Super Aussie Soaps by Andrew Mercado

Behind the Scenes of Australia's Best Loved TV Shows

It seems I own a rare and valuable book: Super Aussie Soaps by Andrew Mercado, published in 2004. I say this because the book has been out of print for several years now and used copies on Amazon UK are currently being sold for £1,250! I’m certainly glad that when I saw a copy on Amazon in 2015 for £19.99, I had the sense to grab it. It was in near mint condition too.

I don’t think Super Aussie Soaps was ever officially released in the UK but it’s a book that all fans of Australian soaps, or soapies as they are called Down Under, should have. Though now a little bit out of date, it can be considered as the Bible of Aussie soaps, covering all the soaps produced from the 50s right through to 2004 in chronological order. Every soap from Autumn Affair (1958-59) to Crash Palace (2002) is thoroughly put under the microscope, beginning with background and factual Wikipedia-type information, followed by detailed season-by-season synopses. According to the blurb at the back of the book, Mercado gathered all the information through interviews with the producers, directors, writers and actors.

The information presented for each soap is immense, which is both a strength and a weakness of the book. On the one hand, the book gives you just about everything you ever wanted to know about your favourite soap, but on the other, it can be a struggle to read the book after a while. A few headings and sub-headings to break up the text would have given the pages more scanability and presented the readers with natural breaks. The chapter on Neighbours, for example, is more than 30 text-heavy pages long without a single heading which even the most avid fan would struggle read in one sitting. The insertion of photos, some in colour and never seen before, is very welcome, however.

Would I pay £1,250 for this book if I didn’t already have it? No, I wouldn’t, but neither would I sell my copy for double that amount because I think it’s a book worth keeping on your bookshelf if you like any of the Australian soaps. For me, it’s worth having for the chapter on Sons and Daughters alone. It’s my favourite soap opera of all time (from any country) and it is wonderful to have it preserved here for posterity with details on its conception and development, its rise and fall, and all the cliffhangers and anecdotes. Fans of the other soaps will feel the same.

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