The British Soap Awards 2022: Live

The event will be hosted by Phillip SchofieldThe event will be hosted by Phillip Schofield
The event will be hosted by Phillip Schofield
Saturday: The British Soap Awards 2022: Live - (ITV, 8pm)

Life in soap land is always dramatic – it’s why we watch them after all – but the past two years have presented challenges offscreen as well.

During the pandemic, some soaps managed to stay on air while others took a break, but they all had to work out how to bring us gripping storylines while observing social distancing and keeping the cast and crews safe.

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Then there was the news that Neighbours and Holby City were getting the axe, which was sad for fans, but might also have been a reminder for the makers of some other long-running serials that just because you’ve been on the air for years, it doesn’t mean you’ll always be guaranteed a slot in the schedules.

However, perhaps the ultimate sign that it’s been a turbulent couple of years is the fact that the British Soap Awards didn’t take place in 2020 or 2021. So, the good news is that this year the ceremony is back with a live show – and it’s once again hosted by Phillip Schofield.

The producers have taken advantage of their enforced hiatus to refresh the categories, and this year there will be 14 awards, including three voted for by the public.

As always, fans can vote for Best Soap, choosing from the big five – Hollyoaks, Emmerdale, Doctors, Coronation Street and EastEnders.

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Then there’s a new category for Best Family, which is a chance for Weatherfield’s Alahans, Emmerdale’s Dingles, Walford residents the Carters, and Hollyoaks’ McQueens to battle it out for the public’s affections. (Although we wouldn’t want to be in the Carters’ shoes when the Mitchells discover they weren’t even in the running.)

Best Actor and Actress have been axed, replaced instead by Leading Performer, which could well be one of the toughest categories to predict. The nominees are Sally Carman (Abi, Coronation Street), Gillian Wright (Jean, EastEnders), Linda Henry (Shirley, EastEnders), Mark Charnock (Marlon, Emmerdale) and Paige Sandhu (Meena, Emmerdale), who have all risen to the challenge of some very meaty storylines over the past year. Who will the public decide has the edge?

Whoever misses out might get a chance in the categories where the winners are chosen by a panel of judges. Charnock, Carman and Wright have all be nominated for Best Dramatic Performance, along with Dex Lee from Doctors and Harvey Virdi from Hollyoaks.

Meanwhile, Sandhu is also nominated in what could be one of the toughest categories, Best Villain. Maximus Evans (Corey from Corrie), Laura White (Doctors’ Princess Buchanan) and Rhiannon Clements (Summer from Hollyoaks) are also in the running, but many viewers will be surprised if this isn’t a straight and very evenly matched fight between Sandhu and her fellow on-screen murderer Toby Alexander-Smith, who played the hissable Gray Atkins in EastEnders.

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The other panel-voted categories are Best Comedy Performance, Young Performer, Scene of the Year, On Screen Partnership, Newcomer, Storyline and Single Episode, while the recipients of the Outstanding Achievement and Tony Warren Awards will be announced on the night.

So, it should be an evening of thrills and spills – and soap fans wouldn’t want it any other way.

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