TV's favourite shows are discovering that
to woo viewers and ratings, the best line is 'I do'
THERE is nothing like a wedding to haul in the viewers - and keep them there
once the honeymoon is over. When Summer Bay's favourite son Shane (Dieter
Brummer) took a trip down the aisle with Angel (Melissa George) last year, the
soap scored its highest ratings for the year and the nuptials sparked a ratings
revival for Home And Away.
"People dipped into the wedding episodes then stayed with the show," said
Channel 7's head of drama, John Holmes. "One and a half years later the ratings
are still very strong, so it was useful in that respect."
Perhaps the most fondly remembered nuptials in TV history were those of Vicky
and Simon (Penny Cook and Grant Dodwell) on A Country Practice in 1984. The
wedding episode drew a 44 per cent share of the audience and started a craze
among bridal designers besieged by women demanding the same gown as Vicky's.
The marriage of doctors Terence Elliott and Alex Fraser (Shane Porteous and
Di Smith) 1988 caused a similar sensation.
Channel 7's Adelaide studio was inundated with complaints when a blackout
struck and viewers missed the episode.
Seven were forced to replay it the following night to help placate annoyed
Then there were the nuptials of Scott and Charlene (Jason Donovan and Kylie
Minogue) in 1987 which brought Neighbours two million viewers nationally and
caused a near-riot at a Sydney shopping centre, where they cut a symbolic
wedding cake the following day.
And so it comes as no surprise that Australian TV is in for a run of weddings
in the next few months. Channel Ten has caught the bug in particular.
In Neighbours, Joanna (Emma Harrison) and Rob (Graham Harvey) marry on June
21; Charlie (Matthew Fox) and Kirsten (Paula Devicq) almost make it to the altar
in Party Of Five on June 23; and in Picket Fences, the final episode on June 25
will feature three weddings - Kenny and Max (Costas Mandylor and Lauren Holly),
Carter and Sue (Kelly Connell and Sheila McCarthy) and Douglas and Myriam
(Fyvush Finkell and Erica Yohn).
Next month in Melrose Place, Michael (Thomas Calabro) and Kimberly (Marcia
Cross) remarry with Michael's ex-wife Sydney as matron of honour.
And later this year Dylan (Luke Perry) and Toni (Rebecca Gayheart) tie the
knot in Beverly Hills 90210 and Darlene (Sara Gilbert) and David (Johnny
Galecki) marry in Roseanne.
Even Seinfeld is not immune, with George (Jason Alexander) becoming engaged
to Susan (Heidi Swedberg).
As Kristen Marlow, Channel 10's general manager for network programming,
explained that while TV weddings almost always deliver higher ratings, their
secondary purpose is to make fans feel warm and fuzzy about their favourite
One thing's for sure, they never go off without a hitch.
Even Clark Kent (Dean Cain) was taken for a ride on his wedding day last
month when the Lois Lane (Terri Hatcher) he thought he was marrying turned out
to be a clone made by a mad scientist.
Viewers will have to stay tuned to see if Clark and the real Lois make it
down the aisle later this year.
With wedding days being pivotal moments in real life, they work just as well
in drama, says John Holmes.
"The shows which peak are about the life matters which people care about:
births, deaths and marriages," he says.
Yet scriptwriters can't simply put an actor in a morning suit and an actress
in a white frock to draw the audience, warns Holmes.
"I don't think we're cynical enough to say 'the ratings are flagging, let's
have a wedding'," he says."You can't just dress actors in their wedding finery
and expect people to tune in. The audiences have to know and love the characters