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'Hollyoaks' PJ Brennan talks wedding day disaster - interview

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PJ Brennan as Doug Carter in Hollyoaks

© Lime Pictures

Hollyoaks' Doug Carter is involved in some of the soap's biggest scenes ever next week as disaster strikes on the day of his wedding to Ste Hay.

Doug and Ste are sharing a joint ceremony with Tony Hutchinson and Cindy Longford, but all four characters and their guests face terrible danger when the sixth formers plough through the venue in an out-of-control mini-bus, causing a pillar to collapse and the roof to cave in.

Digital Spy recently caught up with PJ Brennan, who plays Doug, to hear about his character's role in the dramatic episodes.

How have you found being involved in this huge storyline?
"It's been fantastic. For Doug, this has been building up since March when his storyline with Ste began, and this is a culmination of everything we've been doing. There's been a steady build-up to this moment and it's been great.

"Filming the episodes was hard work and the location shoots were very long hours, because we had some terrible weather to deal with. But we all fought through it with a good attitude and it's been really satisfying to film. I've already seen little clips and I think it's going to be really, really good to watch. I was gasping and I know what happens!"

What was your first reaction when you found out about the crash?
"It's a really dramatic storyline, so I think all of us were very, very excited. It can be tricky, because although you try to be objective about the storylines, I'm probably someone who is very concerned about my character's welfare - I forget that he's fake!

"I was a bit nervous for that reason, but once we got the specifics, I could see that it was very solid material. I think it's a really good reflection of the direction that we're going in at Hollyoaks. We're going back to the show's soap roots and doing some big, bombastic storylines."

How long did it take to film the episodes?
"In terms of being on-location, it was a full week. I wasn't there every day, but they devoted two days to the actual stunts. It was 8am to 8pm every day and it was a full, solid week of being on location for the cast and crew."

PJ Brennan as Doug Carter in Hollyoaks

© Lime Pictures

Kieron Richardson (Ste Hay, Hollyoaks)

© Channel 4



Is Doug one of the characters in danger when the crash happens?
"He's definitely in danger! Anyone who is at the wedding is in danger considering that a bus ploughs through the venue, so he's certainly at risk. It also comes at the worst time possible, because there's a gigantic reveal between Ste and Doug just before the crash occurs. At that point, the secret is revealed that Doug has gone behind Ste's back to take out Brendan…"

When it comes to the big scenes, how much is genuine and how much is special effects?
"Well, they got a really good team of stunt doubles in, and we spent a few hours just watching them do their work. Obviously they're professionals and they're fantastic, so a lot of the human involvement in the accident is genuine. I know that there were a couple of injuries, so ask those stunt doubles and they'll tell you it was definitely human involvement!

"We did see the actual crash itself, and I think it looks fantastic given that it's a mix of real-life people and CGI effects. I don't think you can really tell when it comes to the special effects. It's a perfect blend. Hollyoaks have invested a lot of money and time into this storyline, and I think it's paid off."

The Minibus crashes through the Orangery.

© Lime Pictures



The bus explodes.

© Lime Pictures



As well as the stunts and explosion, are the episodes also emotional to watch?
"Absolutely. I had the hardest day I've ever had at work when I was filming this week of episodes. I've never had a day that demanded so much in terms of the depths of emotions I had to go to, but that was very satisfying as an actor.

"You can definitely expect big emotions because of the number of characters involved. It becomes very, very dramatic for many characters in the village. You'll have to tune in to see exactly why, but there's a lot that the characters need to work through, both before and after the crash."

Do you think Doug and Ste are getting married for the right reasons?
"I don't know! I just have to answer that by saying that I've enjoyed playing this storyline since its inception, because it's really complex and there's a lot of grey areas. From some of the reactions I've seen, a lot of people want to look at the story in black and white. They want it to be a fact that either Ste loves Doug, or Ste loves Brendan.

"I think what's nice about the story is that we're actually witnessing three people who are orbiting around each other and trying to figure out exactly what it is they feel for each other. All I'd say is that Doug would hope the wedding is for the right reasons. All Doug can do is hope."

Why does Doug go ahead with the scheme to get rid of Brendan?
"Doug's insecurities have been building and building. I try not to comment on my character's behaviour by putting a positive or negative spin on it, but Doug has decided that the best choice to make is to get Brendan out of the picture completely. Doug feels that his relationship will never be able to work until Brendan is removed.

"The choice he makes is to go and find Shawnee and use the police to bring Brendan down. That's interesting because in a way Doug is rejecting his own chequered history and past, but it's just a very tricky situation.

"It seems to keep happening that at very profound moments for Ste, Brendan shows up. There are moments where Doug loses his patience with it, and he can't do it anymore."

'Stug' and 'Stendan' both have very passionate fanbases. Do you think Hollyoaks has a tricky task when it comes to keeping both sets of fans happy?
"100%! I hesitate to even use the phrases 'Stug' and 'Stendan', because I think they distract from what we're actually trying to do in the show. They start to eliminate the actual story, which is about three characters, not two.

"It's great that people enjoy the storyline because that's why we make television - so that people watch it and enjoy it. But there are some arguments between the fanbases and I've seen some disrespect on both sides, so I really try not to get involved in that whole thing!"



Are you pleased with how the Channel 4 promo (above) for the episodes has turned out?
"I think it looks incredible. I'm pleased because I'm in it for more then 0.2 seconds! I've done two other promos where I was there all day, but I was in them for a flash! I think the bit with Scarlett Bowman, who plays Maddie, is the best moment in this one. I've watched that bit about a thousand times and I think she looks incredible in it.

"I love that the promo is all about the subtext. It doesn't really give anything away, so for all those audience members who think we're giving clues away like a Beatles album, I don't think we are! It's more artistic than anything else but it looks really good. I had a great day filming it."

Will there be a cast screening for the episodes?
"I hope so! I know that we did it for the Savage Party week, and I actually did enjoy that. I do watch myself as I'm my own worst critic, so I do like to go back occasionally to get an idea of what I need to work on, and what I think worked or didn't.

"I think everyone is 100% excited about this week and the atmosphere was really positive on set, so we should follow that through and celebrate together because what we've done for this week is a big achievement."

> Read more 'Hollyoaks' spoilers and news

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

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