Hollyoaks: Nick Pickard interview – “Tony and Mandy could still have feelings for each other…”

The soap veteran on reuniting with his on-screen ex and the twists and turns ahead in trial week

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Trial week kicks off tonight in Hollyoaks and soon takes its toll on Tony Hutchinson. The Chester veteran is feeling the pressure of his best friend, and son Harry Thompson’s lover, Ste Hay facing jail for for the murder of Amy Barnes. Taking out his stress on ex-wife Mandy Richardson, who recently returned to the village desperate for help after losing custody of daughter Ella because of partner Luke Morgan’s drink problem, the old flames are at loggerheads – especially after Tony discovers Mandy kidnapped Ella from her foster home. But in next Tuesday’s episode the couple have a heart-to-heart about Tone’s struggles at the grave of their baby daughter Grace, who died over a decade ago at just a few months old.

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Nick Pickard, who has played Tony since day one, talks about the traumatic week ahead for his character, and teases whether or not there could be a rekindling of romance with Mandy…

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As trial week starst, how convinced is Tony that Ste is innocent?

I don’t think Tony is convinced at all. When he’s pieced all the evidence together, he has his doubts. He doesn’t want to believe that his best friend is a murderer but he believes he could be going to prison, just because the weight of evidence is stacked so highly. He wants to believe Ste, but in the back of his mind he doesn’t really.

If Ste is innocent, who else could have killed Amy?

He’s pointing towards Ryan because he knows that he’s been violent to Ste in the past and he’s seen him react badly to various things. Also, when Ste’s coming to Tony and telling him about what Ryan’s done and what he’s seen, he wants to believe his friend.

Is there a part of Tony that wishes Ste would be found guilty so Harry can be free of him?

It’s horrible seeing Harry like this because with Ste facing a 20-year prison sentence, he doesn’t want his son to be tied to him, he’s too young and Tony would rather them not be together. Tony’s begged Ste to break up with Harry because it’s killing him. Ste’s his friend, but your blood is your blood and Tony has to look out for his boy.

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Does Tony blame himself for Ste and Harry’s destructive relationship?

There are moments when Tony thinks he’s ruined Harry’s life because he’s given them his blessing, and now it’s all gone wrong. As parents you do blame yourself with your kids, you think it’s your fault, so there’s definitely an element of that.

How much is Tony taking out his stress on Diane and Mandy?

They give as good as they get! They’re two strong women and they realise that Tony’s stressed but when he goes a little bit too far they give him what he deserves.

What will Tony do differently with Ant and Dee Dee?

Maybe move them to Spain! Don’t live in Hollyoaks because everything goes wrong! I’m surprised Tony’s still functioning without therapy sessions five days a week. I think he would just advise that they go to college somewhere far away…

If Tony could have lived a different life elsewhere, what do you think it would be like?

Less stressful! I think his perfect life would be running a restaurant on the beach somewhere. Somewhere down in Cornwall, like Rick Stein.

Tony turns on Mandy this week over her actioins over Ella, but they bond as they remember their late daughter. Are there any romantic feelings left between them?

She’s his ex-wife so there’s always going to be feelings and it didn’t end badly between them – they fell apart because of the death of their daughter. Time’s a great healer but they have been a bit mean to each other over the years. It’s amicable now and I suppose there’s always a danger that those old feelings might surface again…

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What’s it like having Sarah Jayne Dunn (Mandy) and Gary Lucy (Luke) back on set?

It’s great. They were both saying that as soon as you’re back here it’s like you’ve not been away, and it is true. I know Gary and Sarah very well because I’ve worked with them so much. You spend more time with people here than you do with your partner at home so you get to know their good moods, bad moods – warts and all!

If you could have played any other Hollyoaks character, who would it be?

I’d love to be a baddie – it must be fun and you can go to dark places. There’s Warren and James now, Rob Hawthorne back in the day, Brendan Brady – any of those would’ve been great!

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Hollyoaks continues weeknights on E4 at 7pm and on Channel 4 at 6.30pm.