For the regular visitors to my blog, you’ll know I love my soaps, and I put the spotlight on the Black characters that feature in the show. Consequently, you know I was excited that the soap with the prettiest Black woman on TV (Celeste Faroe played by Andrea Ali), i.e. Hollyoaks had an hour long episode that featured every Black and mixed race character in the soap appearing in the episode, some had never shared a scene before but all came together to celebrate Walter Devereaux’s (Trevor A. Toussaint) birthday by a local lake. The episode was directed by Patrick Robinson, who some of us know as Ash from Casualty.
Martine (Kelle Bryant) decided to organise the surprise birthday barbecue, and was surprised to see Felix (Richard Blackwood) in attendance. She learnt that the reason Felix had left was because Walter had forced him to leave. Felix had been staying with his son DeMarcus (Tomi Ade) and his mum. And yes DeMarcus is a new character, who gatecrashed the barbecue.
Martine decided to decided to take a boat out on the lake in order to get away from Felix, and his son. Felix, however, followed her in another boat, trying to apologise. DeMarcus followed them into the lake, a confrontation ensued, leading to Felix drowning, and Martine rescuing him. Well, she was a flight attendant in a former life. After the drama of the near death experience Feliz realises he wants to be a proper dad to DeMarcus and that he still wants to be with Martine ❤️❤️❤️❤️. DeMarcus will move to the village, and they can be one big family. Martine is somewhat philosophical about learning that her tumour has not shrunk enough, and therefore she would need a mastectomy. Now that she has Felix back I hope he doesn’t disappoint this time.
Birthday boy Walter was also surprised to see his old friend Pearl Anderson (Dawn Hope) and her daughter, Sharon Bailey (Jamelia) at the party, and as with any reunions, we learnt more about Walter’s twin brother who committed suicide as a result of facing discrimination due to his homosexuality (we first learnt of this when Walter was coming to terms with his grandson Mitchell’s sexuality.
Sharon and Martine are also old friends, so it was good for them to catch up with the happenstances since they had last seen each other. The conversation obviously turned to Martine’s diagnosis and potential match making with their respective parent. It was lovely to see Jamelia on our screens, so hopefully this isn’t a one off appearance.
From another returnee’s perspective, we had Prince McQueen (Malique Thompson-Dwyer) return with his new fiancee Olivia (Emily Burnett). They are keeping a secret from his mum Goldie McQueen (Chelsee Healey) as they are planning to get married in New Zealand. As with most people who are introduced to the McQueens, Olivia found Golidie uncouth and it was revealed that Prince hasn’t been 100% honest with Olivia – pretending to be a vegan and liking yoga pants. Following advice Olivia is challenged to embrace the McQueen and she rocks some leopard print. I think this week was the first time Hollyoaks acknowledged Goldie’s ethnicity, so it will be interesting to see if it will be explored in the future.
Meanwhile, Ripley Lennox (Ki Griffin) has been away visiting their parents, and learns their landlady Grace Black had rented Summer’s old room to newcomer Nate Denby (Chris Charles). Brooke Hathaway (Tylan Grant), meanwhile, was happy to see Ripley was back. The pair have undeniable chemitry so they decide to go on three dates during the day, and following the third at the Deverauxs’ barbecue, they kissed.
Turning to Nate, he clearly has a secret and it will be interesting to see how his character develops, as he seems to know a lot about the villagers.
Somehow, all the Black and mixed race characters ended up at the party, and the episode ended with two Black party staples Candy by Cameo and Nothing Like This by Omar being being played by DJ Target, originally from Roll Deep but now a Radio 1 Xtra staple.
What can I say, the episode was unapologetically Black, and you know the cast must have enjoyed every minute making this episode. The make up was on point, the clothes were on point, the wigs didn’t have my side eyeing them, and having all that Blackness on my screen didn’t have me questioning who did Toby’s braids 😂.
I loved the episode so much I watched it on E4, and then watched it again on Channel 4 on Black to Front Day (September 10).
If you haven’t watched it you can catch it on All 4, as well as all the other shows they put on as part of Black to Front. I have to say that one of the best things about today is that it wasn’t in October (the UK Black History Month) and that the stories told today celebrated Blackness. It summed up what it means to be Young, Gifted and Black… DJ rewind and come again.
Black to Front has also incorporated the advertisers into its mission, as I would say 99% of the adverts shown featured Black people, Black families and was just a celebration of everything Black. And as Wesley Snipes said… Always bet on Black 😂😂
I hope Black to Front, like Steve McQueen’s Small Axe anthology shows TV commissioners that Black content creators are just as important as the talent in front of the screen.
We saw the nuances in the scripts, the clothes and direction. In addition, Black content doesn’t need to be confined to midnight, with promotion, relying on the chain text/ What’s App messages to ensure we see ourselves on screen and that we are seen by the majority of the viewing public.
To those who are upset about all Black representation for one day out of 365 when your TV planner has a gazillion channels to choose from, may your fingers get tired when you write your letters/ report to OFCOM. And for those who liked what I’ve shared, you can catch me on Clubhouse from 2pm every Sunday talking about Previously on EastCorrieDaleOaks. I look forward to hearing you
Brilliant as ever Elaine. I for one, have enjoyed all the black joy and black love today, noticing that black was doesn’t have to be depicted in screen as sad and monotonous gangster style shows or historic issues which everyone is well aware of (and triggered by!). I fully commend channel 4 and hope the rest of the channels soon fall in line with a true representation of what this country looks like, instead of feeding into the racist and contradictory, false narrative of Britain, as is displayed on most channels regularly.
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Oh thank you Siobhan for reading and sharing your thoughts.
Today has made me laugh with joy, and also proud of what was achieved
The what next is really important for all TV commissioners after today.
Great read Elaine. Having not watched any of the above soaps for well over a decade i’m unfamiliar with the characters but did take the time out to watch due to the occasion and I simply had to smile throughout the special. It was wonderful to see Patrick’s name come up as writer. Even better to note the the themes raised within the story. The moment Omar’s song came on it was clear as day that we’d taken this moment to celebrate the existence of us, no matter what.
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Thank you Jide.
I completely agree. I also think other soaps (bar Eastenders) would have struggled to demonstrate Black joy, as well as Hollyoaks did as there is a Black family in Corrie – who have not landed as well as they should have and Emmerdale has failed to have the Black mum of a mixed race son come and visit her first grandchild – despite being close with her son.
I’ll ping you into my Clubhouse room so you can hear all about what happens. It will make your Christmas discussions easier 😂😂😂