Teacher Notes

Part A: Your soap opera pilot

The television station Inclusive Television Australia (ITA) is planning to launch a new prime time soap opera that reflects the diversity of the Australian population.  Your challenge is to take on the role of a scriptwriter at ITA.  In keeping with the philosophy of ITA, the program needs to present characters that represent a range of differences; for example age, gender, religion, culture, family structure, dis/ability and sexuality.

The first step is to develop character and story line summaries for a pilot of three episodes.  ITA has provided you with a pilot summary sheet that you must complete.  You will be required to provide the following information:

Show title: What name will you propose for the soap opera?  Keep it short and catchy.
For example: Hearts on Fire.

Setting: What context will help shape the story and lifestyles of the characters?
For example: The setting is a beachside suburb in a large city.  The characters live in a mixture of houses and apartments.  There is a large shopping mall close by.

Main characters: Which eight characters will be central to the theme and tone of the soap opera?  Describe each character's gender, age and personality and any traits that you have selected to show diversity.
For example: Tom is a tall, strong, blonde surfer.  He is 17 and has a wide smile and a confident swagger.

Storyline summaries: What is going to happen in the first three pilot episodes to make sure the viewers are left wanting more?  Each summary needs to describe what the main action and themes will be.
For example: Tom and Wil take Maureen's scooter for a joy-ride, and end up crashing it.  Fortunately Sally and Anne were walking home from work at the surf shop and see the whole incident.  Tom and Wil are OK, but the scooter is a wreck and they don't want Maureen to find out that they took it without asking.
Athol and his family have just arrived in town so that he can start his job as the new principal at the High School.  He's happy to be at a new school after the issues he has been having with students, parents and staff at his last school.  Little did he know that Carrie and her family have also moved over the holidays.
Carrie's first impressions of her new home are very positive after meeting Grant at the movies.

Theme music: What type of music would best capture the mood and themes of your soap opera?  Suggest a piece of music that you know or a suitable person/group to create music for the theme.
For example: An original tune sung by Cody Simpson.

Download and save your editable PDF Pilot Summary template here (or print it out and write responses).

When you have completed your template share and discuss the content with others in your class.  Consider the following questions:

  • Did you find it challenging to create non-stereotypical characters?  Are there times when stereotyping is useful?
  • Do you think that you, your family and/or other Australians would watch the inclusive soap operas that you have proposed for ITA?  Why or Why not?