Hollyoaks IRL (In Real Life) returns this month looking at the real-life experiences that mirror or have shaped the social issues that feature within the narrative of the flagship Channel 4 continuing drama.
- BAFTA-nominated docu-series produced by Lime digital recommissioned by Channel 4
- Launch episode features campaigner Zan Moon and Actress, Nikki Sanderson
- Hollyoaks IRL: Series two can be watched from Wednesday 18th January on Hollyoaks' Youtube, Facebook, and TikTok
Hollyoaks IRL: Series two opens with the story of activist, Zan Moon, who was sexually harassed on the London Underground and has campaigned for increased CCTV cameras on transport to keep women safe. The episode is titled Hollyoaks IRL: Attacked and Ignored.
Zan and her girlfriend were verbally abused by a man on a packed carriage, using intimidating sexual language. Unchallenged by commuters they were forced to flee.
Sadly, Zan, already had first-hand experience of abuse against women, having begun a campaign about the abuse she and her peers suﬀered at school.
She wrote an open letter to schools across the country, with 14 pages of testimonies from female students at the schools, resulting in a meeting with the Department of Education.
Echoes of Zan’s experiences featured in Hollyoaks’ ‘Long Walk Home’ episode, which follows the character, Maxine Minniver as she tries to make her way home safely from a night out after becoming separated from her friends.
Maxine (played by Nikki Sanderson) is subjected to cat-calling, intimidation and later is sexually assaulted and attacked.
Sharing her real-life experience in Hollyoaks IRL, Zan meets Nikki Sanderson and describes how her assailant was never caught and the effect it has had on her life.
Zan tells Nikki: “A basic human right is safety and we are being denied that. It’s a matter of life or death and that’s how important it is to me”.
Recalling her experience on the tube, Zan describes being harassed without any intervention.
She says: “He was a big guy and there were no other women on the tube carriage, it was rammed, it was so full, but no-one even said ‘mate can you stop’.
“It wasn’t as if I didn’t ask for help…Everyone either just laughed or stared at their phone.”
Devastated, Zan channelled her energy into polling on social media, finding hundreds of testimonies of women on public transport.
Zan now runs an Instagram account where women submit the harassment that they have been subject to, both online and in public.
Referencing Maxine’s story, Zan called for more bystander intervention. She said: “A lot of change can happen in very small moments that you won’t realise.
“So watching a Hollyoaks episode and having a conversation with your mum about her experience and what it is like for a woman…having those conversations at the dinner table about something you heard at school…
“Actually challenging…in those moments if you don’t let those comments go, you pull your mate up on it and say, ‘it’s not okay’. It might be awkward for ten seconds – that will go. The amount of change you have done in that moment, I can’t put into words.”
On meeting Zan for the episode Nikki said: “It was lovely to meet Zan. Hearing her story and how she has taken such a negative experience in her life and made so many positive steps forward in making changes which will keep people safe on our streets was truly inspiring.”
Matt Risley, Managing Director of 4Studio said: “Amplifying fan conversation online is a huge part of 4Studio’s strategy, and Hollyoaks IRL is the perfect example of how to do that in a way that’s engaging for existing and new fans of Hollyoaks alike. Season 2 helps give a voice to our audiences’ most personal stories in the emotive, affecting way that viewers really responded to from the first.”
The first series of Hollyoaks IRL, which explored depression and suicide, county lines child exploitation, disability, eating disorders and conversion therapy, was nominated for a BAFTA TV award in the Short Form Programme category.
It also won an RTS North West award for Best in Digital Creativity, was named a Webbys Honouree and was awarded a Silver Lovie in Social: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.4Studio is Channel 4’s social first content and distribution powerhouse, which produces and partners with creators from across the UK to entertain young people with relevant content on their favourite social platforms.
Later episodes in this new series will examine alcoholism, Incel subculture, knife crime and teenage cancer.