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BMMPaper - Brittanie Langford British Mass Media Chris Cook...

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Brittanie Langford British Mass Media Chris Cook October 29, 2010 7. ‘Through Eastenders and Coronation Street British TV audiences are encouraged to understand a wide range of social and cultural issues.’ Is this true of the two major soaps in the UK; and why should this be the case? You should illustrate your answer by using one episode of either programme. Coronation Street and EastEnders have been top contenders in the Soap genre since first introduced into British programming. The main models of soaps in British television began to create a gendered form, because they were based on strong matriarchal figures and women were getting bigger roles in the stories. 1 These programs have also been hailed for their realism in portraying their characters in their communities. While ITV’s Coronation Street took off with audiences in the 1960s, the serials that the BBC created to contend at the time fell flat. Coronation Street was strong among viewers, hitting number one by early 1961 and staying on top of the charts throughout the rest of the year. 2 While the BBC tried to create shows modeling it (such as Compact ) they still could not enter in the arena. Under pressure of having to provide entertaining programming for the network The BBC created EastEnders, its first serious contender with ITV’s hit. EastEnders was a response to a particular set of difficulties faced by the BBC in the early 1980s… In a political climate which was hostile to the notion of public service in general and to the BBC in particular, this amounted in sum, to a serious 1 1 Cook, Christopher. “Soap Opera.” British Mass Media. Temple University. London, 5 October 2010. 2 2 Little, Daran. 40 Years of Coronation St. London: Granada, 2000. Print. p 10.
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political problem, if not a crisis – if the BBC could not compete in ratings, and did not serve the public in terms of popular content, then how could the license fee be justified?” 3 McNicholas points out a critical point; that the public, through a license fee, funds the BBC, therefore programming should appeal to those people who pay for the service. While the soaps in the UK spend some focus on social and cultural themes, EastEnders is the strongest soap handling the task. This is due to it being developed and broadcast on the BBC, which has a responsibility to report, educate, and entertain, it’s viewers as it is a public service broadcasting network.
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