Hollyoaks original cast member Nick Pickard is still at the centre of the soap as it builds to it's 25th anniversary in 2020, and fans are set to discover more about his beloved alter ego Tony Hutchinson's past when his long-lost dad is introduced later this year.
Joe McGann debuts soon as suave surgeon Edward Hutchinson, but it won't be an instant family reunion as his on-screen son is currently incarcerated by serial killer Breda McQueen (Moya Brady) at her pig farm lair. Nevertheless, Pickard has revealed a connection with the acting veteran being brought in to play his parent - which also unearths a surprising link to an EastEnders A-lister…
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"Tony's still at the pig farm so I've not been on set with Edward yet," says the star. "But I'm excited to play scenes with Joe, it will be great. I went to school with Kellie Bright (Queen Vic landlady Linda Carter, who attended the Sylvia Young theatre school with Pickard) who used to do a sitcom with him called The Upper Hand (the ITV hit ran from 1990-1995, in which Bright played McGann's daughter).
"Joe has been to the pub I ran in west London a couples of times but we've never really hung out before. I know he's a good guy though and we've got a lot of mutual friends so it'll be nice to work with him. Alex (Fletcher, who plays Tone's wife Diane) is getting him all to herself at the minute, they've had lots of scenes together."
Following Edward next year is an estranged younger half-sister for Tony, as yet uncast. "There's lots of family coming out of the woodwork," grins Pickard. "It will be nice to have some new family members. New people bring in a different energy and the stories go a different way. I'm all in favour of developing Tony's family, you've got more places to go with the character and new things to do."
Will Tony be involved with Hollyoaks Later in 2020?
As executive producer Bryan Kirkwood exclusively revealed to RadioTimes.com recently, Hollyoaks Later is back for a one-off special in January 2020, the first post-watershed outing since 2013, which brings Breda's story to an epic climax.
Tone is being held hostage by the murdering mum having discovered she killed his son Harry Thompson as part of her twisted MO to dispatch bad dads to protect their children. In the coming week Breda takes him to Harry's woodland grave so he can get closure on his loss, leading to Tony attempting a daring escape from his prison.
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"Up until that point Tony thought there might be a little bit of hope Harry was still alive, but seeing his final resting place makes him break down on the ground and he has a good old cry.
"Tony hates Breda but realises she is unhinged, and is trying to play her so he can try to work out a way to get free. At Harry's grave she warns him not to make any noise or else she's taking him back to the pig pen, but he's in pieces. He unpacks all his emotions and wishes he could have been a better dad."
With the much-anticipated Later not airing until after Christmas Tony might be stuck among the pigs for months, so what can Pickard tease about his possible involvement in the episode? "They are a lot of fun to make and the show gets out all the toys for them. It's nice to be part of. If I am involved I'd be really happy.
"I've been quite a few of the late nights in the past, the last one we did was on location in Morocco in 2013 with Danny Dyer before he went into EastEnders. James Redmond, Jeremy Edwards and my brother John Pickard came back to the cast for that one.
"The good thing about the Laters is you can go a bit further - you can show more, say more, and I think everyone likes doing the swearing!"
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