The drama plays out after Doug and Ste (Kieron Richardson) hatch a plan to turn the village's empty Cincerity property into a deli - still keen to prove themselves with a new challenge.
However, as the pair have no funds to match their big dreams, meddling Brendan (Emmett Scanlan) swoops in to offer a loan. Realising that there are few other options, Doug secretly accepts Brendan's terms…
Digital Spy recently caught up with PJ Brennan, who plays Doug, to hear his take on the storyline.
What has the Ste and Doug storyline been like to film so far?
"I'm really enjoying it. I've been filming with Kieron now since December last year, and it's great. It's nice to work with someone who I haven't done many scenes with before, and it's going fantastically - there's a lot of good material to work with."
"Absolutely! While we're filming, we always keep the audience's reaction in mind on some level, and once the episodes started to air, we were both very happy with the feedback. It seemed to be very immediate. We both work really hard, so to get a payoff is really nice.
"I watch the episodes myself too, and I think a nice friendship is developing between Ste and Doug, which is watchable."
Ste and Doug have had a tough start with their ambitions. Despite that, do you think they're a good match as business partners?
"I think it's a perfect pairing. There's a lot of qualities that Ste has that Doug doesn't possess, and vice versa. Within the first few minutes of meeting them as business partners, you might get the impression that they wouldn't work well. But in the end, they balance each other out, and that's what makes it work.
"There's also similarities there - they share a desire to change their lives and make something of themselves, so there is a strong connection between the two of them. On top of that, they both had a rough year last year. They're both committed to changing their lives and proving themselves."
"Yes, they're trying to get a loan to buy the property, but the bank meeting ends up being a disaster! Ste is very nervous as it's not really his forté - it's more Doug's thing. Doug is the more business-minded side of the partnership, while Ste is the one with the practical experience and ability.
"Doug recommends that Ste should get over his nerves by picturing the bank manager naked, but it ends up going haywire as it often does on Hollyoaks. Ste's brain has some sort of glitch, and he starts seeing himself naked, which ruins the meeting!
"In the end, the pair of them have to find other options in terms of financing. They're back to square one, trying to scramble to find the money. To make matters worse, they only have a matter of days, because Tony is going to make a bid himself, so there's already direct competition for the property."
That's when Brendan comes along…
"Yes, Brendan is still obviously pining after Ste. He misses the relationship they had and the control he used to have over Ste. So Brendan wants to tempt Ste and Doug by offering them money to buy the property.
"However, this leads to conflict, because Ste is resolute in not accepting any sort of help from Brendan. Ste's goal is to not only be a success, but to be a success on his own terms - a self-made man."
What does Doug think of Brendan's offer?
"Well, Doug has the same frame of mind as Ste, but he also realises that they won't get very far without the money. It gets tricky, so while Ste outright rejects it, Doug puts the idea in his back pocket. Doug still searches for other ways to get the money, but he's keeping Brendan's offer in the back of his mind.
"Brendan also goes out of his way to eliminate any other options. At one point, Doug goes to Riley in a brief attempt to get financial backing from him, but Brendan finds a way to swoop in at the last minute and eliminate that. In the end, the only outlet left is Brendan, so it turns into a situation where Doug goes behind Ste's back to get the money…"
"Yes, this is part of a side-plot involving Brendan and Joel. Joel notices the meetings between Brendan and Doug, and while he can't really figure out what it's about, he wants to be involved. When Doug finally agrees to take the money from Brendan, it comes with a list of demands - so he has to get back into some shady business.
"While Doug is carrying out a deal for Brendan, Joel puts on a mask and attacks Doug, as he's resentful over being left out of the loop. After being attacked, Doug fears that he's messed up and he won't get the money from Brendan."
What happens next?
"The whole incident reminds Doug why he was keeping his distance from Brendan in the first place, because this kind of thing happens. There's always complications and demands where Brendan is concerned - it's never just a favour!
"But Brendan still finds a way to weasel his way back in. He goes behind Doug's back, and finds a way to make sure that Doug and Ste do get the property!"
What does that mean for Doug and Ste's business partnership?
"Doug is faced with the dilemma of whether he should tell Ste. He decides not to, but who knows when the secret will be revealed? Their business partnership was originally very true and genuine, but now there's a secret involved. So next week's episodes build up a tension that will at some point explode!"
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Hollyoaks airs weekdays at 6.30pm on Channel 4 with a first look screening at 7pm on E4.