Hollyoaks first came to the screen on the 23rd October 2005 on Channel 4 and is set around the fictional Chester suburb of Hollyoaks. The show is based around Hollyoaks Community College, with the majority of the characters being in the late teens and early twenties age range. It started being shown just once a week and increased over the years, it is now on every week day with an omnibus edition every Sunday.
Hollyoaks was created by Phil Redmond, who was also behind Grange Hill and Brookside. He nearly withdrew it from Channel 4 after they cancelled Brookside but eventually left it there. It has won several awards over the years, including Spectacular Scene of the Year, Villain of the Year, Best Exit and Best On Screen Partnership.
The show started with 7 major characters though now has approximately 50 cast members. It does concentrate more on younger actors and actresses although there are also families such as the McQueens, Cunninghams and Ashworths. The show had a revamp in 2010 when families such as the Costellos, O’Connors and Sharpes were introduced. Although with a predominately younger cast there have been some great older characters such as Jack Osborne, Gordon Cunningham, Myra McQueen and Frankie Osborne.
Hollyoaks has produced many hard hitting episodes covering a variety of serious issues, especially ones faced by it’s mainly younger audience such as underage sex, teenage pregnancy, drug and alcohol addiction, sexual harassment, shoplifting and bullying. There have also been more general story lines such as carbon monoxide poisoning, murder, arson and miscarriages. After many such episodes there is a telephone helpline number displayed, pointing viewers in the direction of relevant support agencies. They have also experimented with a ‘non-linear’ week, where everything was jumbled up, and a flashforward episode. It is a lot more cutting edge than most soaps and is willing to tackle subjects that other soaps skirt more around.