Channel 4 have rummaged around their soap opera files to bring some fascinating facts on two decades of Chester based serial Hollyoaks. Worringly for some next year the show will overtake Brookside’s twenty-one years on air to become the network’s longest serving saga.
1. The start of something teenage
The soap is set in the fictional borough of Hollyoaks in Chester and was first broadcast on October 23, 1995. It started with just seven characters and now has almost 50. On its birthday it will have aired 4,240 episodes.
2. Throughout the years, there have been many firsts…
Hollyoaks is the only soap to tackle male rape (twice) – In 2000, Gary Lucy’s character Luke Morgan became involved in a male rape storyline and John Paul McQueen, played by James Sutton, who saw his attacker put behind bars in 2014. Hollyoaks was the first soap to have a gay wedding. The happy couple John Paul and Ste Hay wed on Christmas Day in 2014. In 2015, Ste Hay, played by Kieron Richardson, became the first gay character on a soap to be HIV positive.
3. Famous faces
Over the years, the village has seen many famous faces come and go including cameos from the likes of James Corden, Girls Aloud, McFly, The Saturdays, Scott Mills and Nick Grimshaw, Retch 32, Lethal Bizzle The Vamps, Paul McKenna, Boy George, Cat Deeley, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Ben Foden and Eammon Holmes.
4. Make-up secrets, who takes the longest in the chair?
At Hollyoaks, there are twelve make-up artists and assistants and eighteen chairs. All the girls tend to take about forty-five minutes in the chair but from the male cast it’s the Roscoe boys who take the longest. Ziggy Roscoe, played by Fabrizio Santino has the longest make-up time – but it’s actually to wash and style his perfectly coiffed hair.
Some actors have tattoos in real life that have to be covered up for many reasons, for example, if they are not suitable for the character or the tattoo being personal such as date of birth or a member’s family name. It is harder to cover up tattoos than apply them as the concealer needs to match each individual artiste’s colouring. In real life, Jeremy Sheffield and Charlie Wernham have tattoos that are covered up when they are on screen to play Patrick Blake and Robbie Roscoe.
5. Tan, eyelashes and cans upon cans of hairspray!
Apart from tissues, wet wipes and hairspray, which the show goes through loads of, the other item is eyelashes. We use approximately 25-30 pairs in a week (depending which characters are scheduled in). Ross, who plays Scott Drinkwell, has an extra deep spray tan every week for his character. When a cast member is planning to go on holiday, they are gradually given a tan before they go, using fake tan, so that when they come back to film the continuity change is not as obvious.
The sweets in Price Slice are REAL… but the wine is not. The show uses Kaliber in The Dog and The Loft, which is a non-alcoholic beer and either non-alcoholic wine/champagne or grape juice. All the cakes in Esther’s Magic Bean are fake but when we do a scene where someone buys one, we buy in fresh; they’re always very popular on set. The coffee machine is real and most of the sets are fully functioning with running water. One of our newest sets, The Hutch has a fully functioning restaurant kitchen.
There are live 12 fish in the tank in Trevor’s flat. These are fed and cared for by a member of the design team every day. In certain seasons frogs and ducks live on the ‘canal’ next to the Tug Boat bar and grill. An Iguana is set to join the pet cast, who will have a handler with him during filming. There is also a cat that lives on the Hollyoaks set named Elvis, who does appear in the show.
The soap’s most expensive set was the hospital set. For the hospital ward and the police station, the production company, Lime Pictures, have researchers and medical advisers to check the scenery to make sure it is realistic and as up to date as possible. If we ever need to do a scene in an office, we just use the offices at the TV company. This year new sets have been added including the City Wall which runs along the precincts of the village and offers views to North Wales. A hot tub was also added!
7. Costumes for characters
If the show needs uniforms for emergency services such as police officers, the costume department research the modern-day uniform and hire them from companies who work in the TV industry. There is an agency for ex-police and armed forces staff who now work as supporting actors.
When a new character is due to start the head of wardrobe has a meeting with the executive producer and discusses the character’s background, interests, how much money they earn. A mood board will then be created. The head of costume will go on a shopping day with the new artiste to buy their character’s clothes. The actor has a lot of input because they need to feel comfortable with what their wearing, but they’ll also know a lot about their character before they start.
8. The most expensive wardrobe
Mercedes McQueen owns around twenty body-con dresses and Ste has about eight tracksuits. Out of the girls, Mercedes also has the biggest clothes collection whereas Freddie Roscoe has the most out of the boys. The characters with the most expensive clothes are the ones who earn a lot of money such as Grace and Patrick. However, probably one of the most expensive items is Freddie’s leather jacket, which is from All Saints and cost between £400 and £500.
9. The name of the game
Ziggy Roscoe’s real name is David. He gained the nickname Ziggy after Ziggy Stardust who is the alter-ego of 80’s legend David Bowie. In fact, all the Roscoe brothers are named after iconic singers: Freddie Mercury, Robbie Williams, Jason Orange (Take That) and Joe Cocker. Leela Lomax, Tegan Lomax, Peri Lomax, and baby Rose (Tegan’s daughter) are all named after Doctor Who assistants and Sienna Blake is named Siena, a city in Italy’s central Tuscany, according to Patrick Blake.
10. Dangerous location…
In 2014, there were a total of nine deaths. The year before, the death count reached eleven. The main disasters have been: The Dog Fire (2006), The Il Gnosh fire (2010), The Bus Crash (2012), The Council Flat Bomb (2013) and of course, The Train Crash (2014).
While the top three most sinister serial killers are Toby Mills was responsible for nine deaths, the Gloved Hand for seven deaths and Silas was responsible for four.