The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - SEVEN DAYS -

There was a time when you could rely on all the soaps to pro­vide a smidgen of com­edy per episode, but the ef­fort to at­tract more view­ers re­sults in in­creas­ingly high drama. The re­sult is Tragedy Over­load and leaves us long­ing for (a) the com­mer­cial breaks on RTÉ, TV3, UTV and Chanel 4 and (b) the Duh Duh Duh beats of the theme tune that her­ald the end of EastEn­ders.

Take Em­merdale. In re­cent months, we’ve had drug ad­dic­tion, fatal car crashes, elder abuse, men­tal ill­ness, un­planned preg­nan­cies, Fan­coni Anaemia (no, not a pasta but a po­ten­tially fatal ill­ness), adul­tery – many of them all in one episode.

There have been more un­planned preg­nan­cies in EastEn­ders, along with murder, ad­dic­tion, theft, death, men­tal break­down – and so on. I know that this is soa­p­land and that un­re­al­is­tic plots are cen­tral to the drama, but the light and shade that was once char­ac­ter­is­tic of the genre are of­ten for­got­ten in the scram­ble to in­crease rat­ings.

Coro­na­tion Street re­mains the ex­cep­tion, plac­ing tragedy and com­edy back to back in seam­less scenes that have you cry­ing one minute and laugh­ing hys­ter­i­cally the next, thanks to nuggets of phrases that are noth­ing short of ge­nius. Streets ahead.

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