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250px Current title card of Hollyoaks
Created byPhil Redmond
Directed byEddy Marshall
Adrian Bean
Ian White
StarringPresent cast
Former cast
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes3706 (as of 7 October 2013)
Executive producer(s)Bryan Kirkwood
Editor(s)Alistair McMath
David Mercer
Camera setupSingle-camera setup[1]
Running time25 minutes (approx.)
Production company(s)Lime Pictures
DistributorLime Pictures
Original networkChannel 4 (since 1995)
E4 (since 2001)
Picture format16:9 (HDTV)
Original release23 October 1995 –
Related showsBrookside
Hollyoaks: In the City
Hollyoaks Later
External links
Production website

Hollyoaks is a long-running British television teen drama, first broadcast on Channel 4 on 23 October 1995. It was originally devised by Phil Redmond, who had also devised the Channel 4 soap Brookside. The programme is set in a fictional suburb of Chester called Hollyoaks, and features a large cast of characters primarily aged between 16 and 35. Beginning with a cast of just seven major characters in 1995, the serial now has approximately 50 main cast members. Hollyoaks has a high cast turnover in comparison with other British soaps; as of December 2012, just thirteen characters have spent 5 years or longer on the show.

Since Bryan Kirkwood left his role in 2009, Hollyoaks has been helmed by a number of producers, consequently undergoing a number of creative reinventions and changes in direction during this time. Kirkwood's successor Lucy Allan stepped down from her position in 2010 after twelve months;[2] her replacement, Paul Marquess, introduced a wide variety of new characters before leaving one year later, to be replaced by Gareth Philips.[3] Emma Smithwick later replaced Philips in Autumn 2011.[4] In late September 2012, it was announced that Emma Smithwick would be replaced by Bryan Kirkwood.[5] The programme celebrated 18 years on Channel 4 in October 2013 with explosive storylines that saw seven characters, Callum Kane and Jade Hedy die on its spin-off show Hollyoaks Later, while Ash Kane, Doug Carter, Clare Devine, Paul Browning and Leanne Holiday die during the course of the Hollyoaks Blast storyline.

By the 2000s, Hollyoaks had developed a substantial fan base and was seen as a vibrant, modern and young person's soap. In 2002, creator Phil Redmond considered withdrawing his programme from airing on Channel 4, after the network axed his other soap opera Brookside.[6] However, Hollyoaks continued to air on the channel, and by 2007 critics were noting that the serial had "undergone a curious rebirth", reflected in rising ratings and a higher quality of drama.[7] As of December 2012, the first-look airings on E4 typically draw around 600,000 viewers, with the following day's C4 airing attracting roughly 1m, for a combined audience of between 1.5-2m.[8]Hollyoaks is the fourth most popular soap opera on British television,behind Coronation Street,Emmerdale and EastEnders.

Production and broadcasting

Hollyoaks is produced by Lime Pictures (formerly known as 'Mersey Television' prior to its takeover by All3Media) and is filmed mainly at studios in Childwall, Liverpool.

The main transmission of the show currently broadcasts at 18:30 each weekday on Channel 4, with the launch of Channel 4 +1 in 2007 allowing viewers to see the main broadcast replayed at 19.30.

Since the channel's launch in 2001, Channel 4's digital sister station E4 airs a daily 'First Look' feature at 19.00 each weekday, in which viewers are able to watch the episode to be shown on Channel 4 the following day. The 'first-look' is reshown on timeshift channel E4 +1 at 20.00. The 'first-look' is occasionally omitted, primarily if the following day's C4 episode is a special or event edition, and on these occasions may be replaced with a related programme or special.

Repeats of each day's edition of Hollyoaks air on E4 the following weekday – this was previously at 14.35, though as of 2012 is at 12.30 (with E4 +1 at 13.30). 4seven, from its launch in July 2012, carried a repeat of the preceding day's Channel 4 Hollyoaks at 11.30, but this has now moved to the early hours of the morning (towards the end of the channel's previous broadcast 'day').

All the week's Channel 4 episodes of Hollyoaks are also compiled into an omnibus edition, which was for many years transmitted, with in-vision signing, on Sunday mornings on Channel 4 as part of the T4 strand. Following the move of T4 on Sundays to E4 in 2012, the scheduling of the omnibus changed: the signed version of the omnibus now airs in the early hours of Monday morning on Channel 4, with the T4 broadcast of the omnibus remaining on Sunday morning but moving to E4. Following the launch of 4seven, the new channel now has the first showing of the omnibus, at 11 am on a Saturday morning.

The Welsh-language analogue fourth channel, S4C, did not carry the weekday Hollyoaks episodes as these clashed with local content, and so broadcast the Sunday morning omnibus only. In digital, Channel 4 and S4C both exist as separate services in Wales, and so S4C Digidol – now the sole form of S4C following digital switchover in Wales – did and does not carry any Hollyoaks broadcasts.

Channel 4 HD launched in December 2007, initially carrying Hollyoaks upscaled from the SD service; the soap aired its first episode in native high definition on 2 June 2008.

Episodes of Hollyoaks, including the weekly omnibus, are now available for catch-up viewing online through the 4oD platform, and the series would begin to officially broadcast on YouTube, after Google reached a three-year deal with Channel 4 to carry programmes from the 4oD service.[9]

The show initially aired weekly in 1995. In July 1996, Mersey TV opted to recommission the show and increase its output to twice a week, that autumn. A third episode was introduced in September 2001 and a fourth in 2001. In November 2003, the show increased its output with a fifth episode, which has remained to this date.

Hollyoaks is also broadcast in other countries, including Canada (BBC Kids channel), Norway (TV2 Zebra), Serbia (Studio B), Bosnia and Herzegovina (RTRS),Sweden (TV400), Finland (Sub), Iceland (Stöð 2 Extra, Stöð 2) South Africa (MNET Series), the United States of America BBC America, from June to November 2007 (episodes continued to be available on the BBC America website before being discontinued in June 2008), Turkey (e2) and parts of Eastern Europe. Episodes from September 2006 through August 2007 were also available on Joost. It had also aired for a number of months on TV3 in Ireland, but was discontinued due to lack of viewers. In New Zealand on TV1 and (C4), where it regularly beat London-based soap opera EastEnders in the ratings.[10][11] In Australia, from 2 April 2013 Hollyoaks commenced on the Foxtel pay Channel UKTV, airing weeknights at 6.30pm, from 7 October 2013 the time slot was altered to 12.00pm (noon) weekdays. Episodes are around 14 weeks behind the original UK television broadcasts---previously from October 2010 to January 2012, the digital multichannel 7Two broadcast double episodes of Hollyoaks from circa September 2009 episodes.[12]

Hollyoaks is filmed at Lime Pictures in Childwall, Liverpool.

In 2010, series producer Lucy Allan announced she was to step down from the series after only a year, being replaced by Paul Marquess. Speaking of her decision, Allan stated: "I am very proud to have been part of the Hollyoaks team. I've had a fantastic time working on this show but am now equally excited about what the future will hold."[2] On his upcoming role of series producer, Marquess said: "Taking up this position at Lime Pictures feels like I'm going home, as I began my career working with both Carolyn [Reynolds] and Tony [Wood] at Granada and my first major project was Brookside at Mersey Television. I'm a huge soap fan so to be handed the reins of Channel 4's flagship teen drama is not only a huge challenge but also a massive honour."[2] Lime Pictures creative director and Hollyoaks executive producer Tony Wood added: "I'd like to thank Lucy Allan for making such a contribution to Hollyoaks over the years and wish her well for the future. It's very exciting to be working with Paul Marquess again. He's one of the best showrunners in the business. This is a brilliant appointment for Hollyoaks."[2]

Only one day after being announced as the new producer, Marquess began work on the soap opera.[13] A Channel 4 spokesperson stated: "It's all been a very quick turnaround at the top. There'll be a short handover period, but Paul officially takes the helm on Monday and he's really looking forward to the challenge."[13]

In November 2010, a special scene was filmed for an episode airing on 19 November 2010 featuring Myra McQueen (Nicole Barber-Lane) reference to the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton.[14] A spokesperson for the show said, "Hollyoaks has always strived to be a soap that is relevant to its audience and so bosses decided that it was only fitting to reflect this national talking point on screen."[14]

It was announced in January 2011 that Marquess would leave his role as series producer and would be succeeded by Hollyoaks production team member Gareth Philips.[15] Discussing the news, Philips said: "I have really enjoyed working in the script team at Hollyoaks and it will be a huge honour to take the reins of Channel 4's flagship youth drama. I am very excited about taking the show even further this year with more compelling and brave stories."[15]


Although Hollyoaks mainly focuses on students, there has always been families like other soap-operas, e.g. the Cunningham, Osborne, McQueen and Ashworth families. Since the revamp in 2010, the Sharpe, Costello and O'Connor families were introduced by new executive producer Paul Marquess and in 2011 the Savage and Kane families were introduced after the Sharpe's were written out, the Costello's reduced, and Rob and Finn O'Connor departing. Finn O'Connor was reintroduced in 2013 by Bryan Kirkwood with a new actor portraying the character. Kirkwood also created and introduced the Roscoe family in the same year.

Hollyoaks has mainly been considered as a 'teen soap', as it was originally aimed, as the "fourth British soap-opera". In 2008, Gemma Merna, who plays Carmel, admitted she felt the show is underrated: "We are completely underrated as a show, which is so frustrating," Gemma told the Daily Star. "People just think we are gorgeous models who have nothing else to offer. But the truth is we have some seriously talented actors and we're fed up with being the little sister to Corrie, EastEnders and Emmerdale. We're fighters and we're so passionate about what we do. We have the balls and just go for it. And I think we should get credit for that!".[16][17] Ricky Whittle, who plays Calvin Valentine, explained that the time and effort required to produce Hollyoaks, often goes unnoticed. He also said: "There's an idea that we're the party soap, the happy soap, the soap that has loads of fun, but people don't realise how hard we work". He went on, "Everyone thinks it's all glamour, premieres and parties but they need to realise that we do put it in. We are working hard for a living as well and it's not as easy as it sounds. At the minute, especially with the late night stuff, we're doing 12-hour days, sometimes six or seven days a week."[18]

One of the long featured characters Max Cunningham, killed on-screen in 2008.

The show has had many types of characters, including its "troubled teens" such as Sol Patrick, Justin Burton, Ste Hay, Michaela McQueen, Amy Barnes, villains such as Rob Hawthorne, Toby Mills, Andy Holt, Niall Rafferty, Brendan Brady, 'bad boy' club owners Scott Anderson, Trevor Royle and Warren Fox, vixens such as Cindy Cunningham, Clare Devine and Louise Summers, businessmen such as Tony Hutchinson, Gordon Cunningham and Neville Ashworth and sweethearts such as Mandy Richardson, Carmel Valentine and Hannah Ashworth. Hollyoaks' is also known for its "sexy" characters including Dodger Savage, Mercedes Fisher, Carmel Valentine, Sarah Barnes, Annalise Appleton, Calvin Valentine and John Paul McQueen. Characters such as Brendan Brady, Mitzeee, Craig Dean, Hannah Ashworth and Jacqui McQueen are known as some of the most popular characters of the shows history, while characters like Gabby Sharpe, Will Savage and Govinda Roy have been widely criticized. Hollyoaks also featured Kelly-Marie Stewart as Hayley Ramsey, the first character with a disability to be part of the cast. However, Hollyoaks is notified the most from its college and HCC students who often feature in many controversial storylines. These students include Natasha Andersen, Tony Hutchinson, Kurt Benson, Kris Fisher, Jessica Harris, Zoe Carpenter, Mel Burton, Olivia Johnson, Joe Spencer, Justin Burton, Nancy Hayton, John Paul McQueen, Sarah Barnes, Hannah Ashworth, Craig Dean, Maddie Morrison, Martin "Jono" Johnson, Esther Bloom, Ruby Button, Ash Kane, Annalise Appleton, Rob Edwards, Barney Harper-McBride, George Smith, Scott Sabeka, Callum Kane, Tilly Evans, Neil Cooper, Sinead O'Connor, Amber Sharpe, Finn O'Connor and Phoebe Jackson.

Hollyoaks has been known to feature a 'comedy double-act', Max Cunningham and Sam "OB" O'Brien proved very popular with fans, however as of 2008, both characters departed the show. David "Bombhead" Burke and Lee Hunter also formed a bond on-screen. Rhys Ashworth and Gilly Roach as well as Josh Ashworth and Jamie "Fletch" Fletcher were later examples of the double-act with the current characters filling the role being Ricky Campbell and Duncan Button. The show also features "comedic characters" such as stereotypical "dumb blonde" Carmel Valentine,[19] Darren Osborne and Rhys Ashworth.

Apart from the "young cast", Hollyoaks has featured some notable "older" characters. Gordon Cunningham and Jack Osborne were the first main older characters. In more recent years, the characters of Frankie Osborne and Myra McQueen have been featured more regularly like that of the younger cast. The show has shown few children and babies, Tom Cunningham being the most featured. The character was voted 'Soaps Greatest Ever Child' in a 2009 Inside Soap poll and has been nominated for several awards at The British Soap Awards and Inside Soap Awards.[19][20][21]

As of 2012, Nick Pickard who portrays Tony Hutchinson, is the only cast member to have appeared consecutively from the show's inception. Mandy Richardson played by Sarah Jayne Dunn is another long-running character, having returned in October 2010. Sarah played Mandy from 1996 to 2006, making a short visit in 2007, a six-month period in 2008 and returning full-time in 2010 before leaving again in 2011. She replaces Carley Stenson who played Steph Cunningham as the longest serving female cast member having joined the cast in 2000 before leaving in 2010. Other long term character include James McKenna and Ashley Taylor Dawson who play Jack and Darren Osborne respectively and Stephanie Waring portraying Cindy Cunningham, whom first appeared in 1996, however the actress made several exits before returning to the role on a permanent basis in 2008, she left temporarily in September 2010 due to maternity leave, returning once again in March 2011. Tom Cunningham and Frankie Osbourne are long-running characters, Tom has appeared since his birth in 1999 and Frankie has appeared since 2002.

In March 2010, Paul Marquess announced that 11 characters would depart the show: Sasha Valentine, Lauren Valentine, Leo Valentine, Calvin Valentine, Zak Ramsey, Spencer Gray, Jake Dean, Loretta Jones, Barry "Newt" Newton, Dave Colburn, Des Townsend, Kris Fisher.[22]

Opening Titles and Theme Tunes

On 26 February 2007, the programme launched a revamped title sequence with a faster version of the theme tune. This new sequence regularly underwent minor changes, usually caused by characters leaving or joining the programme.

A 2007 commercial break ident featuring the characters of Sarah Barnes, Amy Barnes, Gilly Roach, Hannah Ashworth and Nancy Hayton respectively.

The original style of this sequence has changed on many occasions. March 2008 saw an updated "style" to the titles, with a purple background and new character segments; 26 December 2008 saw the background changed from purple to black (similar to that of the Hollyoaks Later series one titles); and then a change on 1 June 2009 saw the pink and blue lettering changed to monochrome, and the characters shown in full colour before and after the advert segments.

It was announced on 19 June 2010 that new titles with a new theme tune, which was reportedly "slowed right down", would be used in new series producer Paul Marquess' first episode, which aired on 5 July 2010.[23] However, on 2 July, the titles were delayed for one week.[24] The titles were then delayed for a second time due to "technical difficulties". On 10 September 2010, Channel 4 confirmed the new Hollyoaks titles and theme music would air from 13 September.[25] However, the titles were different to pictures of filming of the original credits, suggesting a reshoot was the reason for the delay. Marquess commented: "We're very excited about the new titles that the viewers will see on Channel 4 on Monday. They're glossy, contemporary and very Hollyoaks." He then apologised for the delay, saying: "We're sorry to the fans who have been waiting to see them, but they've taken a while to perfect. I'm very happy with them and I hope that the fans like the new-look show."[25]

The title sequence was updated once again on 30 June 2011, 31 December 2012, 15 July 2013, 6 September 2013 and 18 October 2013 with the addition of new cast members and updated shots.

There have been 6 variations of the theme tune - (1995-2002), (2002-2006), (2006-2007), (2007-2010), (2010-2012) and (2013-).

Closing theme

This is a piece of music which plays over the closing credits of an emotional episode. It was first heard on 1 February 2013.

Number Date Reason
1 1 February 2013 Esther Bloom forgave those who had been bulling her for months.
2 1 August 2013 Ste Hay was stopped from helping his mother, Pauline die.
3 2 August 2013 Tony Hutchinson & Doug Carter find Ste holding his mother, Pauline after she kills herself.
4 2 September 2013 Myra McQueen was shot.
5 3 September 2013 Paul Browning strangles his wife, Mercedes.
6 18 October 2013 Dennis Savage tells his fiancee, Leanne Holiday that she is going to die after suffering from the major explosion.
7 21 October 2013 Leanne dies from her brain damage after her deathbed wedding.


Hollyoaks is the only British soap to make use of incidental music, usually a variation of the show's theme music. It is used either as a transition between scenes or as part of a dream-like sequence. These have included bands such as Ocean Colour Scene with the song "Hundred Mile High City", The Pigeon Detectives, Radiohead, 30 Seconds to Mars, U2, Scissor Sisters, Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs, The Libertines, The Kooks, Arctic Monkeys, Morrissey, The Fratellis, Paramore, Ben Howard, The Darkness and the Maroon 5 song "She Will Be Loved" was repeatedly played in early 2005. Current chart songs are not used in the international version of the show; instead library music and a selection of purposely-composed songs are used. The main theme was written and performed by Steve Wright, who has also produced music and themes for Brookside, Grange Hill and other Mersey TV / Lime Pictures productions. The theme tune is based on a Bo Diddley riff.[citation needed]

A new remixed version of the theme, along with brand new titles, was used from 12 July 2010. The new titles show different characters in the drama posing in various positions with bright colourful backdrops.

A "Hollyoaks" soundtrack CD was released in 2001, containing music used in the programme.

A number of real acts have performed during transmitted episodes of the series. The Alphites were the first band to do so. In 2003, Pop Idol runner up Darius Campbell appeared in an episode performing at a graduation ball. In 2008, the band Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly also featured in Hollyoaks, performing as part of a Battle of the Bands contest.[26] During November 2008, The Saturdays were featured in two episodes of spin-off Hollyoaks Later.[27] In 2009, McFly featured in the show and played a song in the SU Bar. They also had speaking roles and convinced characters Justin Burton and Hannah Ashworth to go out.[28] Later that year Girls Can't Catch performed "Keep Your Head Up" during the college graduation party.[29] In July 2013, Hollyoaks also featured 'Off The Wall Oompah' Band Hosen Brass, playing a selection of their own cover versions for Darren's Bavarian Night(s) at the Dog In The Pond. Hosen Brass featured on two consecutive episodes over the Friday and the Monday evening.[30]

Advertisements and sponsorship

Hollyoaks was previously sponsored by Nescafé, which held a one year £9.5 million deal from June 2002 until July 2003.[31] The show did not have a sponsor until June 2005, when Wrigley's signed a twelve-month contract for their brand of Extra chewing gum.[32] The contract ended in December 2009. Nikon Coolpix signed a deal for sponsorship in 2010 which ended in September 2010, before resuming in January 2011, as part of a 12-month deal.[33][34] Nikon group marketing manager, Jeremy Gilbert said: "Hollyoaks provides the perfect demographic to which we are able to communicate the strengths of the Coolpix S3000 camera. We are excited to be engaging with this new audience and look forward to seeing how viewers respond to the campaign. The sponsorship is an ideal platform on which to communicate Nikon's new pan-European marketing campaign: 'I am Nikon', in that we are able to visually demonstrate the emotional side of photography and how it fits into your lifestyle."[33] In September 2010, it was announced mobile phone retailer Phones4u would take over sponsorship from 1 October 2010 as part of a 3-month deal.[35] Caspar Nelson, the head of brand communications at Phones4u, said: "Our research has shown that Hollyoaks is the most-watched TV show by our core customers, who can relate to its youth-orientated storylines. We're chuffed to be sponsoring such a popular drama that, like our brand, is not afraid to be edgy and irreverent in the way it engages its audience."[35]

Nikon Coolpix signed a new 12-month sponsorship deal in December 2010, beginning in January 2011.[36] Gilbert again commented on the deal: "Nikon's sponsorship of Hollyoaks in 2010 proved to be very successful and undoubtedly contributed to a significant rise in market share for our Coolpix products. Hollyoaks continues to provide Nikon with access to a young, trendy audience to whom we are able to communicate the strengths of the Coolpix range. We look forward to promoting our key Coolpix products throughout the campaign."[36] On 11 April 2012, a six-month product placement deal with L'Oréal was revealed.[37] On 31 May 2012, a four-month product placement deal with Nokia was announced.[38]

Unilever took over sponsorship of the show with its Impulse body spray brand becoming the main sponsor from 2 January 2013, however this lasted only six weeks as Unilever switched the sponsorship to its Alberto VO5 brand from 15 February 2013. It then switched back to Impulse body spray on 7 March 2013.[39]

Riverside Cards. supply all the greetings cards shown in the Hollyoaks T.V series and for different events as and when required. The local shop in Hollyoaks even has a stand filled with Riverside branded cards that can be seen in many episodes.

Hollyoaks have produced several adverts to promote the show over various times. In 2007, a new trailer featuring the cast performing daily routines, for example learning scripts, was broadcast. The trailer featured New Zealand indie band The Brunettes song "B.A.B.Y". In 2008, several trailers were aired featuring the McQueens as Niall Rafferty forced Myra McQueen to choose which of her children live and die. Each trailer showed each of her children pleading with Myra to pick them to live. In October 2009, due to Barry Newton's schizophrenic and attempted suicide storyline, Channel 4 broadcast another trailer featuring clips from upcoming episodes and Evanescence song "Sweet Sacrifice".

In December 2009, due to Ricky Whittle's appearance as a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing, a new promotional video was released featuring Whittle's character Calvin Valentine dancing with Carmel McQueen (Gemma Merna) along with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs song "Heads Will Roll". It also featured several other characters dancing around the pair before Jacqui McQueen (Claire Cooper) throws what appears to be blood on Calvin. Kris Fisher (Gerard McCarthy), Sasha Valentine (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Leo Valentine (Brian Bovell) then give Calvin scores on his dancing, all of which are 9, 9 and 9.[40] Although this trailer was originally thought to be about Whittle's Strictly Come Dancing appearance and the character of Calvin's affair with Mercedes Fisher (Jennifer Metcalfe), it also resembled Hollyoaks' "flashforward" style episode which will see the second marriage of Calvin and Carmel.[41] Another trailer was shown to advertise the flashforward episode and May 2010 after it was announced Calvin would be killed.[42]

A new sequence was later released in July 2010, which featured regular characters, such as the McQueen family, Darren (Ashley Taylor Dawson), Steph (Carley Stenson), Gilly (Anthony Quinlan), Rhys (Andrew Moss), Tony (Nick Pickard) and Duncan (Dean Aspen). In the second half of the sequence, the new characters introduced by Paul Marquess are featured, such as the Costellos, Brendan Brady (Emmett J. Scanlan), Taylor Sharpe (Shaun Blackstock), Bart McQueen (Jonny Clarke), and glamour model Mitzeee (Rachel Shenton) and stand face to face with the regular characters. A quote then follows saying "Check out the new talent" which appears out into what appears to be a group photograph being taken, with all the characters mixed together.

Another trailer was broadcast during October 2010 to advertise the show's "fire week",[43] which would feature different characters in each episode set around the events of Guy Fawkes Night, in which an arsonist would set fire to Il Gnosh.[44]


Hollyoaks being filmed on location on The Groves in Chester 16 September 1999

Despite being set in Chester the show is filmed at studios in Liverpool. The Village is a specially built set at the studios. The SU Bar was once used in Brookside as Bar Brookie, the parade from Brookside is now the skate park and location of College Coffee. Brookside Close has also been used in Hollyoaks before it was sold, Ron Dixon's home was used as the Burtons' home and Max Farnham's home was used as the Deans' home. The Hollyoaks set was also the location for the television series Grange Hill and the school set is now used as Hollyoaks High. Hollyoaks rarely film in Chester due to their mass schedule. Nearly all scenes are filmed at studios on Abbey Road, Liverpool.


Over the course of the show's history, Hollyoaks has dealt with a number of storylines based upon serious issues. Given the large and established proportion of young viewers, some feel that the soap is an ideal platform to show a variety of issues affecting young people. A telephone helpline number is often displayed after episodes that feature a particular emphasis on a story that may have affected viewers.

A 2007 episode which showed a number of the characters falling ill at a party due to carbon monoxide poisoning helped make a viewer realise that the symptoms of illness she had been feeling were caused by a potentially fatal carbon-monoxide leak in her home. By being made aware of the effects from the episode, she was able to receive medical treatment that would save her life.[45]

Storylines that the soap has dealt with include: drug addiction, murder, arson, hit and run, abortion, suicide, homelessness, financial problems, interracial relationships, racism, religion, bisexuality, homosexuality, Gender Identity Disorder, bullying, homophobia, sexual confusion, alcoholism, rape, incest, cancer, male rape, child abuse, domestic violence, 1st British soap opera to have a "non-linear" week. Commencing 14 September 2009, the special week saw storylines being played out in non-chronological order, something which has never been dealt with within the soap's history. Producer Lucy Allan stated in an interview with Digital Spy, "It was an idea pitched by Richard Burke, one of our writers, at my first long-term story conference back in February. What's great about it is that it's a really great storyline, but with the way he pitched – in making it non-linear – it was even better. It's just like if something happened to one of your mates and you try and put the pieces of the puzzle together as to what happened, you don't find all the people who tell you what happened in chronological order. You get bits here and there and piece it together. It's exactly the sort of thing Hollyoaks should be doing, challenging its audience."[46]

In late 2009, it was announced that Hollyoaks would make another soap first by screening a flashforward episode.[41] On 21 December 2009, the show's time-line moved forward six months into May 2010. The episode featured the second wedding of Calvin Valentine and Carmel McQueen. Series producer Lucy Allan stated: "We're really excited by this future episode – Hollyoaks is the only soap that can tamper with time and give our audience the opportunity to look at events that haven't yet taken place. A lot can happen in six months, so viewers should expect to be asking a lot of questions of some of their favourite characters' actions and behaviour. Ricky Whittle, who plays Calvin, added: "Calvin's completely besotted with Carmel. She's the one he's always wanted – she's always been his true love since they first started seeing each other and everyone's always wanted them to get back together."[41] In September 2010 it was revealed that Marquess had devised a storyline which would see Ste Hay embark on a homosexual relationship with Brendan Brady and that the soap was going to tackle domestic abuse within a homosexual relationship.[47]

Later in September, it was announced that Hollyoaks, teaming up with Channel 4 Education's Battlefront, would explore an underage sex storyline involving 12-year-old characters Finn O'Connor and Amber Sharpe, which would lead to Amber's pregnancy.[48][49][50] Explaining the storyline, Paul Marquess said: "Hollyoaks has long been credited for tackling difficult issues that affect young people in a sensitive and intelligent way. I am very proud that we are once again bringing to the forefront a subject for our young audience that many parents, politicians and schools struggle to address. The storyline very clearly communicates to the audience that Amber and Finn were not emotionally or physically ready to engage in any sexual activity. And make no mistake, there will be no fairytale ending for Amber; she is faced with the most difficult situation she could ever imagine."[50]

Hollyoaks was the first British television programme to tackle the issue of homosexual domestic violence, with Brendan Brady (Emmett J. Scanlan) and Ste Hay (Kieron Richardson) central to the storyline.

In November 2012, Hollyoaks aired Enjoy The Ride, in which four regular characters were killed: Rhys Ashworth (Andrew Moss), and three sixth form students, Maddie Morrison (Scarlett Bowman), Neil Cooper (Tosin Cole) and Jono (Dylan Llewellyn).

In October 2013, as part of the celebration of the soap turning 18, the show aired Hollyoaks - The Blast from October 15 until the end of the week. The storyline saw a cast massacre with five main characters being killed off through the week, and two also were killed off in the annual Hollyoaks Later. Show regular Callum Kane and newcomer Jade Hedy were killed off in Hollyoaks Later and regulars Ash Kane and Doug Carter were seen killed by the explosion while Claire Devine was ran over by Paul Browning after Mercedes McQueen pushed her in front of his car.


Hollyoaks was the only soap to be nominated in every category at the 2007 British Soap Awards. It went on to win 3 awards at the ceremony: 'Villain of The Year' for Gemma Bissix's portrayal of Clare Devine, 'Best Comedy Performance' for Gemma Merna and her portrayal of Carmel McQueen and 'Sexiest Female' for Roxanne McKee.[51][52] McKee also won the award for 'Sexiest Female' at the Inside Soap Awards 2007.[53]

Hollyoaks was named 'Broadcast of the Year' at the 2007 Stonewall Awards, held at London's Victoria and Albert Museum.[54] The award was based on John Paul McQueen (James Sutton) and Craig Dean's (Guy Burnet) gay affair storyline. Stonewall, an organisation that campaigns for equality for gay men and women, praised the show for its "sympathetic and convincing handling" of the "gritty and emotional" storyline.[54]

Hollyoaks scooped five awards at the first Digital Spy awards in March 2008.[55] James Sutton and Guy Burnet won best storyline for their gay affair storyline.[56] Roxanne McKee scooped sexiest female, Gemma Bissix won best exit and Ellis Hollins won best child actor.[56] James Sutton also won another award for most popular actor.[56]

Hollyoaks swept the board at The British Soap Awards 2008, where it won 6 awards, more than any other soap. The awards included 'Spectacular Scene of the Year' for Clare Devine driving herself and Katy Fox off a cliff, 'Best Exit' for Clare Devine, Best On-Screen Partnership for Max Cunningham and Sam "OB" O'Brien, 'Sexiest Female' for Roxanne McKee, 'Best Actor' for Chris Fountain and 'Best Actress' for Emma Rigby.[57] Although winning the most awards on the night, EastEnders, which won 4, won the major award for 'Best Soap'.

Hollyoaks won its first ever National Television Award in 2008 when Matt Littler received the award for 'Most Outstanding Serial Drama Performance' for his portrayal of Max Cunningham.[58]

In 2009, Hollyoaks was the most nominated soap in The British Soap Awards. However it did not win an award.

In January 2010, Hollyoaks was nominated for two National Television Awards. It lost to Coronation Street in the 'Most Popular Serial Drama' category, as well as the 'Most Popular Newcomer' category for Bronagh Waugh. The winner was Coronation Street's Craig Gazey.

In March 2010, Hollyoaks received its very first TRIC Awards nomination. Ricky Whittle won the 'TV Soap Personality' award. EastEnders actress Lacey Turner and Coronation Street actor Simon Gregson were also nominated for the award. It was also nominated for 'Soap of the Year'. The award finally went to EastEnders, which has won the award since 2008.

From the 36 nominations voted for by a panel, Hollyoaks received 5 nominations at The British Soap Awards 2010, making it the least nominated soap for that year. It scored nominations in the categories of 'Best Comedy Performance', 'Best Dramatic Performance', 'Best Exit', 'Best Newcomer' and 'Spectacular Scene of the Year'. However, it failed to receive any nominations in the categories of 'Best Single Episode', 'Best on Screen Partnership', 'Best Dramatic Performance From a Young Actor' and 'Best Storyline'. Emmerdale scored 9 nominations, EastEnders and Coronation Street 8, while Doctors received 6. Despite the low amount of nominations, Hollyoaks still managed to scoop an award for 'Most Spectacular Scene of the Year' for the parachute jump which featured in the second series of Hollyoaks Later and the stunt oversaw the death of long-running, popular character Sarah Barnes. Loui Batley (Sarah Barnes), Zoe Lister (Zoe Carpenter) and Lydia Kelly (Lydia Hart) collected the award.

Hollyoaks has received four BAFTA award nominations in the 'Best Soap' category. It has been nominated in 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2003. It has lost to EastEnders in both 1999 and 2002, Emmerdale in 2001 and Coronation Street in 2003.

In May 2011, "Hollyoaks" received 7 nominations at The British Soap Awards in the categories of 'Best Comedy Performance', 'Best Dramatic Performance', 'Best Young Actor or Actress', 'Best Exit', 'Best Newcomer', 'Best Onscreen Partnership' and 'Most Spectacular Scene of the Year', as well as being shortlisted in 'Sexiest Female', 'Villain of the Year', 'Best Actor', 'Best Actress' and 'Best Soap'. Hollyoaks managed to win two awards for 'Villain of the Year' and 'Best Newcomer' for twisted bad boy Brendan Brady, with the actor Emmett J Scanlan (Brendan Brady) the most nominated actor of the night.

In 2013, shortly after the nominations for the 2013 British Soap Awards were revealed, the cast acted quickly by releasing a comedy video campaigning for votes.[59] Kieron Richardson and Jorgie Porter were among those who took center stage in the video, urging viewers to "do the H" and vote Hollyoaks.[59] Hollyoaks picked up 5 awards at the British Soap Awards 2013 after Danny Mac picked up sexiest male, Claire Cooper won Best Actress, Joseph Thompson collected best newcomer and Best On-Screen partnership went to the soap's Kieron Richardson and Emmett J Scanlan . The Bus Crash meant the soap also won Spectacular scene of the year.[60]

Hollyoaks is the only British soap to have been nominated for TV Quick and Choice Awards since its first ceremony in 1997 and failing to win any awards.

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2012 Radio Times Creative Diversity Network Soap Award Best Soap Storyline[61] Episode: 1 December 2011 Pending

British Academy Television Awards

The British Academy Television Awards were launched in 1954 and are presented during an annual award show hosted by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

Year Category Nominee Result
1999 Best Soap Hollyoaks Nominated
2001 Best Soap Hollyoaks Nominated
2002 Best Soap Hollyoaks Nominated
2003 Best Soap Hollyoaks Nominated

TRIC Awards

Year Category Nominee Result
2011 TV Soap Personality Jennifer Metcalfe Nominated
2010 TV Soap Personality Ricky Whittle Won

Writers Guild of Great Britain Awards

Year Category Nominee Result
2012 Best Continuing Drama Nick Leather For episode "A Little Film About Love by Jason Costello Won


In 2001, students at Chester College objected to a storyline which they say misrepresented students in the city. Students Union president Gordon Reay said: "Students at other universities think we are a bunch of radicals and militants because that's how the students are portrayed in Hollyoaks. They assume that the college in the programme is Chester College, because Hollyoaks is set in the city."[62] In March 2009, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers identified Hollyoaks as one of a number of programmes – including Big Brother and Skins – cited by its members in a survey to be a bad influence on students, manifesting itself in behaviour such as, "answering back, storming off, swearing, aggression and sexually inappropriate behaviour."[63]

In 2007, the soap came was further criticised along with other soap operas for the amount of alcohol consumption featured on-screen.[64] The Food Commission montired that 18 percent of scenes feature consumption and warned that it was conditioning teenagers into thinking it is normal to consume so much alcohol.[65] A similar incident occurred in 1997 when the Independent Television Commission criticised the series for using an existing brand of alcohol, Caffrey’s in the soap claiming that it breached broadcasting rules and promoted the product.[66]

In October 2009, Channel 4 was criticised for broadcasting character Barry Newton's attempted suicide, which showed similarities to an incident which happened the same week in Glasgow in which two teenagers committed suicide by jumping into the River Clyde. In its defence, a Channel 4 spokesperson stated: "Any similarities are entirely coincidental and we have carefully considered how best to proceed. We feel it is appropriate to continue with the transmission of these episodes as this is not a one-off programme but an established and long-running series. The audience will be familiar with the character of Newt and this plotline, which has been both trailed and promoted, has been developing over a number of weeks. Hollyoaks has a strong track record of dealing with sensitive issues, and the transmission will be followed by a programme support announcement directing viewers to a 24-hour helpline."[67]

In late November 2009, it was announced that character Loretta Jones would be revealed to have killed a child when she was twelve-years-old. A Hollyoaks spokesperson said, "The drama is about how Loretta reacts to Chrissy's arrival back in her life and how she copes with all the memories coming back."[68] The storyline was criticised due to its similarities to real events, such as the Murder of James Bulger. The mother of James Bulger, Denise Fergus, stated her outrage of the storyline while speaking to Click Liverpool. She said: "I'm shocked and disgusted at what Hollyoaks is doing. They have clearly based this story on what happened to James and it's outrageous that they should do this without consulting with me in any way. This is the third time this year that someone has written a so-called drama that treats my son's murderers as some kind of victims and celebrities. It's wrong and I find it very hurtful that a TV company is making a horrific murder that happened only 16 years ago into the subject for a soap opera. How dare they treat James as though he is public property. It is an insult to his memory and I am particularly shocked that a programme, based in Liverpool, has gone ahead and done this knowing that it would be so controversial. Turning James's death into a topic for entertainment is just wrong." Appalled by the decision to produce the episodes, Fergus publicly called for a meeting with Hollyoaks' Liverpool-based production house Lime Pictures, so she could hear it justify its move.

Melissa Walton (Loretta Jones) and Amber Hodgkiss (Chrissy) in scenes cut from transmitted episodes (2009).

She continued: "I'm demanding an urgent meeting with the producers of Hollyoaks over this. It seems they have already recorded these episodes so they think they have got away with it. But I want to look them in the eye and hear them explain how they can justify it. I want to know how they could stoop so low as to broadcast such a horrible insult to the memory of my beautiful son. The only reason Hollyoaks is doing this is their own self-interest – to get viewers. I watch Hollyoaks, but if they go ahead and broadcast this it will be the last time I will watch it and I will ask other people to support me and boycott the show too."[69]

A spokesperson for Channel 4 added, "The forthcoming storyline is not based on any real-life case and it will in no way seek to recreate real events. The storyline focuses on the psychological repercussions for two characters in the show who were responsible for the death of a 12-year-old girl in the past."[69] Subsequently, the storyline was pulled from the show on 14 December 2009. A Lime Pictures spokesperson said: "Hollyoaks has a very good track record of tackling difficult subject matter for a younger audience and the producers take seriously their duty to deal with sensitive issues in an appropriate way. This particular storyline was not based on any real-life case and was not intended to recreate actual events. However, after conversations with Denise Fergus we have agreed to amend certain aspects of the storyline."[70]


Hollyoaks occasionally broadcasts late-night spin-off editions of the main show, usually due to them containing adult themes and controversial plots. Two video specials have also been released. In 2001, a new 16 part spin-off series was produced entitled Hollyoaks: Movin' On, this was followed by two subsequent series, Hollyoaks: Let Loose and Hollyoaks: In the City, the latter appearing as its own show rather to a spin-off. In 2008, a late night spin-off was produced by Lucy Allan named Hollyoaks Later. This first series, although being broadcast late at night, was more of a spin-off than a special. A second series was commissioned the following year and aired in September. A third series was announced in April 2010 before airing later that year. A fourth series of Hollyoaks Later aired in September 2011 and saw the return of Michaela McQueen. A fifth series of Hollyoaks Later has been announced for September 2012.

In October 2009, the "Hollyoaks Music Show" began with celebrity artists performing on the set of Hollyoaks, some of the acts the performed on the show included Cascada, The Saturdays, Olly Murs, N-Dubz, Mini Viva, Pixie Lott, Jason Derulo, Chipmunk, Tinchy Stryder, Girls Can't Catch, Paloma Faith, Taio Cruz and many others. Some of the cast members were in the audience and the show was presented by Rick Edwards. The show originally ended in December 2009 but has since been renewed for another series.



  • Hollyoaks: Coming Together (1996)
  • Hollyoaks: New Friends (1996)
  • Hollyoaks: Friends and Families (1996)
  • Hollyoaks: Can't Get the Girl (1997)
  • Hollyoaks: Luke's Secret Diary (2000)
  • Hollyoaks: Lives and Loves of Finn (2000)
  • Hollyoaks: Luke's Journal: A New Beginning (2001)
  • Hollyoaks: Stolen Emails (2002)
  • Hollyoaks: Party! Party! Party! (2002)
  • Hollyoaks: Seeing Red (2002)
  • Hollyoaks: Running Wild (2002)
  • Hollyoaks: The Official Companion (2002)
  • Hollyoaks: Playing with Fire (2006)
  • Hollyoaks: Truth or Dare (2006)
  • Hollyoaks: Fame Game (2006)
  • Hollyoaks: Guilt Trip (2006)
  • Hollyoaks: Girl Talk (2010)


Since 2001, the current cast of Hollyoaks has produced two annual calendars. One is entitled 'Hollyoaks Babes', which features the female cast, and the other 'Hollyoaks Hunks', which features the male cast. For the calendar shoot, actors and actresses usually set off to exotic holiday destinations, however in September 2009 it was revealed the 2008 Credit crisis caused the production team to have to make cuts, and therefore could no longer go abroad for the shoot.[71]


It was announced on 15 September 2008 that the soap is to launch its own 'his' and 'her' fragrance.[72] The fragrance has been available from The Perfume Shop and Superdrug from 30 September 2008 and also includes a shampoo.[72]


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External links