The latest attempt to extricate Ste Hay (Kieron Richardson) from the grip of far right extremists in Hollyoaks backfired on Friday 14th June (E4) when he discovered Jonny Baxter (Ray Quinn) was not his biological brother, but chose to stand by him regardless as his family saw him align himself even more with the group.
Despite Peri Lomax (Ruby O’Donnell) and Yazz Maalik (Haiesha Mistry) gathering DNA evidence proving Jonny and Ste were not related, the manipulative Mr Baxter talked his way out the situation and averted Ste from hitting upon the truth he had been deliberately targeted and groomed.
Ste shocked little sister Leela Lomax (Kirsty-Leigh Porter) by insisting Jonny and Stuart Sumner (Chris Simmons) had never hidden the possibility Jonny might be his sibling, and believes they have saved him and are as good as family…
RadioTimes.com spoke to Quinn about the latest twist in the soap’s audacious storyline, and his take on his sinister alter ego’s backstory.
Does Jonny panic when proof emerges he is not Ste’s brother?
Jonny is prepared for any situation, he’s been taught by Stuart and will talk his way out of it. He’s cool, calm and collected, he’s got the gift of the gab – if there’s a lie to be told he’ll make it believable. Way back at the start Ste refused a DNA test and Jonny always said they may not be biologically related, but he planted a sense of connection and has proved himself as a brother to Ste, regardless of DNA.
So it doesn’t change anything for Ste?
Ste isn’t bothered about the DNA. Now Jonny is more concerned with continuing the mission of grooming him and keeping Stuart happy. Jonny can read Ste like a book and knows how to keep him in line.
Is Jonny scared of angering Stuart?
The last thing Jonny wants to do is upset Stuart. Jonny has been in a similar situation to Ste in terms of how he fell into the group, Stuart is his father figure and the boss. Ste is Jonny’s first little prodigy, he’s backed up by Stuart but he could also cast Jonny out of the group if he made the wrong decision. Jonny’s life wouldn’t be worth living.
Does Jonny have more sympathy for Ste than Stuart deep down?
That’s not something he shows outwardly to Stuart but there is an element of care to Ste, Jonny sees a lot of himself in him. Ste is vulnerable and lovable, which is why the audience loves the character. Although Jonny is so far gone he doesn’t have a real sense of remorse. He maybe has more than a connection to Ste than he thought he would but Jonny would pick Stuart over Ste any day.
What qualities has Stuart instilled in Jonny?
Family loyalty is the most important thing to Stuart, but it’s very one way in that we all have to follow him – and if we don’t there’s consequences. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you – Stuart has given these scared, lost scallies a home, a friend, a nice lifestyle, someone to guide them, and they don’t want to lose that. He also has these insurance policies in case anyone tries to leave the group, like the incriminating video footage of Ste.
How realistic is the grooming process from the research you’ve done?
We’ve worked with Exit UK, a group who help people leave these groups and rebuild their lives. The grooming is insidious, people are targeted and followed on social media, their daily movements are observed, conversations listened in on, if they had any anger in their lives it’s manipulated. All unbeknown to the target who don’t have a clue. It’s unreal, grooming can take up to five years so it’s right the storyline is a slow burn. It really is scary.
Do you think it’s too dark a subject for a soap to tackle?
No, the more Hollyoaks pushes it the better so it’s getting it out there for people to become more aware of. It’s a controversial, taboo thing and I applaud the show for their bravery, they have stuck their neck on the line and really done their research.
What can you tease about the future of the storyline?
I’m excited as there is lots more to come. The group’s mission continues to get Ste under their spell. Ste will be their puppet on a string, and the strings are only going to get longer cos that puppet is going to keep dancing!
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