Hollyoaks fans have praised Ray Quinn’s performance as far right extremist Jonny Baxter, but the actor has revealed he has made such an impact on the public that some people are confusing him with his sinister character – and he’s even getting hassle when he’s trying to buy a coffee.
At a Royal Television Society screening of the soap’s hard-hitting far right storyline peak earlier this week, Quinn shared a recent incident in which one viewer got the lines between fact and fiction distinctly blurred: “I was in a coffee shop waiting in the queue, when someone said: ‘Don’t serve him, he’s a racist!'”
Jonny is part of a far right faction that has groomed vulnerable Ste Hay (Kieron Richardson) over the last year into joining their cause and radicalising him with anti-Islam ideology. The storyline reached a dramatic peak this week when the group planned a terrorist attack in the village that led to a bomb being detonated, causing an explosion that put lives in danger and rocked the community.
Realising he has been brainwashed, shellshocked Ste is now trapped in the group as gang leader Stuart Sumner (Chris Simmons) has warned him not to betray the cause, threatening reprisals if he does.
Quinn has been a revelation as the hate-spewing extremist who showed his true colours when he refused to let Muslim doctor Misbah Maalik (Harvey Virdi) treat him at the scene of the blast.
Despite the coffee shop occurrence, which Quinn laughed off, fans have widely praised the star, previously associated with the light entertainment of The X Factor and Dancing On Ice, for his portrayal as this week’s episodes have seen him stun Ste into seeing the true agenda of the far right’s psychological manipulation.
Quinn is not the only member of the cast to have faced public backlash for the actions of their alter ego. Richardson has also talked about coming off social media since Ste’s grooming storyline began, with some of the audience believing he shared the racist views of his character and subjecting him to online abuse.
The storyline continues all week as Jonny and Stuart tighten their grip on Ste to stop him from leaving the group, while the community faces up to the devastating aftermath of the attack.
Hollyoaks airs weeknights at 7pm on E4, and is repeated at 6.30pm the following day on Channel 4.