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Soaps Interview

'Hollyoaks': Mandip Gill talks Phoebe, Vincent wedding twists

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Mandip Gill as Phoebe McQueen in Hollyoaks

© Lime Pictures

Mandip Gill as Phoebe McQueen



Phoebe McQueen's storyline with Vincent Elegba comes to a head on Hollyoaks this week as the pair's wedding day arrives.

With Vincent (John Omole) still in denial over his sexuality, the couple prepare to tie the knot in Derry, Northern Ireland. The only thing standing in their way is the unexpected arrival of their friends, who beg them not to go through with the ceremony…

Digital Spy recently chatted to Mandip Gill, who plays Phoebe, to hear all the gossip on this week's episodes.

What have you thought of this storyline?
"It's been really good. I've enjoyed it because it's a long-running storyline and we keep coming back to it. It's been nice to work with John and Steven [Roberts, who plays George], and even though we've been involved in other stories as well, we keep revisiting this one.

"My other main storyline was the homeless one when I first came into Hollyoaks, but that didn't last as long. I've enjoyed doing something that's quite topical and I feel lucky to have been given the opportunity."

Has there been much feedback for the story on Twitter?
"I've had a lot of people give their opinion on who Vincent and Phoebe should be with. There's been people saying, 'Just leave it because he's not good for you' and 'Just leave Vincent and George to have a relationship as he's not into you!' There hasn't been so much feedback on Vincent leaving his country and those issues, but that could be happening on other forums that I haven't seen."

Vincent makes a commitment to Phoebe.

© Lime Pictures

Phoebe and Vincent



Phoebe has seemed quite naïve in this storyline. Has that surprised you?
"Yeah definitely, but I think it's because Phoebe has never been in the situation before where she's in love. Phoebe is usually very smart, but falling in love for the first time has changed her and she's become naïve in certain situations.

"There obviously was the episode where Phoebe saw Vincent and George kissing. Phoebe realised that there was something wrong at that point, but because she wanted the relationship so badly and Vincent told her it was a mistake, she almost turned a blind eye to it.

"I've actually liked the fact that Phoebe has been naïve in this case. I've played her for two years now and she's always been streetwise, known what's going on and not taken any rubbish from anyone. In the last couple of months, you've seen a softer and more sensitive side, which is something different for me to play."

This week, we see Phoebe track down her mother Mel in Northern Ireland to get permission for the wedding. How do things go?
"When Phoebe's mum was in the show before, she was really horrible. It's no surprise that when Mel comes on screen again, she doesn't want to see Phoebe! Mel is shocked to see her because she didn't know that Phoebe was trying to find her.

"She doesn't understand why Phoebe wants to get married, but at the same time, she's not too bothered about the situation either. Mel ends up giving Phoebe permission to get married. It's basically Mel being Mel again!"

Were you glad to explore that mother-daughter dynamic a bit more?
"Absolutely. I really enjoy working with Emma [Rydal] who plays Mel, as I think she's such a great actress. Mel is so different to Phoebe and I can't imagine her ever liking her daughter. They've always had a strained relationship, which is why Phoebe was on the streets as a teenager. I'd love Mel to come to the village so we could do more, but she's only going to be nasty if she does come!"

Vincent sweeps Phoebe off her feet.

© Lime Pictures

Phoebe and Vincent



On the eve of the wedding, Vincent and Phoebe try to sleep together, but it seems he's not attracted to her. Could that be a wake-up call for Phoebe?
"Well, you'd think so wouldn't you? To anyone else it would be a wake-up call! (Laughs.) I think Phoebe doesn't realise that's the case. Vincent doesn't admit that he's not attracted to Phoebe, so she just thinks it's because he's never slept with anyone before. Phoebe has also never been intimate with anyone that she's really liked, so she puts it down to it being an awkward situation for both of them. Phoebe doesn't see that Vincent's not into her.

"There are some emotional scenes where Phoebe is crying over this and doesn't know what to do, but Vincent lets her believe that it's just because of the awkward situation. He says, 'We don't need to do this now - we're not ready'. Once again, Phoebe doesn't realise what's going on and alarm bells aren't ringing for her."

How does Phoebe feel on the morning of the wedding?
"On the morning of the wedding, Phoebe is really happy and excited. She's wearing a beautiful dress that she got from a charity shop and it's everything that she's wanted."

Later, as the ceremony is about to begin, Phoebe and Vincent are interrupted by the arrival of George, Esther and Tilly - who want to stop the wedding! How does she react?
"Phoebe is shocked as she really wasn't expecting it. She didn't know that George knew where she was. Phoebe knows that if George is around, there's a possibility that this wedding won't go ahead.

"Vincent then tells George that he's in love with Phoebe and wants to marry her. He insists that it's the right thing to do, but you'll have to wait and see what happens next."

Phoebe and Vincent prepare to marry.

© Lime Pictures

Phoebe and Vincent prepare to marry.



Phoebe and Vincent are surprised by the interruption.

© Lime Pictures

Phoebe and Vincent are surprised



Did you have any input into Phoebe's choice of dress?
"I had no input into it, but I remember the costume guy coming up to me and saying, 'We've found you a beautiful dress in a charity shop'. I knew it was perfect for Phoebe - she doesn't have any money, so she wouldn't have bought a brand new dress.

"The dress really is beautiful and works so well for the character. I never think about whether I'd wear something myself - it has to be based on whatever fits the character. Because of that, I wouldn't really want to have a say in it, to be honest."

What was it like to film these episodes on location in Derry?
"It was really good. Hollyoaks has such a huge fanbase in Derry. There were a couple of hundred people watching us do the exterior scenes, but they were so well-behaved. They wouldn't speak until 'cut' had been called and they always moved when they were told to by the crew. We were actually filming some quite emotional stuff in those exterior scenes, but the fans were brilliant.

"The age range of people watching Hollyoaks in Derry is also huge. There were older people watching us who genuinely knew the story. One time we were doing a scene and I could see an older woman explaining to someone else what was going on and the background to the storyline! They were all really good to us."

As you mentioned, this is another topical story for the show. What do you hope viewers take from it?
"I think the message behind the story is that you can be whatever you want to be. Where you're from doesn't determine what sexuality you are, who you are or what your personality is like.

"This situation would be really hard for somebody who was in Vincent's shoes in real life. He's run away from his country, and it's very hard for him to stand up and be open about his sexuality. But I think if you want to do it, it is possible and there are people who can help you."

> Read more 'Hollyoaks' spoilers and news

Hollyoaks airs weeknights at 6.30pm on Channel 4, with first look screenings at 7pm on E4.

Digital Spy Soap Scoop video - press play below to watch Amie Parker-Williams reveal gossip on Jai's secret being exposed in Emmerdale, Kat and Alfie edging closer to a reunion in EastEnders, and bullying stories on the way in Coronation Street and Hollyoaks.

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