Hollyoaks is a long-running British television teen drama, first broadcast on Channel 4 on 23 October 1995. It was originally devised by Phil Redmond, who had also devised the Channel 4 soap Brookside. The programme is set in a fictional suburb of Chester called Hollyoaks, and features a large cast of characters primarily aged between 16 and 35. Beginning with a cast of just seven major characters in 1995, the serial now has approximately 50 main cast members. Hollyoaks has a high cast turnover in comparison with other British soaps; as of December 2012, just thirteen characters have spent 5 years or longer on the show.
Since Bryan Kirkwood left his role in 2009, Hollyoaks has been helmed by a number of producers, consequently undergoing a number of creative reinventions and changes in direction during this time. Kirkwood’s successor Lucy Allan stepped down from her position in 2010 after twelve months; her replacement, Paul Marquess, introduced a wide variety of new characters before leaving one year later, to be replaced by Gareth Philips. Emma Smithwick later replaced Philips in Autumn 2011. In late September 2012, it was announced that Emma Smithwick would be replaced by Bryan Kirkwood.