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Reviewing the VMG Mind Awards soaps category

Tuesday, 12 November 2013 Amanda

Today, Amanda reviews the VMG Mind Awards soaps category looking at Hollyoaks, Waterloo Road and Casualty. Which will you be supporting on the night?

Hollyoaks – Esther’s Bullying

I’ve been Hollyoaks fan for many years now and while I don’t watch every episode I have certainly kept up with who’s who over the years and enjoy watching how they tackle the difficult issues.

While I get bemused by what seems to be the inclusion of a major disaster which wipes out a handful of the cast in each storyline (and Esther’s bullying is no exception to this – the wedding crash/explosion certainly fulfilled its obligations) I am always pretty impressed by the portrayal of important topics.

They captured the essence of bullying well throughout the weeks of this storyline with a good depiction of just how affected a person can be by seemingly innocuous comments and action but also picking up the difficulty for unimpressed bystanders to step away from the masses and actually stop it happening.

Jazmine Franks, who plays Esther, does a great job as this troubled teen capturing the isolation of the situation really well, with her depression leaving her more and more insular and eventually attempting to take her own life to escape from her personal nightmare.

Waterloo Road – Man of the match

Casey is a teenage girl whose brother is the school thug and whose sister is about as girly as they come. To everyone around her she seems like a football loving “tomboy” when the reality is that she is secretly binding her body to keep it boyish and feeling like a boy in a girl’s body.

It’s not the first time the soaps have addressed transgender issues and this show captures the family denial and aggression from the thuggish brother really well. A newcomer to the show picks up on Casey’s transgender feelings and tries to make her feel better about herself as well as bringing it to the attention of the teaching staff. The reaction of all around Casey seems to be pretty true to life from what I have seen and the fear and misunderstanding around gender issues has been portrayed well in my opinion.

I’m not a regular watcher of Waterloo Road since the departure of Angela Griffin but it is definitely a hard hitting drama which is not afraid to raise delicate issues and does so with a great of realism and sensitivity.


In this episode a young woman presents as a terminal cancer patient who simply doesn’t want to have any more treatment. While this doesn’t sit well with all the doctors in emergency room, some at least are empathetic to the young woman’s plight and try to respect her wishes.

In actual fact it is not terminal cancer but an eating disorder this young woman is suffering from and this episode picks up only too well how loved ones do not always understand the underlying mental illness and simply think she “needs to eat”.

In my experience of working with people with eating disorders, the dread of treatments which encourage people to gain weight are exactly the things that make them run away from hospices. Attitudes around the underlying issues from medical staff and family in this episode have been portrayed excellently, with the range of different feelings from guilt through to frustration – including the father forcibly putting her in the car and locking her in the room for her own good have truly captured the essence of this mental health problem.


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