At the centre of Hollyoaks' 25th anniversary week is a menacing mystery - someone is stalking the McQueen family and blackmailing them over a series of hidden secrets, but who is it?
The spooky scenario started with a series of unnerving texts but descends into full-on intimidation as seven of the current McQueen clan residing in the village receive similar threats from an anonymous blackmailer making despicable demands.
A creepy talking robotic doll appears in the Dog in the Pond pub, and accuses the McQueens of being guilty of the seven deadly sins - if they don't cough up cash their secrets will be exposed and they'll all end up in jail.
Brave Mercedes McQueen (Jennifer Metcalfe) vows to defy the tormentor and protect her relatives including Sylver McQueen (David Tag), John Paul McQueen (James Sutton), Goldie McQueen (Chelsee Healey) and the recently returned Theresa McQueen (Jorgie Porter). But will she be outsmarted by the unseen baddie?
And who exactly has got it in for the harassed Hollyoaks family - and why? Here are seven possible antagonists and their motives.
Breda McQueen - back from the dead?
It's a long shot but this is Hollyoaks, and they're sure to pull out all the stops for the anniversary plot. Nanny Breda, or 'Scary Poppins' as Darren Osborne memorably named her, became one of the soap's most notorious serial killers (and there's been a few, so that's quite a compliment). She may have been killed off in the spectacular late night special in January 2020, but how many times did we think Warren Fox had perished only for him to return with a twinkle in his eye and a new contract? Don't bet against twisted bad-dad-despatcher Breda having miraculously survived and being behind this whole thing to get revenge on the brood that betrayed her.
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James Nightingale - the spurned lover?
It wasn't that long ago we were gripped by another McQueen mystery - who shot Mercedes? One of the locals with a grudge against the lairy landlady and their finger on the trigger was lawyer James Nightingale (Gregory Finnegan). He mistakenly thought Merce had murdered his lover Harry Thompson (actually one of Breda's victims), but she's not the only McQueen Mr Nightingale has beef with: ex-lover John Paul has dumped him for hot cop PC George Kiss (Callum Kerr). And James does not take rejection very well… Has he targeted the entire family in retaliation for his heartbreak?
Grace Black - settling a score?
Helping James put a bullet in the brunette last year was his partner in crime - Mercy's on/off rival, ballbreaking blonde gangster Grace Black (Tamara Wall). Mercedes had covered up her involvement with the hit and run that almost killed Ms Black, which she was understandably not happy about. But the females' feud spiralled out of control leading to the death (in a roundabout way) of Grace's last surviving brother, Liam Donovan, and the girls called a truce. Like that was going to last - you can't keep a good grudge down, and Grace has been suspiciously quiet of late. Has she reignited the flames of anger towards Mercedes to take the ultimate revenge on her arch-enemy as Hollyoaks reaches its big milestone?
Mitzeee Minniver - back for revenge?
Now this we'd love to see. Before Grace there was Mitzeee (Rachel Shenton), Mercy's former fellow alpha female who she fought with over men, money and status as queen of the village. Mercedes riled up her old rival off screen when she kidnapped her son Bobby Costello from America where his step-mum Mitz was raising him with the lad's dad Carl Costello, who then ended up bumped off by Breda when he came to get his boy back. There is some seriously unfinished business brewing here, making Mitzeee a very likely suspect. Getting Shenton back would be a real coup, as she's now an Oscar winner and star of Channel 5's hit reboot of All Creatures Great and Small.
Warren Fox - wants Mercy back?
Old flames Foxy and Mercy briefly became friends with benefits when Warren (Jamie Lomas) returned to the village earlier in 2020. Mercedes and soul mate Sylver were on the proverbial break, and even though it appeared Warren gallantly stepped aside when the couple reunited after Breda died (or did she?!), what if his dented pride has been secretly eating away at him ever since and he's been plotting revenge? Warren has history with most of the McQueens and a vindictive streak as long as the Mersey tunnel. What a twist it would be if the soap revealed their number one hard man was trying to take down their most famous family? And you thought it was Sienna he was obsessed with.
Cleo McQueen - angry love rival?
Unlucky in love Cleo McQueen (Nadine Mulkerrin) sloped off in November 2019 having been humiliated by fiancée Mitchell Deveraux and best mate Scott Drinkwell who had been having an affair behind her back. While she's been away licking her wounds, another former fiancee Joel Dexter (Rory Douglas Speed) has moved on with her cousin Goldie… Poor Cleo might have had enough of being the good girl and being treated appallingly by fellas. Discovering a member of her own family has stolen her soul mate (come on, we're all rooting for them to end up together) could break fragile Cleo and push her into taking out a lifetime of misery on the clan. Mulkerrin is due back from real-life maternity leave any day, is this the big story she comes back with?
Mercedes McQueen - stalking herself?
It wouldn't be the first time she's played the victim - back in the dark days of her rivalry with Mitzeee, twisted Merce resorted to stabbing herself but framing her nemesis who ended up in prison for attempted murder, and even staged the abduction of her own son to garner sympathy from ex-lover Riley Costello when Mitz got her claws into him. She may be a bit older and wiser these days and seemingly settled with lovely Sylver, but she's still Mercedes McQueen - the woman is literally capable of anything…