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'Hollyoaks' Dan O'Connor reveals Ally role details: Interview

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Dan O'Connor, Ally Grogan, Hollyoaks

© Channel 4

Former Neighbours star Dan O'Connor makes his debut on Hollyoaks next week, taking on the role of Ally Grogan - a charming newcomer with a secret.

Having recently spent time working as a military medic in Afghanistan, Ally arrives in the village and becomes Rhys (Andrew Moss) and Jacqui's (Claire Cooper) new lodger as he's looking for a place to stay.

As he settles in, Ally quickly makes an impression on Ste Hay (Kieron Richardson) and Amy Barnes (Ashley Slanina-Davies) and the pair then go all-out to discover whether he is gay or straight. Will there be romance on the cards for one of them?

Here, Dan chats to Digital Spy about the character of Ally and what's ahead.

How are you finding your time at Hollyoaks so far?
"It's all going really well. I've been getting along with all of the cast and they all seem really friendly. It was helpful that I already knew one of the guys on the show before I started, as I actually used to be housemates with PJ Brennan - who plays Doug - in London before he moved up here to Liverpool. So PJ showed me around and introduced me to everyone, which was quite nice."

How did the role of Ally come about?
"Well, I actually auditioned for a different role and got to the second audition for it. But then they asked me to come back and read for Ally. I got the part and I was on set about three days after that, so it all happened very, very quickly!"

You're best known for Neighbours but you've actually been over here in the UK for a while, haven't you?
"Yeah, it's coming up to about four years now. As soon as I finished on Neighbours, I relocated over here to the UK. I spent the first two years recording music, but then I decided to get back into acting."

Has your time at Neighbours helped you to be quite well-prepared for life at Hollyoaks?
"Yeah, it has - I'm used to the fast-paced nature of soaps! So it literally just feels like I'm back on the set of Neighbours. There's not much difference between the two shows in terms of how they're produced. That was handy, because I did three years on Neighbours, so Hollyoaks just feels like I'm back at home."

Dan O'Connor, Ally Grogan, Hollyoaks
How would you describe the character of Ally?
"He's a nice, loveable guy - very friendly and kind. He's a medic who's just got back from Afghanistan, and he turns up in Hollyoaks because he's looking for a place to live. So that's when he meets Rhys and Jacqui, because they're looking for a lodger.

"Initially, it all seems quite rosy and like a perfect match, but as Ally stays there a bit longer, it becomes apparent that Rhys and Jacqui are always at each other's throats! So then Ally starts to question whether it was the right decision to move in with them."

Even though Rhys and Jacqui are arguing with each other, do they like Ally?
"Yeah - especially Rhys. There's a good bond between Rhys and Ally. It's in the early stages at the moment, but they seem to get on really well. I haven't had as much to do with Jacqui, but we'll see what happens as the story progresses."

Is Ally out of the army now, or is he just taking a break?
"At the moment, it's back and forth. He's still doing stuff with the army, but at this stage he's not going back to Afghanistan. But he's doing some training at the hospital as well."

Amy Barnes - played by Ashley Slanina-Davies
What happens when Ste and Amy both take a shine to Ally?
"I can't say too much, but the two of them are trying to figure out whether Ally is straight or gay - because both of them fancy him. I think Ally is a bit oblivious to it all, but he does develop an attraction to one of them. I can't reveal which one at the moment, though!"

What does Ally look for in a partner?
"Ally would look for someone who's similar to him - someone who's genuine and kind."

Ally seems to get quite a warm welcome, but could you see him getting involved in any dramas in the village further down the line?
"I think so! At the moment, they're still developing the story and the character as it goes along. I'm fine with that because I know that there'll be some good stuff coming up. I've had a few meetings with the producer and it all seems really good.

"As has been reported, there is a dark past or a secret that's yet to emerge, so when that does come out, I think it could possibly cause conflict between Ally and some of the other guys on the show."

Do you think his secret is going to shock people?
"Well, to be honest, I actually don't know what the secret is yet! I think it's still getting developed at the moment - but I've been told that it's a good one! So it probably will shock people, yes."

Are there any similarities between Ally and your Neighbours character Ned Parker?
"There are, actually! At first, it felt like I was playing the same character that I played on Neighbours, but that could just be a stereotypical Australian thing - that we all seem to be laid-back, genuine people! Trust me, not every Australian is!"

Ste Hay - played by Kieron Richardson
Ste, Amy, Rhys and Jacqui are some of Hollyoaks' most popular characters. Are you glad that Ally is interacting with them straight away?
"Definitely. All those guys have been on the show for about six years, so it's great that I've been able to do stuff with them straight away. They know the show inside out, and they're great actors as well."

Have you moved to Liverpool for this role?
"At the moment, I'm just commuting to Liverpool from London. But I'm going to look at moving to Liverpool - probably in about a month's time. Commuting is getting a bit tiresome, and it'll be a lot cheaper to live in Liverpool and not have all the travel."

Do you have fond memories of your time on Ramsay Street?
"Yeah, I've got some great memories. I remember in my last scene, I had to do this speech at the end. In the script, I had to say, 'This has been the best three years of my life' - and it was totally genuine, because it was for me in real life too. It's not every day that you can say you've done something like that, so there's lots of great memories and great friendships.

"I still keep in contact with quite a few of the cast members and I saw Carla Bonner, who played Steph, just before Christmas. That was just before I found out that I'd got the Hollyoaks role. Carla was a great friend from the show."

> Read more Hollyoaks spoilers and news

Hollyoaks airs weeknights at 6.30pm on Channel 4 with a first look screening at 7pm on E4. Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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