Hollyoaks: Joel confronts Cleo’s abuser Pete in prison

Torchwood's Kai Owen on reprising his evil alter ego

C4 TX Friday 12th October

Hollyoaks brings back evil Pete Buchanan next week when Joel Dexter visits his fiancee Cleo McQueen’s abuser in prison, determined to make him pay for what he put her through and the impact it continues to have on her life.

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Cleo is shaken to receive a letter from former stepdad Pete, who subjected her to sexual abuse throughout her childhood, on the eve of her wedding congratulating her, which causes her to panic. In the grip of an eating disorder, Cleo relapses and when Joel finds out he holds the correspondence from Pete responsible – unaware his girlfriend has been secretly bingeing for months having lied about stopping.

Taking action, Joel poses as a man of the cloth (his former profession before he gave it up for love) and goes to confront Pete in prison, marking the return of Torchwood star Kai Owen to the cast since his last appearance in June 2016 when the character was jailed for his crimes, and the first time Pete and Joel have ever met. But what is vengeful Joel planning to do once they come face to face?

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“When Pete discovers this man pretending to be a vicar is actually Cleo’s fiance, he immediately thinks of Cleo and his mind begins to work overtime,” reveals Owen. “Who is this man? What does he want? Is he a direct threat?

“Joel does starts to threaten him, and Pete’s defects come out – he is a very dark and manipulating character, that’s his default setting. He can spot weakness and capitalise on it.”

“It was really strange for Pete and Joel to finally meet,” shares Rory Douglas-Speed, aka Joel. “After hearing so much about him over the past couple of years, it is quite an anticipated meeting between both characters, which I’m sure the audience will find thrilling.”

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Two years into his sentence, does Douglas-Speed believe Pete is remorseful for what Pete did to Cleo? “Who knows? There are elements of his character that you want to believe, but then again he’s a master manipulator, and anything he says you have to take with a pinch of salt. He is not a nice man.”

“I still think Pete feels he did nothing wrong, which in itself is terrible,” continues Owen. “Pete is wired this way, these are his thoughts. He needs serious help.”

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Pete’s reappearance comes in the week Hollyoaks airs a special episode to make World Mental Health Day on 10 October (E4 has the first showing on Tuesday 9 October) focusing on Cleo’s wedding and her ongoing eating disorder battle, a direct result of the abuse Pete put her through. “The scars run deep for Cleo,” says Owen. “Although lives are rebuilt and people move on from these events, sadly the facts are there as to how this has affected Cleo. Luckily, there are some amazing professionals out there to help heal those affected.”

“Joel believes that Pete is at the centre of all of Cleo’s issues,” picks up Douglas-Speed. “That’s why he visits him in the first place. You’ll have to wait and see what happens when he confronts him, but I think the audience will love and hate it at the same time.”

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The single-strand wedding episode breaks with the normal format, telling the story from the three different perspectives as an insight into Cleo’s troubled mind which reveals the extent of her mental health issues. “Nadine (Mulkerrin, aka Cleo and Douglas-Speed’s real life partner) is unbelievable in it, Cleo is in every single scene. She really is a star. It was bizarre to film for a few reasons – we shot everything several times for the different perspectives of the story, plus I was ‘marrying’ my actual girlfriend which was nothing short of terrifying!”

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