Britain’s Soap Fans Under the Microscope

12 November 2002

Britain’s soap opera fans are the subject of a new study conducted by MORI for the Broadcasting Standards Commission.

The survey was commissioned to help the BSC determine the role of soaps in people’s lives and what standards are expected by their viewers.

MORI’s study divided soap-watchers into four groups – Fanatics, Ironics, Dismissives and Non-Committeds – based on how frequently and how intensely they got their fix and how emotionally involved they became.

Fanatics, it was found, tended not to have a degree and were most commonly young women and tabloid readers. Members of this segment are likely to allow their children to watch soaps too.

Other findings include:

• Soap operas are regarded both as entertainment and as a device to disseminate information.

• Broadcasters are expected to pay heed to the watershed and remember that children or people affected by issues in storylines may be watching. They should consider warnings before a show if any sensitive material is involved.

• Soap fans expect storylines to reflect real life, but not so ‘real’ that they become dull.

• Broadcasters should avoid token or superficial gestures.

Said the BSC’s research director Andrea Milwood Hargrave: “The research … has helped us to set parameters when considering the topics that should – or shouldn’t – be dealt with in soap operas, and how far the boundaries can be pushed.”

Full details can be found at

Data sourced from: Daily Research News Online; additional content by WARC staff