Hollyoaks: “Joel and Cleo’s wedding is a rehearsal for me and Nadine!” Rory Douglas-Speed on ‘marrying’ real life girlfriend

The couple are set to tie the knot in an emotionally-charged episode

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The wedding of Hollyoaks‘ Joel Dexter and Cleo McQueen is the centrepiece for a very special edition of the soap next week. Coinciding with World Mental Health Day on Wednesday 10 October, the single-strand episode focuses on Cleo’s battle with bulimia which reaches a tragic crescendo on what should be the happiest day of her life – and in an experimental break from the norm, the story is told in three different perspectives to give an insight into Cleo’s psychological struggles.

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Aside from the obvious demands of making a unique and emotional episode, filming the full-on McQueen wedding ceremony in a real-life church had an extra layer of significance for Rory Douglas-Speed and Nadine Mulkerrin, who play the cursed couple, as the actors are dating in real life!

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“It’s been so strange filming a wedding as we are together,” Douglas-Speed told RadioTimes.com during our visit to the church location while the pair were exchanging their fictional vows. “Even back when Joel and Cleo got engaged I was so nervous, I went bright red. I was terrified – genuinely I was not acting in those scenes!

“It makes it interesting and Nadine and I have a laugh about it. We sent my family pictures of us in our characters’ wedding day costumes pretending we had eloped! We joke that it’s a rehearsal for us!”

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The actor is full of praise for Hollyoaks tackling mental health issues, and for his girlfriend’s performance as troubled Cleo. “This episode is really different, it’s brilliant how the audience sees various points of view of the wedding, and Nadine is in every single scene. I can’t even comprehend it! She has worked closely with Beat, the eating disorder charity. It’s been interesting to talk it through with her after a days’ filming and I love hearing about it, as it gives me more insight into the storyline.

“Watching Nadine work and how raw her performance is – it’s so tragic for the character as everyone loves Cleo, and also because of my feelings for Nadine I don’t want to see her go through this, but she’s acting and to think people are struggling with this for real is so sad. As actors we get to voice somebody else’s life, that’s why we’re telling this story.”

Hollyoaks’ single-strand episode for World Mental Health Day airs on E4 at 7pm on Tuesday 9 October, and on Channel 4 at 6.30pm on Wednesday 10 October.

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