Entertainment Hollyoaks broke with tradition in nostalgic 25th anniversary episode
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follow from Wednesday's E4 first look episode (October 21), which some readers may prefer to avoid.
Your eyes weren't deceiving you – a hugeanniversary episode just passed by without explosions, carnage or a cast cull.
E4 viewers watched the long-running soap's 25th anniversary special, but fans were treated to warmth and nostalgia rather than the on-screen spectacles that usually accompany such occasions.
Let's face it – the Hollyoaks bosses didn't have much choice. With all soaps currently following strict COVID-19 guidelines on set, big-budget stunts and disasters are off the table for the foreseeable future.
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Way back in July 2019, the show had confidently kicked off the 25th anniversary hype early, which understandably didn't come to fruition in the end.
It's Hollyoaks tradition for a jaw-dropping disaster every October, after the success of the Enjoy The Ride wedding crash storyline in 2012. This paved the way for other high-stakes plots like the Hollyoaks Blast, the McQueens' train crash and the school explosion.
Last year, the show even went meta by having Grace Black reference the annual carnage on screen: "Right, that's it. This time next year, I am booking a holiday. Something always seems to be kicking off here in October!"
But with a real-life pandemic throwing Grace's prediction into disarray, Hollyoaks bosses clearly had to go back to the drawing board. The end result was a genuinely moving episode that felt like a warm hug for old and new fans alike.
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In this episode, there was something for everyone – original character Kurt Bensonto surprise Tony, "Little Tom" coming of age by getting engaged, the McQueens in turmoil, and the return of the village's most notorious serial killer.
While Kurt's comeback and Silas's fourth chapter are sure to claim all the headlines, the most effective scenes were the ones centring around Yazz's proposal to Tom. In a bid to convince Tom that they belonged together, Yazz recruited the whole village to record a love letter that she'd written for her boyfriend.
This created an on-screen video sequence, as they each took turns to read Yazz's moving words.
If the speech resonated with you beyond the pair's fictional romance storyline, this was absolutely intentional. The on-screen love letter was written to subtly represent the relationship between Hollyoaks and its fanbase over the years:
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"Being with you feels like coming home. We've known each other for so long, but you can still surprise me. We've been through our sunny days and dark nights.
"We've said our fair share of hellos, and far too many goodbyes. And the one thing I know – the one thing I'm sure of – is this. That when I need you the most, you're right by my side."
With heartfelt performances from Ellis Hollins and Haiesha Mistry – and a script penned by Richard Burke, one of Hollyoaks' best writers – the scenes will have brought a smile to the face of every fan. And let's face it, we could all do with some smiles right now.
The anniversary special wasn't just about making us feel warm and fuzzy, though – there were plenty of exciting new possibilities set up for the future, too.
The return of serial killer Silas Blissett, in particular, is sure to be a hit with viewers. His return stints have never quite matched the brilliance of his original storyline from 2011, but there was an early air of menace in his new scenes which hopefully bodes well for the drama to come.
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The Oaks residents are supporting Yazz.Tonight's Hollyoaks 25th anniversary episode will celebrate the cast in a very special way.
Plus, we couldn't help but notice an intriguing new mystery as sly Silas seems to be working with someone. Who has he forged an alliance with this time? Let's hope, for their sake, they don't end up as the next Lindsey Butterfield.
We're also interested to see whether Tom and Yazz's engagement will now put them at the centre of the New Year wedding storyline, after ten months of speculation about.
All eyes are sure to be on Kurt too as he tries to make amends for his past mistakes and settles back into the village.
The explanation for the charmer's return wasn't overly interesting (and everyone got their heads around it rather quickly) but we reckon having his best mate back is exactly what Tony needs right now.
COVID may have KO'd the annual stunt, but much likeat the start of the year, it was refreshing to see a milestone edition that felt like a true, character-based celebration.
Plus, for those who really want an on-screen catastrophe on a smaller scale, there's always…
Hollyoaks currently airs new episodes from Monday to Thursday at 6.30pm on Channel 4, with first look screenings at 7pm on E4. Classic episodes, titled Hollyoaks Favourites, air on Fridays at 7pm on E4.
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