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We love to turn it on 5 times a week (but whatever happened to the original stars of Hollyoaks); TODAY the Mersey teen soap Hollyoaks celebrates its 10th birthday. TV editor Peter Grant reports.

Byline: Peter Grant reports

TEN years ago Channel 4 searched for a ' Britpack' of hunks and hunkesses. It was for a new teen drama created by soap guru Phil Redmond - provisionally called Today Not Tomorrow.

Set in leafy Chester, it was the UK's answer to US imports such as Beverly Hills 90210 and those from Australia like Home And Away and Neighbours It became Hollyoaks. This fictitious suburb of historic, well-heeled Chester is 90% filmed in Childwall at Mersey TV's base camp.

When it was screened on October 23 1995, it captured an audience of 2.9m. Originally planned as a weekly series with a Sunday repeat, it went twice-weekly in September 1996.

Now it is five-days-a-week and has its own loyal following of young and old alike, reaching a regular audience of 3m.

Big name guests have since given it extra sparkle such as Boy George, Caprice and Cat Deeley . An original super seven cast - four girls and three lads - played the prosperous leading characters: two had gone straight into work; the rest to college.

And the scripts, the first written by Redmond and then by established writers such as Andy Lynch and Roy Boulter , reflected the trends in fashion, music and new gadgets from mobile phones to computers.

There were many memorable storylines including chef Tony ( Nick Pickard ), being jilted at the altar; Jambo losing his beloved Dawn and a gritty and controversial male rape story.

Yet Redmond also wanted fun and humour in abundance - as later shown in the on-location shoots such as Ibiza. And he wanted Hollyoaks to keep abreast of the times, both on and off screen.

Each year there are the much-awaited Hollyoaks Hunks and Hollyoaks Babes calendars. And there are dance workout and keep fit videos.

Only one star remains from the original cast - Nick Pickard. But household names have been and gone since it started a decade ago.

Terri Dwyer and former model Joanna Taylor are both accomplished actors and TV presenters. Terri starred in the popular show The Games. Awardwinning actor Gary Lucy , now in The Bill, scored great success, too, when he signed up for Footballers' Wives Ben Hull, who played Lewis Rich-ardson, moved on - but only across the corridor to Brookside. Others such as as Tiffany Mulheron have become front cover models for the men's mags.

So while Neighbours basks in its 20-year celebration, home-grown Hollyoaks - not even a teenager itself yet - is going from strength to strength and is now seen in 15 countries.

Tonight in Childwall the champagne corks will be popping at a tenth birthday party and all original seven have been invited. Where are the original magnificent seven now? Kurt Benson: Jeremy Edwards

Jeremy was heart throb Kurt until 1999. He was a motorcycle-loving rock star-in-waiting. Jeremy's TV work has since included Holby City as Danny Shaugnessy from 1999 to 2003. He also appeared in the film Lost Dogs but most recently appeared in Celebrity Big Brother. Jeremy, former fiance of S Club Seven's Rachel Stevens , like most Hollyoaks stars, is a regular in the nation's gossip columns

James ' Jambo ' Bolton: William Mellor

The Mancunian actor was the happygo-lucky jack-the-lad with an eye for the ladies. He has enjoyed stage success and a pop career, notably on Celebrity Fame Academy. He was Vincent in Casualty and Gaz in the Runcorn-based Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps

Tony Hutchinson: Nick Pickard

Nick is the only surviving member of the original seven. He is proud to see Hollyoaks develop: "I was sad when people started to leave but I understood that we all move on and no one person is bigger than the show. And I still keep in touch with the lads. Hollyoaks manages to capture life today just as it did 10 years ago

Maddie Parker: Yasmin Bannerman

Maddie was the streetwise and sassy siren who ran Parker's restaurant.

Later she was the TV face of the mobile phone ads ONE2ONE. Roles in London's Burning, Red Dwarf and Cold Feet III have kept her on screen followed, as well, by MerseyBeat, Dr Who (playing Jabe) and 55 Degrees North. She has also enjoyed a film career, appearing in The Powder Room, Maybe Baby and Killing Me Softly. All that - as well as being a mother

Natasha Anderson: Shebah Ronay

One of the first Hollyoaks babes, she was sophisticated, glamorous and feisty and the love object of Kurt.

She starred in the drama's earliest controversial storyline featuring the much-publicised story when Natasha died on the dance floor after her drink was spiked. Shebah, daughter of fashion designer Edina Ronay , turned to modelling after she left Hollyoaks and was often described as an 'it' girl. She is a freelance writer specialising in society columns and reviews

Dawn Cunningham: Lisa Williamson

Brown-haired Lisa played this easy-going interior designer. She was someone who had time for everyone and a shoulder to cry on.

When she left the series Lisa, who trained at the world-famous Lee Strasberg School, took on roles in various stage and TV productions and appeared in the new Crossroads, Sky's smash hit soccer series Dream Team and in the critically-acclaimed films Red Dress and Freefalling. She has worked extensively in the theatre including Rebecca, Inadmissable Joy and, at the Edinburgh Festival, God's Country

Louise Taylor: Brett O'Brien

The most enigmatic of the debut seven. At the Liverpool launch she told the ECHO that it was her big break playing the gypsy-like earth mother Louise. The character was a hopeless romantic in search of the perfect man who had a strong interest in the supernatural and lived her life by sticking to what the horoscopes said.

Since leaving Hollyoaks she has not pursued an acting career and as a Hollyoaks spokesperson said, "like her character, she decided to be her own woman - a free spirit.


TEEN DREAM: the originals (left to right) - Nick Pickard, Brett O'Brien, Lisa Williamson, TV boss Phil Redmond, Jeremy Edwards, Yasmin Bannerman, Will Mellor and Shebah Ronay
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 21, 2005
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