Hollyoaks Tackles Mental Illness

Hello and welcome to today’s edition of A Slice Of Soap.

Hey guys, don’t you just love it when soaps tackle sensitive issues? And I ain’t talking about poor old Ben Mitchell’s struggle to become EastEnders’ answer to Justin Timberlake…I refer to ‘Hollywoodoaks’ (as I call it because it’s the soap with the beautiful people) and its plans for a mental health storyline. Here’s the story: There’s further heartache in store for Hollyoaks’ Osborne family in August when resident teen, Newt (played by Nico Mirallegro), is diagnosed with schizophrenia. 

Over the past few weeks Newt’s friendship with Eli (Marc Silcock) has intensified and viewers have recently discovered that ‘Eli’ isn’t real.  And whilst Newt’s fixation with his imaginary friend continues, his mental health has deteriorated.  But it’s when Newt’s foster dad, Jack Osborne (Jimmy McKenna), ‘dies’ that Newt goes into meltdown.

Hollyoaks actor Nico Mirallegro said: "It’s been amazing to have been involved in such a great storyline and I’ve enjoyed the challenge of playing a character with schizophrenia. I hope the viewers enjoy it too." When soaps tackle serious subjects, it’s always about ratings first. Big ones – the untouchable ones – get the press and PR, capture the imagination of the fans and, hopefully, get people watching. However, there are times when it brings the issue in question into sharp focus. Hollyoaks is watched by a comparatively younger audience than other soaps and it’s a good way for young viewers to get to learn about mental illness.

Do you remember when Grange Hill, another of Phil Redmond’s creations (perhaps arguably the forerunner of Hollywoodoaks) became issue-led? I remember when it was trying to educate youngsters about the perils of drug abuse via Zammo Maguire and the adoption of the Just Say No campaign. It proved so successful that it resulted in half the cast being flown to the United States for a visit to The White House and First Lady Mrs Reagan. Somehow I don’t think Newt’s mental health issues will have quite the same effect, but at least it will raise some awareness about an illness that affects young as well as old.

Question is, will Hollyoaks tackle it as well as EastEnders did? Remember when Joe Wicks developed schizophrenia? Actor Paul Nicholls was so compelling and convincing that it took him years to move on from that role. Newt’s ‘meltdown’ episode will transmit on 7 August on Channel 4 at 6.30pm.

That’s it for now. Join me on Friday for more soap news and gossip. Got a comment about your favourite soap, this blog or anything else? Share it with me.

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11 Responses to Hollyoaks Tackles Mental Illness

  1. Rebecca says:

    That\’s why Hollyoaks is the only soap I watch; it uses its influence to educate people rather than just to entertain. They\’ve done the schizophrenia storyline so well, the viewer can completely understand what\’s going through Newt\’s mind whereas normally if most people think of a schizophrenic person they just think WEIRDO and move on. I\’m really hoping they do a storyline about self-harm at some point, that\’s another one of our taboos.

  2. Meggin says:

    Hollyoaks already had a massive storyline about self-harm. Lisa Hunter!

  3. Par says:

    Hollywoodoaks …er… More like Hollywoodenoaks, why is this show still given air time, it\’s got to be the worse thing on TV, poor acting, unbelieveable characters and a script that treats real issues so bad it should be offensive.
    Can\’t they at least put a canned laughter track over the top of it to make it more believable, or try and make it a little more realistic, it makes Lord of the Rings look like a historical drama.

  4. Sophie says:

    How can you say that
    Hollyoaks is a brilliant program maybe a little unbeleiveable but its brilliant and great to watch. Its pefect for teenagers to watch as it tackles issues many people go through.
    If you dont like it just dont watch it

  5. Big G says:

    i think the issue is being dealt with in a highly appropriate and professional way. i myself work for a mental health charity and deal with a broad spectrum of people suffering with mental distress so i am glad that the issue is being highlighted in a programme with a mostly teenage/younger person demographic.

  6. Carolyn Anderson says:

    I was delighted to read your article on Hollyoaks introducing schizophrenia on their programme.  There is so much prejudice against mental health problems in this country.  I myself have bipolar disorder and I have many wonderful friends who have this disorder and some with schizophrenia.  In my opinion most of these people have extremely high IQ\’s and their brains work at a much higher level than "normal" people.  They have so much to offer to the world but they are so misunderstood and very badly treated.
    Carolyn Anderson

  7. Glenn says:

    Speaking as someone who had this illness at 20 many years ago it always upsets me to see how mental illness is portrayed on TV as the makers  appear to make  many errors in the analysis of this  illness in particular .

  8. Unknown says:


  9. Kat says:

    Totally gripping viewing if this actor and soap dont win a soap award theres summat up. keep up the good storylines hollyoaks!!!!
    kathryn braithwaite
    west yorks

  10. caroline says:

    it is time that mental health was brought to  the fore because it is the forgotten service in nhs and the stigma that is attached to . Has someone who has suffered from mental probs for the last 38yrs  im  an outcast and the only time mental health is when there is when desparate happens and then its we all want locking up but people are up arms when someone who is known to have skytsofrenia gpoes on the rampage and this does happen and for all tho forensic psychatrists let people like this are leftto integrate back into society when really they should be still held in a secure and and safe envirements were there medication can be regulated . We are not all dangerous and libel to go on the rampage and its bcos they are let back into the comunity because of cutbacks and hospital beds. I am not a raving lunatic  but i suffer from severe depression and anxiety and i am afraid to go out in case i  am pointed out has being  a nut case i brought up 3 sons who have all done well even with my mental health issues . Ihave contacts on a daily basis if i need it so i can live a normal life , but sometimes families fail to see your downward spiral and have 2 members of my family who both  mental qualifacation and both work in the comunity but im the outcast.

  11. cansel says:

    I LOVE NEWT (:

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