Soap opera | europe


Remakes of Australian serials

The Australian serial The Restless Years was remade in the Netherlands as Goede tijden, slechte tijden (which debuted in 1990) and in Germany as Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten (which has aired since 1992): both titles translate to "good times, bad times". These remakes are still airing, but have long since diverged from the original Australian storylines. The two shows are the highest-rated soap operas in their respective countries.

A later Australian serial, Sons and Daughters, has inspired five remakes produced under license from the original producers and based, initially, on original story and character outlines. These are Verbotene Liebe (Germany, 1995–2015); Skilda världar (Sweden, 1996–2002); Apagorevmeni agapi (Greece, 1998); Cuori Rubati (Italy, 2002–2003) and Zabranjena ljubav (Croatia, 2004–2008). Both The Restless Years and Sons and Daughters were created and produced in Australia by the Reg Grundy Organisation.


The Norwegian soap opera Hotel Cæsar aired on TV 2 from 1998 to 2017, and is the longest-running television drama in Scandinavia. Popular foreign soaps in the country include Days of Our Lives (broadcast on TV6 (Norway), The Bold and the Beautiful (TNT (Norway) and Home and Away (TV 2), all of which are subtitled.


Serials have included Goede tijden, slechte tijden (1990–present), Onderweg naar Morgen (1994–2010) and Goudkust (1996–2001). In 2016 Goede tijden, slechte tijden spin-off Nieuwe Tijden started airing. U.S. daytime serials As The World Turns and The Bold and the Beautiful have aired in the Netherlands; As the World Turns began airing in the country in 1990, with Dutch subtitles.


In the 1980s, West German networks successfully added American daytime and primetime soap operas to their schedule before Das Erste introduced its first self-produced weekly soap with Lindenstraße, which was seen as a German counterpart to Coronation Street. Like in other countries, the soap opera met with negative reviews, but eventually proved critics wrong with nearly 13 million viewers tuning in each week. Even though the format proved successful, it was not until 1992 before Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten became the first German daily soap opera. Early ratings were bad as were the reviews, but the RTL network was willing to give its first soap opera a chance; ratings would improve, climbing to 7 million viewers by 2002. Not long after Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten, Das Erste introduced Marienhof, which aired twice a week.

After successfully creating the first German daily soap, production company Grundy Ufa wanted to produce another soap for RTL. Like GZSZ, the format was based on an Australian soap opera from Reg Watson. But RTL did not like the plot idea about separated twins who meet each other for the first time after 20 years and fall in love without knowing that they are related. The project was then taken to Das Erste, which commissioned the program, titled Verbotene Liebe, which premiered on January 2, 1995. With the premiere of Verbotene Liebe, the network turned Marienhof into a daily soap as well. In the meanwhile, RTL debuted the Grundy Ufa-produced Unter uns in late 1994.

ZDF started a business venture with Canada and co-produced the short-lived series Family Passions, starring actors such as Gordon Thomson, Roscoe Born, Dietmar Schönherr and a young Hayden Christensen. The daytime serial premiered on December 5, 1994, lasting 130 episodes. After its cancellation, the network debuted Jede Menge Leben. Even after a crossover with three soaps, Freunde fürs Leben, Forsthaus Falkenau and Unser Lehrer Doktor Specht, the soap was canceled after 313 episodes. Sat.1 tried to get into the soap business as well, after successfully airing the Australian soap opera Neighbours, which was dropped in 1995 due to the talk show phenomenon that took over most of the daytime schedules of German networks. The network first tried to tell a family saga with So ist das Leben! Die Wagenfelds, before failing with Geliebte Schwestern. RTL II made its own short-lived attempt with Alle zusammen – jeder für sich.

The teen soap opera Schloss Einstein debuted on September 4, 1998, focusing on the life of a group of teenagers at the fictional titular boarding school near Berlin. As of July 2014, the series has produced over 815 episodes during the course of 17 seasons, a milestone in German television programming, and was renewed for an 18th season to debut in 2015.

In 1999, after the lasting success of Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten, Marienhof, Unter uns and Verbotene Liebe, ProSieben aired Mallorca – Suche nach dem Paradies, set on the Spanish island with the same name. After nine months, the network canceled the program due to low viewership and high production costs. Even though ratings had improved, the show ended its run in a morning timeslot. The soap opera became something of a cult classic, as its 200-episode run was repeated several times on free-to-air and pay television.

In 2006, Alles was zählt became the last successful daily soap to make its debut, airing as a lead-in to Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten and also produced by Grundy Ufa. Since Germany started to produce its own telenovelas, all soap operas faced declines in ratings. Unter uns was in danger of cancellation in 2009, but escaped such a fate due to budget cuts imposed by the show's producers and the firing of original cast member Holger Franke, whose firing and the death of his character outraged fans, resulting in a ratings spike in early 2010. After Unter uns was saved, Das Erste planned to make changes to its soap lineup. Marienhof had to deal with multiple issues in its storytelling, as well as in producing a successful half-hour show. Several changes were made within months, however Marienhof was canceled in June 2011. Verbotene Liebe was in danger of being cancelled as well, but convinced the network to renew it with changes that it made in both 2010 and 2011; the soap was later expanded to 45 minutes after Marienhof was canceled, and the network tried to decide on whether to revamp its lineup.

While Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten, Unter uns and Alles was zählt are currently the only daily soaps on the air after Verbotene Liebe has been cancelled and aired its last episode in June, 2015 due to low ratings, the telenovelas Sturm der Liebe and Rote Rosen are considered soaps by the press as well, thanks to the changing protagonists every season.


Leah Thys, actress in the Belgian soap Thuis. At the back Peter Rouffaer is visible.

In Belgium, the two major soap operas are Thuis ("Home") and Familie ("Family"). Soap operas have been very popular in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. Familie debuted in late 1991, and with nearly 6,000 half-hour episodes, it has the highest episode total of any soap in Europe outside of the United Kingdom. The highest-rated soap opera is Thuis, which has aired on "één" since late 1995. Thuis is often one of the five most-watched Belgian shows and regularly garners over one million viewers (with 6.3 million Flemmings in total).

During the 1990s, foreign soap operas such as Neighbours and The Bold and the Beautiful were extremely popular, the latter having achieved a cult status in Belgium and airing in the middle of the decade during prime time. Both soaps still air today, along with other foreign soaps such as Days of Our Lives, Australia's Home and Away and Germany's "Sturm der Liebe". Vitaya unsuccessful attempted to air the Dutch soap opera "Goede Tijden, Slechte Tijden" in 2010. Other foreign soaps that previously aired on Belgian television include The Young and the Restless, EastEnders (both on VTM), "Port Charles" (at één, then known as TV1) and "Coronation Street" (on Vitaya). "Santa Barbara" aired during the 1990s on VTM for its entire run.

The only teen soap opera on Belgian television was Spring ("Jump" in English), which aired on the youth-oriented Ketnet and produced over 600 15-minute episodes from late 2002 until 2009, when it was cancelled after a steady decline in ratings following the departures of many of its original characters.


The most successful soap opera in Italy is the evening series Un posto al sole ("A Place Under the Sun"), which had aired on Rai 3 since 1996 (whose format is based on the Australian soap opera Neighbours). Several other Italian soaps have been produced such as Ricominciare ("Starting Over"), Cuori rubati ("Stolen Hearts"), Vivere ("Living"), Sottocasa ("Downstairs"), Agrodolce ("Bittersweet") and Centovetrine ("Hundred Shop Windows").

The most popular Italian prime-time soap opera, Incantesimo ("Enchantment"), which ran from 1998 to 2008, became a daytime soap opera for the final two years of its run, airing five days a week on Rai 1. The same happened with Il paradiso delle signore (Woman’s Paradise), a period drama, which ran from 2015 to 2017 in prime-time, and became a daytime period soap opera from 2018.



In the early years of RTÉ, the network produced several dramas but had not come close to launching a long-running serial. RTÉ's first television soap was Tolka Row, which was set in urban Dublin. For several years, both Tolka Row and The Riordans were produced by RTÉ; however, the urban soap was soon dropped in favor of the more popular rural soap opera The Riordans, which premiered in 1965.[72] Executives from Yorkshire Television visited during on-location shoots for The Riordans in the early 1970s and in 1972, debuted Emmerdale Farm (now Emmerdale), based on the successful format of the Irish soap opera. In the late 1970s, The Riordans was controversially dropped. The creator of that series would then go on to produce the second of his "Agri-soap" trilogy Bracken, starring Gabriel Byrne, whose character had appeared in the last few seasons of The Riordans. Bracken was soon replaced by the third "Agri-soap" Glenroe, which ran until 2001. As RTÉ wanted a drama series for its Sunday night lineup rather than a soap opera, On Home Ground (2001–2002), The Clinic (2002–2009) and RAW (2010–2013) replaced the agri-soaps of the previous decades.

In 1989, RTÉ decided to produce its first Dublin-based soap opera since the 1960s. Fair City, which is set in the fictional city of Carrickstown, initially aired one night a week during the 1989-90 season, and similar to its rural soaps, much of the footage was filmed on location – in a suburb of Dublin City. In 1992, RTÉ made a major investment into the series by copying the houses used in the on-location shoots for an on-site set in RTÉ's Headquarters in Dublin 4. By the early 1990s, it was airing two nights a week for 35 weeks a year. With competition from the UK soap operas, RTÉ expanded Fair City to three nights a week for most of the year and one night a week during the summer in 1996, later expanding to four nights a week and two nights during the summer. Until the early 2000s, the series produced four episodes a week, airing all 52 weeks of the year. Fair City airs Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8.00 p.m. GMT on RTÉ One; however, after rival network TV3 moved Coronation Street to Thursday night, the Wednesday night episode of Fair City began airing at 7:30 p.m. each week.

TG4 produce the Irish language soap Ros na Rún ("Headland of the Secrets" or "Headland of the Sweethearts"); set in the fictional village of Ros Na Rún, located outside Galway and near Spiddal, it centres on the domestic and professional lives of the town's residents. It is modeled on an average village in the West of Ireland, but with its own distinct personality – with a diverse population that share secrets, romances and friendships among other things. While the core community has remained the same, the look and feel of Ros Na Rún has changed and evolved over the years to incorporate the changing face of rural Ireland. It has an established a place not only in the hearts and minds of the Irish speaking public, but also the wider Irish audience. The program has dealt with many topics, including domestic violence, infidelity, theft, arson, abortion, homosexuality, adoption, murder, rape, drugs, teen pregnancy and paedophilia. It runs twice a week for 35 weeks of the year, currently airing Tuesday and Thursday nights. Ros na Rún is the single largest independent production commissioned in the history of Irish broadcasting. Prior to TG4's launch, it originally aired on RTÉ One in the early 1990s.

Although Ireland has access to international soaps (such as Coronation Street, Emmerdale, EastEnders, Home and Away, Hollyoaks and Neighbours), Fair City continues to outperform them all, and is Ireland's most popular soap opera, with the show peaking at over 700,000 viewers.

January 2015 Red Rock has broadcast on TV3. Red Rock airs twice a week on Wednesday and Thursday nights. The series is base in a fishing village in Dublin. The soaps centres around the local Garda station but also includes stories from the village.


RTÉ Radio produced its first radio soap, Kennedys of Castleross, which ran from April 13, 1955 to 1975.[73] In 1979 RTÉ long running TV soap The Riordans moved to Radio until December 24, 1985.[74] In the mid-1980s, RTÉ debuted a new radio soap, Harbour Hotel, which ran until the mid-1990s. The network later ran two short-lived radio soaps, Konvenience Korner and Riverrun, which were followed in 2004 by Driftwood.[75] RTÉ does not run any radio soaps, however RTÉ Radio 1 continues to air radio dramas as part of its nighttime schedule.[76]


  • Plus Belle La Vie (since 2004) : Episodes air on France 3 weekday evenings at 20:30
  • Demain Nous Appartient (since 2017) : Episodes air on TF1 weekday evenings at 19:20
  • Les Mystères de l'amour (since 2011) : Episodes air on TMC Saturday and Sunday evenings at 19:00
  • Cut (since 2013) : Episodes air on France o weekday evenings at 18:00
  • Grand Soleil (scheduled for September 2018) : Episodes air on France 2 weekday evenings at 18:20


In Greece, there have been several soap operas.


An early serial was Sti skia tou hrimatos ("Money Shadows"), which ran from 1990 to 1991. September 1991 saw the debut of Lampsi ("the Shining"), from creator Nicos Foskolos. The series would become Greece's longest-running soap opera. After the success of Lampsi came the short lived To galazio diamandi ("Blue Diamond") and Simphonia siopis ("Omertà"). Lampsi was canceled in June 2005 due to declining ratings. It was replaced by Erotas ("Love"), a soap that ran from 2005 to 2008. After that series ended, ANT1 abandoned the soap opera genre and focused on comedy series and weekly dramas.

Greece's second longest-running soap is Kalimera Zoi ("Goodmorning Life"), which ran from September 1993 until its cancellation in June 2006 due to low ratings.


Mega Channel began producing soap operas in 1990 with the prime time serial I Dipsa ("The Thirst"), which ran for 102 episodes. Other daytime soaps have included Paralliloi dromoi (1992–1994) and its successor Haravgi ("Daylight", 1994–1995), both of which were cancelled due to low viewership; as well as the serials Apagorevmeni Agapi ("Forbidden Love"), which ran from 1998 to 2006; Gia mia thesi ston Ilio ("A Spot Under the Sun"), which ran from 1998 to 2002; Filodoxies ("Expectations"), which ran from 2002 to 2006; and Vera Sto Deksi ("Ring on the Right Hand"), which ran from 2004 to 2006 and proved to be a successful competitor to Lampsi, causing that show's ratings to decline.

Ta Mistika Tis Edem ("Edem Secrets"), which was created by the producers of Vera Sto Deksi, debuted in 2008 and has eclipsed that show's success. Its ratings place it consistently among the three highest-rated daytime programs.


IENED (which was renamed ERT2 in 1982) was responsible for the first Greek soap operas I Kravgi Ton Likon and Megistanes. ERT also produced the long-running soap O Simvoleografos. Since 2000 and with the introduction of private television, ERT produced additional daily soap operas, which included Pathos ("Passion"), Erotika tis Edem ("Loving in Eden") and Ta ftera tou erota ("The Wings of Love"). These failed to achieve high ratings and were canceled shortly after their premiere.


Alpha produced Kato apo tin Acropoli ("Under the Acropolis"), which ran for 2½ years.


Weekday shows

The first daytime soap opera produced by a Cyprus channel was LOGOs TV's Odos Den Ksehno ("'Don't Forget' Street"), which ran from January to December 1996. It was followed by To Serial, which also ran for one year from September 1997 to June 1998. CyBC created the third weekdaily soap, Anemi Tou Pathous ("Passion Winds"), running from January 2000 to June 2004, which was replaced by I Platia ("The Square") from September 2004 to July 2006. Epikindini Zoni ran from 2009 to 2010, and was cancelled after 120 episodes. Vimata Stin Ammo made its debut in September 2010.

Sigma TV first commissioned the weekdaily comedic soap Sto Para Pente, which aired from September 1998 to June 2004, and first held the distinction of being the longest weekday show in Cyprus television history, before it was surpassed by Se Fonto Kokkino, which ran from September 2008 to July 2012. Other Sigma TV weekday shows include Akti Oniron (which ran from 1999 to 2001), Vourate Geitonoi (which ran from 2001 to 2005, and was the most successful weekdaily series, achieving ratings shares of up to 70% of all television households in the country), Oi Takkoi (which ran from 2002 to 2005), S' Agapo (which ran from 2001 to 2002), Vasiliki (which ran from 2005 to 2006), Vendetta (which ran from September 2005 to December 2006), 30 kai Kati (which ran from 2006 to 2007) and Mila Mou (which ran from September 2007 to January 2009).

ANT1 Cyprus aired the soap I Goitia Tis Amartias in 2002, which was soon canceled. Dikse Mou To Filo Sou followed from 2006 to 2009, along with Gia Tin Agapi Sou, which ran from 2008 to 2009 and itself was followed by Panselinos, which has aired since 2009.

Weekly shows

The longest-running weekly show on Cyprus television is Istories Tou Horkou ("Villages Stories", which premiered on CyBC in March 1996 and ran until its cancellation in June 2006; it was revived in September 2010 but was cancelled again in March 2011 due to very low ratings), followed by Manolis Ke Katina ("Manolis and Katina", which ran from 1995 to 2004). The most controversial of these series was To Kafenio ("The Coffee Shop"), which premiered on CyBC on 1993 as a weekly series, before moving to MEGA Channel Cyprus six years later in 1999 as a weekdaily show and then moved to ANT1 Cyprus on 2000, which canceled the show one year later. There were plans to move the show back to CyBC as a weekly series in 2001, with the original cast, however this plan was never realised. The most successful weekly shows in Cyprus currently are ANT1's Eleni I Porni ("Eleni, The Whore"), which premiered in October 2010 and CyBC's Stin Akri Tu Paradisou ("At The Heaven's Edge"), which premiered in 2007. The most successful weekdaily soap was Aigia Fuxia, which aired on ANT1 Cyprus from 2008 to 2010.


The only daily Finnish soap opera so far is Salatut elämät (Secret Lives), which has achieved popularity in Finland since its 1999 debut on MTV3. It focuses on the lives of people along the imaginary Pihlajakatu street in Helsinki. The show has also spawned several Internet spin-off series and a film based on the show that was released in 2012.

Other soap-like shows in Finland are YLE shows Uusi päivä (which has aired since 2009) and Kotikatu (which ran from 1995 to 2012), however these programs do not adhere to a five-episode-a-week schedule.