What's the reaction been like from Hollyoaks fans since you did the interview on This Morning?
"The fans have been quite shocked about me coming out as gay, when I think it's quite obvious! They've been more shocked about that than they have been about Ste. I think it's nice that the fans have just accepted Ste being gay straight away, because I was worried that it wouldn't be believable because of him being a real straight character in the past and a bit of a scally. But I think the nice thing is that Danny Miller has portrayed a scally-type character who's gay in Emmerdale, so I think people have accepted it a lot more. Now I'm just really excited about the storyline."
When did you first hear that this was in store for Ste?
"I'd literally just finished Dancing On Ice, and [producer] Paul Marquess had just started at Hollyoaks. The day after that, he asked me to come into a meeting - and at that time, a lot of people were being written out, so I was thinking, 'Oh my God, I'm going!' But he said, 'I've been watching the clips from the past couple of months and I really like what you've done', and then he told me that he'd decided to turn Ste gay. At first, it was just the initial shock and I was thinking, 'Can I do it? Is it going to be believable?'"
What happened next?
"I was thinking a lot about the storyline - and when you know that your character's turning gay, you can kind of play to that stereotype and camp it up a bit, but I thought that in order to be true to the character, I had to fight against that. I wanted to play it completely Ste, completely straight, with no changes except that he likes men now. I also think what's nice about the storyline is that it isn't the same as any other soap sexuality storyline, because Ste doesn't question his sexuality and it's not about a struggle - it's about domestic abuse in a gay relationship, and that hasn't been done on a soap before."
"Well, the good thing about doing the This Morning interview was that I got 17,000 emails that day from people saying, 'Well done - I'm gay and you've helped me to come out to my parents'. But there was one email that stuck out from a guy who told me that he'd been in a gay relationship and experiencing domestic abuse, so he'd gone to the police and it went to court. He was the first guy in a gay relationship to get his partner sent to prison. I'm hoping to hear more about his story to help us achieve an accurate portrayal of this very real issue."
It sounds like this is going to be a big storyline for the months ahead.
"Well, when Paul first told me about the storyline and I was doing it, I'd obviously heard about the Jasmine and Jason plot, which is a massive thing, along with all of the other stuff that's going on in Hollyoaks. So I thought that ours would be a C-storyline, but it's actually turning out to be an A-storyline, which is nice! When I was picking up my scripts and reading it, I thought it was quite good, but when it comes off paper and gets onto screen, the scenes seem completely different - especially because of the things that Emmett brings to his character. He puts his own little things in, and that's pushing me as an actor because I want to try new things to make my performance match his, because he's so good. The stuff that's coming up is really strong."
Would you describe Ste as gay or bisexual?
"This is the funny thing - he's bisexual at this point, because he's obviously in a relationship with Rae but seeing Brendan at the same time. But I think the whole reason why Ste doesn't question his sexuality is because he's been so bad in relationships. Nobody's really loved him like Amy has, so he's happy to go along with whoever shows him interest, whether it's a man or a woman."
"Yes, I have. When I first found out that Brendan was going to be Ste's boyfriend, I was asking, 'Who have you cast?' When I was told it was Emmett, I Googled him and saw his showreel. I remember sitting there watching it with Bronagh, who plays Cheryl, and she said, 'He's good, isn't he?!' I was really worried then about how I was going to be able to match up to his performance! But he's given me tips and if I want to do something that's a bit out there or a bit different, he'll always go with it and react to whatever I do, and I'll react to whatever he does. We don't always stick to the script - if we want to play with it a bit, we get away with it. Emmett brings something different to the show, and we haven't had a bad boy for a while. I think that Emmett's now one of the strongest bad boys in any of the soaps."
And now you've got Darren Day coming in to play another bad boy!
"That's another nice thing, because you don't really imagine him as a bad boy. I know he has a reputation, but you don't really imagine him as being evil. On set and in real life, he's not what you'd expect him to be like - he's quiet, polite and really shy. But when he's playing his character, he's like a completely different person!"
> Click here to read more from Kieron Richardson in Soap Scoop