Hollyoaks’ radicalisation storyline continues this week as Ste Hay (Kieron Richardson) finally realises he has been groomed by far right extremists following an attack on the village targeting the Maalik family.
Tuesday 17th September’s E4 episode showed the aftermath of a devastating explosion caused by a bomb intended to be detonated at Sami Maalik (Rishi Nair) and Sinead Shelby’s (Stephanie Davis) engagement party at the Loft night club, but accidentally went off in Ste’s back garden putting Yazz Maalik (Haiesha Mistry) and Jonny Baxter (Ray Quinn) in hospital.
Arriving on the scene with stepmum Misbah Maalik (Harvey Virdi), Sami explained to shellshocked Ste he has been manipulated and groomed by Jonny and group leader Stuart Sumner (Chris Simmons), who took advantage of his disenfranchisement and anger to lure him into their anti-Islam ideology.
Ste’s eyes may be open at last to the true agenda of his housemates, but the sinister extremist faction are now forcing him to keep quiet before the police find them. Stuart, Jonny, Ste and fellow group member Dave are now in hiding and as the plot unfolds throughout the week, viewers will be wondering how Ste can extricate himself from the far right.
Speaking at a screening of the dramatic episodes at the Royal Television Society in Manchester on Monday 16th September, Richardson admitted to being uneasy about the storyline when it was initially suggested.
“I told our producer, Bryan Kirkwood, I didn’t want to do it, I was too scared. I love the character and get passionate about defending him. When he was introduced 14 years ago he was hated and we worked hard to get the audience on his side, and I knew this would make them hate him again.
“I was nervous taking it on and have had to come off social media as some people think I have racist views in real life.
“From speaking to ExitUK, who help people who’ve been groomed escape the far right, I knew some of these groups could get quite violent and the fact we were portraying them in a bad light made me worry about how they’d react – would they come after us?
“Now I’m so proud to be have been part of the storyline.”
Hollyoaks airs weeknights at 7pm on E4, and is repeated at 6.30pm the following day on Channel 4.