Why message from soaps is a wash-out

PRIVATE healthcare firm Bupa has called for soap characters with unhealthy lifestyles to be shown suffering the consequences of their ways of life. I really couldn t agree more and I don t understand why scriptwriters for popular soaps such as EastEnders,

PRIVATE healthcare firm Bupa has called for soap characters with unhealthy lifestyles to be shown suffering the consequences of their ways of life.

I really couldn't agree more and I don't understand why scriptwriters for popular soaps such as EastEnders, Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks have so far failed to do this.

Characters such as EastEnders' Dot Cotton who is a heavy smoker, Emmerdale's Shadrach Dingle who is dependent on alcohol, and Coronation Street's Lloyd Mullaney who has an unhealthy diet, could help to effectively hammer home health messages.

These characters are in tens of millions of people's living rooms every day, and soaps therefore provide a perfect vehicle to relay important and potentially life-saving messages to viewers.


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It's frustrating this resource remains untapped.

Many viewers are influenced by what they watch on television and in many cases, whether consciously or sub-consciously, soap characters have become their role models.

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To portray characters' everyday lives as unhealthy, but to fail to show the consequences of their unhealthy lifestyles, is not only misleading but it is irresponsible.

Such a distorted portrayal could encourage some viewers to take up unhealthy habits because they think it will do them little or no harm.

An ideal opportunity to prick the consciences of those who already lead unhealthy lifestyles, and to increase awareness of the dangers of smoking, drinking to excess, and an unhealthy diet, is also being missed.

Soaps are all too ready to emphasise dramatic health storylines, such as those surrounding HIV or mental illness, but it is equally important for them to realistically reflect other aspects of health which are perhaps not quite so sensational.

The creators of these popular soaps have a moral duty to accurately portray the consequences of chosen lifestyles. It could help save lives.

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