Hollyoaks has consistently been known across the pond as the little soap opera that could. Beginning as a cable soap opera based on and for teens, it got a childish rep in favor of the more high brow drama its network counterparts. But after regime changes and narrative adjustments, the show has finally become a true soap opera encompassing characters of all ages and backgrounds. Outside of tackling tough relevant issues, the show has also become known for its big stunts.
While the other UK soap operas have always done their fair share of stunts, there’s no doubt that Hollyoaks has upped the ante for all of them. Here are five reasons why Hollyoaks is current reigning king (or queen) of soap opera stunts!
5. Burning Love
Who would have thought a student-teacher love story would lead to an entire school exploding? Only on Hollyoaks, right! Hunter McQueen had fallen hard for his teacher, Neeta Kaur and for months back in 2017, the two of them would sneak around professing their love for one another under the nose of her evil fiance, Mac Nightingale. To say the very least, it wasn’t fun to watch at all because of this heightened level of sappiness between the two star-crossed lovers.
But that climax though?
Once the secret was out to the entire village, Neeta found herself facing jail time for hitting the sack with a minor. But did it hold her back? Never! Hunter was passionate, kind and honest while Mac simply wanted to control Neeta’s every move and when that was no longer possible he snapped. After cornering the defamed teacher in the school’s boiler room, Neeta professed her love for the teen McQueen by showing off the portrait he’d drawn of them. No one had a clue that in a fit of rage, Mac had broken a piece of the school’s boiler that was no leaking gas into the air and when he took the portrait to burn it… well, things fell to pieces.
The beloved set was literally blown to bits with gaping holes in floors, falling walls and pillars too. Outside of the love triangle, many other characters like Tom Cunningham, Peri Lomax, Alfie Nightingale, Yasmin Maalik were all in the line of actual fire due to Mac’s reckless behavior. Ultimately at the school, only Neeta lost her life in a poignantly tragic moment of her sticking by her heart and professing her love to Hunter even when Mac was the one keeping her from crashing into debris below. Ever the selfish devil, Mac simply let her fall. In a tragic twist of fate, while trapped under rubble at the school, Jack Osborn left a parting message for his wife Frankie Osborn who in turn sent her love back — only for Frankie to die from a stroke after seeing news of the explosion on TV.
A fun note was that after this explosion, a year long re-construction plot ran on the show in an oddly realistic answer to such a stylized story. No magic fixes or secret benefactors to help speed up repairs, it all took time and energy from the villagers to rebuild a centerpiece of the village. I loved that aspect!
4. Ferris Wheel Fright
This stunt is hard to talk about without tearing up…
Celebrating the spooky season, Hollyoaks village turned into a full on festival with rides, a wooden maze and other festivities. No one expected serial killer Cameron Campbell to light said maze ablaze in an act of revenge against Nico Blake. Nico had tried to kill her best friend and Cameron’s daughter, Peri Lomax so naturally he had to roast her alive once he saw her slip into the maze. While this particular fire stunt was pretty incredible to see play out especially when Nico seemingly succumbed to the flames, the biggest moment came when a lone spark from the fire fried the Ferris wheel’s engine.
As one would expect, panic ensued and people began to evacuate the ride thanks to the fire department. Mercedes McQueen had managed to get from the top of the wheel to the cherry picker but new fiance Joe Roscoe was not so lucky. A second explosion caused him to topple from the top and crash to the ground in front of the entire village’s eyes. The worst part? Watching Mercedes desperately pleading to the cherry picker operator to lower her faster so she could be by Joe’s side.
This was such a bittersweet and tragic end to a beautiful romance that was probably the healthiest Mercedes had ever seen. RIP Joe! Nico, you can honestly die a third time.
3. Wedding Crasher
This stunt will go down in history as one of the deadliest on the show. Hollyoaks doesn’t mind spending some bucks to make their stunts look incredible and generally, we’ll lose a character or two in the razzle dazzle of it all. This stunt though? Four characters were snuffed out like something out of a Final Destination film.
Every soap opera fans knows that any event gathering a number of townsfolk can always spell disaster but absolutely no one saw this coming. Thanks to some awful teenagers who don’t know how to drive within the speed limit and drugs, a minibus went careening into a double wedding ceremony like a literal bull in a china shop. Two grooms were hit, the bride Cindy Cunningham was thrown about, guests ran for cover all while the bus flipped its way through the other side of the wedding hall. Some of the guests died at the ceremony or tragically afterward but the best death was for nasty Maddie Morrison. After surviving the initial crash, she climbed out of the bus to berate the other teens only for a flaming card door to shoot from the sky and crush her.
A fitting end for a horrible character.
2. Hollyoaks Hellfire
The leading up to this stunt was the reason I decided to fully invest myself into Hollyoaks back in 2013. Over the years of my soap watching, I’d heard of the show, I’d seen the clips too but when Sinead O’Connor accidentally brought a bomb to a house party? That’d when I knew I had to stick around.
Celebrating the show’s 18th anniversary, Hollyoaks brought back one of the best soap villainesses of all time, Clare Devine. Always hungry for vengeance, she decided what better way to come back to the village than to blow up all of the people who wronged her. So after becoming owner of the club The Loft, she invites Mercedes McQueen to have her birthday celebration there alongside the bomb she planted. I distinctly remember being on the edge of my seat for the bomb to go off and take out one of my faves…
Until the bomb went off at a house party instead of the club, all because Sinead O’Connor accidentally picked up the wrong bag. What followed were some of the coolest special effects I’d seen on a soap opera since John Black was in The Matrix on Days Of Our Lives. There was glass in the air, chunks of wood and people all flying across the screen in big budget slow motion. It was great! Once the dust cleared in the explosion, three partygoers that I was happy to see die were taken out.
In typical Hollyoaks fashion, the death toll only continued to rise when they took out my beloved Clare and subsequently Paul Browning, who was Clare’s murderer. Some call that justice but true justice won’t be served until she’s resurrected.
1. Off the Rails
The winner was a clear one, wasn’t it? Anyone who knows Hollyoaks has most likely heard of this immense stunt from the fall of 2014. The McQueen family was at the center of this crisis in a dark turn for a family usually utilized as comedic relief on the show. We’d only just been recently introduced to three new McQueen cousins and one of them, Porsche McQueen was set to marry the philandering bisexual butterfly Lockie Campbell onboard a steam train. As one does.
Of course this went completely wrong for a number of reasons.
While the train wedding was a big event, the true story lie Theresa McQueen, an unfit mother and her cousin, Carmel who was now dating the brother of the baby’s father (that Theresa killed a few years back) wanted to take baby Kathleen-Angel for herself. All of this drama came to a head when Calvin Valentine attempted to throw Theresa off the train multiple times until Carmel came her senses and rescued her cousin. Too bad the fates weren’t smiling down on this wedding party.
After a high speed chase with abusive husband Patrick Blake, a heavily pregnant Maxine Minniver’s car stalled on the train tracks with stepdaughter Sienna Blake behind the wheel. After only just managing to get out of the car, the train collides and ultimately flips right off the tracks. As if the crash isn’t enough, the wreckage of the over the top wedding explodes into flames not long after most passengers are freed. Unfortunately, we lost the bubbly and charming Carmel McQueen but we gained a stunt for the history books! This was the clear and obvious choice for first place. Kudos Hollyoaks!
If any of your favorite stunts didn’t make the list, be sure to let me know in the comments below or on Twitter! For a show that loves to wipe the village out every few years, there were far too many to choose from for such a short list so let’s discuss.
Hollyoaks airs weeknights at 6:30 on Channel 4, with first look screenings at 7 pm on E4 in the U.K., episodes air on a two-week delay on Hulu in the United States. For more on Hollyoaks, visit their official website.