The Bold And The Beautiful/Days Of Our Lives

Channel 5, starts Mon 20 Mar, 9.50 10.20am.

'Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives . . .' Yes, daytime soap junkies left reeling by the axing of Sunset Beach have a new reason to get up in the morning as Channel 5 has scored the weekday double whammy of Days Of Our Lives and The Bold And The Beautiful (The New Generation, no less) both of which are arriving on British terrestrial screens for the first time. So, why leave the house ever again?

Clearly, the glossiest of America's televisual products have found a new niche in the eccentric scheduling of Britain's least-watched channel. It’s a long way down from their 805 heyday when prime time BBC slots were clogged with imported soaps featuring men with plastic hair and orange faces, bitchy women disguised as shoulder-padded Easter eggs and diamond-dripped Barbara Bush-style matriarchs.

Dynasty and Dallas epitomised that era's opulence and were the classy grandparents of their limp, soft-focus, daytime offspring. British audiences lapped up these grand family sagas with their melodramatic acting and increasingly farfetched storylines. We also bought fully into the hype. The episode of Dallas which revealed who shot J.R. Ewing had to be flown into Heathrow in sealed containers with maximum security. And who could forget the suspense of that Dynasty cliffhanger when terrorists


‘oropor' drama

a( tor Coral Atkins


Sarah Lancashire as the troubled but caring Coral Atkins

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Yet another American soap shotgun wedding

besieged Amanda’s wedding? We feared the worst, but those resilient Carringtons and Colbys bounced right back.

In the recession-riddled early 905, political correctness judged the glittery escapism of Southfork and Denver to be showy vulgarity. Producers went entirely in the other direction leading to British soap’s sustained and almost pornographic obsession with grimness, despair, poverty and misery.

EastEnders and Brookside heralded a new maturity in British soap production with ratings-savvy storylines. Granny soaps Coronation Street and Emmerda/e were also revitalised, replacing their US counterparts. But, contrary to popular myth, escapism didn't disappear, it was simply dressed down. Britain’s answers to Aaron Spelling, Mal Young and Phil Redmond appear regularly on our screens to remind us of the responsibility and realism of soaps.

Let’s be honest, boys. It’s not the worthy, issue-led storylines that grab viewers, it’s the salacious, sensationalist ones; the bodies under the patio, the plane disasters, the plagues, the sieges and the lesbian kisses. Brookside’s literacy story, though sensitively handled, nearly brought the show to its knees ratings~wise.

Days makes no such misguided pretence at realism. The first episode focuses on the wedding of Princess Gina Von Amburg to 80 Brady. Among the guests are a woman who‘s been possessed by the devil and a man with a microchip in his neck. TV heaven.

(Allan Radcliffe)

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TV Times

We put TV celebs on the couch. This issue: Neil Pearson

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