The two biggest soap operas in the UK are ‘Eastenders’ and ‘Coronation Street’.
– Eastenders is shown on BBC1. Coronation Street is shown on ITV. Both are 30 minutes long. Eastenders is on 4 times a week, and Coronation Street is on 3 times a week.
– There is also an omnibus at the weekends, showing all the episodes back-to-back.
– Coronation Street is based in a town near Manchester. Eastenders is based in a community in the East end of London.
– Coronation Street began airing in 1960. Eastenders began in 1985. Coronation Street is the world’s longest-running television soap opera.
– Eastenders usually gets more viewers than Coronation Street, but both have nearly 10 million viewers for each episode (10 million is about 30% of people watching TV in the UK at that time). The number often goes above 15 million for specials.
– Coronation Street had 26.9 million viewers for its 50th anniversary show in 2010, when a tram crashed in the town and killed a main character. Eastenders, however, had over 30 million people watch it in 1985 when two characters were getting divorced (this is still the most watched non-news show in British history).
– Both soaps have had ‘live shows’. These shows are filmed and shown live, and are very hard to produce.
– Christmas Specials are a big part of both soaps. The Christmas Special is usually 1 hour long (not 30 minutes) and often has a wedding, a birth, a death, or a big fight.
– Coronation Street generally uses more humour than Eastenders. Eastenders tries to be more ‘realistic’, and is famous for people fighting and shouting.
– During their time on TV, the soaps have had controversial stories, including murder, prostitution, HIV, teenage pregnancy, paedophilia, and a baby swap. The baby swap story got so many complaints Eastenders quickly changed the storyline.
To see the numbers for Britain’s most-watched shows, you can visit: