Daytime Soaps Trivia - The Shows - Part 2
The honor for the highest ratings ever achieved by a daytime soap opera belongs to GENERAL HOSPITAL for Luke and Laura's wedding on November 16 and 17, 1981. They were so popular that they made the cover of Newsweek. The audience share for those episodes was 52% (meaning the percentage of people with television sets turned on at that time tuned into that particular show) with 14 million homes and 30 million viewers. Elizabeth Taylor guest starred (per her own request) and put a curse on the happy couple!
For comparison sake, consider that the highest rated soap for the better part of the last 20 years has been THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, which currently brings in a consistent rating around 4.4, which equals about 4.8 million viewers.
Sometimes, there are eerie coincidences between daytime soap opera fiction and reality. One such "shocking" coincidence occurred in 1984 when the writers and producers of SANTA BARBARA decided to stage an earthquake on the show. On the day that the scenes were taped, a real earthquake rocked the real SANTA BARBARA measuring 4.7 on the Richter scale.
Another tragic coincidence happened on PASSIONS with the beloved actor Josh Ryan Evans who played living doll Timmy. In the storyline, the character who had recently been transformed from a doll into a real boy through angelic intervention, died after sustaining an injury. (Note that a soap episode is written about four weeks before the air date and is filmed about two weeks before the air date.) On the same day (August 5, 2002) that Josh's character died on screen in the storyline, the 17 year old actor also died in real life. (He suffered from a form of dwarfism that had stunted his growth at a height of 3'2" and also caused him several other health problems. He was survived by a brother, who at 6'4" was exactly twice Josh's height.)
An epigraph is a quotation located at the beginning of piece of writing. In soap opera parlance, an epigraph is a quote that summarized the theme and was used as the beginning of every episode of a radio soap opera. Some TV soaps carried on the tradition. Everyone, whether soap friend or foe, recognizes these immortal words, "Like sands through the hourglass, so are the DAYS OF OUR LIVES."
Another long used serial epigraph was "To live each day for whatever it may bring…this is LOVE OF LIFE." ANOTHER WORLD began for a couple years with the opening, "We do not live in this world alone, but in a thousand other worlds."
While a nightmare for the production crew, remote location shoots are probably most fun for the writers and the audience. Some notable remote shoots in soap history include:
RYANS HOPE – often filmed outside in New York City since the show was set there
ALL MY CHILDREN – St. Croix
ANOTHER WORLD – St. Croix
SEARCH FOR TOMORROW – Hong Kong
SANTA BARBARA – Russia
Modern daytime soaps are based on original ideas from their creators, but in the past, they were often adapted from other media.
RETURN TO PEYTON PLACE, for example, took a long and winding road to becoming a daytime soap. First, there was Grace Metalious's brilliant 1956 ten million copy best-selling novel titled PEYTON PLACE, which was followed by her 1959 sequel titled RETURN TO PEYTON PLACE. They were each adapted into movies, the first of which was nominated for nine Academy Awards representing all acting categories as well as directing, best cinematography, best adapted screenplay, and best picture.
Next came the nighttime series also called PEYTON PLACE which ran successfully on ABC for five years from 1964-1969, sometimes being aired three times per week. None of the actors or actresses from either movie appeared in the TV series.
The daytime version finally arrived on NBC in 1972 using the title RETURN TO PEYTON PLACE. It aired until 1974, but never achieved high ratings. One of its downfalls was that only three performers from the nighttime version reprised their roles, the rest of the parts were recast.
For the sake of completeness, it should also be mentioned that there were two subsequent TV movies continuing the story. MURDER IN PEYTON PLACE came along in 1977 and PEYTON PLACE: THE NEXT GENERATION arrived in 1985.
Other earlier daytime soaps were based on movies and novels. These included BEST OF EVERYTHING (1970), THE EGG AND I (1951-1952), EXECUTIVE SUITE (1976-1977), KITTY FOYLE (1958), LOVE IS A MANY SPLENDORED THING (1967-1973).