The veteran actor’s casting was announced earlier this year, with suave surgeon Edward touted as the next big villain of the village, his presence paving the way for a huge storyline playing over the next 12 months that will be at the heart of Hollyoaks’ 25th anniversary year.
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It’s another impressive signing for the soap, with McGann’s career spanning decades. He’s the eldest of the esteemed acting dynasty of brothers that also includes Mark, Paul and Stephen, and is probably best known to audiences for 1990s sitcom The Upper Hand, in which he played the on-screen dad of future EastEnders landlady Kellie Bright.
Recently he was a guest star in Casualty for a sixth time, 3o years after his first appearance in the medical series in a different role.
“You name the drama, I’ve probably been in it at one point or another,” he laughs. “I’ve been doing this for a very, very long time.” Hollyoaks sees him reunited with Lysette Anthony (Marnie Nightingale), who once played his on-screen spouse. “I’ve know her for quite a long time, she’s an old friend and a darling woman,” he smiles. “We played husband and wife in (short-lived ITV soap) Night and Day back in 2001. We’ve worked together on stage too.
Describing his new alter ego, McGann gives us some background. “He’s done well in his life. He’s focused and self-improved. Besides being a great surgeon he’s picked up other skills. On the downside he’s a narcissist and a manipulator, seeing himself before he sees everybody else.
“But he’s not all bad, though!” he claims. “I think he’s a good granddad, and part of him would like to be a good father to Tony but he has an eye to other main chances, which kind of distorts this fact…”
News of Edward’s arrival sparks a delving into the unfamiliar family history of Hollyoaks’ longest-serving character, Tony, who has barely mentioned a dad in almost a quarter of a century. McGann explains why he’s seeking to reconnect with his clan after all these years:
“We find out Edward has lost his wife in a tragic accident. He has two children from that marriage, both now older and away from home. I think it’s an empty nest thing, and he’s at a time in his life where he’s collating, looking back over possible mistakes. He wants to rectify. He sees the publicity around his grandson Harry’s funeral, and knows that Tony is missing.
“The reception from Tony’s wife Diane is a little short of openly hostile! She knows he abandoned Tony. Then she sees his charm, sophistication and how worldly he is. Edward wins her round, along with most of the village, and she mellows towards him.”
McGann also hints not everyone is convinced by enigmatic Edward, particularly Diane’s stepson Finn O’Connor who is immediately suspicious of his motives upon catching him doing something “quite shocking” to help Tony’s old friend Cindy Cunningham.
Edward’s egomaniacal side will also be indulged when he impresses the locals as the hero of the upcoming stunt week, which sees the village wrecked by a catastrophic accident with a crane.
“There are various people hurt and Edward is on hand to be able to step up. He sets up a train station in the pub – it shows off his skillsets, which is a great opportunity for Edward. He basically milks it for all it’s worth!”
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