Friday, 8 October 2010

When Coronation Street pushes the boundaries of the watershed children are the victims

According to reports, Britain’s longest running soap opera, Coronation Street, will be screening its ‘raunchiest ever’ sex scene on Friday 22nd October.  The episode will be screened before the 9pm watershed when plenty of children are likely to be watching.  A member of the production team has been quoted as saying ‘these episodes will be, without a doubt, the hottest ever shown by any soap’.  Apparently the producers are ‘bracing themselves for a backlash of complaints’.

In an effort to outdo each other and up their ratings, the producers of soaps are increasingly pushing the boundaries of what is shown before 9 o’clock. We are now seeing things at 7.30pm which, not long ago, would only have been shown after the watershed.  No longer is anything left to the imagination.

The watershed exists to protect children from potentially harmful and unsuitable content.  Because of this there’s an expectation that programmes shown before 9pm will be suitable family viewing.

From Lolita beds to child-size padded bras in Primark, this is all part of a gradual shift.  Our children are being bombarded with sexual images and references long before they’re ready to deal with them. 

David Cameron has condemned this shift, he said there’s a ‘creeping sense that we’re sleepwalking to a place where porn is the norm’.

No doubt we’ll be told this is all harmless fun and won’t change the way in which children who watch it behave.  We would argue that this is incredibly naïve and we’re not alone in this.  Earlier this week the broadcaster Sue Perkins, in an article about the portrayal of gay and lesbian people on television, said that soap operas are the programmes that can really change perceptions because they are "watched by millions of middle Englanders week after week". 

Research shows that exposure to sexualised imagery is linked to children's experience of increased anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, body image problems, eating disorders, self harm, and sexually transmitted infections. Children are also becoming sexually active at younger and younger ages.

Producers of soaps need to behave more responsibly; our children deserve better.


  1. The producers and writers of soap operas seek to shock because they know they will get reactions such as this which will only serve to further the publicity of their programmes and get more people tuning in to find out what the fuss is all about.
    There is a line between steamy scenes (the idea that any actual sex will be depicted in a pre-watershed soap opera is ridiculous as the producers know that there will be mass outrage) in soap operas a full on sexual imagery.
    Lumping anything with a whiff of raunchyness or steamyness (such as soap operas, pop music videos etc) with actual pornography or 18 rated films featuring explicit sex scenes seems the way that groups such as yours are going but it's way off the mark.
    Once again the implication is that children will see sex on screen and then want to go and have sex. This is a monkey see monkey do approach to the problem of under age sex which fails to understand the wider social causes to the problems we have with teen sex and teen pregnancy in this country.
    The idea that we can stop these problems by ridding Television and the entire entertainment industries of all depictions of sex is niaeve at best.