Entertainment & Sports

Soap Opera, Tinsel and its Survival

What Soap Opera is

The term “soap opera” was first used in 1930’s by members of the American press to describe some of the first radio shows being produced and sponsored by companies of cleaning products. Since that time soap operas have certainly gone through many transformations, from the early days of radio broadcasting to full one-hour television formats, and more recently into a new online format using Hulu and iTunes. In this regard one can cite the online based soap operas like Gidi Up (by the internet based TV, NdaniTV) and Shuga, a soap opera both internet and TV based (supported by MTVbase, Staying Alive and, Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation).

Soap operas have not only been a part of American life, as some tend to think, but they have also played a large part of television history throughout many international countries as well like Nigeria.

What Makes a Soap Opera?

Basically, a soap opera is a continuous or serial narrative in which a story is played out through connected episodes. A major feature of the traditional soap opera is that each episode is open-ended with loose ends that allow for continuity in future installments. This feature has both advantages and disadvantages. A common demerit is when some long running soap operas end with the audience losing interest.  A case in point is Tinsel with over a 1000 episodes.

The ability of a soap opera to be open-ended and employ a serial narrative technique, with stories spanning several episodes is an element crucial to soap operas. To buttress this, Albert Moran opines soap opera thus:

 “that form of television that works with a continuous open narrative. Each episode ends with a promise that the storyline is to be continued in another episode”

However, this definition forecloses the type of soap opera that airs on radio. Examples of this kind of soap opera will be “Story-Story” and “Ile Alajameta” (on OSBC radio) in Nigeria.

About Tinsel and its Auditioning

Tinsel has been in production for over ninety months and at the course of producing it, over five hundred (500) actors have been auditioned for the lead role of Fred Ade-Williams, before the decision to cast Victor Olaotan was made.

In auditioning, there exist four (4) types which are:

  1. General auditioning
  2. Call-back auditioning
  3. Cold reading auditioning
  4. Improvisation auditioning

General auditioning is conducted in a very large room or theatre, of which only one among thousands would be made use of after the close of the auditioning process. This type of auditioning is an open-ended type. General auditioning was the type of auditioning used by the management of Tinsel. A platform was created to allow the selection of successful actors and actresses.

Crises Facing Tinsel

Different crises have always been known to rock Tinsel every now and then. While some of these crises were avoidable, some were indeed beyond control. The following shows the different crises that Tinsel has faced and how it had been able to survive them all:

  1. Actor’s Pullout: One of the crises that struck during the production of Tinsel was the pullout of some lead-role actors. Damilola Adegbite who acted the role of Telema Duke, and Chris Attoh who also acted the role of Kwame Mensah pulled out and this almost marred the followership of Tinsel. Prior to the decision to leave in September 2012, Damilola Adegbite hinged her reasons for wanting to leave Tinsel on wanting to explore more of the Nollywood industry. A year after, Chris Attoh stopped casting on the soap opera. His reason for doing so was not far-fetched from Damilola’s. This pullout lost Tinsel some addicted followership. Tinsel soon bounced back with the new artistry of the new casts.
  2. Fire Outbreak: Among the cracks that shook Tinsel to its roots was the fire outbreak that occurred in March, 2013 at the Philip Building that housed one of Tinsel studios. Ojota, where this building was located, trembled at this fire incident as other studios in the same building were also affected. Tinsel lost most of its filming paraphilia to this. Funds had to be sourced for to enable them shoot private homes in G.R.A and a studio in Oba Akran. Both locations are in Lagos. This occurred in 2013 and almost brought Tinsel to its knees.

Funding and Sponsorship of Tinsel

The TV series is originally created by screen writer Yinka Ogun and produced by Femi Odugbemi. With its success, tinsel has surpassed other M-Net soap operas, and this directly means that M-net Africa is a profound sponsor of Tinsel. In fact, other soap operas endorsed by M-net, such as Doctors Quarters and Edge of Paradise have not been able to attain such heights as Tinsel’s.

Tinsel being the first studio shoot in recent Nigerian modern history, one would wonder how Tinsel’s management provides the huge fund required in  studio productions and the attendant publicity involved. Hence Tinsel is a soap opera that much money has been so much put in. The cost per minute of Tinsel’s production is $900. The total 24 minutes of an episode costs about $21,600 (#3.4m). This however pales in comparison to other M-net Africa productions. As of June 2013, the money expended on productions so far has exceeded 4 billion naira. The question remains how has Tinsel been able to weather through this financial cost?

The TV series, Tinsel, was being sponsored by an Indian owned telecom company, Airtel before Etisalat, also a telecommunication took over. In addition to this, Dove, a cosmetic and dermatological company also sponsors it. During productions, there have been attempts at in-play adverts where tablets and gadgets by companies like Infinix, Samsung, Apple and Tecno have been used by actors.

With this creative advertising strategy and huge endorsements, Tinsel has been able to continue its cost-easting productions.