The last time that Ste Hay (Kieron Richardson) was in Hollyoaks, he had caused a serious amount of damage after being groomed and utilised by a vile far right group who launched racist attacks on the community.
It was only in the wake of a bomb which nearly killed Yasmine Maalik (Haiesha Mistry) that Ste started to realise that the people he was trapped by were not his allies but actually evil thugs intent on dividing the village.
Now, as Ste comes back to Hollyoaks, he knows he has many bridges to build – and it’s not going to be easy.
Kieron told Metro.co.uk: ‘Ste has been living in Newcastle – which at first was in an accommodation which gave him help. He went to meetings with Prevent. He got himself a flat and a job but it became a bit public there – and he was out on his ear again. So he had the choice of facing the consequences of the village – obviously he has chosen to come back home.
‘He is full of regret, he has changed. He is scared to face people. I think he is not as confident as he was – actions have consequences and he has to face those now.
‘I think he’s scared of facing the Maaliks because of what he put them through. We knew he was groomed but he still did these horrendous things, he may not have been in his right mind but he still has to face Yazz who now has hearing problems.
He has to face Misbah, his family and the shame on them, and also his best friend Tony who was trying to help him. He has to hope for forgiveness.’
It’s a big ask for he Maaliks and his family to forgive him – and Kieron reckons it will be an uphill journey.
He mused: ‘He has to take baby steps and let people see that he has changed – and show them. new actions that he does need to reflect him in a newer light. He will never be back to that old Ste from before the right far right stuff as he was a bit of an idiot at times too – it would be nice for him to have matured after everything he has gone through. Ste chapter two.
‘He comes back to the village, needs to find somewhere to live, provide for his family and children. And face lots of old faces who don’t have a positive opinion on him right now.’
But how has Kieron missed being on the show? Given his break ended up a lot longer due to Covid, he’s delighted to be back.
The actor admitted: ‘I think I missed it a lot more than I thought I would – in my head I was only going to be away a little bit of time. Because of everything that’s happened, it’s been 12 months. I don’t know if it was missing playing the character or missing the people – everything all rolled into one.
‘Most of my adult life has been in this studio – it’s been weird not going there every day. And now it feels so different.
‘I didn’t actually think it was a bad thing for the show to go off for a bit because we got to go back and look at different episodes. It’s nice for new viewers to look at the older episodes and see iconic characters from the past. It was sad not to get new material but the gift of old episodes was a blessing.’
Recently, Metro.co.uk confirmed that Kieron’s real life husband Carl would be popping in to film some scenes which would require close contact – and Kieron expects he will find it odd!
He smiled: ‘It feels a bit weird! It’s like your two worlds collide, I like to keep it separate. Carl has been here before but not to film a scene – it’s so strange. I know the person that he is the body double of and they’re nothing like!
‘It’ll be believable that my husband is who he is pretending to me once the magic is worked in the edit!’
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