Joel receives shock diagnosis as Hollyoaks announces special episode

Joel Dexter (Rory Douglas-Speed) receives a shock diagnosis in Hollyoaks when he discovers that he has Type 1 Diabetes.

The former priest will receive the news later this week as part of a special episode of the Channel 4 soap, entitled What’s Your Normal, using the lived experience from those in front and behind of the camera.

Rory, who has played Joel since 2016, has lived with Type 1 diabetes in real-life since he was a child.

The episode in question, which will air on E4 on Friday (June 30), will see a group of the show’s residents come together as their paths cross on separate journeys of self-discovery.

Maxine Minniver (Nikki Sanderson) will fight for her daughter Minnie’s (Eva Lorente) rights when she is discriminated against for having a learning disability,told that she’s not allowed to join in swimming lessons with her peers.

Taking a stand, Maxine intends to sue the swimming centre, but Lacey Lloyd (Annabelle Davis), who has faced similar situations herself growing up disabled, shows her that there is another way to go about educating people.

Yazz Maalik (Haiesha Mistry), meanwhile, is struggling, getting coffee orders wrong at the cafe, and she becomes defensive when she’s quizzed about it, something which deaf youngster Oscar (Noah Holdsworth) notices and, recognising her struggles, he joins forces with Brooke Hathaway (Tylan Grant) to encourage Yazz to admit that she’s struggling.

Taking their advice, Yazz reveals that a bad joke made her feel uncomfortable and thus she stopped wearing her hearing aids, but Brooke shares how their autism can make people feel awkward, which leads Yazz to realise that everyone has their own normal and therefore she starts to wear her hearing aids once more.

What’s Your Normal was written by Jonathan Boam, who is neurodivergent and directed by Bim Ajadi, who is deaf.

Lime Pictures and Channel 4 worked with Diabetes UK charity and BAFTA award winning organisation TripleC, who helped advise on the storyline and ensure the episode demonstrates fair and honest representation, as well as ways to make the episode more accessible for its viewers, including the use of closed captions.

‘TripleC were delighted to support Hollyoaks with the ‘What’s Your Normal’ episode through creative access consultancy,’ said a spokesperson for the organisation.

‘It’s so important for disability and access to continue to be celebrated and highlighted in its own right as well as remain a vital part of mainstream episodes.

‘Using DANC (disabled artist networking community) creatives with different access requirements and creative expertise, we were able to help production ensure a range of lived experience had been present in the creating of this episode.’

Alongside the episode, Hollyoaks will also be launching an online short form series that discusses what normal means to eight people who work at Lime Pictures as part of the Hollyoaks team that identify as deaf, disabled and/or neurodivergent (DDN).

Rory, Annabelle and Ellie Henry, who plays Freya Calder, discuss the importance of fair and honest representation of the DDN community on our screens to help enable understanding and create a more inclusive society.

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The series also gives an insight into how places can become more accessible, Script Editor Laura Halligan goes on to speak about how eliminating barriers put on her by other people enables her to be able to have a successful career. Similarly, Junior Publicist Bekie Boyd refers to the social model of disability: “I love the social model, it advocates that we are disabled by the barriers around us in society’

One to watch: Friday June 30 at 7pm on E4 and All4.

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