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Exclusive: Bryan Kirkwood (Producer, 'Hollyoaks')

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Bryan Kirkwood (Producer, 'Hollyoaks')
Hollyoaks Producer Bryan Kirkwood assumed office at the Chester-based soap over two years ago and since joining, his work has resulted in ever-growing critical acclaim. Fresh from his success at this year's British Soap Awards, Digital Spy caught up with Bryan to chat about what's to come for the show's returnees Max and Steph over the coming months, John Paul and Kieron's affair and more.

You must be thrilled about your recent success at the British Soap Awards.
"I think Hollyoaks' delight at winning six awards was fairly evident on the night. It's been a long time coming - the show's grown in popularity and critical acclaim for the last couple of years but we were still falling short at awards. But to finally be the show that wins more [British Soap] awards than any other including coveted viewer vote awards like best actor and best actress, it feels like the public perception of the show has changed at last."

What do you put the ongoing success of the show down to?
"It's like any show. It's storylines, performances, engaging characters and good writing. It's a fairly simple equation and the actors that we've got at the moment make up the strongest cast Hollyoaks has ever had. The characters are interesting and challenging - people like Mercedes [McQueen], Kris [Fisher] and Rhys [Ashworth], for example - these are people who you don't necessarily want to have a drink with, but hopefully you're entertained by them."

You've got a few returnees over the next couple of months, haven't you?
"Yeah, we've got Cindy Cunningham returning with her daughter Hollie and Mandy Richardson coming back with her new-born daughter Ella. I thought it was an important time to bring in some old faces. We've lost quite a lot of our more recognisable, long-term faces over the last year or so, and I thought it was an opportune time to bring back some faces from the past. It's nice to acknowledge how important the past has been as well."

Are they back for a long stint?
"They're both on six month contracts, so we'll see what fun and games we can have with them and take it from there."

What's next for your characters in the coming months?

Max / Steph
"One of the biggest storylines we've got coming up is Max and Steph's wedding. It's the union of two of our most-loved and longest-serving characters and it's a relationship that taken a lot of people by surprise in in the way it's worked so well. It's seen a bit of a transformation in Steph over the last year - from a selfish wannabe to someone who's struggling to grow up. Her struggle to accept the role of mother to little Tom has been particularly endearing, too. There'll be a few will-they, won't-they battles leading up to their big day, not least O.B's return to tempt Max to run away to New York with him for one final adventure. I don't want to give away how Max departs from the show, but the wedding episodes and the aftermath are some of the strongest material we've done."

John Paul / Kieron / Niall
"The summer months see Niall become more and more embroiled in the McQueen clan. He's living with Kieron while John Paul and Kieron's relationship take a turn for the serious. It's the new-found closeness with John Paul that leads Niall to turn his wrathful intentions onto his secret brother. Niall has a hand in Myra - and the community - discovering that John Paul's been having an affair with the local priest. The repercussions of that are set to continue right until the autumn - and there are shocking and dramatic consequences all around, especially when John Paul is forced to make a choice between his future and his past."

Sasha / Fletch
"Sasha and Fletch's story has been an important one for Hollyoaks to tackle and we've taken two of the sweetest kids in the programme and shown the horrors of heroin addiction and how it can ravage two young lives. It's not a 'preachy' story, though, and it remains one of our big stories over the coming months. We'll see the lengths that Sasha will goes to in order to fund her drug habit. It shows the Valentine family coming together in a way we've never seen before and the ripple effect leads to some members of the family behaving in a way we've never seen before."

Justin
"Justin's disappeared from view over the past couple of months due to his taking part in the Dancing On Ice tour and we're absolutely delighted with Chris's success. He's really helped raise the profile of the show - we've definitely got a real star on our hands. He's contracted for at least another year and we'll see Justin's determination to make a success of his life following the last few years of disaster and viewers will see him embark on an epic new romance."

Warren / Louise
"Warren and Louise's situation is one of the most exciting for me right now. She's condoned the fact that he killed her husband and that makes for a really rotten secret at the heart of this couple. They both have dirt on each other, but the secret is eating away at both of them. What once was a strong relationship turns nasty with a surprising affair on the cards for one of them."

Are there any plans for Hollyoaks to start filming in HD?
"We are already filming in HD and the show will be broadcast in the format from episode 2311 from Monday, June 2."

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