A Hollyoaks superfan got the surprise of her life when her fiance arranged for them to get married on the set of her favourite soap.
Claire Trotter, 34, has been an avid fan of the Chester-based show ever since it first began 22 years ago - around the time she met her future groom Nick Arkell at Upton High School.
So Nick, 35, knew that organising a surprise wedding on set would be the best present he could give her - and also provide them a welcome break from planning their real nuptials at Chester Town Hall the next day.
Nick, a travel news broadcaster on Chester’s Dee 106.3, got in touch with the soap through a friend who used to produce it and wrote a ‘long, carefully-worded and polite email’, after which they agreed to make Claire’s dream come true.
“We joked about getting married a few years ago and I asked where she’d like to do it,” he told The Chronicle. “She said ‘The Dog In The Pond’ which is the Hollyoaks local pub! With Hollyoaks, I play more of a supportive role in our household as the ‘closet fan’ when she watches each episode religiously, sometimes more than once.”
Claire, who is such a dedicated Hollyoaks fan that she’s even been an extra on the show in the past, had no idea Nick was taking her to the Liverpool set until minutes before they arrived last Friday - or that he had secretly packed a wedding suit into his car.
When they arrived, Claire was fitted into a wedding dress and had her hair and makeup done - while Nick memorised his lines alongside cast members Rory Douglas Speed (Joel) as the priest, Jessica Ellis (Tegan) as maid of honour, Jimmy McKenna (Jack) as ‘father of the bride’ and Luke Jerdy (Jesse) playing the best man.
“We filmed the fictional wedding with a group of cast members, some of whom were more nervous than I was about the whole thing,” said Nick. “They just wanted to give Claire the best experience possible.
“The Hollyoaks team provided our vows and in between filming the wedding and doing the live Facebook show, we had a tour around the whole set and saw all of the places characters live and work in the programme - everyone was very accommodating and wanted to give Claire the experience of a lifetime.”
As for the pair’s real wedding - Hollyoaks still played a big part of the day, as the soap’s longest serving actor Nick Pickard, who plays Tony, paid a special visit and even partied with the guests until the early hours.
Nick had also arranged for 90s band Baby D to perform, and Gordon Ramsay lookalike Martin Jordan to make an appearance at the wedding breakfast, who managed to successfully fool most of the guests into thinking he was the real thing.
“We made quite an entrance into the city centre on Saturday,” added Nick. “I managed to organise a convoy of vehicles including my own two cars, a few other classic sports cars and Claire’s wedding car sandwiched in the middle - a Shelby GT500 ‘Eleanor’, the car that featured in her favourite film, Gone In 60 Seconds.
“With the A Team van bringing everybody else in we caused quite the stir! We are so grateful to our family and friends who helped us organise everything, including my sister Juliet who made our wedding cake and designed ties for the groomsmen inspired by my late dad’s moustache!
“One of my favourite moments at the party later on was looking around while dancing on stage with Baby D. I could see ‘Tony’ from Hollyoaks throwing shapes on the light-up dancefloor and ‘Gordon Ramsay ’ waving a LED rave stick to my right. It was completely surreal and this past week has been the craziest of our lives.”