Hollyoaks is one of the UK’s longest-running soap operas for teens. As well as the usual stories of shock and scandal, they also try to include storylines reflecting issues that really are affecting teenagers today.
In 2012 and 2013, they wanted to carry an anti-bullying message – which would include cyberbullying, so the producers at Lime Pictures called me in to help structure a complex storyline that would unfold both on TV and online, with a set of exclusive webisodes on a fictional micro-blogging site called DocYou.
While Dylan, the storyline’s main protagonist, believes he is making a warts-and-all exposé of teenage life, it turns out he’s capturing much more than that. On his website, and in the background of many of his films, a girl called Esther is quietly but inexorably being bullied. It’s only when Esther attempts suicide that Dylan and his friends look back and trace the subtle signs that were always there – and the ways in which they themselves were culpable.
At the All About Soap Awards, Esther’s troubles won the 2013 award for Best Storyline.
The project was produced by Andrew Barron and written by Emma Duke in close collaboration with the show’s writing team. You can see some stats on the whole thing here.