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'Hollyoaks' plans male rape storyline for John Paul McQueen

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Hollyoaks will explore the issue of male rape next year in a dark new story for John Paul McQueen, Digital Spy can confirm.

The schoolteacher will be sexually attacked by student Finn O'Connor in the culmination of a homophobic bullying storyline.

James Sutton as John Paul McQueen in Hollyoaks

© Lime Pictures

James Sutton as John Paul McQueen



Hollyoaks bosses have worked closely with expert advisors while devising the plot, including Stonewall, St Mary's Sexual Assault Referral, Survivors Manchester and Survivors UK.

The attack itself will take place off-screen, but the storyline will explore the consequences for Finn and John Paul.

Viewers will see the plot begin in the next few weeks as Finn (Keith Rice) and his friend Robbie Roscoe (Charlie Wernham) start to taunt John Paul over his sexuality.

With support from some of the other students, Finn and Robbie cruelly target John Paul - who is openly gay - in a long-running bullying campaign at Hollyoaks High.

Keith Rice as Finn O'Connor in Hollyoaks

© Lime Pictures

Keith Rice as Finn O'Connor



The bullying will take several forms, including malicious stunts in the classroom and calling John Paul insulting names.

In scenes due to air in January, John Paul finally hopes he has the upper hand over his tormentors as he uncovers evidence which would land Finn and Robbie in trouble with the police.

When Robbie discovers this, he urges Finn to deal with the problem by confronting John Paul. However, what follows is more serious than Robbie could have ever expected as Finn has a furious argument with his teacher before sexually attacking him.

Finn, who is not gay, carries out the attack as an act of aggression against John Paul and an attempt to assert power over him.

John Paul McQueen at work at Hollyoaks High

© Lime Pictures

John Paul McQueen at work at Hollyoaks High



Stonewall's media manager Richard Lane commented: "Hollyoaks has long led the way with incidental and realistic coverage of lesbian, gay and bisexual people and producers have actively worked with us to ensure that a number of their storylines are realistic and sensitive. It is in recognition of this that, in its 18th year, Hollyoaks is nominated for a Stonewall Award as Broadcast of the Year."

Duncan Craig, founder of Survivors Manchester, added: "I never thought that we would have become as involved in this story as we have been. As a service provider and survivor myself, I have been absolutely blown away by the commitment the writers, directors and cast involved in this have shown. This isn't just another story, this is a culturally important milestone. Nothing has been done like this before.

"When I'm leading seminars for police officers, therapists, forensic medical examiners, social workers and health care professionals, there is so little in the form of cultural references to include in a discussion with regards to male victims of sexual violence and rape.

"There are a few stories that involve stranger rape, but rarely does film, TV or theatre reference the rape of male by someone he knows. I am so proud of the team at Lime Pictures that they have the courage to address this very real issue at primetime with the respect that they have shown. This sort of crime does happen and Hollyoaks are helping those few of us that are providing services to males to break the silence.

"Sexual assault and rape of boys and men is one of our last taboos and we have to talk about this. If we have learned anything in the past year following the high profile sexual abuse cases, it's that shame creates silence and silence creates pain. For those of you out there that watch this story and are directly affected by it, come to get some support."

John Paul is shocked to see Chloe.

© Lime Pictures

John Paul



Digital Spy understands that this storyline has been in the planning for over a year due to the extensive research needed to portray the issue accurately and sensitively.

James Sutton, who plays John Paul, commented: "I visited Survivors Manchester with a view to how to handle the upcoming storyline with the realism and sensitivity that it demands. I was very moved by the bravery of the survivors that I met.

"It is not just one event - it will follow the consequences of what happens to the character after going through an extremely traumatic attack and how it changes him as a person. Hollyoaks has a history of examining important issues and I am really looking forward to telling the story."

Hollyoaks' executive producer Bryan Kirkwood added: "Hollyoaks is known for not patronising its audience but for finding ways to talk about difficult issues like Hannah's anorexia, Esther's bullying and Ste's domestic violence in a gay relationship within the constraints of a tea-time soap.

"The storyline will follow the journey of what happens to John Paul after he becomes a victim of rape, but also will examine the far-reaching consequences for all of those around him and also for the perpetrator. Keith and James are both extremely skilled young actors who I am confident will tell this story with skill and empathy."

Hollyoaks previously tackled the issue of male rape in 2000 as Gary Lucy's character Luke Morgan was sexually attacked in a late-night episode.

Survivors Manchester is available to support adult male survivors of sexual abuse and rape. Its website can be found at www.survivorsmanchester.org.uk and its helpline is 0161 236 2182. Local support agencies for all male and female survivors can be found at www.thesurvivorstrust.org. In an emergency, please dial 999.

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