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20 Hollyoaks facts you may not know

Hollyoaks turns 20 so here's 20 facts about the Chester-based soap

Jennifer Metcalfe with The Saturdays at the Hollyoaks Music Show(Image: Channel 4)

Calling all Hollyoaks fans! Thought you knew all there was to know about your favourite soap?

To celebrate the show turning 20, here’s some fun facts about the Chester-based series that you may be unaware of.

So here’s everything you could wish to know about Hollyoaks’ cast tattoos, fake cakes and real sweets, and serial killers.

1. It's Happy Birthday Hollyoaks!

(Image: Lime Pictures)

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. 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. Spot the star!

Jennifer Metcalfe with The Saturdays at the Hollyoaks Music Show(Image: Channel 4)

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 12 make-up artists and assistants and 18 chairs. All the girls tend to take about 45 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.

5. Which Hollyoaks injury was the most difficult to create?

Carmel McQueen’s sun lamp burn was the most difficult to achieve. It took two to three hours to put on Gemma Merna in the chair but prior to that, a cast had to be made along with the prosthetics which took weeks.

Esther has a scar on her stomach from a liver transplant as does Nico from her kidney op. Grace was shot in the stomach and has a bullet wound visible when she is undressed.

6. And then there are the tattoos…

Some characters have tattoos added and some cast have their own tattoos covered up on screen. Gangster Trevor’s six fake tattoos relate to his personality, religion and his interest in wildlife, hence the scorpion tattoo on the neck and the large eagle catching a fish design on his back. They are applied using an air brush and stencil method taking roughly 20 minutes. Leela Lomax, Freddie Roscoe and Maxine Minniver’s tattoos are real and are allowed to be seen on screen. Jessica Fox’s character Nancy Osborne used to have a fake tattoo which was removed ‘by lasers’ as part of a storyline.

Some actors have tattoos in real life that have to be covered up for many reasons, like 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 actor'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.

7. Tan, eyelashes and cans upon cans of hairspray!

Apart from tissues, wet wipes and hairspray, which they go through loads of, the other item is eyelashes. Hollyoaks 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.

8. How big is Grace’s big hair really?

(Image: Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror)

Grace’s hair is a character itself! It takes two hours to wash, dress and curl her hair piece and forty minutes to style it on Tamara Wall. On average, they change about six to 10 cast members hair to suit their character - this could be cutting or dying the actor’s hair. Actors have to get special permission to change their appearance in any way because of continuity as soaps scenes are filmed out of sequence.

9. The sweets in Price Slice are REAL

...But the wine is not. They use Kaliber in The Dog and The Loft, which is a non-alcoholic beer and either non-alcoholic wine or champagne or grape juice. All the cakes in Esther’s Magic Bean are fake but when they do a scene where someone buys one, they buy in fresh. 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.

10. Who looks after the fish in Trevor’s flat?

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.

11. Set secrets

(Image: Andrew Teebay)

The most expensive set was the hospital set. For the hospital ward and the police station, researchers and medical advisors check the set to make sure it is realistic and as up to date as possible. If there's ever a scene in an office they use the offices at Lime Pictures. 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.

12. The same goes for uniforms…

If they need uniforms for emergency services such as police officers, they 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. Medical advisors will be used to add authenticity to hospital scenes and check that the scenes reflect real life.

13. How much say do the actors have over what the character wears?

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 and how much money they earn. A mood board will then be created. The head of costume will go on a shopping day with the actor to buy their character’s clothes. They get 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.

(Image: Andrew Teebay)

14. Who has the most expensive wardrobe?

Mercedes McQueen owns around 20 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.

15. Which character is the most fun to dress?

Tegan Lomax is the most fun character to dress as her style is very alternative, bright and fun. She wears a lot of things that clash but that goes with her fun character. From the past, another favourite to dress was Tina McQueen as her style was also unique and obscure.

16. How are the character names chosen?

(Image: Lime Pictures)

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 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.

17. What about the baby bumps?

The same baby bump is not used each time a character is pregnant as it depends on the size of the actress and also how far along the pregnancy of their character is, for example, Cindy and Sienna didn’t have the same bump. There are 14 different baby bumps.

18. Hollyoaks is a dangerous place to live

In 2014, there were a total of nine deaths. The year before, the death count reached 11.

19. The top 5 most dramatic disasters are…

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).

20. The top three most sinister serial killers are...

Toby Mills, who was responsible for nine deaths; the Gloved Hand for seven deaths and Silas was responsible for four.

  • Hollyoaks kicks off its unmissable anniversary week on Monday, October 19 on Channel 4.

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