Hollyoaks: Nick Pickard on next week’s special Tony episode

Harry's murder confession triggers an emotional day in the life of Mr Hutchinson

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Hollyoaks have revealed more details about next week’s special episode focusing on Tony Hutchinson’s reaction to learning his son Harry Thompson killed Amy Barnes.

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Monday’s E4 instalment follows Tony in the aftermath of Harry’s bombshell and gives an insight into a ‘day in the life’ of the Hollyoaks veteran, following his emotional journey as he struggles to comprehend the news and attempts to conceal his torment.

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Having interrupted an argument between Harry and ex-lover Ste Hay in the previous cliffhanger, Tony gets the wrong idea and thinks Ste actually did murder Amy, despite having been found innocent at his recent trial. As he goes to call the police, horrified Harry confesses to his father that he is in fact the real killer.

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Covering his turmoil to wife Diane and preparing for an important meeting with the bank manager in the hope of buying back his old restaurant, Tony slowly loses his grip throughout the emotionally-charged episode as he blames Ste for corrupting his son – but ultimately blaming himself for being an absent father during Harry’s formative years.

The bank manager appointment at Nightingale’s restaurant descends into chaos as Tony trashes the kitchen and finally has an explosive showdown with Harry back at home where the complicated father and son relationship is laid bare. Furious with his offspring, angry Tony throws Harry out of the family home.

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As well as focusing on a single storyline strand, the episode also plays with the usual Hollyoaks format with long, continuous takes containing innovative editing with ‘invisible’ cuts and much of the action filmed with steadicam rather than the usual single-camera style, giving it a deliberately different feel. With his character appearing in virtually every frame, how did actor Nick Pickard deal with the pressure?

“I was nervous in terms of knowing I couldn’t muck up these long takes right at the end because I knew we’d have to go back and start again!” laughs the show’s only original cast member, who was awarded the Outstanding Achievement prize at this year’s British Soap Awards for his 23 years in the role. “There’s a particularly long, heavy scene with Parry (Glasspool, aka Harry) and I where we have our big showdown – luckily we managed to get that in just two takes.”

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According to the show’s executive producer Bryan Kirkwood, the decision to take a few stylistic risks was intentional. “Soap is a competitive marketplace these days and you’ve got be loud if you’re proud about something. We’re incredibly proud of this episode and from the first frame you know it’s something a bit different from the norm. It takes advantage of our fantastic crew and the technology we have. Hopefully the stylistic difference will help to engage the audience.”

Tony’s reaction to hearing his son killed a young mother of two also provides an opportunity to showcase Pickard’s talents, who Kirkwood describes as “the heart of the show. Nick is a brilliant actor playing an extraordinary character who has been through so much and this is a chance to show him off because we love him.

“Murder is thrown around in soaps so often – Tony believes his son is a killer and we wanted to explore the reality, the detail and the minutiae of a good moral man reacting to the worst news a parent can hear. His performance is extraordinary.”

“I think the audience will be shocked Tony doesn’t report Harry to the police right away,” continues Pickard. “Tony is a law-abiding guy but he starts to blame himself for Harry’s actions. I’m honoured and proud to do an episode like this – we called it ‘the never-ending shot’ as that was what we wanted it to feel like.”

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Of course Tony’s agony may turn out to be for nothing, as it was hinted in last month’s trial week that Harry was perhaps not responsible for Amy’s demise after all.

A flashback showed the newly-wed waking up after the Thompson lad left her for dead, and a mystery figure entering the flat – in this special episode we’ll return to that flashback and finally see who that figure was, and who really killed Amy Barnes…

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Hollyoaks airs a day in the life of Tony Hutchinson on Monday 9 October at 7pm on E4. The show continues weeknights on E4 at 7pm and on Channel 4 at 6.30pm.