The TV soaps and characters the nation tweets about the MOST
Did you know a quarter of Brits watch soap operas? And that Den Watts serving his wife, Angie Watts, with divorce papers in EastEnders is still the most watched programme broadcast, with 30.15 million watching.
With soaps boasting huge popularity and millions of viewers, tombola wanted to look at the soap exits that affected us the most. Who are the most popular, iconic characters? Did EastEnders, Coronation Street or Emmerdale tug at our hearts the most?
To find out, tombola analysed the sentiment of 109,668 tweets about characters from the three most watched UK soaps (EastEnders, Emmerdale and Coronation Street) to reveal the most popular characters that we still miss. They also looked at the IMDB ratings for exit episodes.
EastEnders is the most tweeted about soap analysed
For each soap, tombola analysed the tweets of 16 iconic characters (17 for Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell as their exit was combined).
EastEnders characters received 62,582 tweets, suggesting their character write-offs gripped the nation more than any other soap analysed.
Number of tweets
Emmerdale’s famous characters received 26,005 tweets, with Coronation Street’s receiving just 21,081. However, Corrie does come up top when it comes to the ratings race, with the Women’s Euros the only broadcast to receive more viewers than the soap.
But which exit had us glued to our screens?
Lucy Beale’s exit received the most tweets
Lucy Beale was introduced to the show in 1993, becoming part of one of the square’s most famous families, the Beales. Not only did she have an iconic family, but an even more iconic exit.
‘Who killed Lucy Beale?’ was EastEnders biggest marketing campaign to date, with the story running until the show’s 30th anniversary, when all would be revealed. Her exit received the most tweets of all characters analysed, with 495 specifically relating to her exit and mentioning the words ‘Lucy Beale’ and ‘EastEnders’.
EastEnders’ Peggy Mitchell’s exit came second, with 408 of 6,201 analysed directly referencing her last episode and departure from the square.
Pat Phelan, the first appearance of a Coronation Street character, took third place. As one of the cobbles’ most infamous villains, his exit had us glued to the TV, with 384 tweets referencing his exit episode.
And it was the character, Lucy Beale, that had us tweeting the most
Looking into overall tweets for all characters analysed across the three soaps, it was also Lucy Beale that received the most tweets.
It’s no surprise that there were 18,760 tweets analysed, mentioning the words ‘Lucy Beale’ and ‘EastEnders’. Looking at the sentiment, 63% of the tweets were negative (this also includes ‘sad’ emotions), with just 13% positive.
Ian Beale is the second most tweeted about iconic character
Ian Beale is the second most tweeted about iconic character, according to the data, making it another EastEnders win.
In the dates analysed, there were 17,257 tweets mentioning the words ‘Ian Beale’ and ‘EastEnders’, suggesting there are also many fans waiting to see if he is making a return to the square after his departure.
Compared to his daughter, Lucy, 25% of the tweets about Ian were positive, with only 38% of tweets negative.
Tricia Dingle is the least tweeted character, according to the data
On the other hand, Emmerdale’s Tricia Dingle is the least tweeted about when analysing tweets between 03/08/12 and 03/08/22, mentioning the words ‘Tricia Dingle’ and ‘Emmerdale’.
However, this could be due to her final appearance occurring in 2004 , meaning the tweets are those who are rewatching past episodes and calling for her to come back.
Blanche Hunt received the most positive tweets of characters analysed
Coronation Street’s Blanche Hunt is, according to the data, the most beloved iconic character of all analysed.
Out of 144 tweets mentioning ‘Blanche Hunt’ and ‘Coronation Street’, 49% had positive sentiment, while only 17% had negative.
Coming a close second is another Coronation Street legend, Becky McDonald, who departed the show for a new life in Barbados, leaving behind 45% of positive sentiment tweets, and only 18% negative.
Rounding up the top three most positively tweeted about characters and their exits is Carl King. With over 1,694, 38% of them were deemed positive by the Twitter sentiment tool. However, a large number of tweets were positive about his exit, suggesting many were happy to see him leave the soap.
Kim Tate is everyone’s favourite villain to tweet about
According to the data, Kim Tate is the most popular villain when looking at positive tweets. As one of the central antagonists on Emmerdale and one of the previous nominees for Villain of the Year at The British Soap Awards, it’s little wonder that she keeps us tweeting.
The character gave us one of the most infamous exits in 1999, when she left the Dales in a helicopter after attacking Chris Tate. Kim is now back in Emmerdale, and has been since 2018, and she is still one of the most iconic characters looking at the data.
Out of 9,326 tweets mentioning ‘Kim Tate’ and ‘Emmerdale’, 31% of the tweets were positive, compared to 38% negative sentiment tweets.
Pat Phelan comes a close second as a popular villain to tweet about
As the fourth most tweeted about iconic character, Pat Phelan, surprisingly has a large number of positive sentiment tweets, at 30%. But that doesn’t mean people were behind him. In fact, a large number of tweets were happy to see the super villain (and winner of the Villain of the Year award) leave after he caused chaos on the cobbles.
Viv Hope, however, received the most negative sentiment tweets
Viv Hope, an Emmerdale icon and certainly not a villain, left the Dales back in 2011. But it seems her character and her exit wasn’t best received, with 69% of tweets (mentioning ‘Viv Hope’ and ‘Emmerdale’) boasting a negative sentiment.
Similarly, Lucy Beale’s exit and character received 63% of negative sentiment tweets.
In the top four, Emmerdale’s Emma Barton and Meena Jutla received 59% and 56% of negative sentiment tweets respectively. As Meena won the award for Best Villain in 2021, it’s little surprise so many were happy the character received her comeuppance.
EastEnders is the unluckiest place for families
With the most infamous villain hailing from the square, EastEnders might not be the best place to move to in soapland.
When looking at the list of iconic characters and their even more famous exits, it appears one family had more soap write-offs than any other.
The Mitchells, made famous by EastEnders, appeared in the list six times, meaning six iconic characters have had their fair share of dramatic exits.
Archie Mitchell, Peggy Mitchell, Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell, Tiffany Mitchell and Jamie Mitchell all made an appearance on the list, suggesting families moving into EastEnders might be in for a dramatic soapland exit.
Tiffany Mitchell, however, was the only Mitchell to make it into the most popular characters on Twitter, with 37% of all tweets about the character deemed positive.
We also looked at IMDB ratings for exit episodes (if it was available) to reveal which exit ranked the best.
Pat Phelan’s exit episode is the highest-rated on IMDB
With a 6.9 rating on IMDB, the exit episode for Coronation Street’s Pat Phelan is the highest rated of all episodes analysed (if there was a rating available). As one of the most tweeted about characters and popular villains, according to the Twitter data, it’s clear why the episode was highly rated.
Coming a close second is the exit episode for EastEnders legend, Peggy Mitchell, with a rating of 6.7. Peggy Mitchell is one of EastEnders stalwarts, with 10 million tuning in to watch her exit episode.
EastEnders rounds up the top three, with Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell’s joint sad exit bringing in a rating of 6.3 for the soap, significantly higher than the overall rating for the soap. Similarly, Abi Branning’s final episode was also rated 6.3 on IMDB.
But Coronation Street is the top-rated soap on IMDB
When analysing the IMDB ratings, we can also reveal that Coronation Street is the highest-rated soap. Corrie boasts a score of 5.6/10 on IMDB. This is compared to 4.8/10 for Emmerdale and 4.7/10 for EastEnders.
If you are interested in reading even more about the UK’s favourite soaps and TV shows, we can exclusively reveal what watching these shows mean for your personality. Plus, we’ve even rounded up TV’s biggest ever super villains!
tombola analysed 109,668 tweets from the past 10 years (between 03/08/12 to 03/08/22) for the full character name and the soap they starred in. For example: “Tiffany Mitchell” “EastEnders”. We then counted the number of ‘negative’, ‘neutral’ and ‘positive’ tweets using the Twitter sentiment tool to assign a percentage of positive and negative tweets.
Characters identified were based on ‘iconic’ lists of soap characters within the UK, and some characters with iconic exits have now returned but they were still included within the list.