‘Real life but better looking’: ultimate teen soap Hollyoaks turns 25

A car breaks down and explodes, a shirtless teen ejects a floppy disk, the police give chase to a man on a motorbike and there is a fight over an empty milk bottle. All of this happens, wordlessly, in the first five minutes of the opening episode of Hollyoaks, broadcast on 23 October 1995.

Set in a fictional suburb of Chester populated by impossibly tanned and good-looking twentysomethings, the surreal and slightly camp first appearance on British TV screens of Channel 4’s youth-oriented series didn’t augur well. “Hollyoaks isn’t so much our first teen soap as a salute to British dentistry,” wrote the Guardian’s Stuart Jeffries in a review that described the show as “inept”. Yet, remarkably, this week it celebrates its 25th anniversary. In its quarter-century, it has managed to carve out a new form of British soap: aimed specifically at young people and addressing everything from drug overdoses to rape, radicalisation and domestic abuse, all at the teatime hour of 6.30pm.

Read the feature in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 21/10/20]