Hollyoaks’ flash forward episode is one of soap’s most ambitious concepts – glimpses of events taking place in 12 months’ time, on New Year’s Eve 2020, give viewers an intriguing taste of what the future holds.
To visually separate the two timelines the characters obviously have to look different a year ahead, bringing a host of continuity and logistics issues, especially when it comes to the ever-changing hair of Jessica Fox, who plays Nancy Osbourne.
“I change my hair every three to six months,” explains the actress, currently sporting a brunette bob, and who is seen in the future with dark hair tied up for a wedding.
“Bryan Kirkwood, our producer, and I have negotiated around the flash forward. Earlier on this year I was called in for a meeting where they explained the concept and the situation with my hair, which will have to look the same from when we filmed it to when we catch up with the flash forward next year.
“I’ve had two meetings! My response was I can change it during the next year, as long as it goes back to what it needs to be as and when. They kind of went for that, so there may be some mid-season tweaks in 2020. A bit lighter for summer, then darker for winter in time for it to match what we filmed in autumn 2019…!”
It’s not just hairstyles providing a challenge for the cast, the content of the sneak peeks ahead are generally foreboding, especially for Nancy. At this stage, the cast have minimal information of how the stories pan out, despite having already played the climax.
“I know what some of the dots are but not how they get connected yet,” explains Fox. “And they might change their minds about some things!
“It’s tricky because you want to get the tone right then remember next year where you were, by which time you’ll have a greater understanding as to why the character is behaving as they did. I’d ask a question like, ‘Why is Nancy crying in the flash forward?’ and they just said, ‘Oh, you’ll find out…’
“We see the police raiding the Osbournes and Nancy shouting up at Charlie asking what he’s done. It’s all going to go wrong for that boy, which means it’s all going to wrong for Nancy!”
Charlie and the teens will be at the centre of a year-long storyline about county lines drug dealing, in which the adolescents of the village are groomed into substance trafficking. The topical plot explores the impact of child exploitation on the kids and their horrified families, with the flash forwards revealing indications as to how bad things are set to get.
“It sets up so many ramifications across the next year and we want the audience to feel like they don’t want to miss an episode from now on to see how it all unfolds.
“What Hollyoaks wants to achieve is so ambitious and very exciting. It’s basically a year-long cliffhanger!”
Hollyoaks’ hour-long flash forward airs on Friday 27thDecember on E4 at 7pm, and on Channel 4 on Monday 30thDecember at 6.30pm. You can download it now as part of the Hollyoaks Christmas and New Year boxset on All4.
Visit our dedicated Hollyoaks page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.