When I think about the things that TV gets right, I think about British Soap of the Year 2014 Hollyoaks. I'm not sure if my international readers have had the pleasure of watching Hollyoaks yet, but I've said for many years that this soap never receives the recognition it deserves, ever since a group of Hollyoaks hunks went pot holing and their van went over a cliff. It's the details that the writers and cast of Hollyoaks go to that really make you stop and think and the lack of recognition is very possibly because its aimed at the younger generation and deals with issues teens and young adults face every day.
Centered around the student orientated Hollyoaks village near Chester it has a mixture of characters and story lines and there are the usual soap dramas who's sleeping with who? Who's the daddy? Which bad guy is gonna get one up on the other bad guy? there's often a serial killer storyline and also, the classic and comedic underdog stories. They have the right balance of drama, comedy, romance and entertainment and although I'm far from the typical soap addict, I mean which writer has the time to religiously watch a soap five nights a week, I still keep up.
But Hollyoaks has brought to our attention some pretty scary real life issues. It's dealt with abusive relationships both gay and heterosexual, drug addictions, death - lots of deaths - and also illness. Longest serving female character Stephanie Dean, at around twenty-six, suffered with terminal cervical cancer and yes, she did die. But not the way you might think. She saved the lives of a young mother and her two babies from a fire and never made it out herself.
There's also mental illness following the epic Sienna Blake storyline who playing the psycho nanny turned Darren and the rest of the Osborne family against his wife Nancy and she ended up in a mental health ward while Sienna "helped" with their three kids, eventually leading to Nancy and Darren's divorce and Sienna's fake pregnancy and her engagement to Darren. And currently, Cindy Cunningham is slowly losing herself to bi-polar following the traumatic and pre mature birth of her very sick son.
It's tackled the unmissable account of Hannah Ashworth's battle with anorexia, an early storyline included self harming and Lisa Hunter's friends thought she was being abused by her father, as well as racial bullying which eventually lead to Asian school girl Anita Roy attempting to bleach her with domestic house bleach, and social media safety when India Longford fell for twenty something guy online, whom she arranged to meet, and was never seen alive again. Her killer, a creepy granddad then went on to terrorise the girls of Hollyoaks village for the next ten months, before he killed his own daughter by mistake and set his sights on a heavily pregnant Mercedes McQueen, abducting her and holding her hostage on her wedding day.
Currently, two of their most poignant story lines at the moment are the rape of teacher John Paul McQueen by school student Finn O'Conner and a domestic violence storyline which is running along side a national awareness campaign here in the UK and like every difficult story tackled by Hollyoaks these have been given the dignity and the respect they deserve.
Maxine Minniver (above), who began life in Hollyoaks like most female cast members - gorgeous enough to be a lad's mag pin up - started dating the evil headmaster Patrick Blake and over time Maxine went from a typical young woman dressed age appropriately, to Patrick's conservatively dressed fiancée. This particular storyline has been going for at least twelve months with the change happening gradually until it was hard not to notice the abuse. I remember Maxine dressing as a Christmas elf a Patrick throwing almighty fit, telling her she'd embarrassed him and she couldn't dress like that because he was now the laughing stock of the school, no big deal right? Hollyoaks has shown with this storyline that you couldn't be more wrong.
The great thing, and possibly one of the worst things, about Hollyoaks is that no one is safe in Hollyoaks village, every member of the cast, loved or loathed, are at risk of meeting the grim reaper, weddings are particularly dangerous especially for the bride or groom. Louise, Texas, Max, Doug, and good cop gone bad Calvin, all died on their wedding day and, as I said, Mercedes was abducted and locked in a basement for days, she even went into labour down there, but was rescued just in time by her fiance. Just when you think someone has their happy ever after BANG!
And on that note I leave you with the graceful bow out of Max Cunningham, who was also the longest service male cast member at the time. Kleenex at the ready.
Don't forget to join Deb Nam-Krane tomorrow! (25th August 2014)
Posts You May Have Missed