It's been a busy 12 months for Hollyoaks star Nikki Sanderson - a high profile domestic abuse storyline, the exit of co-star Danny Mac and also a National Television Awards nomination for Best Serial Drama Performance. Luckily, she found time to sit down with RadioTimes.com to talk about her dramatic year on the C4 soap...
Do you think that soaps are ideally placed to tell chart the kind of domestic abuse that Maxine suffered?
Yes, definitely. Hollyoaks wanted to make sure that it followed a real-life timescale. And for it to be as realistic as possible. A subject like domestic abuse isn’t something that you want to take lightly. You want to make sure it’s done properly. And it was thoroughly researched – we had many people on board including victims and perpetrators. The programme makers were constantly researching, adapting and changing it on a daily basis to make sure that it was correct.
How quickly did the audience pick up on Patrick's persecution of Maxine?
Well, it was interesting that nobody picked up on it when he was just looking through my phone, telling me what to wear and making me quit my job. It was only when he actually hit her that people thought, 'oh god!' and then began to think about all the build-up to that moment. It made people more aware, including me, of domestic violence. Hollyoaks has enlightened a lot of people. Domestic abuse doesn’t just constitute physical violence - there’s such a broad spectrum. And Hollyoaks did the story justice.
What feedback did you get from viewers?
We’ve had so much feedback - we’ve had it from young people in high school who’ve said that they didn’t know what they were experiencing was domestic violence. People saying that their boyfriend had been telling them what to wear and that he'd been checking through their phone. And we've heard from others who’ve come through it. From the feedback we’ve had from the government and the home office, it has saved lives and made a difference. So kudos to Hollyoaks for attempting such a huge storyline and doing it as well as they did it.
Do you feel that soaps sometimes don't get the credit they deserve for tackling these issues?
Yes I do. When you look at the size of the audience and the fact that they're on five times a week, then surely they can make a difference? Hollyoaks has done some phenomenal storylines in the last couple of years: bullying, male rape, cancer and obviously domestic violence. So many different and really good storylines that have come across very well to the audience.
Now, we know that next week is an explosive one for the show - can you tell us about it?
Yes, it's going to be an exciting week. There are going to explosions, fire, kidnap, fights.. falls. Two women that Dodger loves – and he can only save one. Which one will he save? So it’s all going to be edge-of-the-seat stuff. And it's all coming to a head for Dodger’s exit – which will be a sad, sorrowful, heart-wrenching goodbye.
How hard has it been for you to say goodbye to Danny Mac?
Everyone loves danny. He’s such a gent. He really is. And a lovely guy - everyone gets on well with him. And I’m really proud of him too. No one sees the effort he puts in behind the scenes. He’s a very talented young man and he does his research. He’s just a really good actor. I think he’s going to do really well and everyone at Hollyoaks is going to miss him.
You can vote for Nikki Sanderson at the NTAs here