Soaps tend to have the biggest range of ages in their cast, everything from babies to ocotogenarians. When The British Soap Awards comes around and you see lots of people all together in their smart suits and dazzling dresses and especially when they used to show the after party on ITV2, it does look like some sort of wedding reception disco or a family reunion, where you encounter people who you’re related to, but you probably only see once or twice in your whole life.
So I sometimes wonder what the soaps would be like if they were each an attendant of a family reunion, relatives from all over the country coming together to celebrate themselves.
CORONATION STREET is a 56-year-old Mancunian lady who is a grande dame, with coiffured wigs, troweled make-up, extravagant earrings and bulky coats. She loves a gossip. She’ll throw in a few pop culture references that she hears the young people are into these days, she was doing that ten years ago, referencing Cradle of Filth and “dissing”. She doesn’t know what they mean, but she likes you to know she’s heard of them. She’s rubbed shoulders with many of the rich and famous in her time, from A-list actors, to royalty to Prime Minsters.
Some say Corrie’s a bit doddery these days, and she’s always been seen as a bit old fashioned, but she doesn’t care. She knows that, in fact, she was a pioneer, she started this family from working class origins when nobody believed they would last, and she’s seen new rivals to her crown come and go and she’s still there.
EASTENDERS is a 31-year-old geezer from, well, the East End of London, and he is massively popular. Sometimes it’s hard to see why. He’s shouty, miserable and has pretentions of being a gangster hardman, but his bad boy credentials are mostly dodgy Del Boy dealings on his market stall. But he’s all about FAAAHMILY, and the family have a complicated relationship with him. Regardless of how he acts, people always complain about him. They’ll never let him forget that awful holiday to Ireland for example. But they also always shower him with rewards, and everyone talks about him and wants to see him and come round to his place for Christmas even if they’ll be a bitter divorce being played out. It seems they wouldn’t have him any other way.
EMMERDALE is a 44-year-old Yorkshireman who grew up as a farmers lad near Leeds, but when he turned 19 he began to distance himself from his farm boy origins, and by 21 he was trying to show that this rural guy could be just as sexy and explosive as his urban relatives, and he always knew he was the only one who had a decent pub. In middle age, he seems to have settled into himself a bit more, and after decades of grafting and toiling away with nowt to show for it, he seems to be gaining some recognition now.
HOLLYOAKS is a 21-year-old girl from Chester who is massively melodramatic and spends most of her time trying to look as pretty as possible. She apparently goes to uni, but nobody’s sure what she studies. In fact, she’s not even sure if she’s graduating, on her gap year, dropped out or even if the one she goes to is the one she’s actually enrolled at. Her late nights are infamous. She knows the coolest pop and indie songs to play at the right moment. She’s very frustrating, mainly because when she sets her mind to something, she can do very well indeed. The trouble is she very rarely sets her mind to anything.
DOCTORS is a 16-year-old Birmingham boy who volunteers in the Doctor’s surgery during his lunch break. He’s at an awkward time, so he gets overlooked. The family always insist he gets SOME recognition for all his hard work every year, but he knows it’s basically a pat on the head. The only people the family pay less attention are the ones who made their excuses not to attend.
They are 30-year-old doctor CASUALTY and her 17-year-old sister HOLBY CITY, who wants to be a nurse, and they never attend the reunion as they are always too busy at the hospital.
Also never attending because they live on the other side of the world are the two glamorous Australian cousins. 31-year-old NEIGHBOURS will be letting all the people she meets know she was a quite a big star in Britain once, she was on the cover of magazines and had pop singles. It’s true, why won’t they believe her? Then there’s 28-year-old HOME AND AWAY who will be sunning herself on a beach thinking “Well I might not be as famous as Neighbours, but I bet I’ve got more Hollywood connections than her”.