brother star diagnosed with bowel cancer at 42

Radio 1 presenter Adele Roberts, who rose to fame on Big Brother in 2002, has shared details of her cancer diagnosis on social media, and urged others suffering any health problems to get checked out. Read more »

Barry Atsma in third season BBC series The Split

The series tells the fast-paced circuit of powerful female divorce lawyers from the perspective of the three Defoe sisters. Atsma plays Christie Carmichael, the senior partner of a large law ... Read more »

Halloween weekend live concert brings bluegrass, country & original music to Madison County

The “magic” of the music trio Reyna & The Rustics will give a spirited start to the two-day Halloween in Hamilton celebration as they perform live Friday, Oct. 29 at Arts ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic