76. Lather

Tapehead no 76

Given that Phil Redmond, Channel 4’s self-styled “soap supremo”, has written the first two episodes of Hollyoaks himself, it’s tempting to see them as a sort of scriptwriting masterclass; an example of the master’s art.

So here’s how it starts: a customised car chase; a recording studio in a bedroom; an “invite-only” party flyer; a bare-chested hunk; a blonde babe; the police motorbike chase; the customised car exploding…

It could be Beverly Hills 90210, but that would have, like, more dialogue. Any dialogue.

It’s quickly obvious what Phil’s formula is: short skirts, bit tits, cheesy grins, lots of music; one black character, no Scouse accents, no obvious signs of intelligence. The young LA styling makes Hollyoaks look like a clueless version of Clueless.

Like Baywatch but not as smart, or Grange Hill but not as scruffy, the strangest aspect of Hollyoaks is that it feels like something you used to get in the seventies, during the summer holidays. (It’s cornier than Double Deckers. It’s even got Alvin Stardust in it.)

Even the party scenes have no groovy references to anything cool and contemporary; when he’s in his bedroom, the hero does rock guitar solos instead of Ecstasy. 

As for razor-sharp repartee, we get lines like, “Dawn…I knew she was called something to do with the new day.” (Oh stop it, Phil, you’re killing me.)

Phil’s biggest problem is that his Travolta and Newton-John – Natasha (Shebah Ronay) and Kurt (Jeremy Edwards) – are hopeless.

Kurt says, “Look, it’s cool, okay?” at every opportunity, and seems to be kind of clean-cut Fonz (ie, a total dickhead).

As the village rebel Kurt, in particular, gives Hollyoaks an uncomfortable resemblance to Follyfoot.

Meanwhile, the omnibus episode of Phil’s series about Care In the Community, Brookside, moves to Sunday to accommodate live basketball. (Huh ?)

Our Carl has blown it with Your Sarah. Our Katie (Little Miss Miserable) is, er, miserable. Jacqui Corkhill’s hair salon has got more staff than Tesco (although you have to wonder who would go to a hairdresser who had a hairdo like Jacqui’s).

Luckily for us, Susannah has come back to torment Max (and Patricia).

As the press release puts it, “Max is finding it hard to control his libido, but he’s determined to be faithful to Patricia…But how long will it last?”

Ask a stupid question … Who would go for PR girl called Patsy wearing what looks like pinafore over her T-shirt (erotic ?) when he could go for a pouting (panting), big-chested blonde called Susannah ?

Yes, The Battle Of The Blondes With The Big Backsides is on and poor Maxie is trapped, torn, like a kid offered two flavours of ice-cream and forced to choose only one.

Tapehead has a soft spot for Max and his footballers’ haircut (it’s Tim Sherwood’s old one). And, judging by the way she interferes with him in the restaurant so does Susannah.

Feathers ruffled, Patricia circles around him like a brooding pigeon.

Sadly, this Bouquet of Barbed Wire sub-plot is side-tracked in favour of our first glimpse of Mandy’s new-born. We are confronted with the reality that Mandy has given birth to Mick McManus.

Now that she’s had her baby and got off for killing Trevor, Mandy obviously had to come up with New Ways Of Being Stupid.

This week’s involves going round to rescue a battered wife who wrote to her in prison.

At first it seems Mandy is trying to kidnap her. But then as we wait to see whether the woman’s husband is about to burst through the door, it looks as if she’s just trying to create a situation where she can bump him off too. (“Have you got a patio?”) 

Sadly, Brookside once again ends up looking nothing like as realistic as that other soap about life in the Street: Sesame Street.


Brookside Omnibus: Sun, 4.35pm-6pm, C4

Hollyoaks: Mon, 6.30pm-7pm, C4

Hollyoaks: Fri, 6.30pm-7pm, C4