Kirkwood, who returned to Lime Pictures in April following a two-year stint in charge of EastEnders, is currently overseeing Hollyoaks as executive producer following series producer Emma Smithwick's decision to stand down.
Revealing his future plans for the show, Kirkwood told Inside Soap: "What Hollyoaks has always done very well is telling strong rites-of-passage stories for its younger characters, and in the past couple of years the show has continued to appeal to the younger viewers.
"Where it needed to perform better was in appealing to a wider audience, and that's something we're doing now. I want to get back to basics and focus on family and friendships - the older and younger characters can sit alongside each other nicely. We'll be telling exciting soap stories for them every week."
Kirkwood revealed that last week's dramatic wedding day disaster storyline, which led to the deaths of Rhys, Maddie, Neil and Jono, was designed to engage older viewers as well as the show's younger fanbase.
He explained: "I've been working alongside Emma Smithwick and we decided that it was time for a big, show-stopping, blockbuster sequence to grab the audience's attention and hopefully bring them back to Hollyoaks. We realised we needed to engage some of the older audience again and this was how to do it.
"The high death toll was a mix of us feeling that some characters had come to the end of the line, and other actors deciding it was time for them to go."
The show's producer also confirmed that more characters will bow out in the coming weeks.
"We have a number of characters leaving in the next couple of months," he said. "Again, some of them are at the end of the characters' natural life and some actors want to spread their wings. It's sad to see old favourites go, but on a show like Hollyoaks we're always looking for the next stars."
Hollyoaks airs weeknights at 6.30pm on Channel 4, with first look screenings at 7pm on E4.