Hollyoaks star Kieron Richardson has addressed the dark nature of the soap’s controversial far right storyline, in which his character Ste Hay is being radicalised by extremists, but says the plot could’ve been even darker. He revealed that the real life experiences of those who have been through the grooming process are much more disturbing.
“It should be uncomfortable to watch because we’re opening the audience’s eyes about a shocking subject, one that is really happening. We actually filmed a lot darker material than what went out on screen for when we saw Ste being initiated into the group.”
The disturbing moment Ste was sworn in to the ‘brotherhood’ and given a tattoo of the group’s symbol as a reward for his loyalty was one of the most sinister moments so far in the plot, and Richardson explains it could’ve gone much further to reflect the horrifying reality.
“In that process in real life more things happen that we shot that didn’t make the episode. We shoot stuff to make it as real as possible but because of the time slot some things don’t end up on screen. The scene was sinister enough.”
Can Ste be redeemed after being radicalised?
The real stories of those who have survived radicalisation are much more shocking than Ste’s journey. “As awful as it is to see what’s happening to Ste, people would be gobsmacked by what really goes on, I’ve met people first hand and listened to their stories and it’s a lot heaver, much darker things happen.”
Hollyoaks has assured the audience redemption is planned for Ste, who will eventually realise he is being manipulated and seek to extricate himself from the group – based partly on the experience of founder of Exit UK, a group working with the Home Office to help people safely remove themselves from far right organisations, and who have been a significant part of the soap’s comprehensive research.
“I met the guy who set up Exit UK to help de-radicalise people and get them away from these groups. That’s beyond turning your life around and apologising, it’s stopping others gong down the same path. He came out the other side and I’m hoping the same can happen for Ste.”
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