There are a few consistent things in the world of soap – Ken Barlow will never leave Coronation Street and the residents of EastEnders can never do without a launderette for example. But the main one, in our eyes, is that the absolutely wonderful, diverse and entertaining Hollyoaks does not get anywhere near enough recognition for what it expertly pulls off.
Last night, the soap was crowned Best Serial Drama at the Broadcast Awards, a ceremony presided over by industry experts. Beating off competition from shows with higher audiences and budgets, it was a well deserved and long overdue victory for Hollyoaks – and I hope that it is the start of a trend that sees it getting the praise it warrants.
Year after year, Hollyoaks achieves things that would make many long running dramas fizzle with envy. It’s current, fresh and experimental in a way that the audiences of its rivals may not allow and it certainly makes use of it.
It embraces diversity more than any other soap, with representation from different cultures, the LGBTQ+ community and actors and characters with disabilites. For a timeslot that brings with it its own challenges on what can be conveyed, it raises some phenomenally important issues – and does them justice.
Scott’s depression, the teenage self harm storyline, Cleo’s abuse at the hands of Pete, the highly praised consent storyline, homelessness, male rape and bulimia are all difficult to talk about topics that Hollyoaks have thrown their all into portraying recently.
They don’t just whack out scripts and hope for the best. The intricate research and preparation from the cast, writers and crew is exhausting even to listen to – this is a show that takes its responsibilities and its platform seriously.
And it reflects and engages well with its passionate and loyal audience. Hollyoaks is able to speak to young people through moving and exciting drama and in turn, it manages to help many with their real life situations.
But Hollyoaks is about more than raising issues – it’s a soap opera too and the most bonkers one we know. That is no insult. What other soap could combine an important issue like depression with madcap comedy from Myra McQueen, the acerbic one liners from the glorious Marnie Nightingale, an array of action packed stunts and head-scratchingly complex (and let’s face it, unrealistic) plotlines involving all sorts of kidnaps, faked deaths and schemes?
Hollyoaks has got a unique recipe. It’s not just a teen soap – it has a cast across all ages who are all utilised. Young people react just as well to the teens like Alfie, Tom and Lily as they do to much loved headteacher Sally St Claire.
When you tune into a week in Hollyoaks, you know you can expect a number of things. You will laugh at some outrageous antics, you will be gripped by storylines that you just have to buy into without question, you will gasp at the twists often held back from being spoiled and you will be moved by genuine and raw drama that is every bit as good as any other soap or indeed later night dramas.
Hollyoaks takes its role in the schedules and in the lives of its viewers seriously – and we all need to take it seriously too. It’s a one of a kind, gem of a television show and it deserves every accolade it gets and more.
The team work exceptionally hard to bring diverse storylines and characters to life five days a week and it moves at a much faster pace than any other soap – and yet it comes across pretty effortlessly.
A gong is the least they deserve to remind us all that Hollyoaks is simply bloody good television, no matter what you look for in a soap.