Soap operas are an ingrained part of British culture. Putting on the kettle for a cuppa and then being glued to your screen for an evening filled with heart-stopping, soapy drama is part of the weeknight routine for many. This routine goes as far back as 1954, when The Grove Family, thought to be the first British soap opera, began airing on the BBC.
You may wonder which iconic British shows reign supreme, from Emmerdale and Coronation Street to Hollyoaks and EastEnders.
Well, the team at Spin Genie UK has the answer. We've revealed the most popular British soaps by analysing Google search data, social media data, the number of episodes, how many years each show has run, and the awards they’ve won.
The Most Popular Soap Operas in the UK
Soap Popularity Score: 9.58/10
EastEnders comes out as the most popular soap in the UK, with a score of 9.58 out of 10. The soap opera first aired in February 1985 on BBC One and features iconic fictional families such as the Mitchells, Beales, Brannings and Slaters.
Over the last 12 months, EastEnders has been Googled 6.9 million times in the UK. Additionally, #EastEnders has received 5.2 billion views on TikTok and 401,100 posts on Instagram. The soap opera has 6,853 episodes and has aired for 39 years. It also has a total of 23 award nominations and wins combined.
2. Coronation Street
Soap Popularity Score: 9.50/10
Coronation Street, known colloquially as “Corrie”, is in second place, scoring 9.50 out of 10. Created by Granada Television, the soap opera aired in December 1960 on ITV. Coronation Street is often noted for its depiction of a work-class community, combined with strong characters. It was also influenced by the “kitchen-sink realism” of the time, which depicted working-class Brits living in cramped accommodations and drinking in pubs in their spare time.
Corrie has been Googled a total of 4.1 million times in the UK during the last 12 months, and #CoronationStreet has 1.3 billion views on TikTok and 167,100 posts on Instagram. The soap has been airing for 63 years and currently has 10,770 episodes, the most amongst any British soap on both accounts. The show also has 23 award nominations and wins combined, the same as EastEnders.
Soap Popularity Score: 9.00/10
Rounding out the top three, we have Emmerdale, which scored 9.00 out of 10 for its popularity. The show was originally known as Emmerdale Farm until 1989 and first aired in 1972 as a farming serial for ITV. However, in the late 80s, it was renamed Emmerdale, focusing more on the village of Beckingdale and included more dramatic storylines.
Emmerdale has been Google-searched around 3.3 million times in the UK over the last 12 months. There have also been 501.1 million views on TikTok and 172,500 posts on Instagram for #Emmerdale. The show has aired for 51 years, and in that time, it has aired 8,911 episodes. It also has a combined 21 soap opera award wins and nominations, the first win being in 2016.
The Most Googled Soap Operas in the UK
Number of Google searches: 6.9M
EastEnders, having already ranked first overall, also comes out on top for the most Googled soap opera in the UK. Over the last 12 months, from January 2023 to December 2023, this soap has been Googled 6.9 million times in the UK.
2. Coronation Street
Number of Google searches: 4.1M
Coronation Street takes second place among the most Googled soaps in the UK. The show has been Googled 4.1 million times over the last 12 months.
Number of Google searches: 3.3M
And in third place for the most Googled soap operas in the UK, we have Emmerdale. Over the last 12 months, Emmerdale has been Google searched 3.3 million times.
The Most Popular Soap Operas on TikTok
TikTok Views: 5.2 billion
Once again ranking first, we have EastEnders, this time for the most popular British soap opera on TikTok. Currently, #EastEnders has 5.2 billion views across all the videos under that hashtag.
2. Coronation Street
TikTok Views: 1.3 billion
Coronation Street is second for TikTok's most popular soap opera, with 1.3 billion views on videos tagged #CoronationStreet.
TikTok Views: 816.6 million
Rounding out the top three most popular British soap operas on TikTok, we have Hollyoaks. The show aired in 1995 on Channel 4 and was created by Phil Redmond, who also created the soap opera Brookside. #Hollyoaks has 816.6 million views across all the videos under that tag on TikTok.
The Most Popular Soap Operas on Instagram
Instagram Posts: 401.1K
Once again, coming in first place, we have EastEnders, the most popular British soap opera on Instagram. #EastEnders currently has a total of around 401,100 posts on Instagram.
Instagram Posts: 205.6K
Hollyoaks comes in second among Instagram's most popular soap operas this time. At present, there are around 205,600 posts under the tag #Hollyoaks on Instagram.
Instagram Posts: 172.5K
And rounding out the top three most popular soap operas on Instagram, we have Emmerdale. On Instagram, there are around 172,500 posts under the tag #Emmerdale.
Soap Operas with the Highest Number of Episodes
1. Coronation Street
Total Number of Episodes: 10,770
Coronation Street has the highest number of aired episodes across popular British soap operas. The ITV soap has aired a total of 10,770 episodes, beginning way back in December 1960.
Total Number of Episodes: 8,911
Coming in second for soap operas with the highest number of episodes we have Emmerdale. Originally airing in 1972 under the title of Emmerdale Farm, also on ITV, Emmerdale has aired 8,911 episodes to date.
Total Number of Episodes: 6,853
EastEnders is the soap opera with the third-highest number of episodes; despite only being third, the show has consistently ranked first for most popular soap opera in the above rankings. The show aired in 1985 and has since aired 6,853 episodes on BBC One.
The Longest-running Soap Opera
1. Coronation Street
Years Since First Episode Aired: 63
Coronation Street is the longest-running British soap opera, having aired on December 9, 1960, and the latest episode aired on January 24, 2024. This means that the show has been running for around 63 years.
Years Since First Episode Aired: 51
Taking the second spot for the longest-running British soap opera, we have Emmerdale. Having aired on October 16, 1972, with its most recent episode aired on January 26, 2024, at the time of writing, the show has run for 51 years.
Years Since First Episode Aired: 39
To round out the top three longest-running British soap operas, we have EastEnders. The soap aired on February 19, 1985, and is still running, with the latest episode at the time of writing having aired on January 29, 2024. This means that EastEnders has been running for around 39 years.
Soap Operas with the Most Award Wins and Nominations
1. EastEnders & Coronation Street
Soap Award Nominations and Wins: 23
EastEnders and Coronation Street are joint first place for the most combined British Soap Awards for Best Soap. Corrie first won the award in 1999 and has since gone on to win the award six times in total, gaining 17 more nominations.
On the other hand, EastEnders won the award for the first time in 2000, just a year after Corrie’s first win. The soap now has the most wins for the award, with 12, double the total number of wins for Coronation Street.
Soap Award Nominations and Wins: 22
In third place is Hollyoaks, which has 22 combined wins and nominations for the British Soap Award for Best Soap. The show first aired in 1995, but didn’t win the award until 2014 and has only gone on to win once more in 2019, being nominated on 20 other occasions without winning.
Soap Award Nominations and Wins: 21
Emmerdale takes fourth place for soaps with the most combined wins and nominations for the British Soap Award for Best Soap, totalling 21. Emmerdale has won the award on three occasions, including back-to-back wins in 2016 and 2017, then went on to win the award for the third time in 2022.
The Most Googled Soap Opera by UK Region
Everyone’s favourite soap opera may seem to be one of the most hotly contested points in the UK, along with whether milk goes in your tea before or after the hot water. However, Google search data from the last 12 months reveals that all regions of the UK have the same favourite soap opera.
Every region in the UK has EastEnders as their most Googled soap opera. From England's North, South and Midlands to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, EastEnders unanimously reigns supreme over all other soaps.
Every region also had Coronation Street as their second favourite soap opera, except the North East of England, which had Emmerdale as its most Googled soap. The third spot was occupied by Emmerdale for every region except the North East again, who had Coronation Street as their third favourite soap.
Regarding the least appreciated British soap opera, the UK’s regions are all in agreement with the 1965 BBC series United! comes dead last, except for the West Midlands, which had Starr And Company down as the least Googled soap opera during the previous 12 months.
To begin, we took a list of the highest-rated British soap operas of all time, using Ranker’s “The Very Best British Soap Operas, Ranked”.
We then used Google Keyword Planner to get the search volume for each soap opera for the UK between January 2023 and December 2023.
We then used TikTok to search the title of each show as a hashtag to get the total number of video views for each soap opera. We then repeated this for Instagram to get each soap opera's total number of posts.
We then used IMDb to get the number of episodes aired for each soap opera. We then also took the air date of the first episode and their final or most recently aired episode to calculate how long each show has been running in years.
And lastly, we used Wikipedia to take down the combined number of nominations and wins for the British Soap Award for Best Soap.
We then took the search volume, using Google Keyword Planner again, to get the search volume for each UK region between January 2023 and December 2023. For the following regions: East Midlands, East of England, North East, North West, South East, South West, West Midlands, and Yorkshire and the Humber, we had to take the most populous counties and add the search volume together to get the figures by region.
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