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Hollyoaks plans documentary series showing real-life impact of big storylines

·3-min read

Note: The following article contains discussion of themes including suicide and other sensitive topics that some readers may find upsetting.

Hollyoaks has long blazed the trail for tackling difficult and important issues in its storylines.

Now, the real-life impact of some of the soap's most famous plots is set to be explored in new Channel 4 series Hollyoaks: IRL.

The series of short films will feature both Hollyoaks viewers whose lives have been changed by the soap, as well as individuals whose experiences have helped shape some of the show's most important storylines.

Photo credit: Lime Pictures
Photo credit: Lime Pictures

The five short films will look at individuals' experiences of issues including depression and suicide, county lines child exploitation, disability, eating disorders and conversion therapy, all of which have featured in recent Hollyoaks storylines.

Each episode will premiere with a sneak preview on Snapchat Discover on Tuesdays, followed by full episodes available across Channel 4 socials each Wednesday.

The series is launching during Men's Mental Health Week, beginning today (June 15) with the story of John Junior, whose life was saved after watching Darren Osborne's male mental health and suicide storyline.

Photo credit: Lime Pictures
Photo credit: Lime Pictures

In the episode, actor Ashley Taylor Dawson (Darren Osborne) will meet John Junior, who had planned to take his own life but stopped after watching Hollyoaks and seeing the devastating impact of Kyle Kelly's suicide on his best friend Darren and his fiancée Nancy.

Other episodes include Josh Connolly talking to actor Billy Price (who plays Sid Sumner) about his escape from county lines drug dealers and how it turned his life around and cemented his future as a mental health campaigner.

Monique Jarrett talks through the shared experience of being an artiste with a disability and the importance of positive representation of disability in TV and film, with Hollyoaks actress Rhiannon Clements (Summer Ranger).

Photo credit: Lime Pictures
Photo credit: Lime Pictures

Ben Robinson shares with Nadine Mulkerrins (Cleo McQueen) his experiences of having an eating disorder, a storyline also portrayed by Nadine's character in the soap.

And Justin Beck opens up to Ross Adams (Scott Drinkwell) about his own experience of gay conversion therapy and the steps he took to recover from the trauma.

Lucy Allan, Hollyoaks executive producer, said: "Hollyoaks storylines are borne out of a range of diverse places. We scrutinise research from charities about the new issues that our youthful audience may be experiencing, or could be in the near future and the personal stories that our writers bring to the table. Issues that are affecting their lives, or those of loved ones, friends and neighbours.

Photo credit: Lime Pictures
Photo credit: Lime Pictures

"Some of these films follow how people's lives have been changed by what they have watched on Hollyoaks and other contributors' stories have played out on screen, following the moving testimonials they have shared with us.

"Either way, there is a real-life connection to our fictional world of Hollyoaks. We hope that by hearing these stories people can connect – and if needed find help and support in these often-isolating times."

We would encourage anyone who identifies with the topics raised in this article to reach out. Organisations who can offer support include Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org) or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). Readers in the US are encouraged to visit mentalhealth.gov or the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

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