The show is known for its hard-hitting storylines, which frequently tackles taboo subjects such as male rape, incest and eating disorders and for character such as the iconic McQueen clan
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In that time, the fictional Cheshire suburb has brought us some of the soap world’s most glamorous stars.
Hollyoaks’ hard-hitting storylines frequently break new ground and tackle taboo subjects such as male rape, incest and eating disorders.
And with the McQueens – one of the most iconic families in soap – still at the forefront of the show 25 years on, there’s no shortage of fun, frolics and the occasional fight.
This year, the clan will reunite to celebrate Hollyoaks’ milestone year and it will see the return of Jorgie Porter as blonde bombshell Theresa McQueen.
Jorgie, 32, admits that she couldn’t wait to get back into her character’s trademark stilettos and skimpy outfits. “I love the fact I’m so far away from what she would wear,” she said.
“All the ill-fitting skirts are right up her bum… I’m like, ‘That’s a bit too much for me’, but I embrace it for the show.
“She’s not naked at the moment because it’s winter. That’s saved me a little bit, thank God!
“I’ve not worn heels for ages either, being in lockdown for so long. My feet were screaming. I needed a bit of practice before I got it right.”
Jorgie has played Theresa since she was 20 but took a break from the soap in 2016 to pursue her West End dream.
She was invited back to take part in the 25th anniversary episodes, however – and hints that she may be sticking around for a while.
“I’ve been back on set a month and it feels like I’ve never been away,” she said.
“With us, who play the McQueens, we can chat and chat but as soon as they shout ‘Action!’ we can turn it on and the tears flow.
“It’s such an iconic show. I feel lucky that I’ve been liked enough to be asked to come back – especially on such a big birthday.
“People have grown up watching the show. It was a great constant in people’s lives and it’s been the same with me.”
Jorgie was thrilled to be reunited with her on-screen family members Jennifer Metcalfe and Chelsee Healey, who play Mercedes and Goldie.
“I am an only child so being surrounded by all the sisters is amazing,” said Jorgie. “They’re stealing each other’s boyfriends and fighting. When I read it, I’m like ‘Wow, this is drastic!’
“I’m proud of what we’ve created as the McQueens,” she said. “I’m still friends with Leah Hackett and Claire Cooper, who played Tina and Jacqui, and I still see Gemma Merna who played Carmel.
“I’ve met my life-long friends there. There’s no judging – we’re there for each other when we need each other.
“Since lockdown, we have Nadine Mulkerrin back, who plays Cleo, and Chelsee and Jorgie. It’s like carnage, all day every day.
“Because we’ve been locked up, all we’re doing is laughing all day. We’re just so happy.
“I had to do a crying scene the other day and I couldn’t because I was so happy. Being back with everyone is amazing.”
Hollyoaks’ anniversary episodes will reveal seven secrets that are billed as seven deadly sins – and Jen says fans will be in for a treat.
“I can’t remember the last time every single McQueen was in a storyline so it’s going to be special,” she said. “Seven McQueens, seven deadly sins. It’s going to be a good one.”
When it comes to their favourite storylines, Jorgie says she loved playing a killer when it was revealed that she shot Calvin Valentine, played by Ricky Whittle, in a dramatic soap whodunnit.
“I loved killing Calvin!” she giggled. “That was a shock – nobody knew it was me. I love it when Hollyoaks do that. We film different endings, so some don’t know who the killer is. It’s great training.”
Jorgie added: “As a soap, we take risks. The shock value is the talking point. Like my underage sex storyline as I was wearing my school uniform.
Jen added: “Get me back with Dr Browning [played by Joseph Thompson] all day! When we’re powering out those emotional scenes back-to-back, they’re the golden moments. I’m proud to work for a show like Hollyoaks, which is very brave. We’re sometimes controversial, but that’s good.
“The far-right storyline with Kieron Richardson as Ste was fantastic. That brought up issues that I’m not sure a soap had touched upon before. We do that constantly.”
She continued: “It’s good to come in each day and switch off from my life and get into someone else’s. I love Mercedes. She’s much more sassy, sexy and forward than me.
“I’m not as brazen as her – I’m not sure I’d want to be – but it’s nice to escape in her world.”
So does Jen reckon she could give Corrie’s Bill Roache a run for his money and go on to play Mercedes for decades to come?
“We’ll see,” she said. “As long as they keep giving me the storylines, I’ll be around for a long time to come.”
You can catch the 25th birthday episode of Hollyoaks on Wednesday on E4 and on Thursday on C4 at 6.30pm. Watch the soap’s first-ever episode on Friday on E4 at 7pm. Jeremy Edwards, who played Kurt Benson, also returns this week.
Hollyoaks, Jennifer Metcalfe, Mercedes McQueen, Soap opera, McQueen family, Channel 4
World news – GB – Hollyoaks marks 25 years of sex, rows and scandal – with more ‘risk’ to come