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Hollyoaks’ Jennifer Metcalfe on why Mercedes’ son could be the soap’s next serial killer

The star talks exclusively to Johnathon Hughes about how death and destruction has brought the magic back to the soap.

Big RT Interview: Jennifer Metcalfe
Published: Tuesday, 11th January 2022 at 8:00 pm

It’s stunt week in Hollyoaks which means drama, devastation and, inevitably, death. Among the grieving villagers is Mercedes McQueen, the glamorous, gobby anti-heroine who gives Corrie’s Gail a run for her money when it comes to racking up dead husbands.

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The demise of Mercedes’ current spouse, gentle giant Sylver McQueen (David Tag), is one of the cruellest blows yet in a life full of hard knocks and hurt. And in true soap fashion, the childhood sweethearts had finally reconciled after a rough patch and reaffirmed their love for each other – just as an enormous explosion engulfed the Chester suburb…

“Mercedes feels as if her soul has been ripped out,” sighs Jennifer Metcalfe who plays the brassy brunette, speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com about the tragic twist in the soap’s hour-long special. “Sylver was the love of her life, they had such a special bond. She is angry at herself for making their last few months so hard after cheating on him and is utterly beside herself.”

Since Metcalfe brought it up, we can’t ignore the fact her alter ego is no saint. Minxy Mercy tried sweet Sylver's patience numerous times during their marriage with her infidelity, drug addiction and deceit. But of all her many husbands (four including Sylver, though one she wed twice. And now all of them are six feet under…) he was the one who forgave and forgot the most, curbing her self-destructive streak and providing a calm stability in her stormy world. Surely she’ll go off the rails without him?

“Sylver was the safe bet, the one she was always meant to be with,” continues Metcalfe. “But getting a happy ending for about five minutes then having it ripped away is the story of her life, isn’t it? Losing him was a total shock to her, and to the audience who loved them together.”

The real sting in the tale was the part Mercedes’ 10-year-old son Bobby Costello played in his stepdad’s death, deliberately leaving him to rot in the rubble of swanky cafe Salon de Thé de Marnie, scene of the carnage, as punishment for having previously planned to leave his mum and abandon the family.

hollyoaks stunt week mercedes bobby

There were chilling demon-child vibes when Bobby emerged from the collapsed coffee shop and lied to Mercedes that Sylver was nowhere to be seen inside the building, seconds before it collapsed and sealed his fate… In the coming weeks Bobby’s bad behaviour continues, but does Mercy suspect the extent of her son’s sinister streak?

“Her head is in the sand, but some things don’t sit well with her,” she admits. “Eventually his behaviour becomes more obviously worrying but Mercedes still chooses to deny there’s something not right with him. Bobby is clever and worms his way out of things, she wants to believe he’s her perfect little boy but everyone around her starts to make her question him.

“At first she puts his issues down to losing Sylver, his father figure. She uses all kinds of excuses but it’s quite unnerving to watch how creepy he gets!” Especially considering Bobby’s lineage: he’s the grandson of Hollyoaks’ most notorious serial killer, Silas Blissett, the chess-playing pensioner who made a terrifying return for the soap’s 25th anniversary in 2020 and tried to abduct the boy.

hollyoaks stunt week bobby costello

In a neat touch, Bobby flashed a sly smile as he played a game of chess after the explosion – is this a clue he’ll be following in his gruesome granddad’s footsteps?

“Oh yes, maybe Silas was like Bobby when he was a kid?!” laughs Metcalfe. “If Mercedes knew Bobby left Sylver to die would she protect him? I’m not sure, and that’s what makes the storyline so interesting going forward. What would a mother do in that situation? For me, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my little boy (Metcalfe has a four-year-old son, Daye, with ex-partner Greg Lake from reality show Geordie Shore). However, you can only protect them so far before you end up making it worse!

“How Mercedes deals with Bobby will show a side to her we’ve not seen before, but she can’t ignore the fact he could be a danger to the world. It’s going to be a long-running storyline and I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into it, and I love working Jayden (Fox, who plays him), he’s amazing and a proper little character.”

EMBARGO 4 JAN 2022 WK 2 HOLLYOAKS STUNT

The stunt is the most ambitious event Hollyoaks has attempted within COVID-enforced restrictions. Pre-pandemic, the soap was synonymous with spectacular set pieces and big budget blow-ups. Metcalfe, a veteran of many on-screen disasters in her 16 years on the show including fires, crashes and even being trapped on a ferris wheel (“She probably caused most of them!”), proudly declares this week as Hollyoaks back to its best.

“It was lovely how normal it felt to be filming a stunt in a big group for the first time in ages, and to be creative again. Personally I sometimes found it hard having to be two metres apart from the cast, especially in emotional scenes. I knew it was necessary and we did the best we could, but we had to sacrifice a lot and it felt a bit flat.

“We did PCR tests twice a week in the month leading up to the night shoots so by the time we were on set we could be pretty free. To get closer to the other actors brought back a bit of magic and these episodes are definitely Hollyoaks at full force.”

And it’s only right that Mercedes is centre stage – since her introduction in 2006 she has been at the heart of the show and become one of its most popular faces. Attracting drama and heartbreak as only a soap leading lady can, the irrepressible, outrageous Mercedes McQueen personifies Hollyoaks’ identity in the way tart with a heart Kat Slater does in EastEnders, or Mancunian matriarch Bet Lynch did in Coronation Street. Mercy has earned her place in the pantheon of iconic strong women the genre is built on.

Metcalfe is up for any challenge the job throws at her, and there have been plenty. Managing to make someone who has been, at times, utterly reprehensible (when she was shot in 2019 practically the whole cast were suspects) still so loved by the audience is no mean feat. Her enthusiasm for the role is infectious and she remains admirably committed to keeping the character fresh.

hollyoaks mercedes mcqueen

“I haven’t consciously tried to make Mercedes likeable but because I love playing her, and the writers love her, they keep this gentle side where she can be vulnerable and loving.

“It does take effort,” she candidly admits. “I don’t think we’ve accidentally created this character, it’s been years of communication and ideas on both sides. Like any relationship it’s been an effort at times! Today she is a good, complex and interesting person that fans like watching.”

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The future for the newly-widowed Mercedes now she’s lost her soul mate and is parenting a potential future murderer will no doubt be packed with the kind of compelling twists and typically audacious behaviour we’ve come to expect. Fans, and Metcalfe, wouldn’t have it any other way.

“After all these years it still doesn’t feel like I go to work, I just get to have fun every day,” she grins. “Somehow they keep on producing storylines I still like playing. I trust the writers and their vision. Although for me ‘bad girl’ Mercedes is when she’s at her most enjoyable. I love that she literally gets away with murder!”

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Finally, with her romantic track record it’s unlikely she will stay single for long, so does Metcalfe predict husband number five will soon be on the horizon? “There’s enough drama going on with Bobby without another fella in the mix! Maybe she should lay off the love interests for a while instead of going for the rebound thing she normally does. But knowing her she won’t be able to help herself…!”

Visit our dedicated Hollyoaks page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV guide.
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