Channel 4 has announced today that it will next month launch its very own pay-per-view website. From June 1st, viewers will be able to interact with actors from the channel's hit teen soap Hollyoaks via webcam, on payment of an unconfirmed subscription fee
It is widely speculated that the move is in response to the Leslie Grantham scandal. Eastenders' star Grantham, 57, was exposed earlier this month as having continued a sexually explicit affair over the internet using BBC webcam equipment.
The Grantham scandal exposed a demand for genuine soap-based pornography, and soap bosses have identified Hollyoaks, with its attractive yet wooden young cast, as the ideal outlet for capitalising on this gap in the market.
"This is a golden opportunity, and Channel 4 has grabbed it with both hands", is the opinion of a television executive who prefers to remain unidentified. "Hollyoaks has been primarily a masturbatory aid for years now, and it's about time some money was made out of it. If only I'd thought of it first, I might still be in a job."
Channel 4 bosses state: "We arrived at this decision after assessing the long-term future of Hollyoaks. In recognising the principal reasons for the show's popularity, and wishing to maximise the future career potential of our stars, this seemed to be the best move."
Insiders, however, are more cynical in their interpretation of this statement. "Basically, the show is more about the totty than the drama, and they've been playing to this for a long time now. The storylines are increasingly spurious - for instance, Izzy lost her contact lens near a sprinkler last week, so her friends had to come over in their bikinis to help look whilst getting soaked…for three episodes. It's been bordering on soft porn for some time, and let's face it, these people aren't going to get serious acting jobs, so why not break them into that industry?".
Derren Brown has reportedly been enlisted to help convince the more unsure of the cast to participate.
Hollyoaks, tonight, 18.30, Channel 4 (regional variations may apply)