Hollyoaks launch series two of BAFTA nominated digital factual strand, Hollyoaks IRL

  • Date: 12th October 2023
  • Channel 4




Hollyoaks IRL (In Real Life) returns this month looking at the real-life experiences that mirror or have
shaped the social issues that feature within the narrative of the flagship Channel 4 continuing

Hollyoaks IRL: Series 2 opens with the story of activist, Zan Moon, who was sexually harassed on the London Underground and has campaigned for increased CCTV cameras on transport to keep women safe. The episode is titled Hollyoaks IRL: Attacked and Ignored.

Zan and her girlfriend were verbally abused by a man on a packed carriage, using intimidating sexual language. Unchallenged by commuters they were forced to flee.

Sadly, Zan, already had first-hand experience of abuse against women, having begun a campaign
about the abuse she and her peers suffered at school.

She wrote an open letter to schools across the country, with 14 pages of testimonies from female
students at the schools, resulting in a meeting with the Department of Education.

Echoes of Zan’s experiences featured in Hollyoaks’ ‘Long Walk Home’ episode, which follows the
character, Maxine Minniver as she tries to make her way home safely from a night out after
becoming separated from her friends.

Maxine (played by Nikki Sanderson) is subjected to cat-calling, intimidation and later is sexually
assaulted and attacked.

Sharing her real-life experience in Hollyoaks IRL, Zan meets Nikki Sanderson and describes how her
assailant was never caught and the effect it has had on her life.

Zan tells Nikki: “A basic human right is safety and we are being denied that. It’s a matter of life or
death and that’s how important it is to me”.

Recalling her experience on the tube, Zan describes being harassed without any intervention.
She says: “He was a big guy and there were no other women on the tube carriage, it was rammed, it
was so full, but no-one even said ‘mate can you stop’.

“It wasn’t as if I didn’t ask for help…Everyone either just laughed or stared at their phone.”
Devastated, Zan channelled her energy into polling on social media, finding hundreds of testimonies
of women on public transport.

Zan now runs an Instagram account where women submit the harassment that they have been
subject to, both online and in public.

Referencing Maxine’s story, Zan called for more bystander intervention. She said: “A lot of change
can happen in very small moments that you won’t realise.

“So watching a Hollyoaks episode and having a conversation with your mum about her experience
and what it is like for a woman…having those conversations at the dinner table about something you
heard at school…

“Actually challenging…in those moments if you don’t let those comments go, you pull your mate up
on it and say, ‘it’s not okay’. It might be awkward for ten seconds – that will go. The amount of
change you have done in that moment, I can’t put into words.”

On meeting Zan for the episode Nikki said: “It was lovely to meet Zan. Hearing her story and how she has taken such a negative experience in her life and made so many positive steps forward in making changes which will keep people safe on our streets was truly inspiring.”

Matt Risley, Managing Director of 4Studio said: “Amplifying fan conversation online is a huge part of
4Studio’s strategy, and Hollyoaks IRL is the perfect example of how to do that in a way that’s engaging for existing and new fans of Hollyoaks alike. Season 2 helps give a voice to our audiences’ most personal stories in the emotive, affecting way that viewers really responded to from the first.”

The first series of Hollyoaks IRL, which explored depression and suicide, county lines child
exploitation, disability, eating disorders and conversion therapy, was nominated for a BAFTA TV
award in the Short Form Programme category.

It also won an RTS North West award for Best in Digital Creativity, was named a Webbys Honouree
and was awarded a Silver Lovie in Social: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.4Studio is Channel 4’s social
first content and distribution powerhouse, which produces and partners with creators from across
the UK to entertain young people with relevant content on their favourite social platforms.

Later episodes in this new series will examine alcoholism, Incel subculture, knife crime and teenage cancer.


Notes to editors:

In England and Wales, a total of 40,572 women were victims of sexual assault in the year ending
September 2021, an increase of 13% from the previous year. The highest number of sexual offences
ever recorded within a 12-month period. • In the year ending September 2021, 41,332 women were
victims of rape, the highest annual figure recorded to date. • The ONS said there were “notable
increases” in the number of reported sexual offences after Sarah Everard’s disappearance. • One in
two women felt unsafe walking alone after dark in a quiet street near their home. One in two
women felt unsafe walking alone after dark in a busy public place. • Four out of five women felt
unsafe walking alone after dark in a park or other open space. • Since Sarah Everard was kidnapped
and murdered, at least 125 women have been killed. • In a survey of female students, Over 70 per
cent admitted that they’ve been coerced into sharing explicit images, while 68 per cent have been
subjected to rumours about their sex habits.


Follow us