Family Secrets: Sexual Violence

Lesley Henderson

in Social Issues in Television Fiction

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780748625314
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651177 | DOI:
Family Secrets: Sexual Violence

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Family loyalty, inheritance and kinship are dominant and recurring themes in television soap opera and drama serials, along with issues concerning secret affairs, concealed births and dubious paternity. Although plot twists involving the return of estranged family members suggest that incest has been touched upon by many soap opera storylines, they are, however presented in terms of the threat of brother–sister incest. Child sexual abuse within the family arguably takes the programme into different, uncharted territory. This chapter examines how television soap opera, where the narrative revolves so tightly around the family, develops storylines on child sexual abuse. It aims to consider different accounts of sexual violence stories, and to discover the different processes by which different production teams confronted and attempted to resolve problems raised by such material. The chapter and the two that follow it are arranged into the following sections: generating the story; casting and characterisation; the role of suspense and narrative pace; ‘on screen’ advice from outside agencies; language; taking audience behind closed doors; and source power. These sections offer a useful point of comparison across different programmes and diverse stories, and permit the examination of the importance of story topics in the chapters that following. In this chapter, the focus is on the storylines and production background of Brookside, EastEnders and Emmerdale.

Keywords: family; Child sexual abuse; television soap opera; sexual violence; production teams; Brookside; EastEnders; Emmerdale

Chapter.  7930 words. 

Subjects: Television

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