When I was a kid, soaps were called soaps, and I'll tell you something. They were nothing like as good as they are these days, when they're at their best.
For a kick off, soaps were definitely for women. Men had sport, and so women had soaps, all about love, and affairs, and a little bit rubbish really, but that didn't matter because the main purpose of soaps was to sell soap powder to their target audience - home makers.
Somewhere in the last four hundred years, though, there's been a change. True, soaps may still be targeted at women and the gayers in the community, but they're the most watched programmes on British television and they're big business and they're hugely competitive. They're now called serial dramas, they've got awards and magazines devoted to them and the drive to win audience has led to a stunt-driven conveyor belt of plane crashes, hostage situations, disaster weddings and family teenage stepson nutter hostage tower block shooting calamities.
There's an odd side effect to this.
There's actually some damn good acting in there. Some well written, intelligent scripts. There's even some consistent character development over a period of years. Sometimes, these things are actually worth watching.
They say that if Shakespeare was alive now, he'd be writing for the soaps. That's probably not true. He'd be writing soppy love poems to a dark lady, tossing off the odd dirty limerick, and he'd have a new blockbuster in the multplex every six months based on a real life true story. He'd have written a cracking screenplay for The Queen, and Helen Mirren would sing his praises. However, if he Dickens was alive, he'd certainly be writing for the soaps, and he'd have come up with some cracking stuff for Christmas Day.