Soap operas are one of the most popular TV genres of all time. They started broadcasting as a radio program back in the 1930s and moved to TV screens in the ‘50s. Their strong characters and light-hearted humor keep attracting the TV audience for decades. Some of the soap operas are still running on the air, while their episode counter exceeded 10,000. They are open-ended serials in which the storyline continues after each episode. There can also be multiple storylines run in parallel, but you should not expect them to be completed in the single show. When one of them ends, the others go to another stage of development.
Of course, lots of characters appear in soap operas, but you can also find those who represent the foundation of the entire TV show. Thanks to the nature of this genre, some of its actors have been recognized as the longest-serving ones in television history. Let’s check the top ten longest-serving soap opera actors!
William “Bill” Roache is best known for playing Ken Barlow in the longest-running soap opera of all time in terms of the season count, Coronation Street. He was present in the British soap opera from its very beginning on December 9, 1960. What is even more fascinating is that sir Roche is still active in Coronation Street, and he made an appearance in 4,629 episodes of this soap opera. This means that his continuous serving time lasts for 60 years, which had him listed in the Guinness World Records as the longest-serving male TV star in a constant role.
This English actress is best known for her role as Emily Bishop in Coronation Street. Her serving time lasted for 55 years, and Eileen made her first appearance in the show in 1961. Her character showed in 3,298 episodes of this 60-season soap opera before she retired in 2019.
Helen Wagner was an American actress, and she is best known for her role on the soap opera As the Time Goes as Nancy Hughes McClosky. She died in 2010 at the age of 91, and at the time of her death, she was the longest-serving actor on an American soap opera. Helen made appearances in 1,470 episodes in her 54-season long serving time in one of the most famous soap operas of all time.
Don Hastings in an American actor, writer, and singer, but he is best known for his role as Dr. Robert “Bob” Hughes on the soap opera As the World Turns. He debuted in the show in 1960, while his latest appearance took place in 2010. Don Hastings had a 50-year role thanks to which he showed up in 1,601 episodes.
This English actress is another Coronation Street cast member, and she is best known for her role as Rita Tanner. Her character had a premiere in 1964, while she is still one of the active-serving actors in this famous soap opera. During her 49-year long career in the show, Barbara made 3,811 appearances.
Eileen Fulton is an American actress who played Lisa Grimaldi in As the World Turns. She made her first appearance in 1960, while after a 47-season long run on this TV show, her final episode took place in 2010. During that time, Eileen Fulton’s character showed up in 1,563 episodes.
The character of Gail Rodwell is another one from the British soap opera Coronation Street. It is played by Helen Worth starting from 1974, while it is still one of the active roles in this show. Helen made an appearance in 4,349 episodes during her 46-season long serving time, with the tendency to advance in our list of the longest-serving soap opera actors.
Suzanne Rogers is a member of the Days of Our Lives cast, and she is playing the character of Maggie Horton. Her serving time lasts for 45 years, and since she is still active in the show, she can progress further on the list. Since 1973, Suzanne showed up in 3,084 episodes.
Leslie Charleston, a.k.a. Monica Quartermaine from the General Hospital sits on the 9th place of our list. Although she made “just” 774 appearances in the show, her serving time lasts for 43 years. Leslie debuted back in 1977, while she is still an active member of the cast.
Doug Davidson is the longest-serving actor of The Young and the Restless, a famous American soap opera. Since 1978 he made 3,384 appearances as Paul Williams, and he is still an active member with the chance to advance on our top ten list.
Do you want to find more interesting facts about this exciting genre? We have prepared an infographic for you so that you can dip into it and learn more about soap operas!