Writer ridicules soap actors

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A STINGING attack on the quality of acting in television soap operas has been made by a television scriptwriter.

Maurice Gran, the co-writer of BBC TV's sitcom Birds of a Feather, was scathing about BBC's flagship series EastEnders as well as ITV's Coronation Street, and said that soap operas generally were "the enemy of quality".

He said in The Stage: "EastEnders is full of second-rate actors pretending they are hard. Coronation Street is full of second- rate actors pretending they are funny.

"I am not resentful of their success. I am just resentful of the room they take up in the schedule and the difficulty that creates in getting a non-soap into the ratings top 10," he said.

He added that television dramas generally were following the lead of soaps in their attempt to become habit forming.

"Heartbeat and Peak Practice are going for 26 episodes in a series, which is soap quantity. It worries me people want these fixed things in their lives. I also think the actors are underpaid and if they were paid the going rate, there would be far fewer soap episodes." He said a lead actor "gets a grand a show - which is about what the ninth lead in a sitcom gets".

A spokeswoman for EastEnders said the cast was paid a competitive wage.

A Coronation Street spokeswoman said: "As for being the enemy of quality, the 18 million people who watch our show each week clearly disagree."