It’s taken me four days to write this post, and not because I was too lazy – which is the normal reason for my late submissions. But because I found the culmination of the Cleo and Pete storyline so emotional to watch, I wasn’t completely sure I could put it into words.
So often our soaps are maligned for their ridiculous storylines and unrealistic characterisation, but when they get it right; they do so in spectacular fashion. A fact that Hollyoaks proved again this week.
There had been much said about the length of this story, mostly confusion of how Pete could still contact his young victim and how he still had this chilling control over her. But sadly this is all too real when it comes to beasts such as Pete Buchanan who groom, manipulate and physically and mentally abuse young people.
For the show to portray the true nature of what occurs they had no choice but to play it out, as it would happen in the real world. A real world where it can often take years to gain rightful justice.
This is not the first time a Phil Redmond production has covered the act of abuse head on. As a youngster I remember watching Brookside and the harrowing story of Mandy Jordache. A battered wife who eventually buried her abusive husband under the patio, after she killed him following another disgusting attack.
Hollyoaks itself was also the first British Soap to feature a same-sex sexual attack when Luke was raped by his teammates after football training. A topic they revisited from a different angle with the attack of teacher John-Paul by teenage student Finn.
But I think the reason this story has hit home with so many was the normality of the character who was the perpetrator. Pete appeared to be a normal family man who wanted to father and guide his stepdaughters, all the while smashing the trust they had shown in him.
Rightly so, they worked along the longstanding charity Childline to ensure they represented those who are advised with the respect they deserve. And while you can research these matters for years, it’s appearance on television would not be respectful or honest workout the superb work of the shows cast and crew.
Superb writing showed the importance of words and brainwashing in cases such as these. The little comments Pete made, the lies he told in order to gain that control. Alongside the the way he terrorised all three girls in one way or another.
Yes at times it was uncomfortable to watch, but if we were to feel pay watching a storyline like this then that would show how sad our world had become.
But it’s vital that our creative mediums continue to cover situations such as this, they have a responsibility not to hide from the dark nature of real life. No matter how hard it is for us to watch.
Because if it gets just just one person talking about their uncomfortable situation, it has more than earned it’s keep.
While there was standout performances from main actors Nadine Mulkerrin and Kai Owen, they were supported brilliantly by others in the cast. Most notably by Nicole Barber-Lane; who showed she is more than just a comedy actress and Zoe Lucker, who reminded us all what she is capable of when given a decent script.
Everyone involved in the story did a sterling job and as much as I applaud their craft, I wish we didn’t have real-life situations to compare it to.