Hollyoaks 'to slash up to 135 jobs' as weekly episodes cut from five to three

Hollyoaks will be cut from five episodes a week to just three, Channel 4 has announced.

The long-running soap has been renewed but with fewer episodes when a new transmission pattern comes into effect later this year.

The channel said the move, which comes into effect from September, said data showed the average regular soap viewer watched three episodes a week.

A weekly hour-long omnibus of that week’s three 20-minute episodes will also air.

Ian Katz, chief content officer at Channel 4, said: “Hollyoaks is on sparkling creative form at the moment and these changes will ensure it remains compulsive viewing for a new generation of fans as viewing habits change.

“The show has always been at the forefront of innovation in all of its forms, including increasing and decreasing episode numbers in response to viewing habits. These changes are a decisive step forward, designed to reflect how audiences are watching.

“A tighter schedule promises a new era of more scale and impact. We are of course mindful of the impacts on the production team and will work closely with (production company) Lime Pictures to minimise these where possible.”

The new schedule pattern begins on September 25 (Lime Pictures/Channel 4/PA) (PA Media)
The new schedule pattern begins on September 25 (Lime Pictures/Channel 4/PA) (PA Media)

The reduced output could mean the loss of up to 135 jobs, according to media outlet Broadcast.

The show's production company Lime Pictures shared the news with all staff on Thursday.

Hannah Cheers, the show’s executive producer said: “Hollyoaks offers a unique proposition: bold, escapist, relatable, youth-skewing and multi-generational stories, told in its innovative and technicolour signature style.

“The show continues to bring people together by making them feel something, and everything.

“Approaching its 30th anniversary in 2025, Hollyoaks matters just as much now as it did at its trailblazing launch.”

Hollyoaks, set in Chester, began airing on Channel 4 in October 1995 and is known for tackling social issues through its storylines, such as county lines drug dealing, anorexia and abusive relationships.