Compared to Britain’s “Big Three,” Hollyoaks – the story of sin-prone villagers living in the eponymous Chester suburb – is still a relative babe. But while some merely scoff at the program, others heap copious amount of praise upon it so it’s probably safe to assume that the serial, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year, will be around for decades to come.
Master and Creator of Hollyoaks
Hollyoaks was the brainchild of prolific scribe Phil Redmond, who already had two top-tier sudsers under his belt – Brookside and Grange Hill. It was the latter program – the story of a comprehensive school and students therein – that first inspired the author.
For years, viewers had written him asking about the lives of the students after their accession to higher learning or what a series following persons in their late teens and early 20s would look like.
When Redmond heard that Channel 4 – the network that carried Brookside – was accepting pitches for a series that would be aimed at a teenage audience, he set about creating his next masterpiece.
The bible that Redmond submitted – The Teenage Soap – was enthusiastically purchased by Channel 4. For a time, that early title stuck, though “Today Not Tomorrow” was also suggested.
Premiere Date: Monday, 23 October, 1995
A vehicle accelerates down a country lane, then suddenly begins to smoke. The car’s occupants quickly ditch it and make a run for a nearby field, narrowly avoiding the resultant explosion.
Kurt Benson shouts an enthusiastic, “YES!,” over the perfect forgery he has just printed out. He collects the fruit of his labor and hops on his motorbike, which he uses to try and chase down a bus transporting Natasha Anderson – the object of his affection – and outrun a perusing police cruiser.
He eventually catches up with his mate, Tony Hutchinson, and shows him the fake invitation that will allow them entry into Louise Taylor’s birthday party. They are later joined by Kurt’s brother, Ollie and his gal-pal Julie Matthews. They reveal that they “borrowed” Kurt’s car, it subsequently blew up, and their friend Sarah was hospitalized for smoke inhalation.
Kurt accompanies Owen to the hospital where they learn that Julie is Natasha’s sister and Natasha is less than pleased with either Benson boy. Later, at Louise’s party, Kurt redeems himself by punching the birthday girl’s cheating boyfriend in the face.
Natasha allows Kurt to take her home – she lives above The Dog in the Pond public house where her father is the licensee – and the two engage in some light flirting.
At the door, Natasha stops Kurt from kissing her, then retires. Kurt leaves, then he decides to double back but before he can raise his hand to knock, Mr. Anderson opens the door (in preparation to take the family dog out for a walk). When the pooch spots stranger Kurt, he lunches for him, teeth bared, ready to attack!
Unlike its fellow serials, Hollyoaks was initially seen only once a week. It now airs five episodes every Monday through Friday at 6:30 pm.
The one constant about the ever-evolving Hollyoaks is its commitment to covering a whole host of taboo subjects and socially relevant issues. Abortion, bullying, suicide, human trafficking, euthanasia, and purposeful incest are just a mere sampling of the many topics the show has explored.
It became the first British soap opera to portray male rape (twice), have a character die as a result of an eating disorder, host a homosexual wedding, explore domestic violence in a sex-same relationship, and have a gay character living with HIV.
There have been 175 deaths (134 on-screen and 36 off), 34 births, and 60 weddings. The first dispatch, hatch, and match respectively, were Natasha Anderson, Holly Cunningham (daughter of Lee Stanley and Cindy Cunningham), and Terry Williams and Angela Cunningham.
According to a report published in 2014, Hollyoaks has the highest murder rate out of all the currently airing UK soaps. In fact, it is 6.5 times more dangerous than Los Cabos, Mexico, the murder capital of the world.
Nick Pickard is the program’s longest-serving actor as he and the character he portrays, Tony Hutchinson, have remained since the first episode.
A 2007 storyline that saw a number of characters suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning resulted in a viewer realizing that her symptoms matched the ones being exhibited on screen and, as a result, discovered that her home had been filling with the potential deadly fumes for days.
It is the first sudser to have messed around with the space-time continuum. In 2009, a series of non-linear episodes were aired wherein an explosion ripped through The Dog in the Pond. One year later, an episode flashed six months into the future and then reversed to reveal the circumstances leading to the future event.
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