Hollyoaks‘ Buster Smith (Nathan Sussex) has been found guilty of child sexual abuse and faces a six year prison sentence as trial week reached an emotional conclusion on Thursday 10 January.
E4’s latest episode brought the dramatic case to a close after Imran Maalik (Ijaz Rana) came forward with a last-minute confession the predatory sports coach had abused him as well as best friend Ollie Morgan (Aedan Duckworth) meaning there was enough to convict Buster for his sick crimes.
The hard-hitting storyline was inspired by the real life case of football coach Barry Bennell who was jailed in 2018 for 50 counts of child sexual abuse. Duckworth’s impressive performance as Ollie has rightly earned him a place on the 2019 National Television Awards shortlist for Best Newcomer – RadioTimes.com spoke to the young actor for an immediate reaction to Buster’s verdict, what the future holds for his character, and possible NTA glory on 22 January…
Have you known the outcome of the trial all along?
I only found out when we got given the scripts for trial week. It helped keeping it unknown because that’s how Ollie is feeling, up until the verdict is announced he doesn’t have a clue how it will go which is why he panicked so much at the start of the week.
Were you nervous tackling such big episodes? With this storyline there’s always extra nerves because of the responsibility. People have come forward about being abused because of it, so there’s pressure that you want to do it justice. I suppose I was a bit more nervous for that reason. It was very intense and also my first proper week on location.
Who was your biggest support during filming?
The whole team, from the director giving as much time as I needed to prepare, to the cast discussing scenes and trying to have a laugh during lunch – everyone helps you and it’s a great environment to work in.
How did you prepare in terms of research?
We’d already had a lot of research sessions but there was a lot more looking into specific details for this week. Adam (Woodward, aka Brody Hudson), Nathan (Sussex, who plays Buster) and I discussed things like whether or not Ollie should look at Buster in court. We decided Ollie would probably stay clear of making eye contact but Brody would look at him, whenever Ollie did look at Buster it was very carefully planned. It was good to go into that amount of depth.
What was the most memorable scene of the week for you?
There are two that stand out: when Ollie’s dad Luke was dragged out of court that made me crumble inside. There are so many mixed emotions for Ollie, he wants his dad to do this for him but he gets emotional and carried away. It’s hard to talk about the time Ollie told him about the abuse but Luke forgot because he was drunk – it was a very powerful scene. Secondly, Brody’s big scene on the stand – Adam is awesome.
What impact will the guilty verdict have on Ollie?
His nightmare has gone. Obviously it will still haunt him, as it has Brody, but it’s a definite full stop and a massive relief. We’ll see him continue to cope and recover. The storyline has seen a spike in people having the confidence to come forward to survivor organisations when scenes like this air, so the more of that the better now the verdict has been on. That’s what we do it for.
Can Ollie rebuild his relationship with his dad once Luke gets out of prison?
It could either go really well because Ollie has missed him so much, or really badly if Luke starts drinking again. That’s what great about their dynamic, there are so many different outcomes. Ollie loves his dad and initially be very happy to see him, I’m praying Luke doesn’t muck it up! Personally I cannot wait for Gary Lucy to return full-time.
How does it feel to have made the NTA shortlist?
I’m in shock! It’s nice to have recognition for your work but I’m a bit scared to be honest, I don’t know what to expect from the night. If I win the nerves of having to do a speech are going to kill me!
Who at Hollyoaks deserves an NTA?
There are so many amazing actors I get to work with, but it’s between Gary and Adam. The amount of effort they put in, especially for trial week, blows you away and it and it shows on screen. I’m still trying to find my feet and they have become my mentors, and so many of the cast have helped me massively like Ashley Taylor Dawson, Jacob Robert, Sarah Jayne Dunn. They’ve taught me so many things.
The National Television Awards 2019 air live on ITV on Tuesday 22 January – you can vote here.
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