How Shortland Street should end (but won’t)

The thing about soap operas is that they never end. Never. Not ever. No matter how execrable the plotlines. You know what I mean – those story arcs about everyday suburban life where Character X dies after being drugged and tied upside-down to the mast of a yacht in a hurricane by pirates, escaping, but then tragically and unexpectedly being gobbled by 483 rabid and genetically modified cuttlefish that escaped from Dr Zed’s weirdo lab.

But it’s OK, because then X’s own long lost identical twin turns up to console the grieving family, owing to some even more unlikely plotline best summarised as ‘audience surveys show the actor has audience draw’. And during the ad breaks the sponsor steps in and the audience get pushed to buy Burnbridge Waters’ brand Milady Soap. Or something.

New Zealand’s own ‘soap opera’, Shortland Street, has been going since at least 1782 (I think I typed that correctly) and is still being made. There’s a huge irony to the title; it’s a soap based on a fictional hospital named after the street address of the studios in which the show was first made. In real life, the street was named after (wait for it) a medical doctor, Edward Shortland (1812?-1893). Well, I think it’s ironic.

I haven’t watched the show since the mid-1990s, but the odd episodes I did see, back then, were so awful I can only hope the transmissions are lost in interstellar static before the aliens see them. Otherwise we’re doomed. And that’s without mentioning that line in the 1992 pilot episode. I can’t comment on where Shortland Street has gone since. But hey – now I’ve had an idea for a way it might be brought to an end.


Nurse 1: Make way – patient accidentally got an atomic bomb stuck in an awkward place… and its ticking.

Nurse 2: Can we defuse it? Anybody?

Dr Ropata: I wish I was in Guatemala.


MUSIC: Vera Lynn, ‘We’ll Meet Again’.


Copyright © Matthew Wright 2019

5 thoughts on “How Shortland Street should end (but won’t)

    1. The hilarious bit about ‘Shortland Street’ is that (at least when I last saw it) they were filming it in the TV studios on Shortland Street, Auckland – using the TV HQ offices as the stand-in for the hospital buildings. The street itself is named after a doctor…

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  1. When I was a teenager I used to love to watch the soaps – mainly The Secret Storm (my true favorite) and either Days of Our Lives or The Edge of Night. My mother and I watched faithfully. She would fill me in on what I missed when I was in school. Then I went off to nursing school. Other girls got to watch soaps after their classes, but I always seemed to miss them. One full year later I got to see one of them. They announced a substitute actress for the lead and the show began. I watched that one and never watched another soap after that. The plot had not moved in one full year! Maybe I was finally growing up and realized what a huge waste of time soaps were!

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    1. My parents used to watch Coronation Street when I was a kid, it showed in NZ a few months after the UK broadcasts. It never really grabbed me and Dr Who was more my taste (which, really, is the sci-fi equivalent) – ‘Shortland Street’ got a few watches because it happened to be on at dinner time. But I have to say, these days I watch zero TV at all.

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