Hollyoaks responds to claims of behind-the-scenes racism from former staff member

Tasha Hegarty
Photo credit: Channel 4

From Digital Spy

Hollyoaks has released a statement addressing claims of racism by a former staff member working on the soap, saying they have a "zero tolerance approach to racism".

Claire Hanrahan, who was part of the writing team at the Channel 4 soap, made the allegations on Instagram in response to star Rachel Adedeji's statement about the racism she says she has experienced on the show, following the Black Lives Matter protests.

Claire wrote that she debated whether or not to tell her story as "now is not the time for white voices and opinions", but said she thought it was important not to stay silent on the matter.

Photo credit: Lime Pictures

"So I'm here amplifying Rachel and Matthew's voices, and standing with them on the issue of racism at Hollyoaks," she wrote. "I personally witnessed racism during my time at Hollyoaks, and saw it cost a talented director her job.

"I decided I was leaving around that time, and that I would write a letter to the head of Lime Pictures about it (along with a whole lot of other bs that went down there) once I'd left.

"The director asked me to speak up with her at the time, but I said I felt more comfortable sending a letter in a few weeks, once I was out of there.

"I can make a lot of excuses as to why I did this – I was scared, I didn't want to make it awkward for myself to be there, I didn't want to get fired, I was pregnant, I had been bullied there and it didn't feel safe etc etc etc.

"I didn't see how wrong it was to centre my own comfort in that situation. I didn't see that it was a privilege to make the choice to stay silent while a POC lost their job and was asking me to stand with them. I didn't see how I was using racism to make my own case, instead of honouring the needs of the person being victimised."

She added: "I'm hoping it’s not too late to do the right thing. I’ve been back in touch with the head of Lime Pictures, following up on my letter and demanding more than token apologies and unfulfilled promises. Systemic change is needed – a podcast is not going to cut it @hollyoaksofficial. For any other white folks who have witnessed racism in the workplace, I urge you to speak up."

Hollyoaks replied in a statement to Digital Spy: "Lime pictures has a zero tolerance approach to racism. Claire Hanrahan was employed in the script and story department at Hollyoaks from between 2016 and 2017.

"Shortly after leaving Lime's employment, Claire sent a formal complaint to the producers in December 2017. A full and thorough investigation was undertaken at the time and a detailed response to Claire's complaint was given in January 2018 and she was invited to provide more information about her complaint.

"No further correspondence was received from Claire until this week. In line with our commitment to do the right thing we will review this matter."

Hollyoaks airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 6.30pm on Channel 4, with first-look episodes airing on E4 at 7pm. Wednesdays through Fridays on E4 will feature classic episodes called Hollyoaks Favourites to compensate for the soap suspending filming.

For more information on how you can support Black Lives Matter, please visit its official website or donate here. Readers can also donate to the UK anti-discrimination group Stand Up To Racism, and the Unite Families & Friends Campaign, which supports those affected by deaths in police, prison and psychiatric custody.

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