I will discuss the codes and conventions used in a soap. I will discuss two episodes of mainstream soaps that I know of. I will write about Eastenders and Neighbours. A soap is a television program that is all about people’s daily lives and the events that happen. Soaps are ongoing, contemporary dramas. Meaning the plots and storylines are all based on real – life events that can happen to real people. The plot of the soap is held out over the episodes. Soaps can be split into different categories such as, countryside soaps, city soaps, or police soaps.
Eastenders being a city soap is fictional drama soap about a small community living in East London. The plot is the main storyline of the program. Currently, the main plot of Eastenders includes Natalie and Paul, Ian Beal and Laura, The Ferreira family and The Slater family. In a recent episode, Natalie Barry’s ex wife is starting to fancy Paul who originally planned to kill Barry with Janine. Paul is now guilty and wants to tell her the truth but doesn’t know how; he looks at writing letters, speaking to her face to face and comes with no conclusion.
We see here how the audience are always kept on their feet, as they are wanting to know if Paul breaks the news and how Natalie will react. Ian Beal being the top businessman he was buys the cafi?? again after going bankrupt and wants Laura his ex wife to go downhill, he is celebrating with his children, this burns Laura and the audience like to see how she does something to get him back. Ian being the rather hated character that everyone despises in the programme, as his head is and nose are way to high in the sky.
One of the main plots at the moment involves a few characters, the new Asian family, The Ferraris. Tariq finds out he is their half brother and offers to donate one of his kidneys to his half brother/best friend Ronnie as he has been stabbed. The other family members including Adi are having problems with it and cannot come to terms with Tariq being their brother. It is interesting to watch how they show different emotions each family member shows, that is one way of Eastenders reaching out to their audience, they want their audiences to feel in the same way and put themselves in similar situations.
The stereotypical characters in Eastenders are as follows the man-eating slut, cheaply dressed and loads of lippy, Kat Slater, when under the influence of alcohol is all over men. The lady-killer Dennis Watts has had a steady set of girls he has gone through as he made his entrance in the programme. Gossip queen Dot Cotton, as innocent as she may seem, she often puts her foot in it. The Grumpy boss Ian Beal will sack an employee with no hesitation, even his own ex wife. Workaholic, Little Mo Slater, has her own cleaning business. The bad guy Andy always has his enemies and everyone looks up to.
The issues in the different plots of Eastenders include, rape, abortion, teenage pregnancy, homosexuality, drug addiction, prostitution, divorce, extra marital affairs, unmarried mothers, mixed marriages, murder, gambling, adoption, teenage runaways, HIV/AIDS and many others. As one of the story lines recently have also been Ash one of the Ferrara brothers had a gambling addiction, and more recently we see Sonia having a weight issue. Again familiarising the audience with day-to-day teenage issues and making them confide in it through a soap.
I think that it is a good idea to broadcast these issues because all these subjects happen in real- life and it helps people to learn about it and how to cope if it should ever happen to them. I will look at Neighbours as my other soap to compare Eastenders with. Eastenders and Neighbours are very different soap operas. Eastenders is a ‘prime-time’ programme usually shown at 7. 30pm or 8pm, whereas Neighbours is shown twice a day at the earlier times of 1. 45pm and 5. 35pm respectively to their audiences. This in its own way can be seen as why they are different.
Eastenders being made for the matured audience from ages roughly early 20’s to late 40’s and neighbours being the more younger, hip version for the teens. Both Eastenders and Neighbours are stereotypical soaps with regard to their settings. Eastenders is set in a small London suburb called Walford, with most of the characters living in the houses around Albert Square. The area is not a very clean or respectable looking place, and the majority of the characters are working class and quite poor. The characters that do have some money behind them, like Phil Mitchell and the more fresh face Andy who seem to have acquired it dishonestly.
On the contrary however, Neighbours is set in a relatively wealthy area known as Erinsborough in Australia. The majority of the characters live down a single street of this neighbourhood, known as Ramsey Street. Most of the characters seem to be quite well spoken compared to those of Eastenders. Eastenders is more dramatic than Neighbours. It has a lot more serious and controversial storylines where Neighbours is more light-hearted and taken less seriously. Eastenders has a typical British climate but Neighbours is very hot and sunny.
Both Eastenders and Neighbours have familiar places in them, but some more than others. For example, in Eastenders the Queen Vic is probably the most well known location, and in Neighbours the Coffee Shop can probably claim the same honour. Both of these are regular meeting places for the characters and some of the most important storylines take place in them, more so the Queen Vic than the Coffee Shop. The Queen Vic is a typical East end local pub and it has its fair share of fights and arguments, along with parties and celebrations.
It is usually the place where a lot of bombshells are dropped about characters which often leads to them leaving the programme. It is also the place where characters that return after along absence turn up to surprise the unsuspecting locals. The Coffee Shop however is part of the Lassiters Complex. It is often the meeting place for many of the characters and the place they go for their lunch and a snack. Unlike the Queen Vic, the Coffee Shop rarely sees any violence or arguments, but it is often just a place to hang out for the younger characters.
Eastenders also has a coffee shop known to everyone as ‘The Caff’. This appears in the majority of episodes but is not so much a meeting place but just a place where either someone goes to look for someone or where people go to have breakfast if they can’t be bothered to cook. It doesn’t seem a very clean place and the service is not often the best. The main family in Neighbours is probably the Scully’s. Many of the storylines revolve around them and the family has five members. Husband and wife Joe and Lynn, are the parents of, in age order, Steph, Flick and Michelle.
Joe is the overprotective father figure who tends to compete with neighbour Karl Kennedy in many petty things. Lynn is the caring mother who wants the best for her children. Steph, the oldest of three daughters is in her early twenties and is just getting over splitting up with her boyfriend her boyfriend. Flick is the girl most boys in Ramsey Street have a soft spot for. She knows this however but is remaining single. Finally, Michelle is the youngest. She is just hitting her mid-teens and has started to get into trouble with her new friends. Joe isn’t too happy about this and wants it to end.
We always get the main stereotypical characters in all soaps; in neighbours it would be Man-eater, the closest to this category is probably Flick Scully. She could probably have anyone she wanted. Lady-killer Darcy Tyler got engaged and cheated on his fianci?? e with her best friend. The grumpy boss that everyone has and complains about Karl Kennedy was not happy with his nephew employing a receptionist and then starting a relationship with her. Bad guy Darcy Tyler tried to trick his own uncle out of his job for his own benefit and a huge profit.
The funny guy Toady Rebbechi, always a joker at school, has now grown up a bit but still enjoys a good laugh. Dodgy dealer Lou Carpenter and owns several businesses, always looking to make a profit and is not that bad at heart. A recent storyline in Neighbours has been where some criminals for something he didn’t do were hunting down Steph’s boyfriend. He eventually got tracked down, and when Steph saw his car being driven off at high speed and then hit a tree head on, she presumed the worst that they had killed him. Months later after she was coming to terms with it, her boyfriend, Woody, turned up at her door expecting things to be normal.
She didn’t know what to do but eventually told him to go as he had been selfish in not letting her know he was alive after all the hurt she had been through. Compared to the Eastenders plot, Neighbours was considerably mild. I think it suited its audience, as it was nothing too strong and dramatic whereas Eastenders is a soap highly over the top but what its audience would probably enjoy more. Being on at a later time to Neighbours, I think Eastenders is able to cover many more controversial storylines and takes full advantage of that opportunity. Both soaps have quite dissimilar opening and closing sequences.
Eastenders has its well-known theme tune along with a rotating map of the river Thames in the centre of London. This has become familiar to us all. Neighbours however, instead of a theme tune as a cheerful song about neighbours, and has photographs of all the characters in groups, seemingly very happy, as if everyone gets on fine and it’s a happy neighbourhood. The end sequences of both the soaps are almost exactly the same as its opening sequence. In conclusion, I have established and given reasons that Eastenders and Neighbours are very different soap operas.
The main factor are the lengths that Eastenders creators will go to get ratings with storylines that sometimes are beyond belief but can be very real-life related. Whereas Neighbours is more viewer friendly and has similar issues such as Drug abuse, rape, eating disorders, marital affairs etc, but concerning the younger teenage generation. Eastenders is far more controversial and the characters make a huge difference. In Eastenders they tend to be working class and quite common, although in Neighbours they seem to be of a better class and background and the attitude of the characters also seems to be different.