Soap Storylines: Suspension of disbelief or just silly?


As we all know by now, in Emmerdale, it turns out that Debbie’s lover Michael should be getting married to her mum, Charity.

Now, as glad as I’ll be to see Emma Atkins back as the brilliantly feisty and streetwise Charity, isn’t it stretching belief just a tad to have such a giant coincidence as a storyline?

It’s a good one, I’m not disputing that, but in terms of what makes a soap tick – that is, our ability to relate to and believe in the plots and characters – is it really likely that this would ever happen?

That one random man should end up bedding an estranged mother and daughter, without any of the players in the ménage a trois being aware of it? Nah, I don’t think so either.

However, because it means Charity’s back, I’m not overly bothered about the thin skin of credibility involved, but it did make me think about what other rather unbelievable storylines there’ve been in our soaps, and which of them you might think have gone just too far…

For instance, in Hollyoaks, we had that plotline where Elliot believed his dad had been abducted by aliens… Elliot_Bevan, hollyoaks

Elliot’s father, an “astronomer”, had abandoned the family but, as I mentioned, Elliot believed his dad had been taken off by a UFO. When he then refused to help Lauren Valentine and her friend Newt with their studies, Lauren – who’d overheard him talking about his dad – decided to get revenge for the slight.

She did so by impersonating Elliot’s father via computer, saying he’d been with aliens and was returning to visit Elliot. Believing this, Elliot went into the woods that night and began calling for his father.

Newt and Lauren ran off giggling and Elliot, realizing he’d been tricked, crumpled to the ground, a broken man…. As you do. Not.

Another rather silly storyline was in Emmerdale when Doug contracted an STI and was arrested in the shop for Emmerdale Douglas_Potts‘fiddling’ with himself. What he was actually doing was scratching a rude itch, but nonetheless, the police were called by Brenda – who thought he was being pervy – and he was carted off to the police station but later released without charge, but still with an unpleasant itch.

Again, is it really very likely that in a small village, where everyone knows each other, that someone previously not known for perv like behaviour should be arrested on suspicion of being a creepy wa**er, literally?

However, top of the ludicrous pushing-it storyline charts for me has to be when Max was run over by his daughter Lauren in EastEnders. Quite aside from the fact she’s about 3ft tall, who taught her to drive?? And not only drive, but have the control and foresight to nick a car, run down her dad then park it up again!

Add to those totally incredible facts, we all saw the still shot of what was quite clearly a man driving the car. Here it is again in case you missed it when the original story ran…


EastEnders bosses should’ve known that we journalistic sorts would analyse the bejesus out of the storyline which, at the time, was akin to Who Shot JR or Who Shot Phil. Therefore, you’d think they might’ve made at least some effort to use a female driver in the running down scene.

So what storylines have gone beyond your realms of believability in the soaps? Let us know!

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.