A MENTAL health activist who helped inspire Hollyoaks’ series of short films is looking forward to the future after two ‘incredible’ years – which included attended the star-studded BAFTAs.

John Junior, from Wilmslow, has worked with charities, councillors, politicians and the film and TV industry to spread awareness about mental health after a life-changing experience in 2020.

The 33-year-old first featured in a series of short films, aired in June and July 2021, exploring the real-life impact of some of TV show Hollyoaks’ most powerful storylines.

One episode in the digital series, which is titled Hollyoaks: IRL (In Real Life), focused on John, whose life was saved after watching a mental health and suicide-related storyline on the programme starring Ashley Taylor Dawson in 2020.

John, who uses they/them pronouns, has spoken openly about how the Hollyoaks storyline around the subject of suicide helped to save their life.

In fact, their bravery in sharing their story helped to inspire the whole Hollyoaks: IRL concept after he called in to BBC Radio 5 and explained how much they owned to the TV programme.

The digital series, created by Lime Pictures, was nominated for a BAFTA in the short form programme category – and Channel 4 even invited John to the prestigious event last month.

John explained: “I got a message from the director saying Hollyoaks: IRL had been nominated for a BAFTA.

Knutsford Guardian: John and Hollyoaks cast members at the BAFTASJohn and Hollyoaks cast members at the BAFTAS

“I just put in ‘Hollyoaks Saved My Life – John’ online and it was everywhere. It was unbelievably humbling.

“I then had a message from one of the PR ladies saying I’d got a ticket if I wanted to go.

“Inspiring Hollyoaks: IRL and then it being nominated for a BAFTA has been the most amazing experience of my life.

“It was incredible. Every day when I wake up, I just appreciate it.

“But for me, take away the camera and the photographers, and the most real thing is that my story has helped so many people.”

Knutsford Guardian: John JuniorJohn Junior

But John isn’t stopping there.

They want to write a book and plan on shooting a film about their incredible story.

“It’s about the Hollyoaks storyline,” John explained.

“It will be about everything that went through my head and I’m not going to hold anything back.

“There are going to be more people in the same position I was, and they want to see real life people.

“I am a person who wants to save lives.

“I want everyone to know who I am – not in an egotistical way - but in a way that tells people they are not alone.”

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can go to samaritans.org or call 116 123 for free at any time.