Soaps' Most Controversial Storylines

Channel 5 (1 x 180 mins)

Soaps’ Most Controversial Storylines tears apart the most strikingly controversial moments ever in soap history, across the globe, told by those who were right at the heart of them.

Combining original testimony, never before told stories and incredible clips, this is the inside scoop on soap operas’ highest and lowest moments, exploring when soaps hit the headlines for all the right and wrong reasons. A reflection on society and a catalyst for social change or a way to attract more viewers? From devilish twists to tragic accidents, heart-stopping breakups to family feuds, what happens when fact and fiction collide?

From Mark Fowler’s Aids story developed with Terence Higgins Trust, to Brookside’s infamous ‘body under the patio’ with echoes to Fred and Rosemary West, to the PM, Tony Blair, intervening for Deirdre in ‘Free the Weatherfield One’ to the notorious ‘Eastbenders’ headlines, this film investigates journalistically just how close fact and fiction can be in the world of soaps…

Speaking directly to camera, we hear exclusive eye -witness accounts from the stars, writers, story producers, executives and journalists who broke the stories that shocked the nation.

Twenty-five years ago, Phil Redmond, creator of Brookside and Hollyoaks stepped in to ‘save’ Emmerdale, with a million-pound stunt that saw ratings go through the roof. The papers criticised the incident, but it worked.

One of the Neighbours most talked about storylines begins with Susan Kennedy slipping on spilled milk, but when Susan gets back up again, she has a case of amnesia. Susan's Amnesia was actually based on a real woman here in the UK.

Former EastEnders exec Dominic Treadwell-Collins blames himself for the origins of the controversial storyline mixing a cot death and a baby swap – “icky”.

William Roache tearfully describes filming with Anne Kirkbride, which also saw her reduced to tears, as part of the infamous Deirdre / Ken / Mike love triangle. A story that gripped the nation and whose results were famously announced on the football scoreboards at Old Trafford.

Weddings always provide a great opportunity for drama, with just one notable exception, the nineteen eighty-seven wedding of Neighbours’ Scott and Charlene who – quite controversially – walked down the aisle without incident or calamity. Stefan Denis (Paul Robinson) says 'although it is iconic, and it looks fantastic, but it was actually a really boring film day for us. I’m glad I learned to take a book.' Despite the complete lack of drama, or even dialogue, Scott and Charlene’s big day made headlines and was watched by nineteen point six million Brits

To Hayley Cropper’s arrival on Coronation Street where boss, Brian Park, purportedly told the script executive to get rid of that f**king Hayley. But, having been convinced she could turn into a transgender character, Hayley stayed and became one of the most ground-breaking characters in soaps, until her shock exit in 2014.