1 9 9 5 – Current (UK)
Set in Chester (though filmed in Liverpool), this soap opera from Phil Redmond, designed specifically for a teenage audience, was surprisingly free of social conscience and angst, given his track record with Grange Hill and Brookside.
With its ‘Britpack’ cast of hunks and hunkettes, and a Ray-Ban perspective on the life of British 17 and 18-year-olds (all puppy love and consumer goods worship), the show was quickly dubbed ‘Chester 90210’.
But Redmond was unable to let old habits die completely, and a prominent early storyline saw Natasha die of a drug overdose.
The characters – mainly students and young business owners – instead of mundanely struggling to put food on the table, were ducking and weaving to escape stalkers and serial killers.
Originally a weekly series with a Sunday omnibus, Hollyoaks went twice weekly in September 1996. The show was shot on video but with the tapes manipulated in post-production to give the series the quality look of film.
In an inexplicable piece of casting, aged rock star Alvin Stardust played Natasha’s ill-fated father and landlord of the Dog & Duck public house.
Sam ‘OB’ O’Brien