The Mitchells (Picture: BBC)

Television viewing habits have changed dramatically over the last few years. The introduction of streaming and catch-up services — aka on-demand entertainment — has given viewers not only plenty to choose from in terms of entertainment, but its also given them the choice of when, where and how they wish to view it.

Soaps are one genre that have been dramatically affected by this change. There was once a time when EastEnders and Coronation Street were the highest viewed programmes in the country, but due to the ever-changing way in which we consume telly, this is no longer the case.

According to research undertaken by Inside Soap, only a third of Brits — 33% — choose to watch their soaps live, but will often record them or catch up later, while 28% prefer to record or watch back online to exercise more control over their viewing their time. Additonally, only 24% will always aim to watch live.

Soap viewing habits in order of popularity:

  1. I prefer to see them live, but sometimes record them or watch them on catch up
  2. I always record them or watch on catch-up, so I control when I see them
  3. I always try to watch them live, as and when they are on

A common misconception is that declining overnight viewing figures is a result of a decline in standard and, while there no doubt has been some truth to this in the past, its impossible to make such an assumption in a day and age where we can watch what we want at a time that suits us.



As the above stats suggest, in todays world, telly fits into our schedules — as opposed to the other way round. So, while overnight ratings may not be what they once where, soaps are still very much a huge draw for UK viewers, its just that, more often than not, theres less urgency to watch them as and when they air. Whats more, viewership figures increase when views on catch-up services such as BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub are factored in.

All you need to do is take a quick peek at the iPlayer, for example, and — surrounded by juggernauts such as Peaky Blinders and Strictly Come Dancing — youll find the latest episodes of EastEnders thriving in the Most Popular section of the service.

Of course, one of the many reasons viewers are still so fond of programmes such as EastEnders, Corrie and Emmerdale, is that theyve been home to some of the most iconic characters not only in soap, but in British drama as a whole. Speaking of which — in addition to UK soap viewing habits — Inside Soap has also revealed viewers favourite gone but not forgotten characters.

Favourite 'gone but not forgotten' soap characters

  • Jack and Vera Duckworth, Coronation Street
  • Peggy Mitchell, EastEnders
  • Grant Mitchell, EastEnders
  • Bet Lynch, Coronation Street
  • Frank Butcher, EastEnders
  • Deirdre Barlow, Coronation Street
  • Seth Armstrong, Emmerdale
  • Andy Sugden, Emmerdale
  • Jack SugdeRead More – Source