Soap violence 'has not ruined' Chester's reputation

Published date: 28 July 2014 |
Published by: Steve Creswell and Lauren Wise
Read more articles by Steve Creswell and Lauren Wise


HOLLYOAKS is not tarnishing Chester’s reputation but should be shown later in the evening, Cestrians have told the Leader.

We conducted a survey in the city centre following news last week that the soap had been revealed as the most violent on British TV.

A report by the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom revealed the programme, set in Chester but filmed in Liverpool, had contained more violent scenes than EastEnders, Coronation Street, or Emmerdale since 2001.

Some people said they thought viewers associated the soap more with Liverpool than Chester.

English student Hannah, 18, said: “I don’t think there’s any negative effect on Chester; Eastenders is much worse. Hollyoaks deals with relevant issues that represent real problems happening, like the domestic violence storyline.”

But Kate, a 25-year-old doctor, said: “I think it shows Chester differently to how it really is. A lot of my friends always say, ‘Yeh, Chester, where Hollyoaks is,’ so the show is reflected on the city of Chester.”

Teaching assistant Leanne, 31, said: “People don’t really think of it as Chester because it’s filmed in Liverpool. Eastenders is definitely more violent than Hollyoaks – there’s about a death a week in it! Hollyoaks should be on later, though, because sometimes my 10-year-old daughter watches it.”

Ofcom has been researching trends and public attitudes towards TV violence before and after guidelines were issued in 2011, stating violent scenes should not be shown before 9pm.

Channel 4 was reprimanded in 2013 after broadcasting a scene in a pre-watershed episode of Hollyoaks in which a character was pushed beneath a speeding train.

A Channel 4 spokesman said: “We are committed to ensuring that all Hollyoaks storylines are appropriate for a pre-watershed audience. The portrayal of violence is appropriately limited and is shown within the context of long-running storylines and programmes that include scenes which some people may find upsetting are clearly flagged to viewers at the beginning of the broadcast.”

In its report, Ofcom noted that more than half the violent scenes in Hollyoaks were from just two storylines in 2013. Violence was used to “add dramatic value” and could not be described as gratuitous, it said.

EastEnders has shown a decline from 6.1 violent scenes per hour in 2001/2002 to 2.1 in 2013.

The level of violence in Coronation Street has remained fairly steady, at around three scenes per hour over the same period. There was an increase in Emmerdale, from 2.5 to over 4 scenes per hour, while Hollyoaks has also shown a rise, from 2.1 scenes per hour between 2001 and 2002 to 11.5 scenes per hour in 2013.

Broadcasters have also used violence in soap operas to help raise awareness and generate public debate around social issues such as domestic abuse, Ofcom said.

A Channel 4 spokesman added: “Hollyoaks has a track record of tackling issues affecting its audience and has worked alongside government and leading charities on subjects such as domestic abuse and bullying.”

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