Soap operas attract its audiences in many different ways and use a lot of tactics to keep their viewing going up. Audiences are so important to media because without them, there would be no media. So this is why many different types of media use specialist ways to keep their audiences engaged to help media progress. One of the soaps that has being focused on is Eastenders. Eastenders Is a soap that is shown four times a week on bbc1. It is based in London’s east end. It included a wide range of characters and storylines.
One of the soaps intentions is to deal with controversial social issues and Eastenders likes to see itself and as pursuing ‘documentary realism’. It does not have a naturalistic mode and can shift from melodramatic or to sitcom. Eastenders uses a lot of realism within its story lines so that the audience can relate back to the story lines. But it is misleading to see Eastenders as ‘representing real life’ as it does include unrealistic things i.e. characters coming back to life from death. This piece will look at the different way Eastenders attracts it audience on a regular basis.
Eastenders doesn’t have just one target audience it has a mass audience which means any gender, race , age, religion and class can watch it as it has many diverse characters with in the soap and different types of target story lines. These story lines can be seen as some audiences maybe relate to the story line and others can be educated by them.
Audiences can identify with Eastenders characters in a self image as they include many different image groups such as Goths, suited characters, casual etc…
It also includes different ages and storylines to go along with these ages groups like starting school, going to university, retiring so audience that match these storylines can relate to this.
Different classes are also used as characters, from grade A (upper class) to grade E ( lowest class) as within the soap its has doctors, lawyers etc… and among that it has unemployed people, students. So it isn’t specifically for one class grade.
Families are used as well as usually in soap operas they have 3 or 4 families and in Eastenders most of the characters are part of a family and the family live on the square. Families are a good way to attract as they seem relatively real life as the storylines include arguments, death, wills, new born’s, divorce etc.. and can relate to these storylines and/or help them come to terms with there own family issues.
Different classes are also used as characters, from grade A (upper classes) to grade E ( lowest class) as with in the soap its has doctors, lawyers etc… And among that it has unemployed people, students. So it isn’t specifically for one class grade.
Many cultures and nationalist are included within the characters so it isn’t just aimed at one certain group of people.
The codes and conventions of Eastenders is very important and it keeps the audiences hocked. It is a serialised drama that is on four times a week and runs week-in, week-out, all year round. It features continuous narratives dealing with domestic themes and personal or family relationships and will have Three, four or even five storylines and they will progress during any one episode, with the action switching between them. As one narrative is resolved, another completely different one with different characters will already be underway..
Eastenders also has a well-known theme tune and intro sequence which rarely changes throughout the history of the soap which over the years audiences become more familiar with ( it has been rumoured that pets are even familiar with it!).
There is a limit to the number of characters available at any one time on screen but this allows the soap to focus on a smaller number of characters which then allows more time to be spent on each character, so that the audience knows them better and the storylines can be more detailed and involved, as well as being more numerous over time.
The plots are open-ended and usually has a multiplicity of which interlinked in an episode ( metanarrative). The storylines in these cases run parallel. But episode will undoubtedly end with a ‘cliff-hanger’, which is a tense and suspenseful, un concluded piece of dialogue or action when But with the ending, it will come to some kind of conclusion as well as a cliff-hanger such as ‘ Billy’s dead’ which concludes that the character is dead but still raises up questions of’ why, when, where etc..’.
The location of Eastenders is set around a small, central area ‘Trafalgar square’. And somehow the characters are all connected through either, relationships, arguments or history such as Phill Mitchell used to bully Ian Beal as school over 20 years ago and now you still see his subliminal control over Ian.
Eastenders often have special episodes for events in the real world such as Christmas or the Millennium and even just an round up to a storyline such as ‘ who killed Archie (( an hour long special)). Such episodes are often referred to as ‘soap bubbles’.
Eastenders and largely British soaps most often feature common, ordinary, working class characters, in contrast to American soaps, which tend to deal with richer, flashier, more fantasy-inspired characters, reflecting the preferences of their respective target audiences.
As Eastenders has such a broad range of characters, it has a broad range of representations.