Hollyoaks star Stephanie Davis has revealed that her alter ego Sinead Shelby is left with “mixed emotions” following the sudden death of her abusive husband Laurie Shelby on Wednesday 7th August (E4 showing), and admits the final scenes with co-star Kyle Pryor in which nurse Sinead tried to save the life of the man who raped her when he collapsed from a head injury were hard to film.
“What would you do in that position?” asks the actress in an interview with RadioTimes.com discussing the climax of the hard-hitting domestic violence storyline. “Giving mouth-to-mouth to your rapist, the person who destroyed your life – her instinct as a nurse kicked in and it shows what a good person she is.
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“It was a difficult thing to play. Sinead was grieving for the person she thought her husband was, while having to accept he wasn’t that person. We’ll see in the aftermath she says she doesn’t know how to feel – she’s angry but upset, she loved him once and tried to save him but he hurt her. There are good memories but he did terrible things. Sinead is in shock.”
Laurie’s coercive control that developed into psychological and physical abuse has been a slow burn plot since the seemingly charming character was introduced in November 2018, having married Sinead in the three years she was away from the show.
This charismatic, successful deputy head teacher eventually revealed himself as a violent, manipulative bully who subjected Sinead to abusive attacks while unleashing a campaign of sexual harassment and gaslighting of vulnerable colleague Sienna Blake (Anna Passey).
For Davis, who has previously spoken publicly and honestly about her personal connection to the subject matter, portraying Sinead’s predicament truthfully has been of the utmost importance. “My main thing was to try and get it right so it reached out to the public,” she explains. “Obviously most people aware of my past and what I’ve been through, which I think gave that extra touch to make it more realistic. The response has been amazing, I’ve had that many messages I’m constantly scrolling through them.
“Sinead is feisty and gobby but with Laurie she became very introverted, which is the kind of thing that can happen to people in these situations. Laurie saw Sinead wearing her heart on her sleeve as a vulnerable trait for him to exploit, we saw how he chipped away and played little mind games that changed her, making her feel dependent on this abusive person – Sinead thought she couldn’t live without him and started to feel how he treated her was acceptable.
“The storyline showed that even strong personalities like Sinead and Sienna can still have something like this happen to them.”
Will Sinead and Sami become a couple?
With Laurie gone, it’s assumed Sinead finds comfort in the arms of Sami Maalik (Rishi Nair) who she has been on the verge of romance with before, but Davis reckons it’s too soon to jump into another relationship, especially with so many complex emotions to process.
“In real life she should stay single for a year – but this is Hollyoaks!” she concedes. “Sami has been a big support throughout the Laurie thing, as a lawyer and a mate. He has feelings for her and is good egg. I think they are well matched, he’s quite calm and rational whereas she’s irrational! But she brings out his fun side.
“They could have a future but she doesn’t want to know at first. Sami is fully aware of what she’s been through and isn’t narrow-minded about it. He sees her for who she is – Sami could be the guy who gives Sinead her happy ending.”
After such heavy material, Davis is also looking forward to some lighter moments especially with Sinead’s newfound ‘girl gang’ of Sienna and Nancy Osborne (Jessica Fox), who have all bonded through the adversity of being hoodwinked by Laurie to create a positive dynamic of female empowerment. Comedy gold was mined through the three disparate women coming together for a book group recently that descended into chaos when no-nonsense Sinead denounced Sienna’s prized Jane Austen novels as anti-feminist – and there’s more what that came from…
“I love working with Anna and Jess, the characters make such a funny threesome together with Sinead don’t they? The book group stuff was hilarious to film. There is another scene with the girls soon, we get a bottle of champagne together. We filmed it on the hottest day of the year and it was so much fun!”
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