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Exclusive: Loui Batley's final 'Hollyoaks' interview

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How amazing was that episode of Hollyoaks Later?

Those parachute scenes are some of the best stunts I've seen in a long time. The whole package just worked. And I'm talking about the skydive footage, not Sarah's skydive package. That didn't work.

That said, who shed a tear at Sarah's final moments? Zoe (Zoë Lister) and Lydia's (Lydia Kelly) reactions and the music worked perfectly but it was Mike's (Tony Hirst) response that choked me up.

Anyway, to business. As you'll have seen, Sarah - played by 22-year-old Loui Batley - bit the dust in dramatic fashion as she plummeted to her death when her parachute failed to operate. Ahead of the episode going to air, I caught up with Loui for her final Hollyoaks interview.

Why did she decide to leave? What did she think of the ending? Could Zoe and Sarah's relationship have worked? Read on to discover those answers and more...

How did you reach the decision to leave Hollyoaks?
"I said I wanted to leave last December because that's when I was contracted to and that was when Bryan [Kirkwood] was still the producer. He then said, 'Well, try and stay for another six months because there's a good storyline coming up with you and Lydia and Zoe'. So he persuaded me to stay which was good because it was great for me but then I said I was definitely going to leave after that six months and told Lucy. She said that she was going to speak to Bryan about writing Sarah out in Later.

"I had a meeting with Bryan and he told me what he was thinking and asked how I felt about the storyline and I thought it was amazing. It really draws a line under the four years. I've been there for quite a while and it was a great ending for the character - I couldn't have asked for a better way to go…"

You were pleased with the ending, then?
"It was perfect. Most people say they don't want their characters to die so they have the option to go back and as much as I've absolutely loved my time on the show, I knew it was my time to go. It was quite nice that I had that line drawn for me and I could go on and concentrate on other things and not look back. I'd hinted and said, 'Seriously, just kill me off and make it really dramatic! I won't be bothered at all, in fact I'll be really happy!' When Bryan was telling me about it, he was really tentative and nervous but I said, 'That is great - that's really exciting and I'm looking forward to doing it'. I was really happy that Sarah wasn't just wandering off."

Was it a difficult decision to leave?
"I've been there for four years and it's been amazing but I think there's a time to move on and try other things and see what else is out there. As an actor, a show like Hollyoaks is probably the most secure job you're ever going to have. Outside of that, it's such a crazy world jumping from job to job and place to place, but it's nice to have that freedom to see what else is out there and to see how the business works.

"It was really hard to make the decision because it's so easy to go, 'I'm having a great time here, the people are lovely, it's a regular job and a great job'. It's obviously really hard to say, 'That's it', and some people might think you're crazy to do it, but I knew I had to. It was hard to say goodbye to everyone but to be fair, a lot of the cast live in London so I see them all the time anyway! It's not like I've completely cut myself off from all my friends there!"

What's been your favourite Hollyoaks storyline since joining?
"They were all good at the time but my exit's great because it's recent and I'll remember it and I love working with Zoë. The Craig/John-Paul stuff was great to do, as well. Then all my stuff with Rhys… There have been a few bits and pieces that have been brilliant for me."

What did you really think of the Sarah turning lesbian storyline? Do you think it was true to the character?
"I don't know. At first I was a bit dubious. I always thought it was just because it was Zoe and because they were so close. With Lydia though, hopefully it came across that Sarah just fell for her because she needed someone - she always needs someone and boys never made her happy, so she found this girl that she got on with and thought she'd make her happy. Obviously no-one likes Lydia, though!"

Do you think a relationship between Zoe and Sarah would have worked if Sarah had survived?
"I think Sarah would have wanted them to get together but I don't think Zoe would have had any of it. I think she likes boys."

Did Sarah really get over Craig?
"Probably not. I don't think she got over Rhys, either. Craig more so, though. He absolutely destroyed her happiness and belief in men. Her relationship with Craig was going to be her life and she put so much effort into it, emotionally and physically, and it completely destroyed her. I think that's why the storyline worked so well with Zoe and Lydia.

"I think with Craig it was both the fact that he went off with someone else while he was with her and the fact that he went off with another boy. John Paul was one of her best friends, Craig was her fiancé and he was seeing him while he was engaged to her. John Paul was her confidante and she thought they were best friends - it's hard to say which part made more of an impact on her. It was all just one horrible experience. It was the betrayal from both of them."

You were recently spotted in an ice rink - are you going to be on Dancing on Ice?
"No! (Laughs) I was just testing the ice!"

You're a trained dancer - any chance you'd go back into musical theatre?
"I did a lot of musical theatre before I started in the show and that was my main thing. Then I got offered acting jobs and that took over. I'd love to go into musical theatre again. Obviously I'd love to do straight acting as well but it would be great to dabble."

Would you ever do another soap?
"You can never say never but at the moment I need a bit of a soap break. If the part was right I would, definitely."

You recently finished filming with Matt Di Angelo for Following Footsteps - what else do you have coming up?
"Yeah, we've just finished that. I've only just finished filming [Hollyoaks] too, so I've not really had time to do much. I'm not sure when Following Footsteps is going to be out but it'll obviously be a while yet."

What's it about?
"It's really complicated. Matt plays the main guy in it and he has a hard time of it - he's got a sick brother and his parents have died and he gets into all sorts of financial difficulties. I play his love interest who gets him out of trouble. That's the simplest way I can explain."



Additional reporting by Philippa Warr Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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