Hollyoaks are lining up a dramatic clifftop showdown for James Nightingale and cheating boyfriend John Paul McQueen.
In brand new pictures from scenes airing next week, the couple are shown arguing on the top of a precariously high cliff’s edge. John Paul has been driven back into the arms of ex Ste Hay in recent weeks as his romance with emotionally-repressed James began to fall apart. James has no idea of his fella’s infidelity, and in tonight’s E4 episode he proposes – the fact that JP and Ste end up in bed together doesn’t bode well for any happy endings…
With James Sutton, aka John Paul, set to leave the show soon, what can Gregory Finnegan, who plays slippery James, tell us about the circumstances of the cursed couple’s confrontation?
“There is something that bothers James which leads to him and John Paul being on the cliff,” he begins. “James is a fly-off-the-handle kind of character and reacts in fairly intense ways. He’s not very rational when he first discovers things that he isn’t happy with.”
The relationship hit the rocks when John Paul’s rapist Finn O’Connor became eligible for parole, and lawyer James decided to represent him – but he had a risky plan to trick Finn into losing his temper by deliberately provoking him, proving that he was not ready to be released. James ended up being held hostage in a prison interrogation room by a crazed Finn, and John Paul despaired at his other half’s misguided actions.
“I think what happened with Finn shows that James truly does love John Paul as he really put his neck on the line to keep him locked up,” explains Finnegan, “but how he handled the situation obviously didn’t end well. However, the incident made James realise life is too short and that he had to declare his feelings and propose or he might be alone forever.”
Writers have explored a softer side to spiky James through his romance with John Paul, revealing childhood abuse at the hands of bullying dad Mac that left James emotionally aloof. Beneath the buttoned-up bitching and icy intelligence, does Finnegan think there’s a heart deep down in there? “There clearly is a heart and I think everyone has been able to see that in several different instances over the past year. It just needs to be nurtured.
“James has made the decision not to properly deal with the issues surrounding his father,” continues the actor, “he doesn’t see any benefit to anyone, including himself, if he did bring that to light.”
There have been intense scenes between Finnegan and co-star David Easter, who plays Mac, including a violent beating last year. Does Finnegan find it hard to switch off from such heavy drama? “Not when you’re going home to three children, they can take my mind off anything!” he laughs. “But that’s what makes James so complex and emotionally detached which is very interesting to play. It helps to guide a lot of James’s decisions.”
Considering John Paul’s final scenes are looming, the writing is on the wall for him and James. As well as the ill-fated proposal, tonight’s E4 episode also sees John Paul and Ste’s divorce being finalised – only for the old flames to fall back into bed together.
Finnegan won’t be drawn on whether his character’s clifftop clash occurs next week because John Paul’s cheating has been revealed, but it’s not out of the question that James would put lives in danger if he were to discover the betrayal. “How would James react if he found out John Paul had slept with Ste? I’ll leave that for you to work out. I don’t suppose that it would go very well…”