Free for educational use
TV Soap Opera
Year of production - 2005
Duration - 3min 55sec
Tags - audiences, changing communities, identity, media influence, popular culture, script writing, soap operas, stereotypes, television drama, see all tags
On this Page
How to Download the Video Clip
About the Video Cliptop
The interviews with Megan Spencer, Scott Goodings, Mac Gudgeon and Corinne Grant were recorded for the website From Wireless to Web, produced in 2005.
Megan Spencer is a film critic, reporter and filmmaker. Scott Goodings is a self-proclaimed “TV freak” and walking archive. Corinne Grant is a comic, writer and actor. Mac Gudgeon is a screenwriter and a community television advocate. You can view their full biographies at From Wireless to Web
The website is a selective history of broadcast media in Australia. Decade by decade, from radio and newsreels to TV and the internet, this history shows how the Australian broadcast media developed and shaped the way Australians see themselves.
From Wireless to Web is a Film Australia production in association with Roar Film.
In this English unit students will:
- identify the characteristics of TV soap operas, and inquire into their effect on audiences,
- discuss media commentaries about soap operas, and critique two examples,
- create, draft and present an example of their own soap opera.
National: The Statements of Learning for English- Year 9
Reading, viewing and interpreting information and argument texts
- Students read and view texts that entertain, move, parody, investigate, analyse, argue and persuade. These texts explore personal, social, cultural and political issues of significance to the students’ own lives.
- Students understand that readers and viewers may need to develop knowledge about particular events, issues and contexts to interpret texts.
- When students write information or argument texts, they make appropriate selections of information from a few sources and attempt to synthesise and organise these in a logical way.
- Students write imaginative texts in print and electronic mediums that contain personal, social and cultural ideas and issues related to their own lives and communities and their views of their expanding world.
This resource is also relevant to Media Studies: Audiences, TV drama genres, Representation, Stereotypes and Codes and Coventions.
These are extracts only. Teachers and students should consult their state’s curriculum and learning programs.
Go to The National Curriculum Statements for English
The 1970s was Australia’s great decade of change – changing visions, changing values and a changing 'vibe’. The new socially progressive Labor Government under Gough Whitlam reshaped core beliefs and promoted social justice and equality for all Australians. A distinctly 'Aussie’ culture emerged in art, music, fashion and on the stage and screen. And Sydney finally opened its Opera House.
TV Soap Opera
When television was introduced to Australia much of the programming was imported from overseas, especially from the United States. Popular programs included quiz shows, variety shows and 'soapies’ – long-running series that typically screened on daytime television.
One of the first successful locally produced television soap operas was Bellbird, which launched in 1967, produced by the ABC. The achievement of Bellbird – and indeed all Australian 'soaps’ – was nothing short of miraculous. Punishing production schedules were necessary because of the need to create product week-by-week, on minuscule budgets with limited resources.
Bellbird depicted life in a small Australian country town, a fictional place that lent its name to the show’s title. Most of the series was shot at the ABC’s Melbourne studios in Elsternwick, with only limited location work in towns around Melbourne and Victoria. Bellbird screened for 15 minutes leading in to the 7 o’clock news, from Monday to Thursday. The series was a huge hit in rural and regional Australia because it dealt with the concerns of people living on the land and the dynamics of small country town life. The ABC produced 1693 episodes of Bellbird and the series ran for 10 years, until 1977.
The next breakthrough Australian television series, much more modern and risqué, was the 1972 'soap’ Number 96, which set a new standard and wholly different tone for Australian TV 'soapies’. Other popular and successful local soap operas included The Box (1974), The Young Doctors (1976), The Restless Years (1977), and Prisoner (1979).
- Getting started
View the four video clip interviews then discuss the following in class:
- What are soap operas? List the characteristics of a soap opera that make you want to keep watching it.
- What benefit does Corinne Grant find in viewing ‘trashy’ TV soap operas? Do you agree?
- What positive values does Megan Spencer find in Neighbours? Do you agree?
- What does Mac Gudgeon find so valuable and important about Bellbird?
- What does Scott Goodings find important about Prisoner? What similarities does he draw between Bellbird, A Country Practice and Something in the Air?
- Do the soap operas you watch offer a realistic view of city, suburban or rural life? Are the characters in these programs ‘fully rounded’ and believable or stereotyped and unrealistic?
- Analysing soap operas
View an episode of Neighbours and of Home and Away. In 450–500 words write an analysis of them, discussing:
- the opening credits, including the theme music and camera shots, asking what these tell us about the kind of stories being presented, the types of characters involved, and the settings
- the range of characteristics that define the two programs as soap operas, and whether there are any similarities or differences between them
- the intended audience for each program.
- Writing and rehearsing a soapie script
With the characteristics of soap operas in mind, in small groups plan, draft, edit and proofread the script for a five-minute section of a well-known TV soap opera. Include at least two scenes and a break point for insertion of advertisements. With other class members, rehearse a script reading, where you may need to make script changes.
Reflect in journal form on the process and the result of your script writing and rehearsing.
Go to From Wireless to Web for more about the history of broadcast media in Australia.
Go to Idato, Michael. Mellow Drama, The Age, 3 December 2004
Louise Alexander and Alison Cousens, Teaching TV Soaps, British Film Institute, 2004
Go to Screen Education and Metro Magazine for excellent online articles and study guides for using Australian Soaps in English.