Hollyoaks confirms new long-running storyline on the perils of conversion therapy
Hollyoaks producers have confirmed plans to introduce a new long-running storyline for John Paul McQueen that will explore the perils of conversion therapy.
Warning: Hollyoaks spoilers ahead!
In the hopes of shedding light on a very real issue that occurs more often than people might think, Hollyoaks and Channel 4 have worked to create the important, though sinister, plot.
Those who are up to date will Hollyoaks may have noticed that teacher Carter Shepherd has taken a particular interest in John Paul McQueen.
There have already been hints along the way that Shepherd’s intentions were questionable, with scenes of him speaking about his new friend John Paul over the phone to an unseen character. But fans are about to find out exactly what the Hollyoaks High teacher is up to.
Producers have confirmed that Shepherd plans on recruiting John Paul, as well as students like Dillon Ray and Lucas Hay into a “support group”.
As time goes by, it will become clear that Shepherd’s “support group” is really advocating for “conversion therapy” for LGBTQ+ people.
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The Hollyoaks team was inspired by the 2021 Hollyoaks IRL documentary series, which explored the real-life impact of some of the show’s biggest storylines.
Justin Beck, who was the subject of the Hollyoaks IRL episode on conversion therapy, was asked to contribute to the creation of this upcoming storyline.
“I could never have foreseen the impact that sharing my story would have had being part of Hollyoaks IRL – finding out that it was nominated for a BAFTA was amazing and then to be involved in a full storyline has been an honour and a privilege,” said Beck, per Digital Spy.
“Representation matters – and with something as insidious, manipulative and dangerous as conversion therapy – it is important that stories, like mine, shine a light and raise awareness on what is happening to vulnerable LGBT people right now.”
The Hollyoaks team also sought guidance from investigative reporter Josh Parry, who went undercover for Liverpool Echo to expose the “dangerous” practices taking place in “conversion therapy” organisations within the UK.
“It’s been an honour to be asked to guide the team through this complex and sensitive storyline,” said Parry.
“As someone who themselves has been through gay conversion therapy as an undercover reporter, I have experienced first-hand the misleading and often damaging claims made by so-called conversion therapists.
“I think Hollyoaks is the perfect platform to bring the reality of these practices to life so that the public can better understand them and the impact they can have.
“The team has put so much effort into making the storyline engaging and entertaining but above all accurate and realistic on what is an extremely emotive topic.”
Hollyoaks has become renowned for its timely and thoughtful storylines that effortlessly reflect the issues facing real people.
The Channel 4 series was the first British soap to have a trans actress portray a trans woman back in 2015, with actress Annie Wallace, who played Sally St. Claire.
Sally’s storylines helped to raise awareness of the horrors of transphobia – going on to land Wallace a BAFTA nomination in 2016.
More recently, the series curated a trans coming-out storyline to reflect actor Tylan Grant’s off-screen transition.
Tylan’s character, who has been on the series since 2018, has come out as transgender to parents David and Carry Grant, and shared his new name, Phoenix Hathaway.
Of the show’s progressive storylines, Channel 4’s commissioning executive Ben Wadey said: “Hollyoaks is well-known for never shying away from a subject that is agenda-setting and can help educate and inform and has a history of successfully telling difficult and important stories.”
On the upcoming conversion therapy storyline, he added: “It is a practice that is devastating and tends to affect the most vulnerable in the community, young people coming out or exploring their sexuality which is why it is vital that Hollyoaks’ audience, with its youthful demographic, are fully informed.
“Through our established characters and the recent arrival of Carter we will look at this devastating practise and the various insidious forms that it can hide behind.”
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