Channel 4 and the Hollyoaks team have compiled their top twenty best moments from the shows history. Launching on October 23rd 1995 the series has never been far from ranging from the dramatic to the ridiculous, sometimes managing it in the same scene… Here the earlier years where bombs and battered bodies were less frequent into the more well-known disaster zone its become.
Episode 1 – 23rd October 1995
On 23rd October 1995, 2.9 million homes tuned in to watch the eagerly anticipated arrival of Hollyoaks, the new teen soap drama on Channel 4. The show opened with a series of badly acted (makes Eldorado look like a Hollywood blockbuster) scenes that encapsulated the lives of the seven youngsters in Chester. It really was car-crash telly as viewers watched four teenagers scramble out of a car before it exploded in to a ball of flames – a sign of the action, drama and spectacles that would follow in the next two decades. As the episode rolled on, the audience pieced the characters and their stories together: Kurt’s kid brother Ollie was exposed as the ‘thief’ who stole his car; Jambo (Will Mellor) climbed through Kurt’s bedroom window marking his now-trademark move.
The first installment closed with Kurt’s advances towards Natasha rejected not once, but twice… he finally got the message when her Alsatian dog leapt towards him. Nick Pickard (Tony) remains the only remaining cast member from this first episode, although Jeremy Edwards (Kurt) returned in 2013 for Hollyoaks Later. Hollyoaks was originally on once a week until 1996 when this was doubled to two episodes. In 2001 the soap was being beamed into living rooms four times a week, which went up to five episodes in 2003. E4 episodes, which gave viewers a ‘first-look’ at the next night’s Ch4 edition, began in 2001.
1970s king of glam Alvin Stardust appears as the landlord of The Dog pub, Mr Anderson. Alvin, who died last year, had several chart successes in the 1970s and 80s with his best known track My Coo Ca Choo.
Ep 347, The Water Tank with Rob Hawthorne – 14th September 1999
Hollyoaks went from two to four episodes a week as a one off for the water tank special. These episodes secured the highest ratings of 1999 with a record of 2.6 million homes tuning in to discover the fate of Lucy, Tony, Ruth and Lewis after Rob Hawthorne tried to drown them at a nautical test centre. Hero Tony swam to the bottom of the tank and found a hatch, saving the gang before performing the kiss of life on Lucy on the riverbank, all to the soundtrack of Robbie Williams’ song Angels.
Ep 1675, Becca and Justin sleep together – 23rd December 2005
In one of the best-loved illicit romances on Hollyoaks, teacher Becca, trapped in her loveless marriage with Jake, embarked on an affair with Justin, a pupil in her English class. On Christmas Eve 2005 she went to Justin’s house and admitted she was jealous when she found out he had slept with Nicole Owen. This led to a passionate kiss then sex. It was the highest ever-rated Christmas storyline for the soap. Becca and Justin’s ill-fated love affair turned sour when she lost her job, fell pregnant not knowing who the father was, and was eventually jailed for having underage sex with her pupil after Justin gave false evidence against her. Becca was then stabbed to death in prison, leaving sister Nancy and son Charlie behind. Charlie is currently being raised by Nancy and estranged husband Darren. Becca and Justin’s affair won Best Storyline at the British Soap Awards in 2006.
Ep 1861, The Dog Fire – 11th September 2006
Five characters were wiped out in the fire that gutted the show’s iconic pub, The Dog in the Pond. Russ Owen’s brother, Sam, who had wrongly been linked to a previous fire which killed his girlfriend’s little brother, was responsible for the blaze. After getting involved with the wrong crowd and becoming a rapist, Sam was sentenced to prison. Desperate for forgiveness, he started writing to his sister, Nicole but when she didn’t want anything to do with him, he tried to take his own life in prison. Sam escaped from hospital and, furious to hear that his brother was dating the girl that got him sent to prison, doused The Dog in petrol.
However, when heroic Calvin Valentine smashed a glass over Sam’s head, the arsonist dropped the lighter and the pub blew up. Meanwhile, Steph Dean was upstairs desperately trying to rouse Jake from his drowsy alcoholic state… The fire killed Sam, twins Mel and Sophie Burton, Joe Spencer and Olivia Johnson. Who could forget the chilling scene when Zoe Carpenter calls Joe Spencer to check he had survived, only to hear his distinctive ring tone… coming from a body bag.
Ep 1938, Claire tries to kill Max in the woods – 27th December 2006
When Claire Devine decided to kill her husband, Max and cash in his £500,000 life insurance pay out she didn’t bank on the loyalty of his friends and baby brother to stand in her way. Claire started working for Max and his best friend, OB at The Loft and soon got in a relationship with Max. Her gold-digging became clear when she seduced wealthy business man, Sean but when OB became suspicious she decided to alienate Max from his friends and family. She later slept with bad-boy, Warren Fox which was caught on camera by OB.
Claire stole the DVD and took Max to a secluded lakeside location to recover after he had a heart attack. However, Claire’s intention was to kill Max and run off with his money. She locked his brother, Tom in the car and lied to Max that he had fallen in the lake. Max went in to rescue him but started to struggle. Claire stood and watched as Max began to drown, but she was thwarted when OB arrived and punched her in the face before saving his best friend. Gemma Bissix won Best Villain at the British Soap Awards for her portrayal of evil Claire.
Ep 2121, The reveal of John Paul and Craig’s affair – 10th September 2007
The John Paul/Craig/Sarah love triangle won Hollyoaks the Broadcast of the Year award at the 2007 Stonewall Awards. Stonewall, an organisation that campaigns for equality for gay men and women, praised the show for its “sympathetic and convincing handling” of the “gritty and emotional” storyline. The affair came to light at an impromptu engagement party thrown by Frankie for son, Craig and Sarah Barnes. Secretly, John Paul texted Sarah on Craig’s phone and told her to come upstairs while him and Craig were getting intimate.
She left the party and walked in on the two of them kissing. Completely in shock, Sarah ran downstairs and outted Craig to the party-goers, leaving John Paul to face the wrath of the Dean family and Sarah’s dad, Mike. Despite Craig denying his feelings, fans were later delighted when John Paul and Craig finally cemented their relationship and walked off into the sunset together for a new life in Dublin. John Paul returned without Craig in 2012 and has been in some of Hollyoaks’ major storylines since, specifically the rape of John Paul by his pupil, Finn O’Connor.
Ep 2330, Max’s Death / Steph and Max’s wedding – 27th June 2008
A day of romance and celebration took a tragic turn for Hollyoaks favourite Max Cunningham when he crossed evil Niall Rafferty in his bid to marry Steph Dean. Max made it down the aisle to marry his beautiful bride in pink, but the worst was still to come. Niall fell in love with Steph when he started dating her during a temporary split with Max, before she went back to her future husband. Furious that Steph and Max had successfully tied the knot, Niall sped out of the village in his car, but didn’t bet on Max’s brother, ‘little’ Tom Cunningham running into his path. Desperate Max rushed to Tom’s aid, but got hit by Niall’s car in the process. Steph and Max’s best friend, OB were heartbroken as they witnessed Max’s final moments. Niall turned out to be the abandoned eldest child of Myra McQueen. He carried out his revenge by kidnapping his estranged family and blowing up the church where he was holding them hostage.
Hannah’s eating disorder – 2006 – 2008
Hollyoaks became the first British soap to show the tragic consequences of anorexia when it aired Hannah Ashworth’s heart breaking story between 2006 and 2008. Hannah Ashworth, one of the show’s most vivacious characters, formed a friendship with model, Melissa who she meets when she accompanied pal, Sarah Barnes to a modelling job. Always left in Sarah’s shadow, Hannah was grateful when Melissa paid her attention but Melissa was actually controlling and manipulating vulnerable Hannah. Melissa, who had anorexia, encouraged Hannah to lose weight and the girls developed an obsession with avoiding food while keeping friends and family in the dark.
In the process Hannah metamorphosed into a withdrawn, deceitful girl who flew into sudden rages with her friends. Their weight-obsession ended in tragedy when Melissa died of a heart attack in Hannah’s arms. Emma Rigby won Best Actress at the British Soap Awards for her portrayal of Hannah’s anorexia battle.
Ep 2410, McQueen’s church explosion – 17th October 2008
In a twist that was to prove tragic for the McQueen family, newcomer Niall Rafferty was revealed as the eldest son of Myra, who she had left as a baby on the church steps when she was 14 years old. Niall decided to get revenge on his family, who he thought had heartlessly abandoned him all those years ago. From injecting Michaela McQueen with Heroin, to killing John Paul’s priest boyfriend and making it look like suicide, Niall was intent on destroying his family one by one. In his final act of revenge, Niall kidnapped each member of the McQueen family and held them hostage in the church where Myra had left him as a new born. Niall demanded that Myra answer six questions, and for each question she got right another of her children was allowed to live.
However, Myra got two questions wrong and was forced to choose which of her children had to die. Jacqui was left heartbroken when Myra chose her and a rift inevitably built between mother and daughter. Niall panicked when Jack, Darren and Dom turned up to rescue the McQueens, and detonated the explosives. Caught under the rubble, Myra told Niall that she would have welcomed him if he’d revealed his true identity. Guilty, Niall tried to save his mother but more rubble falls. The McQueens are heartbroken when Tina dies from her injuries. They think Niall has also perished but viewers knew this wasn’t the case when they saw his reflection in the ambulance window. Aware that Niall was still out there, the McQueens tried to get on with their lives. Niall later threw himself off a cliff after terrorising Steph’s life and realising how much pain he’d caused.
Ep 2825, Calvin’s death – 21st May 2010
In an innovative move, Hollyoaks treated viewers to a flash forward episode five months before it was due to air, which showed the murder of Calvin Valentine on his wedding day to Carmel McQueen. Fans were left wondering who would want to kill good-guy cop Calvin and why everyone seemed to have turned against him. As the months passed, it was revealed that Calvin had not only been having an affair with Mercedes behind her husband, Malachy and sister, Carmel’s backs, but he’d also slept with Theresa McQueen, got her pregnant and was refusing to stand by her. As the wedding day approached, Mercedes was falling for Calvin but had been rejected in favour of Carmel, and Malachy had found out about his wife’s infidelity. Meanwhile, Calvin’s sisters, Sasha and Lauren had discovered that he had been partly responsible for the death of Sasha’s boyfriend, Warren – the amount of people who had motive to kill Calvin was building.
An oblivious Carmel was on Cloud 9 as she took to the dance floor with her new husband, but her heart broke when Calvin was shot during their first dance. The final list of suspects included Mercedes, Michaela and Jacqui McQueen, Jake Dean, Rhys Ashworth, Sasha and Lauren Valentine among others, but the actual murderer was revealed to be Theresa McQueen. The McQueens stood by Theresa when they found out and despite her spending some time in prison, the relationship between her and Carmel never fully recovered, right up until the day Carmel died in the train crash in 2014.
Hollyoaks airs weeknights on Channel 4 at 6.30pm