Over the years, Hollyoaks has earned a reputation for tackling tricky topics the other soaps are too scared of, and the recent gay conversion storyline has become yet another groundbreaking moment.


Former Holby City star David Ames has bagged a Best Actor and Best Villain nomination in the RadioTimes.com Soap Awards 2024, sponsored by Inspired Villages, for playing tormented teacher Carter Shepherd, and the plot itself is recognised in the Best Storyline category.

In an exclusive interview, the star reveals his pride at Hollyoaks highlighting the controversial subject, and whether he’ll ever return.

How do you feel about the nominations?

Any actor would be lying if they said awards didn’t mean anything! We tend to seek a certain element of approval in applause, or from our peers within the industry. To be up for these awards is lovely, especially as the public get to vote in some. It’s a nice nod to the hard work that goes into it not just from me, but the writers, directors and everyone involved. It’s very much a team effort and I couldn’t have done any of it without them, that’s how I see it.

Was it a challenge to play a complicated character like Carter?

I’m not remotely religious, so to play someone who had built his entire personality around religion was a real stretch for me. I had to leave my own personal things at the door and understand this is his life and he believes what he’s doing is for good. He was brainwashed into thinking he deserved punishment for what he saw as wrongdoing.

More like this

Did you enjoy the dynamic between him and John Paul?

Their relationship was one of the biggest joys to perform, James Sutton (who plays John Paul) and I worked well together and have become best friends. You had to believe they’d fall for each other, and we put in a lot of hard work to make that convincing. Soap goes at a fast pace with not much time to rehearse, but James and I would chew through a scene and play around with it if something wasn’t quite working. It boggles my mind that even after I tried to drown the man and screw him up, I still get viewers wishing they’d get together!

Why did Carter think Lucas was a suitable target for conversion therapy?

It was a project for him, to help Carter be seen in a better light and prove himself to the people in the church and in the eyes of God. Carter was desperate to prove himself. Lucas didn’t want to be gay and end up like Ste, a father figure who keeps making these big blunders. Carter saw Lucas’s desperation, but also recognised himself in that desperate plea to deny who you really are. What we tried to do was show Carter as an image of what could happen to a young person like Lucas, should it be left unchecked.

David Ames as Carter Shepherd on Hollyoaks. He is wearing a white shirt and black tie as he looks across at someone in a dimly lit room.
David Ames as Carter Shepherd on Hollyoaks. Lime Pictures

How did the fans react to Carter being an obstacle to Lucas and Dillon's romance?

There were some comments telling me to back off and let them be together! But there’s a generational difference with the age brackets of the audience – Carter grew up in a very different time, he would’ve experienced Section 28 (government legislation that prohibited the promotion of homosexuality) and felt unable to admit you were gay because of the ridicule and pain that came with it in those days.

Now there’s Pride, Heartstopper… Carter was jealous Dillon and Lucas are living a truth he’ll never know and never be able to. Oscar (Curtis, aka Lucas) and Nathaniel (Dass, aka Dillon) helped with that thanks to the love they showed between their characters.

What impact do you think the storyline has had?

Lots of people didn’t realise conversion therapy was still legal and is still going on. The government promised for years to ban it. There were numerous other paths we could’ve wandered down to illustrate it, and politically it’s difficult to touch on the subject without causing a ruckus, so we had to shine a light on it in our own way and I’m proud of what we achieved. We told a story about what happens to people who have undergone this practice, or could go through it. Look at the mess you can get into when you’re not able to truly be yourself.

Carter is now in prison, but would you consider playing him again?

He is an interesting, layered character. There is more to learn about him, and to teach others through portraying him and how detrimental it can be mentally and physically to withhold your true self. It can have a horrendous effect on you. To illustrate Carter coming out of the other side of that would be fascinating, so I absolutely feel it’s a character I would return to if the story and the moment was right.

The RadioTimes.com Soap Awards 2024, sponsored by Inspired Villages, will take place on 13th July. Find out the nominees ahead of the big day!


Check out more of our Soaps coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what else is on. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to The Radio Times Podcast.