Hollyoaks welcomes back a familiar face tonight as Rory “Finn” Finnegan returns. The much-loved character was a series regular from the early days of the show in 1997 until 2002, and made brief comebacks in 2013 and again in 2015 for Hollyoaks’ 20th anniversary.
With an increasing focus on long-serving established characters, reflected in the return of Luke Morgan and Mandy Richardson and the recent ‘originals’ photo shoot, Hollyoaks is embracing its past more than ever – much to the delight of fans of a certain age.
And Finn’s reappearance in this evening’s E4 episode features some fun throwbacks as he arrives for friend Tony Hutchinson’s retro ‘come as you were’ party at the Loft, giving the classic cast a chance to dust off their old 90s clobber (Diane Hutchinson steals the show in a garish shellsuit, a cheeky nod to the actress’s role in her younger days as Jacqui Dixon in Hollyoaks’ ex-C4 sister soap Brookside).
We caught up with actor James Redmond to talk 20 years of Finn, and what’s in store for the fun-loving fella this time round.
Are you pleased Hollyoaks is revisiting the old-school characters like Finn?
Yes, it’s more interesting when you’ve got history there. Finn’s got links to Luke, Tony, Darren, Cindy… Also, you’ve worked with the actors before, so you find your way in much quicker.
Do you like referring to the show’s history now it’s been going for so long?
Definitely, 22 years is pretty good for a teen soap, isn’t it? Phil Redmond was very clever when he created it, because he had Brookside and Grange Hill running and wanted to bridge the gap with a teen soap centred around a school and a university, so he kept a teenage fanbase and also went younger and older, trying to keep everyone watching. Now Hollyoaks is a fully-fledged soap for all age groups with a range of ages, not just teens.
Would you like to keep revisiting Finn?
Yes, I’m very proud to have started my career at Hollyoaks. It was my first ever job so I’m very loyal and grateful. I’ve got friends in the cast and crew, my dad comes from Liverpool where it’s filmed so I’ve got family close by. And I’m a big Liverpool football club fan, so I’m here a lot anyway!
Would you come back permanently?
Maybe! They haven’t offered me that, but it’s a job I love coming back to it. It’s like a big friendly family.
What brings Finn back this week?
Tony’s having a breakdown and Diane’s at a loss about what to do. He turns up for the ‘come as you were’ party at the club which was such a laugh, Tony’s wig is so good! I’ve been a fan of Alex Fletcher since her Brookside days so it was nice to some scenes with her, we’ve got some emotional stuff and a bit of comedy.
Can you tell us what’s coming up for the character?
I haven’t even seen my scripts yet for this week! I’ve apparently got stuff with Nathan Morris who plays Milo…
What are your fondest memories of your original stint?
Finn’s a stag do in Barcelona was brilliant fun. We spent three weeks on location, there were about eight of us and it was great. I learnt so much here, in my first year year I was just copying Ben Hull who played Lewis and asking him questions. Him, Nick Pickard and Bernie Latham who played Mr C were so helpful. I’ve got great memories of that time.
You’ve appeared in other continuing dramas, what do you get recognised for the most?
It’s an age group thing. I’ve popped up in Emmerdale and Coronation Street and did five years as a regular in Casualty (as nurse Abs Denham from 2003-2008) so certain groups know me for that. Anyone in their 30s remembers me from Hollyoaks, but they didn’t see me in Casualty because they were going out on a Saturday night during that time and had no idea I was in it!
Hollyoaks continues weeknights on E4 at 7pm and on Channel 4 at 6.30pm.