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Behind the scenes at Hollyoaks

By Jess Fisher
Posted:26/10/2022 15:45:46
Listen in as Jess, our delivery facilitator, describes their trip to Hollyoaks.
Listen in as Jess, our delivery facilitator, describes their trip to Hollyoaks.

Lime Pictures Studios

Working as the delivery facilitator for 4Schools, I have to have a pretty good understanding of what life is like in the TV and broadcasting industry. Having come from an insurance and recruitment background, this has been a big learning curve for me... But what better way to learn than by visiting a real-life TV set! 

We’ve had the opportunity to visit Lime Pictures Studios in Liverpool, which houses the Hollyoaks set, to film some behind-the-scenes content for our workshops. We were granted access on set – or more commonly known as the ‘floor’ – and conducted several interviews with different crew members on camera.  Having never been to a TV set before, this was something that we were super excited about on the 4Schools team. Read on for some exclusive behind-the-scenes content… 

First day on set

We started our day with a journey from Stockport to the set in Childwall, Liverpool. Arriving at about 9 am, we were surprised to see that the studios are in quite a random location – right in the middle of a housing estate! If you weren’t looking for them, you would never have even known that they were there. We made our way up the leafy green driveway towards the main reception and were met by the wonderful Production Manager, Leah. 

The reception was a really interesting place as the walls were decorated with all sorts of BAFTA nominations, industry accolades and imagery from all of the different shows Lime work on – including Hollyoaks, Celebs go Dating, Geordie Shore and The Only Way is Essex. What we found really interesting is that the offices of the different production teams are actually situated within the physical set of the show. 

So, for example, in the corridors of the Hollyoaks ‘high school’ set you will find the offices for the Casting Team, the Scripts team, the Editors, the Production Managers and many more. It was quite surreal to walk through what looked like just a normal corridor, to then peer in through a doorway to see a fully laid out set with all of the technical equipment set up and ready to go. 

Filming the interviews 

We set up base on the set of ‘… and Nancy’s flat’ and this is where we conducted our interviews on camera for the morning. We met with Anthony – a Prop Master, Dan – an Assistant Director and Lotte – a Production Secretary. All of whom gave a fantastic insight into what their roles entail, how they got to where they are today and some great behind-the-scenes facts. I sat on the sidelines of these interviews, taking it all in and offering some ‘creative direction’ which I’m not entirely sure was all that helpful, but I enjoyed myself nonetheless. 

The Hollyoaks village 

It was soon time to break for lunch in the canteen, which again was plonked right in the middle of the Hollyoaks ‘high school set’. Outside of the canteen were the famous outdoor locations from the show, including “The Boat” coffee shop, “The Dog” pub, and even a pond with some super cute ducklings, which were the true stars of the show in my eyes. We ventured down to the Hollyoaks village, which is an outdoor set designed to look like a high street. It was complete with a bus stop, a market, a “price and slice” corner shop, a nail salon, and even some character’s houses. It was completely empty, so we got the opportunity to wander about and peek into the different sets.

All of them were crazily realistic. My favourite was the nail salon, which was fully kitted out in pastel colours, velvet chairs, a flower wall, and neon signs. Think of a chic and trendy Soho salon! very stylish. In the village, we met actor Nick Pickard, who plays the character of Tony Hutchinson and has been on the show since the very first episode. Nick was kind enough to record a promo video for our Pitch a Programme competition, so we got to stand on the side-lines and watch the professionals at work – bloopers and all! 

The props shed

It was then time to get some footage in the props shed. On the way, we passed star of the show Chelsea Healey just casually doing her makeup in the corridor. We had to make sure we were quiet when walking around and had to be accompanied by a runner to make sure that we didn’t accidentally walk onto a set which was currently being filmed on. The props shed was a fascinating place of what you might call ‘organised chaos’. 

There were all sorts of miscellaneous items, including furniture, bed frames, kitchen utensils, books, magazines, etc. I could list them for pages and pages. But what was really interesting was the ‘consumable props’ shelf, which housed all of the props which are used as food or drink. For example, characters in the ‘The Dog’ pub drinking a glass of white wine, would actually be drinking a glass of Welch’s white grape juice from the props shed. 

The costume department

We then went to the costume department to capture some footage. While our cameraman was busy at work, we bumped into a ‘Dresser’ who was busy setting up a set for filming the next day. The scene was to take place in a family home where the mother had just had a baby, so the Dresser was busy putting together all sorts of different baby toys and arranging them around the house. 

This was a really great set and looked just like a real family home. There were shoes in the shoe rack by the front door, coats hanging on the hook, phone chargers plugged into the wall, and even family photos on the dresser and hanging on the wall. All of these little touches are what the props team are responsible for and do such a great job of creating such realistic, immersive sets. This no doubt makes it easier for the actors to do a great job in their scenes, but also makes the show and storyline feel even more real for the viewers at home. 

Final thoughts

There are so many more super cool things I could tell you about, but just in case you’re thinking of entering our competition where the winning prize is a set visit to Hollyoaks, I’ll leave the rest under wraps.

Overall we had an amazing experience on set, and it has definitely been an invaluable experience in terms of helping me to become a better facilitator for 4Schools workshops in the future. A huge thanks to the team at Lime Pictures Studios for letting us come along!

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