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Hollyoaks is a British television soap opera, first broadcast on 23 October 1995, on Channel 4. Originally devised by Phil Redmond, who also devised shows such as Brookside and Grange Hill, the programme is set in and around the fictional Chester suburb of Hollyoaks and is centred around a former 1950s technical college which is now a college of higher education called Hollyoaks Community College (often mistaken for the real-life University of Chester), with the characters and main target audience generally being in their late teens or early twenties.
Hollyoaks is the fourth highest-rating soap opera on British television, behind Emmerdale, Coronation Street, and EastEnders.
Produced by Lime Pictures (formerly Mersey Television) and filmed mainly at studios in Liverpool, the show currently broadcasts at 18:30 each weekday on Channel 4, with an omnibus edition on Sunday morning, usually at 9.50am but this time may vary. At 19:00 each weekday, Channel 4's sister station E4 airs a 'First Look' feature, in which viewers are able to watch the episode which will be shown on Channel 4 the following day. A Saturday omnibus is also aired on E4 as well as daily repeats each weekday at 16.30. The Welsh fourth channel, S4C, broadcasts the Sunday omnibus only. Hollyoaks is also shown in other countries, such as Canada, on the BBC Kids channel, Ireland on TV3 Television Network and, as of 2007, in the United States on BBC America in June as well as in parts of Eastern Europe including Ukraine. It has recently been aired in New Zealand as well. Episodes shown in countries other than the United Kingdom started at the time of the Sam Owen's return which aired in the UK during Summer 2006. (Broadcasts of the show in Ireland are an international version of the UK episodes, and do not contain the same incidental music and songs as the UK version, presumably as a result of music licencing issues.)
The programme is known for launching the careers of Will Mellor, Jodi Albert, Gary Lucy, Elize Du Toit, Jeremy Edwards, Terri Dwyer, Ali Bastian, Sarah Jayne Dunn and James Redmond.
Hollyoaks has received numerous awards over the years and raised awareness of teen issues such as teen pregnancy, abortion, bereavement, male rape/date rape, alcohol, drug abuse, epilepsy, homosexuality, and anorexia.
Hollyoaks was the only soap to be nominated in every category at the 2007 British Soap Awards.
On February 26, 2007, the programme launched a new theme tune along with new look titles, with the name written as H♀LLY♂AKS. The revamp was brought about since the majority of characters featured in the previous version had either been killed-off or had left the programme, while others generally now look different to how they did. The new titles show different characters in the drama posing in various positions with bright colourful backdrops. These credits were changed slightly on the 25 May 2007 so different characters were included that weren't before such as Fletch and Tom, and new characters such as Katy and Elliot, characters that have left such as Sonny and Will and characters in different poses than before such as Nancy (who now has a more prominent place in the order), Mercedes and Rhys, with the majority of the credits remaining the same.