Remember when Sienna Blake (Anna Passey) was an evil husband-stealing, baby-snatching, manipulative minx?
These days she’s Hollyoaks‘ favourite flawed heroine who managed to overcome a tragic childhood and turn her life around, but a few years ago she was the village villain trying to destroy rival Nancy Osborne (Jessica Fox) by stealing her life – including hubby Darren Osborne (yes, he was unfaithful before Mandy Morgan caught his eye).
As Hollyoaks Favourites airs classic episodes from the Sienna V Nancy era, Passey and Fox chart the characters’ journey from enemies to colleagues. Who’d have thought they’d be chatting over a cuppa in the Hollyoaks High staff room one day…?
In 2013, classy new girl in town Sienna (introduced a few months’ earlier as the long-lost twin sister of Dodger Savage) became Osbornes’ live-in au pair helping to look after their baby boy Oscar and adopted son (technically their nephew) Charlie.
“Sienna quickly overstepped the mark,” recalls Passey of her early days on the soap. “Nancy had a problem with prescription meds which made Sienna think she didn’t deserve her family. So Sienna decided she would look after the children better than Nancy, and she also fell for Darren.”
“After a lot of lurking in the shadows, drugging Nancy and manipulation, Sienna got what she wanted and the rivalry was born,” says Fox. Troubled new mum Nance was trying to kick her drug habit but Sienna exploited the weakness and secretly drugged her to make Mrs O look like loopy and an unfit mother. “I got to play a very erratic Nancy in those days, probably my favourite version of the character!”
Nancy’s efforts to prove Sienna was gaslighting her backfired and she ended up chased by the police accused of abducting her own children, climaxing in a stunt atop a multi-storey car park. “Learning to do a handbrake turn while filming the car park stunt remains a Hollyoaks highlight for me!”
Having got Darren’s pesky wife out of the picture, Sienna seized the opportunity to become the lady of the house. In one particularly unforgettable creepy moment she secretly breast-fed Nancy’s baby boy, Oscar, unaware young Tom Cunningham was watching. “Tom rumbled Sienna’s scheming so she kidnapped him and kept him in a basement for months,” explains Passey.
Bogus baby bump
“Sienna was very damaged,” defends Passey. “She had a baby taken away from her as a teenager and grew up with an abusive father. She did whatever it took to live her dream of having a family. To stop Darren going back to Nancy she even faked a pregnancy.” Having learnt the terrible truth, Nance stormed into Darren and Sienna’s engagement party and ripped off Ms Blake’s pretend foam bump, much to the shock of the assembled partygoers. “We had so much fun doing the story,” says Fox. “It had a big build to it and the audience were very invested.”
Passey’s alter ego may have turned a corner, but she remains proud of her Machiavellian roots: “The Nancy rivalry is still my favourite storyline. It was fun playing the villain that broke up one of Hollyoaks’ most iconic couples!”
BFFs and bridesmaids
In 2019 things finally thawed between the ladies when they teamed up to bring down rapist Laurie Shelby. “I think what Sienna went through with Laurie, and how she tried to help Sinead out of her abusive marriage to him, made Nancy sympathise with Sienna,” reckons Passey. “They are both teachers now and Nancy finally believes there has been a real change in Sienna.”
So all is forgiven, though not necessarily forgotten, as Fox comments: “I guess if two people live in the village long enough they have to find a way to get on – even if that person stole your life, Locke you in a car boot and left you to die, drugged you repeatedly and had you committed…”
In real life the pair are great mates, and Fox reveals Passey is set to be one of her bridesmaids when she gets married later this year. “I love Anna, I don’t think there is a day we don’t exchange a text, meme or a song. When we actually get to work together we are very naughty and laugh a lot, I wish we could do more of it.”