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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 November 2006, 02:01 GMT
Soap characters 'damage ambition'
Lacey Turner as Stacey Slater
The character Stacey Slater works as a market trader in EastEnders
Giving teenage soap characters dead-end jobs and low aspirations risks shattering young viewers' career dreams, TV writers have been warned.

Characters in soaps like EastEnders are role models and ought to be seen to better themselves, the body charged with boosting England's skills says.

The Learning and Skills Council has made a "most wanted" list of characters it thinks writers are selling short.

Topping the list is EastEnders' market trader Stacey Slater.

The council (LSC) says she has a multitude of "transferable skills", such as a strong work ethic, determination and good people skills.

Far too many soap characters have no career aspirations
Julia Dowd
Learning and Skills Council

The LSC says that if she were to put her skills to good use and take a Level 2 diploma in fashion retail, for example, she could progress from Walford market to her own designer fashion boutique.

Coming in second is Coronation Street's Fiz Brown who, it suggests, would make a good fashion designer or pattern cutter because of her good practical skills and proficient multi-tasking.

Lower down the list is Emmerdale's Debbie Dingle, whose strong life experiences and rocky past, the council says, make her perfect counsellor material.

The council says there are so many characters who could be on the road to success with a little good advice that script writers need to take steps to ensure they are not setting a bad example to their show's fans.

Stacey Slater, EastEnders
Appropriate career - buyer
Fiz Brown, Coronation Street
Fashion designer
Jo Stiles, Emmerdale
Senior PA
Gus Smith, EastEnders
Environmental officer
Toni Daggart, Emmerdale
Police constable

LSC director of learning Julia Dowd said: "Young people in soaps are role models, and if they remain in dead end jobs there is a danger that young people will accept this as the norm.

"Far too many soap characters have no career aspirations, and we need to at least show them moving towards a better life.

"Today we are suggesting to script writers the most appropriate careers for soap characters as a way to show young people the way out of dead-end jobs or unemployment.

"While most young people have high aspirations, there are still thousands without a minimum set of qualifications which employers say they would need applicants to have, and we need the role models on TV to set a good example."


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