TV Times - A surprise innovation

THE words “Hollyoaks” and “intelligent” are rarely used in the same sentence.

But the soap is about to embark on a truly intelligent project, the likes of which have never been seen before.

The makers of the programme are keen to address the issues of consent in rape cases, and whether a court room is the best place to make decisions in situations where the issue is a grey area.

Sounds like heavy stuff for 6.30pm on a weekday evening.

And it is – but a novel method is being used to provoke discussion on the issue.

An experiment will see a jury, made up of members of the public, presented with all the evidence of a on-screen trial and asked to reach a verdict.

Though this jury will not be seen on television, their decision will be used to further the plot which has seen Gilly Roach accused of rape by Jacqui McQueen.

The two were seen entering a bedroom together and closing the door behind them.

Nothing else was shown, leaving the viewers in the dark over what actually happened.

Channel 4 will release information on how the jurors reached their verdict as part of their debate on the issue of consent.

For a soap which has repeatedly lauded itself as a voice for the youth, this is a brilliant innovation.

Hollyoaks can easily be dismissed as sensationalist rubbish – largely because that’s what it is most of the time.

Like all soaps, it admirably tries its hand at all sorts of issues but often falls down due to poor long-term writing or horrendously bad acting.

And simply showcasing an issue such as anorexia or schizophrenia and offering an advice line at the end of the episode isn’t really addressing it.

But this is a genuine attempt to analyse a major concern and highlight the complications involved.

Certain commentators have labelled the storyline as brave in light of the recent EastEnders controversy.

But Hollyoaks should been praised for taking an issue and sparking genuine intellectual debate on it.

This could so easily have been another wafer-thin throwaway storyline for Hollyoaks. Instead they have made moves to set a standard in audience/public involvement.

The battle lines have been drawn. EastEnders should take note!

* JAMIE Oliver is back, but this time he’s not got his pans out. Not content with revolutionising school dinners, Oliver wants to transform schools from top to bottom.

As he says, in the ridiculously sanctimonious trailers that are currently running on Channel 4, schools are letting down the teenagers of today. So he’s going to do something about it!

That means replacing fully qualified teachers who have actually studied the subjects they are teaching for years, with actual experts.

So Daley Thompson will teach PE and David Starkey will teach history.

I have spoken in this column before about my undying dislike for Oliver... so you can guess what I may think when this is actually broadcast.

This is just a warning for what’s coming on this page soon!