Hollyoaks have revealed more about Mandy Richardson’s motivation for blackmailing Warren Fox. In tonight’s E4 episode, picking up from yesterday’s cliffhanger which exposed her as the stalker who had been plaguing the gangster for weeks, Mandy explained she’s desperate for money to provide a stable home for daughter Ella – as drastic measures go, threatening the scariest man in Chester is pretty big.
Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com about the reveal, Sarah Jayne Dunn says she was as surprised as the audience to see the lengths her character has been driven to. “Mandy’s not a gangster or a blackmailer, the fact she’s done this shows how desperate her situation has become. She’s got history with Warren and knows he’s dodgy and could get hold of a large amount of money, which is what she needs.”
Mandy’s much-publicised return has been somewhat drip-fed so far, with her shown as living away from the village with her daughter and old flame Luke Morgan, who’s drink problem has seen the family unit spiral into debt and self-destruction.
“The backstory is that Luke started drinking socially when Mandy was running a bar after they first got back together, but he didn’t know when to stop. Now he’s addicted to alcohol and their relationship has broken down. Luke has lost his job, spent all their money and is constantly arguing with Mandy – and Ella has been exposed to all this.
“There have been a few incidents with Ella being neglected and now social services have got involved. Mandy can’t control Luke, it’s gone too far and she could lose her daughter.”
Blackmailing Warren is the first time Mandy has been back in the village since her reintroduction into the show after a break of seven years, and tonight’s episode revealed she was on the way to ask stepsister Cindy Cunningham for help a little while ago and saw Warren getting cosy with both Grace Black and Sienna Blake. Realising he was sneaking around, Mandy clocked an opportunity to con some cash and set about fleecing Foxy – or at least trying to.
“She knows there are people in Hollyoaks who can help her which is why she went to the village in the first place. She’s out of her depth going after Warren but it’s a cry for help.”
In next week’s episodes, Mandy is reunited with ex-husband Tony Hutchinson who steps in when social services threaten to take Ella. “Tony has always been her rock,” says Dunn. “She’s ashamed for him to see her like this because she’s always been so independent – and maybe a bit full of herself! Now her life is a shambles.”
Having been paid off by Warren a measly amount to disappear, the blackmailing hasn’t turned out to be the money spinner Mandy had hoped – and Dunn teases she may end up seeking out Cindy as she originally planned…
“Cindy would want to help her if she knew what was going on. I’ve been working with Steph Waring who plays her again which has been lovely, we’ve known each other for over 20 years, since we were teenagers. It’s a fun dynamic between them, there is a sisterly banter where they can have a dig at each other but there is genuine affection there.
“Being back on set has been really nostalgic. As I started filming we did ‘the originals’ photo shoot with a lot of the heritage cast in the village and it was a lovely way to mark mine and Gary Lucy’s (Luke) return.
“Although one of the scary things is how grown up Mandy’s brother Tom is now! Ellis Hollins has played him since he was four years old and he’s now he’s an adult. He’s still a lovely, humble guy and completely unaffected by having grown up in the limelight. I can remember having to lift him up to the podium at the soap awards when he won best young actor!”
It’s clear Dunn feels like she’s come home to Hollyoaks – she was just 15 when she first appeared in 1996 during the first year of the show. “Our producer, Bryan Kirkwood, wants to get back to the old Mandy and draw on her past a bit more. Hopefully we’ll see that funny, loyal, intelligent girl the audience loved. Taking Mandy back to her roots really appealed to me. It feels the right time to be back.”
Hollyoaks continues weeknights on E4 at 7pm, and on Channel 4 at 6.30pm.