Hollyoaks will be delving into the past as they bring back Mark Gibbs, the bully responsible for raping Luke Morgan almost two decades ago.
Actor Colin Parry, who played Mark, will be reprising the role after 16 years away from the show, just months after Gary Lucy (Luke Morgan) also returned to the Channel 4 soap.
Lucy became the first British soap star to portray a male rape victim when his character Luke was brutally assaulted by Gibbs in 2000 during a special late night episode of the show that sparked national headlines.
Viewers have seen Luke battle an alcohol problem following his return to the village this summer, and bosses have confirmed that future episodes are set to explore how his problems stem from the traumatic abuse he suffered at Mark’s hands.
Hollyoaks executive producer Bryan Kirkwood told Digital Spy: “When one of our writers pitched the return of Mark Gibbs, you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. Everyone almost burst into tears with the idea of what that would mean to Luke.
“We will be seeing the return of Mark later this year. He was punished at the time, but he now looks like he’s got a lovely, charmed life. To Luke, who is still devastated and drinking himself into a stupor every night, that’s a bitter pill to swallow.”
He added: “They’re really heavyweight performances and episodes. It’s thrilling to be able to revisit the past in order to motivate Luke’s future.”
Kirkwood also touched on Gary Lucy’s acting, saying he’s been “extraordinary”.
“There is real pain behind his eyes. What’s really interesting is that Hollyoaks is the only soap to have told male rape stories.”
Mark’s return will air towards the end of the year and Hollyoaks has been working with Survivors Manchester and its founder Duncan Craig on the story.
Kirkwood says: “I have sometimes worried whether we’re delving into the past too much, but the feedback that we’ve had from our wonderful friend Duncan at Survivors, and other charities, is that an event like this can shape the rest of your life if you don’t deal with it properly.”
Hollyoaks airs weekdays at 6.30pm on Channel 4.