How much do soap stars earn

01:00 Mon 18th Jun 2001 |

A. Big name soap stars can earn up to 170,000 a year. Many stars can boost their earnings with guest appearances or after-dinner speaking, and most channels pay their stars while on holiday and a retainer fee.

Q. Who gets paid most

A. It's thought Coronation Street's Bill Roache, who plays Ken Barlow, and Barbara Knox, who plays Rita Sullivan, are some of the top earners, taking home 166,000 and 171,000 a year respectively. EastEnders' stars such as Martin Kemp, who plays Steve Owen, and Tamsin Outhwaite, who plays his wife Mel, command fees of over 150,000 per year. Veteran stars such as Liz Dawn, Corrie's Vera Dockworth, earns 145, 464, Johnny Briggs (Mike Baldwin), earns 165,624, and Kevin Kennedy (Curly Watts) earns 95, 491.

Q. Why are Coronation Street actors in such dispute if they get paid so much

A. Their recent row over pay is centered on Granada TV's attempts to introduce new contracts on the soap. There has been talk of industrial action because the move would see some stars lose up to 50,000 a year of their salaries. Long-standing perks that allow cast members such as Bill Roache to be paid extra when taking his five weeks annual leave would go. Granada, which makes the soap, also wants to cut a 'retainer' payments guaranteeing stars a minimum of 80 appearances per year, rather than the current 100.

Q. Have they always earned so much in soaps

A. When Coronation Street was launched in 1960, the actors earned 20 an episode. As the programme's popularity increased so did the wages, and Jennifer Moss, who played Lucille Hewitt, earned 40 per episode after the show had been running for two years. Pat Phoenix, who played Elsie Tanner, walked out in 1983, because she said US actors were so much better paid, and Julie Goodyear, who starred as barmaid Bet Lynch, commanded 1,000 a week back in 1986.

Q. Are all screen actors so well paid

A. There's currently a dispute between UK actors and the industry over payments for films which become successful. Equity, the actors' union, has been involved in lengthy negotiations with movie bosses over the past few months,over fees which do not take into account the millions which some films rake in.

Under the present agreement actors in the UK are paid a flat fee for television broadcasts of films and for video and DVD sales. Unlike their US counterparts they get no extra, so actors in The Full Monty and Notting Hill, received no extra despite their worldwide success. Stars of Mission: Impossible shared an additional $1.8 m because of box office sales. British stars such as Alan Rickman, Julie Walters and Pete Postlethwaite are among those in talks with Equity.

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By Katharine MacColl

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