Trial week continues in Hollyoaks on Monday 7 January as predatory football coach Buster Smith (Nathan Sussex) appears in court for sexually abusing teenager Ollie Morgan (Aedan Duckworth), and for the historic abuse of Brody Hudson (Adam Woodward) 12 years earlier.
E4’s next episode sees Ollie finally find the courage to testify against his tormentor, after a professional player attempted to bribe him to keep quiet with the promise of furthering the schoolboy’s own football career if he dropped the charges.
The hard-hitting storyline has been running for almost a year, inspired by the real life case of football coach Barry Bennell who was jailed in 2018 for 50 counts of child sexual abuse. Hollyoaks has worked closely with footballer Steven Walters, who spoke out on being abused by Bennell himself and formed survivors’ of football abuse support organisation the Offside Trust, and Duncan Craig from abuse charity Survivors Manchester.
Buoyed by the support of his family and friends, Ollie hopes his cross-exmination, in addition to his video testimony, contributes to a conviction for Buster, who groomed and abused the young player over a period of several months. However, Ollie is shaken when the defence team accuse him of making up the allegations as a way of seeking attention from neglectful, alcoholic dad Luke (Gary Lucy), currently serving a prison sentence for assault and himself a survivor of sexual violence, having been raped by Mark Gibbs almost 20 years ago. When Luke also takes the stand, events take a worrying turn.
“It was important for me to come back for these episodes,” Lucy told RadioTimes.com on location for the courtroom scenes, with the actor currently on a break from being a full-time cast member while appearing on stage in the UK touring production of The Full Monty. “It’s been an amazing storyline and it’s good to be part of the end of it.”
With emotions running high, protective Luke looses his cool on the stand when the defence brings up his rape ordeal and he threatens to kill Buster for what he did to his son – potentially jeopardising Ollie’s case. “Everything hits home to Luke when he’s on the stand about his own experience,” continues Lucy, “but what happened to his son is his focus. Obviously it’s difficult for him to talk about and be in that situation. Luke explodes with anger which could mess everything up.
“Luke just wants to be there for his son every day but he can’t. He’s proud of Ollie standing up in court but it’s hard not being there for him on a daily basis, helping get ready in the morning and making sure he’s okay.”
The storyline has undoubtedly been the making of Duckworth, a genuine rising star confirmed by his presence on the shortlist as Best Newcomer in this year’s National Television Awards, announced on Monday 7 January. Co-stars, and Hollyoaks veterans, Sarah Jayne Dunn, aka Ollie’s stepmum Mandy Morgan, and Ashley Taylor Dawson, who plays her partner Darren Osborne, have nothing but praise for the young actor.
“Aedan has taken on a lot,” revealed Dawson in between scenes on location. “It’s give and take with the younger cast, we’ve all got stuff to either pass down or pass up. We do chat about scenes. Ollie’s story shows how things like this can torture you for life, it’s not something that goes away overnight. Ollie and Darren have built a mutual respect, it was initially bumpy as he stole his dad’s wife and was forced into being a father figure when Luke went to prison. But Darren has been there for Ollie through a horrible time.”
“We look out for the younger cast,” adds Dunn. “Aedan hadn’t done any television before so technical things like hitting your mark, finding the light and staying out of shadow we can guide him on. For us it’s nice to support them. There’s a nice generation coming into the show with the likes of Aedan, Owen Warner (Romeo Quinn), Talia Vanessa Grant (Brook Hathaway), Ruby O’Donnell (Peri Lomax) – they love it and it reminds me of being their age and coming into the show.”
Also struggling as he prepares to testify is fellow survivor Brody, who’s best friend – and Buster’s son – Damon Kinsella (Jacob Roberts) worries is not coping with the pressure after discovering he punched a wall during a moment of rage. Damon plans to lie on the stand that he witnessed his dad abusing his friend when they were teenagers, which could make or break the case.
As the courtroom drama continues, will the trial go in Buster’s favour? Or will he be jailed by the end of the week?
Visit our dedicatedHollyoaks page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news