28 minutes | May 11, 2021

Psychology of soap operas like the Archers; Awards Finalist

Checking in with a long-running soap opera can help us psychologically. Claudia Hammond grew up overhearing the Archers as her parents listened - and wants to know what fans get out of the drama. Life-long Archers fans Helen and Marjorie grew up listening to the world's oldest soap opera. Jane is the first in her family to listen and Callum got into it because of his nan. Sadly she now has dementia and can only remember characters and events from the 1960s. But Callum still feels close to her when he listens with his partner who's expecting their first baby this summer. He's been shocked by Alice's problems with alcohol but hopes that she can get the support she needs, now that her secret is out. Jane and Helen both had difficult relationships with alcohol in the past - and can relate to what Alice is going through. Jane explains that alcoholism is a life-long illness and not a moral choice. She believes that her past issues have helped to shape who she is today and is open about it to try to reduce some of the stigma surrounding alcoholism. Marjorie believes that Chris is out of his depth and needs to take advice on how to support Alice - information she has found invaluable in her own family. Professor of neuroscience at the University of Westminster Catherine Loveday is an enthusiastic part-time Archers fan. She tells us about new research on post-natal depression. We hear from Dr Dara Greenwood, who's associate professor of psychology at Vassar College in the United States and studies what we get psychologically out of soap operas. She's says our brains are hard-wired to be drawn to people's stories, whether they are fictional or from real life. She also recognises that the escapism has drawn people in during the pandemic. Producer: Paula McGrath
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