Hollyoaks‘ Ste Hay (Kieron Richardson) got more than he bargained for when he made a pass at Jonny Baxter (Ray Quinn) thinking he was attracted to him when the newcomer revealed he purposely tracked him down because he thinks they might be brothers! But with Jonny’s sinister long-term agenda of grooming Ste into joining a far right extremist group yet to be revealed, is he telling the truth about the family connection or simply trying to win his trust?
In the last of three seasonal hour-long specials aired on E4 on Friday 28 December, things were awkward between the boys following Ste’s misreading of the signals which led to him leaning in for a kiss in the previous episode. Ste thought he’d blown any chance of them going into business together and feared his new friend might homophobic, but Jonny apologised and explained the real reason behind his extreme reaction – he thinks they are related.
Spinning a stunned Ste a story that their late mum, Pauline, left him at the hospital when he was a baby, Jonny told Ste that he came looking for him and wanted them to get to know each other before revealing his identity. Another bombshell after his sister’s death and the collapse of his marriage and business almost threw recovering addict Ste off the wagon, and when Jonny later found him about to crack open a bottle of wine he urged him to stop and let his ‘brother’ into his life and help him.
Appearing to warm to the idea this happy-go-lucky guy could be his sibling and provide the support he’s been desperately craving, Ste seemed sold, but viewers were left questioning the authenticity of Jonny’s claims when they caught a glimpse of his gym membership card bearing the name ‘Gavin Jackson’. Is Jonny really who he says he is?
Why would Jonny lie about being Ste’s brother?
Hollyoaks recently revealed Jonny’s arrival is the quiet beginnings of a slow burn storyline about radicalisation, and that over the coming months vulnerable Ste will be subtly groomed by Mr Baxter and his friends who are part of a far right extremist group with anti-muslim views.
At first completely unaware of Jonny’s beliefs and the terrifying indoctrination process he is being surreptitiously subjected to, Ste’s gradual journey into realising the group’s chilling agenda will eventually see him fight to extricate himself.
The soap is addressing the controversial topic as the Home Office increases funding into initiatives to counter anti-immigration and anti-Islamic sentiments in major cities, and to examine how far right extremist groups target, groom and operate.
Channel 4 and Hollyoaks are working with a range of expert advisors and charities on the storyline, including Exit UK which works with the Home Office to extricate those who have become involved in far right extremist groups, and Jamie Bartlett, author of the book Radicals in which he shadowed movements with extremist views.
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