In a year that saw Hollyoaks back on top with an explosion of epic storylines, Ste Hay was at the centre of the drama as he accidentally killed Warren Fox’s daughter Ella, leading him down a dark path of self-destruction.


To celebrate his Best Actor nomination at the Soap Awards 2024, sponsored by Inspired Villages, Kieron Richardson exclusively reflects on an eventful 12 months as drama magnet Ste, and teases what’s in store for the rest of the year.

Are you excited to be nominated for Best Actor?

I feel like I’m always the bridesmaid with awards, so don’t want to get too excited! I’ve shared ones for partnerships with Emmett J Scanlan (Brendan Brady) and Anna Passey (Sienna Blake) in the past, which was obviously amazing, and I was so grateful to be in two different double acts that got people talking. But one day it would be nice to have something for myself! It would a huge deal for me.

Do you feel Hollyoaks has had a strong year?

From the January stunt onwards, the whole team has worked really hard. Our new producer, Hannah Cheers, came in and literally flipped the storylines on their head in a very short space of time. We doubled the viewing figures and made the show a talking point again.

When people started coming up to me in the street asking about Ste killing Ella and what would happen next, I knew it was working. And it’s good for the genre of soap to have audiences interested again.

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How did you feel about Ste turning bad and relapsing?

I was excited. I didn’t have any drama school training, so when I get the hard-hitting material I ask myself how I can portray it as truthfully as possible - not just memorise the lines and say them believably, I want that raw emotion. That’s why I love this job.

What’s been your most challenging moment?

The reveal of James finding out what Ste had done. I’d done a fight scene earlier on and overdone a fake punch, so my arm was really sore and I was in pain as I had to do this big scene with Gregory (Finnegan, aka James). It had been a full-on day of intense, emotional stuff, and as Ste admitted to James he’d killed Ella, I felt physically sick and improvised Ste running to the sink to throw up. It wasn’t scripted! I couldn’t have felt any more in the moment then I did at that point.

Were you worried Ste would be hated after what he did?

Ste is not inherently bad, he gets himself into situations that he doesn’t know how to get out of. And he’s often under the influence of somebody else’s words or actions pushing him into things. I’m protective of the character, but the audience seems to forgive him for the things he does.

Have you ever been concerned he can't be redeemed?

The only time I felt that was with the far right radicalisation storyline five years ago. Ste had been susceptible to being groomed in the past, so it made sense for him to go through that, but it did make me feel uncomfortable.

After such a heavy storyline I had a few years of lighthearted comedic stuff with the Sienna friendship, but when Hannah came in as producer I knew I was going to get something meaty, as she had worked on the show before and knew Ste inside out.

Do you like the partnership Ste has struck up with Warren?

It’s amazing. Jamie (Lomas, who plays Warren) is so passionate about his craft, I can learn little bits from him a bit like I used to do with Emmett back in Ste/Brendan days. The pairing with Warren in the criminal world reminds me of that era around 2011, 2012. Ste hasn’t been in that space for a while.

Are you excited about the time jump in September, when Hollyoaks leaps forward 12 months into the future?

I’ve read the final episode of being five nights a week before we switch to three with the jump, and it’s a whopper! People will be desperate to tune in and find out exactly where people's lives are one year later.

But I don’t want to spoil it, I was a fan first and remember being desperate to know how Becca and Justin’s affair would turn out all those years ago – then I joined the show and it wasn’t as much fun knowing what’s going to happen! It’s Hollyoaks, so it’s going to be heightened, shocking, and as big and climactic as the January stunt was.

Which of your fellow castmates deserves an award?

Alex Fletcher, who plays Diane. She is amazing and sometimes gets overlooked. Her performances are always genuine. Soaps started out as a little peek into people's living rooms, and when I watch her sometimes I can’t tell she’s acting, she’s so natural.

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


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