Hollyoaks won the Best Soap and Continuing Drama prize at the Royal Television Society (RTS) awards after garnering huge praise for its football abuse storyline.
The Channel 4 soap beat competition from Coronation Street and Casualty to claim victory for the first time in the category at the prestigious industry prize-giving ceremony, which took place in London on Tuesday 19 March.
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Judges were “blown away” by the “terrific central performances” in the plot focusing on the psychological and sexual grooming of teenager Ollie Morgan (Aedan Duckworth) by predatory football coach Buster Smith (Nathan Sussex). Ollie eventually spoke up about the abuse after Brody Hudson (Adam Woodward) admitted he had been a victim of Buster’s over a decade earlier but had been too scared to report it.
Buster was charged and eventually sent to prison after a dramatic trial that saw other survivors come forward about Buster’s secret years of abuse of vulnerable young players.
Reacting to the win, Hollyoaks’ executive producer Bryan Kirkwood said the show “tells the boldest stories that are happening to our audience right now. I think the football abuse story has been one of our best ever. This is the year I am proudest of.”
The storyline was based on the real life case of football coach Barry Bennell who was jailed in February 2018 for 50 counts of child sexual abuse of boys aged eight to 15 between 1979 and 1991. Hollyoaks’ researchers collaborated with footballer Steve Walters who was among those abused by football coach Bennell, and later founded survivors’ support group The Offside Trust.
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