We all love soap characters heading for a stint behind bars. There’s nothing better than seeing a new side to them as they face their worst fears in a fresh environment – especially when we’re used to seeing them at home cooking their tea, day in, day out.
And with EastEnders‘ Mick Carter and Coronation Street‘s Sally Metcalfe both currently spending time at Her Majesty’s pleasure, could it be that there’s something of a formula when soap characters get locked up? Here’s our tick list for a classic stay in a Soapland prison…
1. The bullying inmate
No-one in Soapland has just gone to prison, kept their head down and seen their time in jail through without any dramas. Even the most innocent of soap inmates seem to find themselves becoming the latest obsession for the most dangerous of fellow prisoners. What are the odds?
Whether it’s getting in with the wrong gang, trouble with their cellmate or inadvertently finding themselves in the centre of some scandal or another, there’s never a dull moment.
2. The brutal beating
If there’s one thing guaranteed, it is that our soapy character in question is bound to get a beating at some point during their jail stint. Whether it’s a provoked attack or not, this is usually made all the more horrific when the character in question isn’t used to violence.
Cue a worried family member coming to visit and looking horrified when they see their loved one all battered and bruised.
3. The deadly threats to family
One of the best ways for a prison bully to get someone to do their dirty work is to threaten their loved ones’ safety at home.
Often one mention of their ‘contacts’ on the outside is enough for any self-respecting soap character to agree to whatever dodgy deal is being asked of them, and yes, you’ve guessed it, this ALWAYS lands them in more trouble than they were already in.
4. The law-breaking loved ones
More often than not, friends and family left at home are the ones fighting day and night to get their loved ones out of prison. The desperation to get their beloved prisoner freedom can turn the most law-abiding character into someone who could give the Kray twins a run for their money.
Whether it’s smuggling something illegal into jail, beating up someone they shouldn’t or tampering with evidence, they’re generally more of a hindrance than a help.
5. The burner phone
Now, we’re not exactly au fait with prison life (thankfully) but we’re not sure that mobile phones are that easy to get your hands on in prison.
Yet, somehow locked-up soap characters always seem to get their hands on a burner phone. But, of course, trouble like that always comes at a price.
6. The lonely struggle
The customary tense prison visits where the locked-up character tells their loved-ones not to visit again are an all-too-familiar scene for soap fans. Who could forget Piper Willis’s face in Neighbours when Tyler Brennan brutally broke up with her after he found himself facing 20 years in jail for the murder of Hamish Roche?
Of course the character serving time doesn’t mean it when they tell their family not to visit, but that’s what makes it all the more heartbreaking to watch. Sob.
7. The tricky dilemma
Whether it’s doing a job they don’t want to do just to ensure the safety of their family on the outside, or grassing on a fellow inmate because they think it’s the right thing to do, there’s usually always a moral dilemma facing our soapy prisoners.
Often doing the right thing comes with consequences in a soap jail. Usually the informer finds themselves on the receiving end of a beating, or getting targeted by a prison gang – generally telling the truth turns soap inmates’ lives into a misery.
8. The sudden turnaround
There’s no denying that prison changes a soap character. It might not be a permanent change, but there is always a shift in their personality as the reality of prison life starts to wear them down.
Soap fans will remember the infamous moment Corrie‘s Fiz Stape finally stood up for herself in jail after being targeted by another inmate for grassing, or even the moment Anna Windass decided to escape jail so she could prove that Pat Phelan had framed her. From quiet and retiring to law-breaking in one fell swoop. Soap badasses at their best!
9. The real-life petition
Whether it’s an MP or another famous face backing a campaign to free an innocent soap character, what better way to get themselves positive PR than to connect with soap fans across the nation?
Who could forget the ‘Free the Weatherfield One’ campaign that hit the nation when Corrie‘s Deirdre Rachid went to prison after being framed for fraud in 1998? So huge was the public outcry that Deirdre should be freed, that the story was covered on front pages of newspapers, and even then-Prime Minister Tony Blair backed the campaign to get beloved Deirdre out.
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