Hollyoaks secret move to the Blasket Islands still underway

In a clandestine step that it is hoped will appear completely seamless, production of the British soap opera Hollyoaks will wrap up in Liverpool before moving permanently to the Blasket Islands off the coast of County Kerry next month. According to sources close to Channel 4's Teletext service, the covert, cost cutting shift in location has been planned for the last four years, as more and more Irish characters have been introduced into the scripts before the digital switchover this year.

The European wide switchover from analog to digital television will allow the television drama's producers to stream entire episodes back to the British mainland employing satellite technology without compromising the ultra high quality visuals of the soap, rather than sending DVDs by carrier pigeon (as had heretofore been standard). However, whether producers will sell the new setting to viewers without explicitly referring to the fact is unknown. The move has become much more attractive financially as Ireland's economic difficulties mean that their creative arts workforce can now be employed for a fraction of what they would have cost in boom times.

Some time next month, it is believed that Mercedes McQueen will be seen entering the Dog in the Pond after hearing a rumour that her Irish ex, Mal Fisher, has been spotted in the village. Having believed that Mal was killed in an explosion - and that she had watched him die - she goes through the pub only to re-emerge five minutes later from the back door of Ó Cearrtagaigh's Pub, Grocery Store Agus Undertakers, on the island of An Tearaght. It is on coming out of the pub that Mercedes does indeed catch a glimpse of Fisher, bobbing in a coracle off the shore on the Atlantic waves. The traditional Irish fishing vessel will then beach in a spray of foam, and Malachy will emerge from the shower, leaping from the boat with a net full of pollocks. He informs Mercedes that he still loves her and that he only left Tearaght to get treatment for his HIV in Galway City, where there is a [fictional] centre of excellence that specialises in the condition.

After spending years deciding on the location, it is still unclear why the island of Tearaght was chosen as the new setting for the soap. However, it is generally agreed that if said very quickly in a harsh Irish accent, it's the island whose name sounds the most like "Chester", the soap's current setting.

Jennifer Metcalfe's character Mercedes is introducing the new setting because the island can be found off the coast of Ireland at Dunmore Head, and - as one of the longest serving regulars on the Channel Four soap - Mercedes has done more head than any other character in the drama.