1999

Cleaning Up: Soap Opera category introduced
The craft and cultural importance of the soap opera has long been recognised by BAFTA. Since screenwriter Tony Warren first created Coronation Street in 1960, the genre has carved out a unique place in the heart of British life. With an emphasis on everyday reality and drama among ordinary people it stood in marked contrast to the flamboyance of American soaps.

Some of the country’s finest dramatic writers – among them future BAFTA winners Sally Wainwright and Jimmy McGovern – cut their teeth on soaps, but the shows have always been impressively complex works of drama themselves as well as training grounds.

Since 1999 with BAFTA’s launch of the Soap category, the BBC’s EastEnders has won eight times and ITV’s Coronation Street six. Later, the category would become Soap and Continuing Drama, with its remit broadened to include shows that ran to at least 20 episodes a year – allowing recognition for much-loved series such as Casualty, Holby City and Shameless.

Image: Stars of EastEnders, Dame Barbara Windsor and Ross Kemp pictured at the Television Awards in 2009.



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BAFTA Archive/Charlie Gray

Video: Michael Parkinson introduces the inaugural award for Best Soap at the British Academy Television Awards. Dale Winton presents the award to winning producer Matthew Robinson for EastEnders (Source: BBC Motion Gallery).