Hollyoaks is about to introduce a storyline twist that has never been attempted in a UK soap before.
The soap, which recently underwent a huge broadcast change for the first time in 28 years, has revealed a storyline that will place the focus on a rare phenomenon for the first time in British soap history.
At the centre of this story will be Jennifer Metcalfe’s Mercedes McQueen who, in an episode that aired in November, was revealed to be pregnant. However, the identity of the baby’s father was unknown, which caused controversy as she is engaged to Felix (Richard Blackwood); Mercedes had been having an affair with Warren (Jamie Lomas).
After discovering she is pregnant with twins, Mercedes, in an episode set to air on Thursday (1 February), will discover that Felix and Warren are both fathers to each of her unborn babies.
This phenomenon, which has been the subject of several twists in US soaps, is called Heteropaternal superfecundation.
It occurs when two eggs are fertilised in the same menstrual cycle by different sperms in separate sexual encounters. Twins born as a result of this are fraternal and are genetically considered to be half-siblings.
In the episode, as highlighted by Metro.co.uk, Mercedes will tell the surprised Warren and Felix: “Two babies. Two dads. Congratulations – we are having twins.”
When it was revealed that Mercedes was having twins, many fans predicted this twist might be in the works – and the fan theory has now been confirmed.
The soap was first broadcast on the channel in 1995, but the shake-up by, introduced by bosses, aimed to target the show’s younger demographic.
Channel 4 has confirmed the change to The Independent, revealing that each episode will be uploaded to YouTube after it has premiered on E4.
Since 2005, episodes of Hollyoaks have premiered on E4, with each episode subsequently being broadcast on Channel 4 the following day.
But Channel 4 bosses are hoping to tap into the digital age by teasing a first look at each new episode online before broadcasting the episode on E4 half an hour later. Whereas that episode would have aired on Channel 4 the next day, it will now be made available to view on YouTube instead.
Channel 4’s chief content officer Ian Katz said: “Hollyoaks has always been the youngest and most innovative soap so it’s fitting that it should be the first to embrace the changes in the behaviour of younger viewers and switch to a genuinely digital-led release pattern. It was the first UK soap to move to a stream-first model last year and this is the next phase of that evolution.
“We hope making Hollyoaks available on YouTube, as well as our own platforms, will introduce a whole new generation to the show.”
Hollyoaks follows a group of suburban college students through numerous ups and downs in their lives in Chester in the north-west of England. The show was created by Phil Redmond, who had previously devised Brookside for the channel, and has been a Channel 4 staple since 1995.