Channel 4 announces Hollyoaks’ schedule refresh as flagship soap prepares for blockbuster 30th anniversary year

Category: News Release


  • From September 2024 Hollyoaks will move to a drop pattern built around evolving viewing habits with three new episodes each week on Streaming, E4 and YouTube 
  • The data-led move is part of Channel 4’s Fast Forward strategy to accelerate its transformation to be a digital-first public service streamer and builds on the success of Hollyoaks’ transition to the UK’s first genuinely digital soap
  • The show’s offering to be supercharged by appointment of new Executive Producer, Hannah Cheers
  • Hollyoaks’ 30th year to be one of renewal with a reaffirmed commitment from Channel 4 and more hard-hitting and ground-breaking storylines to engage fans, and attract a new generation of viewers

 As part of its recently announced Fast Forward strategy, Channel 4 is switching up the schedule of its ground-breaking soap, Hollyoaks  the first UK soap to move to a genuinely digital first model last year  with a new episode strategy built around evolving viewing habits. 

From September 2024, the new, data-led drop pattern will see the soap move from five new episodes per week to three on streaming, E4 and YouTube. Extensive research has identified this as the optimum pattern to keep heartland audiences hooked and attract new ones in a highly saturated content market. There will also be a drama packed hour-long weekly omnibus episode broadcast on Channel 4 and available to stream. 

The move reflects how young audiences are already consuming Hollyoaks, with Channel 4 data showing that the most loyal soap fans watch an average of three episodes per week. The new strategy will enable the show to cut through more powerfully with fewer, higher impact episodes.

Alongside the episodic changes, Lime Pictures have appointed Hannah Cheers as Executive Producer to lead Hollyoaks’ exciting evolution. Cheers has been interim showrunner since September 2023, overseeing standout, critically acclaimed storylines, including driving the January stunt episode, which along with outstanding production values solidified the success of streaming-first, as well as masterminding the return of iconic characters like Jacqui, Myra, Cleo and Theresa McQueen and Freddie Roscoe. 

While audiences continue to love strong brands and familiarity, they are confronted with ever increasing choice and a growing number of titles. Fewer episodes mean greater focus on the characters and gripping storylines that we know audiences love most. The new format will ensure Hollyoaks stays relevant, competitive, and ahead of the curve in a changing TV market. 

Hollyoaks will continue to focus on being the youngest-skewing and most innovative soap tackling real-life issues in an authentic way. It will offer more spectacular storylines and drama, focusing on fan-favourite characters and their interconnected lives, which research tells us is what viewers want more of. 

It will build on the huge success of recent special episodes, which have demonstrated the way in which concentrated, well-crafted instalments resonate with viewers. January’s special episode that featured an explosive multi-vehicle collision, exploding a number of stories and introducing new characters saw streaming views up 62% over the previous four-week average making it the biggest Hollyoaks episode ever on Channel 4 streaming*.

The new digital first streaming pattern for Hollyoaks launched in September last year, is also performing strongly with the show’s streaming views up +33% since November 2023 on the four months prior.

The changes to the drop pattern of the show will have an impact on its production. Channel 4 will work alongside Lime Pictures to minimise these impacts where possible. 

Ian Katz, Chief Content Officer said: “Hollyoaks is on sparkling creative form at the moment and these changes will ensure it remains compulsive viewing for a new generation of fans as viewing habits change. The show has always been at the forefront of innovation in all of its forms, including increasing and decreasing episode numbers in response to viewing habits. These changes are a decisive step forward, designed to reflect how audiences are watching. A tighter schedule promises a new era of more scale and impact. We are of course mindful of the impacts on the production team and will work closely with Lime Pictures to minimise these where possible.

“We are also delighted that the brilliant Hannah Cheers will be leading Hollyoaks into its fourth decade. Hannah is passionate, rigorous and has an outstanding track record of finding and developing talent. 

“Hollyoaks has played a crucial role in nurturing talent for nearly thirty years, and we are excited to continue to develop new opportunities and nurture the stars of tomorrow. I would like to thank all the Hollyoaks cast and crew who have been involved in the programme since its inception.” 

MDs of Lime Pictures, Kate Little and Claire Poyser said: “Given the success of the new streaming-first model, we are delighted that Hollyoaks remains at the forefront of Channel 4’s digital first strategy, bringing authentic, unexpected and untold stories that inspire younger audiences in a way that they want to consume them.

“We are absolutely thrilled that Hannah Cheers will lead the show into its next exciting chapter. Evidently there are implications that will mean we have to reshape Hollyoaks’ production model and amidst the buoying news for the future of the show and its audience, we must also acknowledge that a reduction in cast and crew, will be very difficult and we will support everyone in that process.”

Hannah Cheers, Executive Producer said: “Hollyoaks offers a unique proposition: bold, escapist, relatable, youth-skewing and multi-generational stories, told in its innovative and technicolour signature style. The show continues to bring people together by making them feel something, and everything. Approaching its 30th anniversary in 2025, Hollyoaks matters just as much now as it did at its trailblazing launch.

“There may be speculation about the future of Continuing Drama, but as someone who was brought up on the nation’s soaps - and remains a true fan - I believe their value must not be underestimated. 

“Soap audiences grow up alongside their favourite characters over a period of many years; the investment in their stories is huge. The genre’s ability to initiate important conversations is unparalleled, especially when it all comes served up with joy, humour and jaw-dropping twists. I want future generations to experience that.”

“I am honoured to lead Hollyoaks into its fourth decade on Channel 4 and drive the vision of this transition.”

Ben Wadey, Channel 4 Commissioning Executive for Hollyoaks said: “In January I promised a blockbuster year for Hollyoaks and after a powerful start with our breath-taking hour long special, there’s no let-up in momentum. At Hollyoaks we have always been brave, leading the way and not only tackling stories that others wouldn’t dare to, but changing and evolving to the needs of our viewers. Don’t forget Hollyoaks initially launched with just one episode per week in 1995, gradually increasing to two in 1996, three in 1999, four in 2001 and finally five in 2003.But now in 2024 we must flex again, as we have always done, to best serve our audiences and keep our young skewing soap in step with young viewers. We’re not afraid of change, it has been key to Hollyoaks’ longevity so far and will be the key to its future.”   

Notes to editors: 

*Not including Christmas specials

About Channel 4

Channel 4 exists to create change through entertainment. Publicly owned yet commercially funded, Channel 4 generates significant and sustainable cultural, economic and social impact across the UK – at no cost to the taxpayer.

The broadcaster’s distinctive remit is set by Parliament, and it has a role to represent unheard voices, challenge with purpose and reinvent entertainment. For more than 40 years, it has been a British success story, engaging generation after generation of young people.

With a unique publisher-broadcaster model, Channel 4 commissions its content from the UK independent production sector. Working with hundreds of creative companies every year, Channel 4 makes a major contribution to the local, regional and national economy, creating and supporting thousands of jobs and businesses across the country.

In 2024, Channel 4 launched its Fast Forward strategy to accelerate its transformation into an agile and genuinely digital-first public service streamer by 2030. It is designed to ensure Channel 4 embraces the generational shift in TV viewing, elevates its impact across the UK and stands out in a crowded market.

From its bases in London, Leeds, Manchester, Bristol and Glasgow, Channel 4 is fully committed to harnessing the power of its regional structure to increase its impact across the UK. Through its training and development initiative 4Skills is opening up opportunities in broadcasting, with a particular focus on disadvantaged young people and addressing skills gaps across the Nations and Regions. 4Skills invests £5m in training, development and learning opportunities annually and this will double to £10m by 2025.

Channel 4 has the UK’s biggest free streaming service. Through Film4 Productions, Channel 4 also invests in British filmmakers to huge critical acclaim, producing 37 Oscar wins and 97 BAFTA wins in its history.

About Lime Pictures

Lime Pictures, with bases in Liverpool and London, producesworld-class, cutting-edgeprogramming, covering a wide range of genres from reality drama, through to kids scripted to Channel 4's multi-award-winning daily soap,Hollyoaks. With more than 30 years' experience in producing content for global audiences, it produces for all platforms, both linear and VOD, and has played a pioneering role in the launch of new formats as well as using television as a way of on-screen storytelling, and as an off-screen platform, to communicate with a younger audience.

Lime Pictures' extensive catalogue of programming includes worldwide Netflix hitsDance Monsters,Zero Chilland double Emmy award-winningFree Rein,Hollyoaksfor Channel4, Vinnie JonesIn The Country for Discovery+, and the BAFTA award-winning reality seriesThe Only Way Is Essexfor ITVX. Productions forMTV includeGeordie Shore(the highestrated series outside of North America),Geordie OGs,True Love or True Lies,Love at First Lie: Who’s A CoupleandWho’s A ConandAre You The One? UK. Lime Pictures also produces E4's highly successfulCelebs Go Datingas well as ITVX’sGeorgia and Tommy: Baby Steps and Drama Queens.