Hollyoaks cast and crew represented the C4 soap at a panel last week at the C4 Disability conference in Chester, and special Hollyoaks episode revealed.
Cast Jessica Fox (Nancy Osborne), Nikki Sanderson (Maxine Minniver), Talia Grant (Brooke Holloway), Eva Lorente (Minnie Minniver), Noah Holdsworth (Oscar Osborne) and Kate Wynne (Kate) were all in attendance. Also present was Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Esther McVey.
Talia and Jessica were joined on a panel by executive producer Bryan Kirkwood, Talia’s mum campaigner Carrie Grant, writer Jonathan Boam, casting director Peter Hunt and archivist Laura Halligan to talk about destigmatising disability. The panel also featured a VT from actress Amy Conachan who plays Courtney Campbell.
The C4 soap has made diversity and inclusion a real priority. Hollyoaks has often featured strong, confident and powerful characters with disabilities who make great role models. The soap has explored schizo-affective disorder, Down syndrome, autism, depression, deafness and wheelchair restrictions.
Executive producer Bryan Kirkwood said “Hollyoaks has grown into one of the most diverse shows on television and our disability visibility reflects that. The Hollyoaks team’s presentation at Channel 4’s Disability Conference was a celebration of all the trailblazing work that goes on behind the scenes and on-screen.
We have two exceptionally talented leading actors with disabilities or additional needs in Amy Conachan, who is a wheelchair user, and Talia Grant, who has autism. It’s important to us that both Amy and Talia star in huge Hollyoaks stories rather than fade into the background. The heightened world of Hollyoaks is an equal opportunities disaster zone where everyone can fall in love or get caught up in the latest stunt.”
Hollyoaks also revealed at the conference that a special episode celebrating the diversity in the village is coming up, written by Alanna Hallum. In the ground breaking episode, Mandy and Darren face the most difficult decision of their lives regarding the health of their unborn baby. This is set against the backdrop of a charity event in the village celebrating the diversity of our many characters with disabilities and additional needs.
Archivist Laura Halligan spoke at the conference about her experience of both physical disability and invisible disability having experienced depression. Laura took part in Hollyoaks #dontfilterfeelings video to help raise awareness of mental health issues.
Regarding the special episode Hollyoaks has lined up, Laura said “The episode features a real life signing choir, which Oscar is a part of, and a number of charities who have advised on the script will play a role in the celebratory event.
Brooke plays a pivotal role in reassuring Oscar about this performance, giving him the confidence he needs to shine. The episode is as heart breaking as it is heart-warming as we explore the hardships and joys of living with a disability, whilst celebrating the diversity of our cast”.
Laura said “The media and arts can lead in being an example of what it truly means to collaborate, accept and work with each other just as we are. This acceptance of difference and recognising positive aspects starts in education not in the workforce.”
Please see attached a clips package from the event: