The Longest Running Soap Operas in the History of Television

Some TV dramas and comedies can run for a decade or longer before the plug is pulled, but they are small fry compared to some of the longest-running soap operas.

The shows sometimes air five times a week, but still manage to bring us melodrama by the bucketload over decades.

From slices of domestic British lives to supernatural antics in America, the longest-running soap operas in TV history have kept entertaining the masses over the past 70 years.

Here are 15 of the longest-running soaps on TV...

Coronation Street (1960-present)

Rovers Return on Coronation Street
"Coronation Street" has been running for over 60 years. ITV

Having premiered in December 1960 and still airing to this day, Coronation Street holds the Guinness World Record for longest running soap opera, clocking up 61 years on British TV screens this December.

The soap centres on the lives of the residents of Coronation Street in fictional town Weatherfield, and has produced many a watercooler moment with murders, tram crashes, bigamists and affairs.

Corrie, as it's affectionately known, also introduced the first transgender character in a U.K. soap, Hayley (Julie Hesmondhalgh), and was even mentioned in government after Deirdre Rachid (Anne Kirkbride) was wrongfully imprisoned.

General Hospital (1963-present)

General Hospital
"General Hospital" is the longest-running soap in American history. ABC

General Hospital is the U.S.'s longest running soap opera in production, going strong after premiering 58 years ago in April 1963.

Set at a hospital in Port Charles, New York, General Hospital's storylines have largely revolved around the Quartermaine and Spencer families, and the soap has led to two spin-offs, Port Charles and General Hospital: Night Shift.

One of the most memorable moments in the show's history came in 1981 when Luke and Laura (Anthony Geary and Genie Francis) got married - with their wedding bringing in 30 million viewers and becoming the highest-rated hour in American soap opera history.

Guiding Light (1952-2009)

Guiding Light
"Guiding Light" was a radio soap before transferring to television. CBS

If you count Guiding Light's time as a radio serial (1937-1956) as well as a TV soap, it trumps General Hospital, but on TV it racked up 57 years on air before its cancellation.

The CBS show first centred on the Bauers, a German immigrant family first introduced in 1948 on the radio show, while other core families were introduced over Guiding Light's run, including the Norrises, the Marlers, the Spauldings, the Coopers, the Lewises and the Reardons.

CBS cancelled Guiding Light in 2009 due to declining ratings.

Days Of Our Lives (1965-present)

Days Of Our Lives
"Days Of Our Lives" is known for its out-there storylines. NBC

NBC's longest-running soap Days Of Our Lives has been a ratings winner in the 56 years it's been on air, and focuses on the Bradys, the Hortons and other families in the fictional city of Salem.

While the show was initially known in the 1970s and '80s for its daring storylines involving affairs and rape, it later veered into the supernatural, with memorable storylines involving exorcisms and downloading memories onto CDs.

Perhaps one of the wackiest storylines came in 2004, when some of the show's biggest characters were killed off, only for it to be revealed that they were living on an island that was a replica of Salem.

Days Of Our Lives famously had a crossover with another NBC show, as Friends character Joey Tribbiani played Dr. Drake Ramoray on the soap.

As The World Turns (1956-2010)

As The World Turns
"As The World Turns" ended in 2010. CBS

Created as a sister show to CBS's Guiding Light, As The World Turns ran for 54 years until its cancellation in 2010.

The soap centred on medical and legal professionals in the fictional town of Oakdale, Illinois, and was known for being more conservative than other soap operas on the air.

However, it did introduce the first gay male character on American daytime television in 1988, and aired the first gay male kiss on American daytime television in 2007.

Emmerdale (1972-present)

"Emmerdale" incorporates huge stunts into its storylines about rural life. ITV

While ITV's Coronation Street is set in Manchester, its other long-running soap Emmerdale, originally known as Emmerdale Farm, was conceived as a look at rural farming life in the U.K..

While it had a slow start, the introduction of bigger storylines like fires and plane crashes sent ratings soaring, and families like the Dingles and Sugdens continue to bring the drama on the soap.

It will reach its 50th anniversary next year.

The Young and The Restless (1973-present)

The Young and The Restless
"The Young and The Restless" is a ratings hit for CBS. CBS

Having aired over 12,000 episodes in its 48-year run, The Young and The Restless is still going strong on CBS.

Set in Genoa City, Wisconsin, the soap originally focused on the Brooks and Foster families, but they were eventually replaced by the Abbotts and the Williamses, as well as other families.

Becoming known for depicting sexuality on screen as well as romance, The Young and The Restless has maintained high ratings and won 116 Daytime Emmys.

Pobol y Cwm (1974-present)

Pobol Y Cym
"Pobol Y Cym" is a consistent ratings winner in Wales. S4C

This Welsh-language soap opera has been running for 47 years so far, first airing on the BBC and then on the Welsh channel S4C.

Set in the fictional village of Cwmderi, Pobol y Cym (People of the Valley) centers on the residents of the town in the local pub, school, farm and other businesses.

The soap is consistently among the most watched shows of the week in Wales.

One Life To Live (1968-2012)

One Life To Live writing staff
Director Jill Mitwell (center) and the writing staff of "One Life to Live" in the press room at the 35th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards at the Kodak Theatre on June 20, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

ABC's One Life To Live ran for 44 years when it was cancelled alongside All My Children.

The soap was notable for being the first on US television to centre around an ethnically and economically diverse cast, focusing on the wealthy, White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Lord family,the working-class Polish American Wolek family, the less wealthy Irish Catholic Riley family, and the African-American Sadie Gray.

One Life To Live often crossed over with other ABC soaps, including General Hospital.

It briefly returned as a web series in 2013, but the revival was unsuccessful.

All My Children (1970-2011)

All My Children
Susan Lucci became a daytime TV legend on "All My Children". ABC

One Life To Live's channel mate All My Children aired its finale in 2011 after 41 years.

The show, set in the fictional town of Pine Valley, Pennsylvania, was created to illustrate societal issues, and was a huge hit in the 1970s through to the early 90s.

It was responsible for bringing us one of soap's most iconic characters, femme fatale Erica Kane (played by Susan Lucci), who landed 21 Emmy nominations for the role but won only once.

EastEnders (1985-present)

"EastEnders" has brought the drama since 1985. BBC

The BBC's rival to Coronation Street launched in 1985 is going strong today, and is still a huge part of British popular culture.

Centred on the lives of the residents of Albert Square in the fictional East End town of Walford, EastEnders has tackled hard-hitting storylines involving HIV, domestic abuse, sexual abuse and mental illness over the years, as well as gripping whodunnits, often coming to a head in live episodes.

As well as introducing iconic soap characters like Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor) and Dirty Den Watts (Leslie Grantham), EastEnders has become known for its dramatic Christmas Day episode, which often features a bombshell plot twist.

Neighbours (1985-present)

"Neighbours" is Australia's longest running soap opera. Ten

Australian soap Neighbours premiered in 1985 and has racked up 36 years on air so far.

Focused on the lives of the residents of Ramsay Street in Erinsborough, Neighbours is not only a success in Australia, but across the world, with particular success in the United Kingdom.

Neighbours is noted for launching the careers of Kylie Minogue and Margot Robbie, who both starred on the show.

The wedding of Scott and Charlene (Kylie and Jason Donovan) in 1987 achieved the highest ever ratings for Neighbours and it became one of the highest rating soap episodes ever in Australia, as well as attracting 19.6 million viewers when it was aired in the U.K.

Search For Tomorrow (1951-1986)

Search For Tomorrow
"Search For Tomorrow" aired for 35 years. NBC

At the time of its cancellation due to low ratings and rivalry with newer soap operas in 1986, Search For Tomorrow was the longest-running show in American daytime television history, with a run of 35 years.

Set in the fictional town of Henderson, Mary Stuart played the central character of Jo for the soap's entire run.

The Bold and The Beautiful (1987-present)

The Bold and The Beautiful
"The Bold and The Beautiful" is set in a fashion business in Los Angeles. CBS

A sister show to The Young and The Restless, The Bold and The Beautiful has been on air on CBS for 34 years and counting.

The soap is set in Los Angeles and focuses on the Forrester family and their haute couture business.

With consistently strong ratings, The Bold and The Beautiful has won 77 Daytime Emmys during its run.

Home and Away (1988-present)

Home And Away
Ray Meagher plays one of "Home and Away's" best loved characters, Alf Stewart. Seven

Home and Away is Australia's second longest running soap opera, with 33 years on air, and is all about the lives of the residents in Summer Bay, a fictional seaside town in New South Wales.

With more of a focus on the young characters, the soap has covered controversial topics over the year, including sexual assault, abortion, eating disorders and suicide.

Many celebrities have identified themselves as fans of the show, with Ed Sheeran even making a cameo on the show in 2015.

Fair City (1989-present)

Fair City
"Fair City" is set in a fictional Dublin suburb. RTE

Fair City is Ireland's longest running soap opera, with 32 years on air so far.

The show focuses on the lives of the residents of Carrigstown, a fictional suburb of the Northside part of the city of Dublin, and has been praised for covering societal issues not usually covered on Irish television.

Storylines have included domestic violence, gangland crime, abortion and sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.