The study examined the portrayal of alcohol and tea in the four top British soap operas aired on non-satellite television: Coronation Street, Eastenders, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks.

Key findings included:

  • Alcohol plays a key part in UK soap operas with 38% of the coverage monitored across the four programmes featuring visual or verbal mentions of alcohol.
  • Alcohol consumption was generally not portrayed responsibly as the negative consequences were not adequately outlined. Characters were most often depicted drinking while socialising which reinforced the message to the viewer that you need alcohol to “have a good time”.
  • Alcohol was also used by various characters as a crutch to ease stress or as a form of relaxation.
  • Where negative portrayals of alcohol were presented, they were driven by “out of the ordinary” storylines, e.g. related to alcoholism and descent into drug addiction.
  • The local pub featured strongly as a key location across all four programmes. It was presented as a hub of the community and a place where people gathered to socialise, further reinforcing the prominence of alcohol in the characters’ lives.

Kantar Media Precis carried out the research which involved six weeks of footage collected for each programme from 26th July to 6th September 2010. In total 21.5 hours was collected and analysed for Emmerdale, 15.5 hours for Coronation Street, 15.5 hours for Hollyoaks and 13 hours for Eastenders.