As many of you are now aware, I’m a massive fan of soap operas. Yes, they’re a bit silly but soaps consistently provide us with edge-of-your-seat, water cooler moments that make for must-see TV. With the start of a New Year, I thought now was the perfect time to give my verdict on soap in 2019 by outlining by seven favourite soap plotlines of the year. Buckle up for a wild ride…
1. Ben’s back – Eastenders
Everyone loves a bad boy, and Ben Mitchell was the baddest in 2019. After over a year away from the Square, Ben (played by a new actor) returned in 2019 to wreak havoc. He did everything from framing a rival for an attack on his father to dangling show stalwart Martin Fowler off a bridge in 2019 and it made for great telly. But it was his forbidden romance with undertaker Callum Highway that captured the hearts of viewers last year, proving that every bad boy has a heart underneath.
2. Ste’s radicalisation – Hollyoaks
The issue of right wing radicalisation is extremely controversial, and I applaud Hollyoaks for tackling it. In 2019, Hollyoaks icon Ste Hay was gradually radicalised by a right wing group, only to turn his back on them when he realised just how wrong they were. The plot was handled sensitively, and the performances of all involved were truly outstanding. Not only did this story provide some gripping TV moments, but it also did what great TV should do – it helped make society a better place.
3. Vanity – Emmerdale
I have to admit, Emmerdale disappointed me in 2019. After a few standout years, the show seemed to go into a rut and in my opinion many storylines failed to hit the mark. Except one – Vanity. This is the name for power couple Vanessa and Charity. They went from strength-to-strength this year, delighting viewers as they continued to fall in love. In a year where so many Emmerdale power couples were split up, it was nice to see Vanity weather the storm and stick together.
4. Bobby’s new direction – Eastenders
I felt that the ‘Who Killed Lucy’ storyline dragged on for way too long. When I heard that they were bringing her killer (and brother) Bobby back, I wasn’t enthusiastic. But I’ve been surprised by how much I’ve warmed to this character and his journey. Instead of making him an irredeemable villain, Eastenders brought back Bobby with a new face and a new outlook on life, sensitively portraying his struggle to come to terms with his past, and his gradual conversion to Islam, making the audience root for a character they once hated. Not only is that a compelling feat, it made for truly gripping TV.
5. Killer McQueen – Hollyoaks
We’ve seen so many soap serial killers – especially on Hollyoaks – it can be hard to get excited by them these days. But this storyline is the exception to the rule. In 2019, devout nanny Breda McQueen went on a mission to kill all the ‘bad dads’ in the village. Maybe it was that she seems like such an unlikely serial killer? Maybe it was that the whole thing was just been so deliciously camp? Maybe it was that she kept show mainstay Tony Hutchinson prisoner in a literal pig sty for months on end? Whatever it was, this was crackers but amazing, which is why I had to include it on this list!
6. Carla’s struggle – Coronation Street
Dynamic businesswoman Carla Connor was one to watch in 2019, as the character struggled with mental health issues. Following a fire at the Underworld factory, which Carla was initially blamed for, we saw the character hit rock bottom. Her story culminated with a special episode which delved deeper into her crisis as she suffered a severe psychotic episode. Carla actress Alison King put in an amazing performance, and the scenes showing her breakdown were truly moving. It was also great to see a greater focus on mental health, something many soaps have begun to do in recent years.
7. New Year’s Eve 2020 – Hollyoaks
This one is less of a plotline and more of a concept, but I had to include it. Hollyoaks embarked on one of its most ambitious projects yet this year, when they used their New Year’s Eve episode to jump forward in time one year to New Year’s Eve 2020. Showing everything from the impact of their upcoming County Lines story to an unlikely romance blossoming between Juliet and Peri, this whetted our appetites for what’s to come and made sure I’ll continue to tune in across 2020.