Sexual depictions were analyzed in 139 episodes of seven drama serials on British mainstream television over a four-week period in November–December 2006. Scenes that depicted sexual behavior and talk about sexual matters were counted separately. Further distinctions were made on the basis of the levels of intimacy and the graphic nature of portrayals. A total of 506 sexual scenes were found that occurred at the rate of 6.5 per hour across the seven soaps, but this figure was inflated by one late-night serial that averaged 16.0 scenes per hourly episode. Nearly two-thirds of these scenes were restricted to talk about sexual matters, while the others contained overt depictions of sexual behavior. Sexual intercourse was relatively rare and restricted in terms of overt depictions to the late-night serial. Passionate kissing was far more prevalent throughout these programs regardless of the time of day the program was transmitted. When sexual intercourse was featured, this was generally in the context of loss of virginity or of infidelity.
© 2012 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston