Eastenders is a ‘soap’ drama and is weekly viewing for many millions of viewers in the UK. It has been going on for over 20 years and is based on characters in the East-end of London. I even know people in the USA who also watch it on their own networks too. In America, it is around two years behind the series in the UK and by the time it arrives in the US, a character in the UK may have been wounded, raped, murdered, fathered a child he never knew about 20 years ago or become the mayor of London.
The ‘soap’ is very addictive and is on around 4 times a week. During the World-cup this year viewers had complained about it having been cut or moved. The storylines in it also come out in therapy. I remember in the end watching the soap in order to understand a client who was going through the trauma of domestic abuse. He referred to the soap so often it seemed necessary for me to start viewing it as a one who was walking with him in his journey. The parallels often are brought up from clients lives, stories of incest and paedophilia are now bringing up material which need to be looked at. Sometimes we cannot run away from past trauma and pain and in the end it comes to the surface through soaps such as Eastenders. Eastenders provides a good service in the form of entertainment, education and self-development.
It was found in India that soaps and drama on the television has been essential psycho-education which has helped a largely illiterate population. Rates of malnutrition and the spread of infection can be lowered through educating people – especially women on sanitising bottles and water for their babies and children. A ‘soap’ in India reaches millions and educates them far better than any classroom could do. Was the word ‘soap’ used to describe its cleansing qualities? Maybe, or maybe more than simple hygiene. Eastenders provides a service and forum to enable people to explore their own issues and to understand others have different lives and experiences – in a very entertaining and unexpected manner. What, Denise is alive and locked away as a prisoner whilst her funeral goes on above ground? Will Dirty Den come back again? Is the soap bubbling over even more? Will its lather spread even wider? I hope so.