- soap operas
Soap operas, also called soaps, are amongst the most popular television programmes. They are stories about the lives of ordinary people that are broadcast, usually in half-hour episodes, three times or more each week. Episodes broadcast during the week are often repeated in a single omnibus programme at the weekend. They are called soap operas because in the US they were first paid for by companies who made soap. Some people buy books about their favourite soap and visit the places where the stories are supposed to happen.Most soap operas describe the daily lives of a small group of people who live in the same street or town and go to the same pub, shops, etc. The most successful soaps reflect the worries and hopes of real people, though the central characters frequently have exaggerated personal problems in order to make the programmes more exciting. Some storylines deal with sensitive social issues, such as alcoholism, homosexuality and racism.In Britain soap operas are broadcast in the early evening. The longest-running soap opera in the world is The Archers, ‘an everyday story of country folk’, which began on BBC radio in the 1950s. The most popular of the television soaps is ITV’s Coronation Street, first broadcast in 1960. Its main rival is the BBC’s EastEnders. Other popular soaps include ITV’s Emmerdale. Neighbours and Home and Away, both from Australia, are aimed at younger audiences. Older US soaps such as Dallas and Dynasty, are occasionally repeated on satellite television.In the US, soap operas are also called daytime dramas. A few, like Dynasty and Dallas, have been successful in the evenings, but most soaps are broadcast during the afternoon. Though soaps have a limited audience, the names of many of the long-running ones, e.g. Days of Our Lives, General Hospital and The Young and the Restless, are well-known. US soaps are often criticized for having plots which are not realistic and move too slowly: it is possible to miss many instalments and still understand the story. In spite of this, people who watch soaps usually have one or two favourites which they try never to miss.People who do not like soaps criticize them for being boring and predictable. In the US especially, soap operas get little respect. Many people are embarrassed to admit that they watch them.
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