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Saturday, November 28, 1998 Published at 17:43 GMT


Soaping up the profits in video war

Brookside: Lyndsey and Peter's wedding gets the video treatment

The battle of the soaps is being fought on the High Street as EastEnders joins Coronation Street in offering fans souvenir videos of their favourite shows.

EastEnders fans can savour the sight of Phil and Grant Mitchell doing a Full Monty-style strip in the Queen Victoria - but only if they fork out £13.99 for the video.

The video is the first EastEnders special in five years.

Meanwhile, its ITV rival offers the return of Hilda Ogden, as fellow Street stalwart Betty Driver journeys to meet her in her new home.

Brookside wedding mystery

Fans of Emmerdale are not left out in the Christmas soap video wars - Emmerdale: The Revenge, follows a group of characters on an eventful trip to London.

And Brookside - Friday the 13th reveals why Lyndsey Corkhill was late to her recent wedding to Peter Phelan.

The videos have become money-spinners for profit-hungry TV companies - but some fans are starting to object to forking out to see their favourite soaps.

[ image: Jean Alexander: Makes her comeback as Hilda Ogden]
Jean Alexander: Makes her comeback as Hilda Ogden
Brookside fans have been rushing to the shops to buy Friday the 13th because the video explains aspects of the plot which have been puzzling viewers since Lyndsey's wedding was shown on the Channel 4 soap two weeks ago.

"If you watched Brookside on Friday 13 November, and didn't buy the video, some of the storylines featured in the following Tuesday's programme just wouldn't have made sense," said Inside Soap magazine's Steven Murphy.

"We've had readers complaining about it, and it's something I object to - there are so many unanswered questions in Brookside right now, and to answer them you have to shell out £15."

But Brookside's producer, Mersey TV, insists it has taken every possible step to make sure regular viewers are not left in the dark.

"The video is devised so viewers don't miss out if they don't see it. We could have done it that way, but we deliberately chose not to," said a spokeswoman.

Naked truth

Soap videos have caused problems before. Granada Television caused uproar when a Coronation Street video special was broadcast on ITV months after it appeared in the shops.

Now Granada is playing it safe by offering The Women Of Coronation Street - featuring clips of the show's most famous females.

A spokeswoman said: "It shows what happens when Betty Driver goes up to visit Hilda Ogden at her home in Derbyshire. She used to do cleaning work for a doctor and when he died he left her the house in gratitude.

"It'll be a souvenir fans want to keep."

[ image: Ross Kemp: Strips off as Grant for video viewers only]
Ross Kemp: Strips off as Grant for video viewers only
The BBC's festive bonus is The Mitchells' Naked Truth - which treats viewers to Phil and Grant stripping off in the Queen Vic, to the shock of mother Peggy.

It maintains licence-payers have a lot to gain from this kind of commercial venture.

"The money for the video came from BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the corporation," said a spokeswoman.

"The profits will go back into BBC productions, so licence-payers will benefit from this.

"The show is 50% new material, 50% archives - you could watch it in 10 years' time and it'd make sense. You won't miss out if you don't buy it."

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