Sarah Barnes is a fictional character from the British Channel 4 soap opera Hollyoaks, played by Loui Batley. She debuted on-screen during the episode airing on 10 October 2005. Sarah was created by executive producer David Hanson as part of the Barnes family. In 2009, Batley quit the serial in order to pursue other projects. Although the character is no longer part of current story lines, she has been central to many key story lines, one of the earliest the high-profile gay storyline involving supercouple John Paul McQueen and Craig Dean.
The theme of sexuality was further explored through Sarah, seeing her have relations with Zoe Carpenter and a serious relationship with Lydia Hart, which Batley initially found strange to portray because of Sarah's many relationships with male characters. Other story lines include her embarkment on a modelling career, competing in swimming competitions and her many relationships. According to Batley, Sarah relies on people too much for support and was "man-crazy" in her early years. Sarah's final storyline is her death in a skydiving accident, which was a first for a British soap opera. The storyline aired in the second series of Hollyoaks Later and was devised by producer Bryan Kirkwood. Sarah's death won "Spectacular Scene Of The Year" at the British Soap Awards in 2010 and the scenes have been praised by certain critics.
During the character's original appearance on Hollyoaks, there was no additional information to Sarah's life beforehand. Mike (Tony Hirst) and Kathy Barnes (Sarah Jane Buckley) struggled to cope with Kathy's pregnancy, as the two were still teenagers at the time, and they discussed putting her up for adoption, although Mike then became attached to Sarah after her birth and the couple decided to keep her when Mike realised that he wanted to be a father after all.
Sarah befriends Rhys Ashworth (Andrew Moss) and Gilly Roach (Anthony Quinlan), Rhys and Sarah grow closer, but he is put off by her age. Despite her mother's high hopes for her to become an Olympic swimmer, Sarah begins dating Rhys. Kathy is horrified and vows to stop Rhys seeing Sarah. Kathy then seduces an intoxicated Rhys and she has a one-night stand with him. When Sarah finds out, she dumps him and starts to despise her mother. Few months after, Sarah regrets dumping Rhys and forgives him. However, he takes nude photographs of her and shows them to his friends. Disgusted, she ends her relationship with Rhys. Sarah grows close to Gilly but decides not to begin a relationship. Sarah and Hannah strike friendships with friends Craig and John Paul. She and Craig start to date and set Hannah up with John Paul. Craig is caught kissing John Paul by Hannah, which leads to John Paul's coming out. Craig convinces Sarah he is heterosexual and John Paul initiated the kiss. Regardless, Sarah sees John Paul as a friend and encourages him in his first relationship with Spike (Tom Vaughan). Craig is angry to learn the pair had sex, he tries to force himself on Sarah and calls her a whore. They later make up. Sarah does a photoshoot for a fictional magazine named Ripple and she delves further into the world of modelling, in spite of Craig's feelings. Sarah turns to John Paul for advice over her relationship. Unbeknownst to her, John Paul and Craig are having an affair. They go on holiday to repair their problems. Sarah becomes suspicious of Craig, to avoid her finding out the truth Craig proposes marriage to her, which she accepts. They then plan to move to Dublin and Craig's mother Frankie Osborne (Helen Pearson) decides to host an engagement party at The Dog in the Pond. John Paul is heartbroken. John Paul uses Craig's mobile phone to text Sarah and tell her to come to Craig's room, where he and Craig are kissing. Sarah walks into the room and is shocked to find Craig cheating. She then tells everyone at the party about Craig and John Paul's affair. Sarah later asks Craig to take her back, assuming he is just confused. Craig then admits his love for John Paul and he leaves with him for Dublin.
Sarah begins to grow close to Rhys again and they reunite. However, Rhys is using her to make Beth Clement (Sinéad Moynihan) jealous. Beth and Sarah are friends and she convinces Sarah to split with Rhys. Sarah befriends Zoë and asks her to move in. Kathy accuses Zoë and Mike of having an affair and Mike breaks up with Kathy, who leaves him. Mike confesses his feelings for Zoë and they begin a secret relationship. Sarah discovers the truth and moves in with friend, Nancy Hayton (Jessica Fox). Sarah finds an odd friend in Elliot Bevan (Garnon Davies), who develops feelings for her. Elliot's physics lecturer Roger Kiddle (Quentin Tibble) meets Sarah and after embarking on a fling, Elliot uncovers the truth. He becomes angry but eventually forgives Sarah. Sarah splits up with Roger when Sarah finds out he has a wife and made a pass at Zoë. Sarah starts to fall in love with Elliot and confesses to him. Elliot reciprocates and the pair become a couple. Soon after, Elliot decides they are too different and dumps her. Sarah is jealous when best friend Hannah dates him.
Sarah makes up with Zoë and moves back into the Barnes home. They, and Nancy, then set off on a holiday to Zoë's old school so that she could make a speech on careers to current students. While at the school, it becomes apparent that Zoë had been involved in an affair with her teacher while she was fifteen. A drunken Sarah then accuses her of using her dad to fulfil her fantasy of being in a relationship with an older man. The pair end up in a fight. Sarah and Zoë make up as they are left alone in the hotel room. The pair drunkenly share a kiss before sleeping together. After this, Sarah feels more guilty and cannot look at Zoë, who tells her it was a drunken mistake and urges her to put it behind her. Arriving back in Hollyoaks, Sarah makes Zoë leave for a trip to give them space. Zoë returns and Sarah threatens to tell Mike, however Kris Fisher (Gerard McCarthy) overhears and tells Nancy and Mike, who throws both Sarah and Zoë out. A guilty Sarah begins to have random sex with teenagers. First Archie Carpenter (Stephen Beard), who turns out to be Zoë's brother when she catches them in a passionate state. Sarah is then shocked when it turns out Archie is rating her against other girls. She later has sex with Warren Fox (Jamie Lomas).
Sarah moves back home when she reconciles with Mike. Whilst working at a dance class Persephone Hart (Elizabeth Hadley) claims that Sarah has assaulted her. The girl's older sister, Lydia manages to get her fired. Sarah and Lydia then become good friends. Lydia later reveals herself to be a lesbian. The pair then share a kiss which leaves Sarah confused. She becomes attracted to Lydia, she thinks is bisexual and that her experience with Zoë had started her sexuality crisis. Sarah eventually admits to having feelings for Lydia, and the pair begin a relationship. Lydia later accuses Sarah of cheating with Zoë. Mike begins to accept Sarah's sexuality. Sarah discovers she was nearly given up for adoption by Mike and Kathy as a baby, after Zoë steals a script from Mike and uses it in her film for college. Sarah is angry at Zoë for using her but they later make up. Sarah breaks up with Lydia when she catches her kissing ex-girlfriend Charlotte Lau (Amy Yamazaki). Lydia grows increasingly jealous of Sarah and Zoë's friendship. Lydia trouble between Sarah and Charlotte, so Sarah and Zoe go on an adventure trip. Lydia follows them as they get drunk and Sarah tells Zoe she loves her. Lydia over hears and is further fuels her jealousy. As they prepare for a skydive Lydia cuts Zoe's parachute, however the become mixed up. Sarah falls to her death with her faulty parachute. Lydia frames Zoe but is eventually convicted.