Hollyoaks is another drama series created by Phil Redmond, creator also of Emmerdale and Grange Hill. Shown on Channel 4 in Britain at 6.30pm on weekdays and an omnibus usually starting at 10.30am on Sundays.

This series, like another favourite of all students I have known, Neighbours, is getting increasingly bad in its acting and script-writing. It is set in Chester, and mostly revolves around the lives of its student population. The plots (for there are many) follow various groups of people, mostly families, who come and go from the series. At the time of writing these include: Tony, a chef who runs his own restaurant, Gnosh, and Mandy, his girlfriend who he has recently got back together with after sleeping with her mother; Scott Anderson, owner of a nightclub called the Loft and a slightly shady character; Ben, who recently divorced Izzie, essentially because she was infertile, and is now living with his (divorced) father and friend Dan Hunter; Dan runs a garage and was released from jail a few months ago after being falsely imprisoned for the death of his sister's husband; Ellie Hunter, Dan's sister, formerly married to Toby, a serial killer who died in a climactic special late-night episode by being thrown off a roof... And it goes on. The writers seem to make a special feature of prolonging each plot as much as possible such that (as with so many soaps) one can come back from a two-week holiday and still know what's going on. Watching the programme becomes habit, and it's soon impossible to shake off.

The scripts deal with 'issues', usually one at a time. At the moment there's a family with a son who is, for want of a better word, troubled: stereotypically, he smokes pot. There's the whole 'drugs are bad' thing. During the end credits of each episode, the warm female voice of Channel 4, whose name I cannot seem to find anywhere, intones that 'if you would like to talk in confidence to trained counsellors about any of the issues shown in this programme, ring this freephone hotline'.

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