Introducing… Hollyoaks Later 2012

It’s no secret that 2012 is my favourite year of Hollyoaks. I hold it in such high regard that it is the threshold I compare every other year against. Everything was heading in the right direction — not 100% perfect, but well on its way. The stories felt character-driven, engaging and exciting (but not OTT) and didn’t patronise the viewer. The writing felt mature and clever, without too much exposition. The characters were strong, well-developed and relatable. There was an abundance of character-comedy and hilarious moments. The overall good-to-bad acting level ratio was the strongest the show has ever seen. Hollyoaks had incredible showrunners that seemed to listen to the viewers’ feedback, negate our concerns and implement changes. I obviously can’t speak for everyone, but it felt like a brilliant time to be a Hollyoaks fan. To complement this exciting era, we were treated to a fantastic late-night spin-off, which allowed specific stories to push the boat out. I’ve always believed that the 2012 series of Hollyoaks Later was Hollyoaks‘ way of saying to the world, “this is what we’re truly capable of”.

It would have been an interesting experiment to remove any reference to the word “Hollyoaks” from these five 45-minute episodes and market it as a standalone dramatic mini-series. Lure in a new audience based solely on the content, not the brand name. Let them form an opinion without any negative bias. A secret spin-off, perhaps. Once they saw the sort of characters, actors and stories involved, they might have given the main show a go.

Traditionally, when a non-viewer hears “late-night Hollyoaks“, they imagine poor acting from plastic supermodels who are now allowed to get their tits out, swear and have sex. Probably alongside some misogynistic slapstick comedy. Maybe in the past, that was true, but not anymore. There is still some nudity, swearing and sex, but it feels natural for the characters’ journeys rather than gratuitous. The Later series allowed the show to push some of its best actors to the forefront and tell bold extensions of stories that the 6:30 pm timeslot wouldn’t typically allow.

The Later series of late-night episodes had been running annually each autumn since 2008. In 2012 it enjoyed a revamp, with producer Jane Steventon taking the reins. The cheesy opening titles were gone. The previous structure of four individual story strands became three, giving each story more breathing room. Each story strand received its own professional colour grade to create a distinct separation between them, resulting in looks not dissimilar to some Hollywood blockbusters. The cinematography got a considerable upgrade. The stories were massively ambitious and crucial for all the characters involved, having been building in the main show for some time. Even the gore was ramped up a gear (perhaps even going too far). A beautiful score and varied soundtrack brought it all together, featuring artists such as Johnny Cash, Connie Francis, The Turtles and… Lethal Bizzle. It was not late-night Hollyoaks as you knew it.

The above trailer was used on E4 to promote the miniseries. I don’t think it’s very representative of the whole series, really. It only focuses on one of the stories and presents soundbites out of context to create the sort of trailer you’d expect for a blockbuster film. The promotion could definitely have been improved.

The main cast of Later 2012

And so, the point of my writing is that I wanted to do some research. I want non-viewers of Hollyoaks to put aside any bias towards the show, watch this mini-series, and give me their honest opinion. I need to know what the general public thinks of this mini-series without any rose-tinted spectacles clouding their judgement, as you’d expect from an existing Hollyoaks viewer or somebody who hates Hollyoaks based on its reputation. If you’re up for that, I want to help by providing some relevant background to the stories and characters.

The Stories

Brendan and Walker face each other
Brendan and Walker talk

The A Story features a road trip to Southport and centres primarily around popular character Brendan, as his ‘friend’ Walker secretly plots against him, wanting him imprisoned for the murder of his younger brother, Cameron. Cameron had bought ecstasy from Brendan over a year ago, which resulted in him being permanently bedridden with serious brain damage and paralysis. A few days ago, Cameron died, which is the catalyst for Walker stepping up his revenge plan against Brendan. Brendan does not know that Walker is an undercover policeman — but doesn’t fully trust him either. Walker is consumed by his need for revenge and is no longer behaving professionally, focusing solely on his vendetta because he has nothing left to lose. Brendan is also helping Joel to deal with his abusive stepfather’s reappearance. During the road trip, a dark secret from Brendan’s past is revealed.

Lola talks with Bart, Jono and Neil.
Lola talks with Bart, Jono and Neil

The B Story features sixth-former lads Bart, Jono and Neil on a trip to Amsterdam to meet Lola, a girl Jono has been chatting to online. For some time now, Bart has been a cannabis user and even attempted to grow his own in his aunt’s attic, which resulted in her going to prison for him. The abundance of cannabis in Amsterdam is likely to cloud the lads’ judgement and challenge their friendship.

Lauren drags Mitzeee through a forest by the handcuffs they are joined with. Both are wearing prison attire.
Lauren drags Mitzeee around by the handcuffs

The C Story features a prison break, as wrongfully imprisoned Mitzeee is transferred to a psych unit. Whilst handcuffed to fellow prisoner Lauren for transit, Lauren runs for it, dragging an unwilling Mitzeee along with her. Mitzeee is in prison because Mercedes — the girlfriend of Mitzeee’s love interest, Riley — has gaslighted her into believing she stabbed her with a kitchen knife. Mitzeee doesn’t know that while she was knocked out and overdosed on medication, Mercedes stabbed herself with the knife and framed Mitzeee. Mitzeee can’t be sure whether or not she is guilty of the crime due to the fogginess of the timeline, and as such, is doubting herself and her morals.

A Story Characters


NAME: Brendan Brady
PERSONALITY: Socially awkward. Has difficulty expressing and regulating emotions. Loving and protective. Skewed moral compass. Dark sense of humour.
OCCUPATION: Night club owner and occasional drug dealer.
CONNECTIONS: Older brother of Cheryl, grandson of Nana Flo
GOOD TO KNOW: Brendan has dabbled in drug dealing in the past. Unbeknownst to him, one of his customers died from the drugs he sold. That customer’s brother is now an undercover police officer — Walker — who, by chance, discovered Brendan was responsible when he was undercover on another case in the same prison as Brendan (who was being framed for murder at the time). Walker is hell-bent on ensuring Brendan goes down for murdering his brother and refuses to see the tragic death as anything other than murder. Brendan’s traumatic backstory has shaped his outlook on life as an adult and makes him reluctant to revisit his childhood. His trauma has contributed to him being unable to have healthy, loving relationships, ashamed to come out as gay, and frequently assaulting his boyfriends when he feels threatened. Brendan would die to save his beloved younger sister, Cheryl, who he hopes never has to discover his trauma.


NAME: Simon “Walker” Walker
PERSONALITY: Determined. Mysterious. Clever.
OCCUPATION: Undercover police officer masquerading as a lackey
LOVE INTERESTS: Unknown, possibly estranged wife Alice
CONNECTIONS: Frenemy of Brendan, older brother of Cameron (deceased)
GOOD TO KNOW: Walker’s younger brother Cameron bought drugs from Brendan and, as a result, ended up with brain damage and paralysis, lying in a hospital bed where he eventually died from a urinary tract infection that developed into pneumonia. Whilst undercover as a prisoner on a separate case, Walker discovered that inmate Brendan was the dealer responsible for selling his brother the drugs that hospitalised (and eventually killed) him and vowed to ensure he went down for it. As time progresses, Walker has become increasingly obsessed with getting revenge, willing to risk his job to get justice.


NAME: Cheryl Brady
PERSONALITY: Bubbly. Protective. Caring. Funny.
OCCUPATION: Night club owner and mature student
LOVE INTERESTS: Looking for love
CONNECTIONS: Younger sister of Brendan, granddaughter of Nana Flo
GOOD TO KNOW: Cheryl is Brendan’s younger sister and is mainly oblivious to the murky things he gets up to, doting on him and choosing to look up to him as the perfect man. She only discovered last year that he was gay, which she initially found difficult to accept — not at all due to ignorance, but because she felt she didn’t know him as well as she thought, and began questioning everything. Cheryl is very unlucky in love, but any man would be lucky to have the chance to start a family with her.

Joel and Brendan
Joel (and Brendan)

NAME: Joel Dexter
PERSONALITY: Wants to be taken seriously. Quiet. Emotional. Soft.
OCCUPATION: Night club worker and lackey
CONNECTIONS: Stepson of Mick, son of Marie and Warren, surrogate son of Brendan
GOOD TO KNOW: Joel has never had a reliable father figure, thanks to his abusive stepdad Mick. Joel has completed a short stint in prison for fighting back against Mick to protect himself and his mother. Joel’s biological father, Warren, wasn’t much better and is now in prison (thanks to Brendan, Mitzeee and Joel teaming up to bring him down). Brendan, having father issues of his own, saw his younger self in Joel and took him under his wing as a surrogate son. Joel aspires to be more like Brendan but often finds himself out of his depth, especially when doing things Brendan’s way.


NAME: Theresa McQueen
PERSONALITY: Dippy. Self-absorbed. Flirtatious. Grown-up jailbait.
CONNECTIONS: (Part-time) Mother of Kathleen-Angel
GOOD TO KNOW: Theresa is madly in love with her boyfriend, Joel. Theresa has been keeping a secret from him — two years ago, she shot dead the father of her daughter. Theresa isn’t always interested in being a mother but enjoys the perks of having a baby. She’s more interested in chasing men or having fun, leaving family members to raise her daughter.

Nana Flo
Nana Flo

NAME: Florence “Nana Flo” Brady
PERSONALITY: Life and soul of the party. Wicked sense of humour.
OCCUPATION: Fairground worker
CONNECTIONS: Paternal grandmother of Brendan and Cheryl
GOOD TO KNOW: We meet Nana Flo for the first time in episode 1.

Mick and Joel
Mick (and Joel)

NAME: Mick Cornus
PERSONALITY: Cruel. Abusive. Bully.
CONNECTIONS: Partner of Marie, stepfather of Joel
GOOD TO KNOW: Joel’s abusive stepfather used to hit both him and his mother. Mick loves to torment and belittle Joel. One time when he pushed Joel too far, Joel found the confidence to step up and fight back but landed himself in prison.


NAME: Nate Tenbury-Newent
OCCUPATION: Horse-and-carriage hire worker
GOOD TO KNOW: We meet Nate for the first time in episode 2.


NAME: DI Shawnee Hudson
PERSONALITY: Professional.
OCCUPATION: Detective Inspector
CONNECTIONS: Superior of Walker
GOOD TO KNOW: Shawnee is Walker’s superior at work and is sick of trying to keep him in line. Walker has already shown that he is too emotionally involved in this case, but Shawnee has given him another chance.

B Story Characters


NAME: Bart McQueen
PERSONALITY: Carefree. Laid-back. Selfish.
OCCUPATION: Sixth-form student
GOOD TO KNOW: Mischievous Bart always seems to get the girl. He is currently dating Sinead, having got back together about a year ago after Bart invaded the stage at a Wretch 32 gig to declare his love for her. Bart accompanies Jono and Neil to Amsterdam so Jono can meet Lola. Bart has become increasingly reliant on cannabis over the past few months.


NAME: Martin “Jono” Johnson
PERSONALITY: Best mate material. Loyal. Looks up to Bart.
OCCUPATION: Sixth-form student
GOOD TO KNOW: Nice guy Jono traditionally ends up as Bart’s wingman, but this time he might have found himself a girl of his own. He has been messaging Lola online for a few weeks, forming what he believes is a romance. He can’t wait to meet her, but will she feel the same?


NAME: Neil Cooper
PERSONALITY: Wants to be liked. Funny. Unlikely to take risks.
OCCUPATION: Sixth-form student
GOOD TO KNOW: Sweet Neil always feels like a boring nobody, so he will often exaggerate details or invent stories to make himself more interesting to his peers. Sometimes, he ends up in a ‘cry wolf’ situation.


NAME: Lola
GOOD TO KNOW: Lola has been messaging Jono online for a few weeks, and they have become close — or at least Jono thinks so. Little does she know that Jono is on his way to surprise her with his two friends, Bart and Neil. We meet Lola for the first time in episode 1.


NAME: Dave
GOOD TO KNOW: We meet Dave for the first time in episode 1.


NAME: Sinead O’Connor
PERSONALITY: Mouthy. Loud. “Scouse Car Alarm”.
OCCUPATION: Sixth-form student
GOOD TO KNOW: Mouthy Sinead is Bart’s girlfriend.

C Story Characters


NAME: Ann “Mitzeee” Minniver
PERSONALITY: Innocent (both mentally and judicially). Seeks control of her own destiny. Projects a confident image for her modelling persona but is anything but.
OCCUPATION: Glamour model
CONNECTIONS: Cousin-once-removed of Riley. Love rival of Mercedes.
GOOD TO KNOW: Mitzeee is imprisoned for stabbing love rival Mercedes. She is innocent — but doesn’t know that yet. Mercedes had been driving Mitzeee to insanity, and whilst Mitzeee was delirious and knocked out, she went as far as to stab herself to frame Mitzeee and claim her love, Riley. When Mitzeee woke up, she saw her bloodied hands, a knife, and an injured Mercedes and assumed she must have stabbed her. Mitzeee has been struggling in prison to the point where she hallucinated her mother in her cell. She needs psychiatric help and is being transported to a psych unit. On the journey, the inmate she was cuffed to — Lauren — has decided to run for it, dragging poor Mitzeee with her.


NAME: Lauren
GOOD TO KNOW: We meet Lauren for the first time in episode 1.


NAME: Nancy Osborne
PERSONALITY: Sensible. Sarcastic. Open-minded. Caring. Domineering. Loyal.
OCCUPATION: Journalist and high school teacher
CONNECTIONS: Guardian of Charlie
GOOD TO KNOW: Loyal friend of Mitzeee, pregnant Nancy, is borrowing friend Cheryl’s house to get some peace and quiet with her young nephew Charlie.


NAME: Mercedes McQueen
PERSONALITY: Selfish. Promiscuous. Will stop at nothing to get what she wants.
CONNECTIONS: Mother of Bobby. Love rival of Mitzeee.
GOOD TO KNOW: Mercedes is responsible for putting Mitzeee in prison in the first place by framing her for stabbing her — she actually stabbed herself! Mercedes dreams of a happy existence with Riley and their son Bobby and refuses to let Mitzeee stand in her way.

Riley and Nancy
Riley (and Nancy)

NAME: Riley Costello
PERSONALITY: Has no time for drama but seems to attract it. Nice guy who wants to make the best choices for his son.
OCCUPATION: Footballer and pub landlord
LOVE INTERESTS: Mercedes and Mitzeee
CONNECTIONS: Father of Bobby, cousin-once-removed of Mitzeee
GOOD TO KNOW: Torn between two women, Riley has settled with the mother of his child, Bobby, because he believes Mitzeee stabbed Mercedes. Can Mitzeee find a way to convince him that she’s innocent?


NAME: Charlie Dean
PERSONALITY: Young and carefree.
OCCUPATION: Primary school pupil
CONNECTIONS: Nephew of Nancy
GOOD TO KNOW: Charlie is Nancy’s nephew, and she is his primary caregiver. Charlie’s mother — Nancy’s sister — died when he was a baby.


I think it’s responsible for me to mention any potential sensitivities in this series. I have identified the following triggers or content warnings:

  • Profanity
  • Drugs
  • Infidelity
  • Nudity and Sex (including aggressive sex)
  • Abuse
  • Paedophilia (including paedophilic rape)
  • Violence (including suffocation)
  • Blood and Gore (including freefall and dismemberment)
  • Drowning
  • Death (including murder and terminal illness)
  • Military Gunfire

Where to Watch

You can purchase the entire series in high definition (1080p) on Amazon UK or in standard definition (360p) from iTunes UK. Sadly, both of these retailers do not provide subtitles.

Unfortunately, the series is not currently available to watch on All4.

If you need help sourcing the show, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


If you’ve watched the show and want to discuss it, you can get in touch in various ways:

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