You are currently using an unsupported web browser. For the best experience using the Talent Manager website please consider upgrading your browser.

Lime Pictures is set to make up to 135 redundancies on Hollyoaks following Channel 4’s cutting of the soap opera’s weekly episodes from five to three.

The All3Media-owned indie has told staff that it is entering a period of consultation with Bectu to review the implications of reducing the volume of production on the Merseyside show, with around a third of roles expected to go.

Bectu head Philippa Childs branded the move “a huge loss for the whole sector, saying the soap has “provided brilliant employment opportunities and skills development for film and TV workers in the north west, and has served as an incubator of talent for the entire industry”.

C4 said the new “data-led drop pattern” was prompted by the discovery that fans of the show watch on average three episodes a week, amid a host of other content vying for their attention.

Last September, Hollyoaks became “digital-first”, airing on prior to YouTube and E4. At the time, C4 dropped its main channel broadcast; a new weekend C4 omnibus will air from this September.

In the past four months, streaming views of the show are up by a third on the previous four. C4 said Hollyoaks is “front and centre of its Digital First strategy” and the broadcaster is expected to redirect the cost savings of the move into other content, likely from out of London.

'A new era of more scale and impact'

The changes will take place from September, ahead of Hollyoaks’ 30th anniversary next year and take it back to the frequency it last had 23 years ago.

When the soap began on C4, it aired weekly, rising to two episodes within a year and building to a Monday-to-Friday pattern in 2003.

C4 chief creative officer Ian Katz promised a “new era of more scale and impact” for a show that is on “creative sparkling form”.

He added: “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. We are of course mindful of the impacts on the production team and will work closely with Lime Pictures to minimise these where possible.” 

Newly-appointed executive producer Hannah Cheers said the new viewing pattern will “allow us to explore stories in the way they demand to be told - and not by putting the cart before the horse”.

She added: “We also can’t over-face viewers with volume; we want them to keep coming back, after all. We want them to be ‘all in’, but in a way that it is possible to commit to.

“I spend most of my life saying ‘it’s on my list’ but I do get overwhelmed by the commitment. I want to be a part of the buzz, but I need to know I can succeed at being invested and not feel like I’ve missed too many episodes to share the joy others are reporting.”

Need Help?