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Tuesday, 2 October, 2001, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
The drama and crisis of soaps
EastEnders was one of the first soaps to broach Aids
Soap operas have never shied away from tackling controversial and sensitive issues as the shocking EastEnders Kat and Zoe storyline proves.

The show sees Kat reveal to Zoe that she is not really her older sister - in fact, she is her mother. She will reveal who Zoe's father is in Tuesday's episode.

Whether out of a sense of moral obligation or a drive to pull in the viewers, shows continue to push back the boundaries of what is shown on television, including issues surrounding sex, drugs and racism.

Often soap plotlines reflect social issues being covered by the media such as the teenage pregnancy of Coronation Street's Sarah-Louise, who gave birth at the age of 13.

Years ago it was considered daring to feature gay men and EastEnders was one of the first to broach this with live-in couple Barry and Colin.

Toyah Battersby
Toyah Battersby was the victim of rape in Coronation Street
When Aids was beginning to come into the public conscience, EastEnders decided its long-running character Mark would be diagnosed HIV positive.

EastEnders is not the first soap to tackle the harsh reality of incest.

Brookside brother and sister Georgia and Nat were screen lovers sparking outrage in the media.

The pair eventually escaped from the clutches of their family and set up home together, to the dismay of their parents.

And in Hollyoaks model Mandy Richardson suffered rape at the hands of her father, who also regularly beat his wife.


The harrowing storyline climaxed with the court case as her father was jailed for incest.

The Jordache family in Brookside also endured the horrors of incest after the evil Trevor abused his two daughters.

During the lengthy plotline Trevor was killed by his wife Mandy and daughter Beth and sensationally buried under the patio.

Gary Lucky
Hollyoaks Gary Lucy was praised for his portrayal of rape victim Luke Morgan
When the body was discovered the pair were jailed. A campaign was launched to free them but only Mandy made it out as Beth died in her cell from a congenital heart condition.

Rape has long been a feature for soap dramas with an early example being Kathy Mitchell, formerly married to Pete Beale.

She was attacked by Dagmar bar boss James Wilmott-Brown.

She kept it a secret before finally breaking down and revealing the truth.

Mystery attacker

Once again the plot was played out in a court case, ending with a three-year jail sentence for the rapist.

This year has seen the rape of Toyah Battersby in Coronation Street by a mystery attacker.

The ongoing story saw questions being raised about the identity of the rapist, as she tried to figure out who had done it to her.

Sarah-Louise Platt
Sarah-Louise Platt became soap's youngest mother
She knew it was somebody who already knew her name and as her emotional state became ever more fragile she wrongly pointed the figure at a number of the characters, before finally realising it was her friend Phil.

Actress Georgia Taylor said she found the responsibility and the effort required to play the role "draining".

Brookside broached the topic of date rape as the subject grabbed the headlines and women were warned of the dangers.

Male rape

Nikki Shadwick, played by Suzanne Collins, remembered little about the sex attack and once again paranoia led her to suspect a number of the Close's residents.

The rapist, Luke Musgrove, was first acquitted of the crime and it was only afterwards that he finally admitted his guilt.

And the topic of male rape was covered in Hollyoaks after the character Luke Morgan was the victim of a gang rape.

Once again it showed him retreating from the situation and eventually attempting suicide.

When he finally admitted what had happened the perpetrators were jailed. But he is still seen wrestling with what happened to him.

Euthanasia was also tackled this year when Albert Square's Dot Cotton was seen to aid the death of her friend Ethel.

The storyline led to many column inches discussing the controversial issue.

See also:

02 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
NSPCC aided EastEnders storyline
02 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
EastEnders triumph at soap awards
02 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
Soap awards: Winners in full
11 Sep 01 | TV and Radio
EastEnders triumph at TV awards
26 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
EastEnders' Kemp joins ITV
25 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
EastEnders gets fourth episode
26 May 01 | TV and Radio
Picture gallery: British Soap Awards
26 Sep 99 | Entertainment
Soaps criticised for divorce rates
16 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Happy Birthday EastEnders
28 May 00 | Entertainment
EastEnders cleans up soap awards
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