It’s finally here – Hollyoaks celebrates 25 years on air this week with a whole host of treats and twists in store, starting with the shock return from beyond the grave of original character Kurt Benson (Jeremy Edwards). Thought he was killed off in 1999? Think again.
Elsewhere Mercedes McQueen (Jennifer Metcalfe) faces her toughest test yet when she has to defend her family against a sinister stalker, but who’s got it in for them? And Juliet Nightingale (Niamh Blackshaw) sinks to new depths in the chilling county lines drug dealing storyline.
Here are all your Hollyoaks spoilers for the 25th anniversary week, 19th – 23rd October 2020.
Kurt Benson back from the dead
Yes, that really is Kurt Benson, Hollyoaks’ original heart-throb, roaring into the village on his famous motorbike. Although it’s probably not the same one he rode in the first episode back in 1995, but it’s a nice nostalgic callback to the soap’s origins.
The explanation, whys and wherefores of how Kurt has miraculously risen after supposedly dying in an off-screen jet ski accident more than 20 years ago are yet to be revealed, so you’ll have to tune in to find out what Hutch is going on. But it’s really him, this isn’t a dream like the last time Edwards popped back when Kurt appeared in the addled hallucinatory imagination of Tony Hutchinson (Nick Pickard) in 2013. Now all we need is for Jambo to wheel up in a motorcycle sidecar and we’d have the perfect anniversary.
Mercedes confronts the McQueens’ blackmailer
The meaning behind those mysterious texts that only say the number ‘seven’ start to make sense this week, as the McQueens’ anonymous stalker reveals their master plan via an extremely creepy talking electronic doll that appears on the Dog bar.
Explaining each of the seven family members has committed one of the seven deadly sins, the dastardly doll warns if the clan don’t cough up some cash their darkest secrets will be exposed one by one – and they’ll all end up behind bars. Sylver McQueen (David Tag) is the first to fall foul when the ‘wrath’ that drove him to kill Breda is revealed and he’s arrested. Defiant Mercedes refuses to let the mighty McQueens be bossed around by a freaky toy in a Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen wig and insists on meeting the blackmailer in person. So who is tormenting Hollyoaks’ most famous family?
Juliet forces Ella to sell drugs
We’re now just a few months away from the episode that pays off last year’s ambitious flash-forward, so we know that by New Year’s Eve innocent little Ella Richardson (Erin Palmer) will be involved with the county lines drug dealing network that has infiltrated the village – and we’re about to find out how.
Juliet, who now looks like Pablo Escobar in fancy dress as Tulisa, targets the teenager when big boss Victor Brothers (Benjamin O’Mahony) orders her to recruit more juvenile foot soldiers. Goodie-goodie Ella is the kind of girl who panics if she’s forgotten her PE kit, but when Juliet threatens her family she is forced into becoming her latest pusher – and is filmed dealing to Charlie as future leverage. Sid Sumner (Billy Price) despairs at what Victor is turning Juliet into, while we wonder if Mandy’s vulnerable daughter could be the person in the body bag come 31st December…
Tom and Yazz get engaged
Dialling up the fuzzy nostalgia and feel-good heart Hollyoaks is so good at, there’s a lovely moment in anniversary week involving young Tom Cunningham (Ellis Hollins), the little boy we’ve watched grow up and is almost as old as the show itself.
With their sweet romance on the rocks and the Cunningham kid having a wobble about the future, Yazz Maalik (Haiesha Mistry) makes a romantic gesture to her boyfriend and plays him a video message with contributions from everyone in the village telling Tom how much he means to them. Tom – and viewers – will be wiping away a tear as he realises he’s truly loved, even more so when Yazz proposes. So it must be their wedding in the flash forward, surely…?
Divorce heartbreak for Tony
Unfortunately the soap’s longest-serving character, Tony Hutchinson, doesn’t have as much to celebrate as Tom in the show’s big week.
Not only has he got the mind-bending return of dead best mate Kurt to contend with, the end of his marriage to Diane Hutchinson (Alex Fletcher) now seems inevitable as he starts divorce proceedings and symbolically takes off his wedding ring. And yes, despicable dad Edward Hutchinson (Joe McGann) is pulling the strings to destroy his son’s life. Shame on him.
Friday Favourites shows the very first episode
How’s this for a treat? This week’s special E4 Friday Favourites goes back to the very beginning as it airs Hollyoaks’ first ever episode on the actual anniversary date, 23rd October. There were just seven main characters then, and the focus was very much on the bright young things. But over the years, the soap has matured into an award-winning, taboo-breaking giant of continuing drama, while retaining a bright, optimistic enthusiasm that sets it apart from the other soaps. Here’s to the next 25 years – will Tony and Tom still be there in the year 2045?