Hollyoaks has already had a blockbuster start to the year with the explosive end to Breda McQueen’s killing spree in the revived Hollyoaks Later, the return of Warren Fox and a flash forward to the end of 2020 teasing a wedding, a death and a whole lot of heartbreak.
Here’s our sneak preview of the biggest plots coming your way in the year the soap celebrates its 25th anniversary, starting with one of the most ambitious-sounding storylines of all time…
1. County lines corruption
This year will be dominated by the ‘county lines‘ storyline, in which a criminal network infiltrates the village and grooms vulnerable younger residents into becoming drug mules, in a topical plot ripped straight from the headlines. As glimpsed in the recent flash forward to New Year’s Eve 2020, there are far-reaching consequences for many Hollyoaks families as the likes of Charlie Dean and Ella Richardson are embroiled in a world of substance dealing.
The man responsible is Jordan Price (played by Connor Calland), schoolboy Sid’s dodgy cousin who targets teens at Hollyoaks High to expand his empire, resulting in teacher Nancy Osborne getting stabbed in the coming weeks.
2. Juliet loves Peri
Also previewed in the flash forward was the unlikely romance between Juliet Quinn and Peri Lomax, who appear to be in the throes of a passionate, destructive relationship in 11 months’ time. Clearly it’s all very clandestine, as Peri looked as if she was about to get married to someone other than the gobby teen (or at least be a bridesmaid) but expect the pair’s epic love story to unfold throughout 2020.
3. Mercedes gets Sylver back?
Hollyoaks Later saw Sylver McQueen save estranged wife Mercedes McQueen from his killer mum Breda McQueen, re-igniting his feelings for the woman who broke his heart. “Sylver will never stop loving Mercedes,” admits David Tag, who plays him. “He’s in a good place with Grace Black right now but Breda’s death might bring him and Mercy closer together. But Sylver doesn’t know Grace shot Mercedes so if that comes out he might feel betrayed all over again…” Who will win the battle for the hunk’s heart?
4. Edward and Tony’s tense reunion
While we’re discussing the aftermath of Later, Tony Hutchinson is out of the pig farm and reunited with long-lost dad Edward Hutchinson, unaware the narcissistic surgeon just bedded his wife Diane. Guilt-ridden Mrs H puts the mockers on her fling with the dashing doctor to focus on her marriage, but Edward will be plotting to put Tone out of the picture so he gets the girl…
“There’s no contest, Edward thinks he’s better than Tony and deserves Diane,” Joe McGann tells us of his arrogant alter ego’s agenda. “Tony is a quandary, a problem that needs solving so Edward gets his way in the end. Edward genuinely believes only he can make Diane happy and that Tony will ruin things eventually.”
5. Wedding horror
Jesse Donovan and Courtney Campbell tie the knot in a few weeks, but the big day is jeopardised by the groom overhearing his sister and James Nightingale admit to shooting Mercedes. Will Jesse shop his own sibling? Does this mean the wedding is off? And how long before Mercy herself discovers who pulled the trigger?
6. Darren spirals into depression
Joker Daz showed a more serious side when he admitted to Mandy Morgan he wasn’t happy, kicking off a long-term mental health story for the fan favourite. “He left Nancy and the kids to be with Mandy, then found out baby DJ wasn’t his which made him doubt everything and it’s spiralling into chaos in his head,” warns Ashley Taylor Dawson. “Darren is not verbalising things very well or processing everything he’s been through.
“I’m proud to be doing the story, I think everyone has touched by depression sadly in this day and age, particularly in men between 30 and 40. Darren is usually the life and soul, and the last person you’d imagine suffering like this, which is why he’s perfect to portray this. I want to raise awareness and help those going through it in real life.”
7. Toby and Celeste’s sinister agenda
Toby Faroe is the secret son Martine Deveraux gave away as a baby, and is simmering with resentment towards twin brother Mitchell who was kept in the family. He’s playing a long game of revenge on the clan that abandoned him, with creepy wife Celeste calling the shots, but it’s not just the Deverauxs they’ve targeted – viewers know they abducted a drugged Mandy and sent anonymous threats after she woke up with no recollection of the event.
“Mandy got too curious about Toby and Celeste,” says Andrea Ali, aka ice cool Celeste. “She got in the way and they had to send out a message! People are calling us villains, but that depends on your perspective. Everyone is a villain to someone. There is a creepy dynamic between them but Celeste is just very protective over the person she loves. More will be revealed as time goes in which will keep fans intrigued…”
8. Sami and Verity’s hot romance
Edward’s daughter, and Tony’s half-sister, sharp cookie lawyer Verity made a big impact in the late-night special and will be settling in the village to flesh out the Hutchinson clan, and Rishi Nair reveals her sparky romance with his character Sami Maalik will be heating up. “Sami is still getting over Sinead, he’s a bit lost and needs to lighten up. Verity is fun and just what he needs. And he thinks she’s very attractive!”
9. Ste’s return
One of 2019’s most impactful storylines was Ste Hay being groomed and radicalised by, then extricating himself from, a far right extremist group. The hard-hitting plot ended with Ste leaving town to get his head together, traumatised by his ordeal and wondering if he can be forgiven by those whose lives the group affected, and by himself. Kieron Richardson is on a temporary extended break from the soap but returns later in 2020 after he finishes in the touring stage adaptation of TV drama Band of Gold, which runs until March. What reception will Ste get from the community he almost tore apart?
10. New love for John Paul
James Sutton is back as JP, the most sensible of the chaotic McQueens, after nearly three years away and will be heavily involved in the county lines story as the character rejoins Hollyoaks High as deputy head. Amidst the heaviness of child exploitation and drug dealing, there’ll be lighter moments for the kindly teacher as he’s also set to get a new love interest. “I know who it is,” teases the star, “I know the actor playing them as well, and it’s very exciting…” The new year trailer showed a smooch with old flame James Nightingale, but could Sutton be referring to someone else?
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