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Claire Cooper on Jacqui, her new boss and 'EastEnders'

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I recently chatted to one of my favourite Hollyoaks actresses Claire Cooper.

Jacqui's been criminally underused over the last couple of years since Bryan Kirkwood's departure as the show's boss, but it sounds like that could be remedied under new producer Paul Marquess.

From what I've heard, there are some great plans afoot for the McQueens, including the introduction of a new young male character - rumoured to be a nephew of Myra (Nicole Barber-Lane).

If you've not managed to read the main part of my chat with Claire about Calvin and Carmel's wedding week as well as Calvin's murder, then have a butchers right here.

If, however, you're here to read more from Claire about her character, her new boss and whether she'd ever follow Bryan to EastEnders, then read on...

Jacqui plays an important part in the aftermath of the shooting, doesn't she?
"She takes complete control - she's like the matriarch in it all. She has an agenda: to protect her family and protect Carmel. There's no malicious calculation in it, she's just looking out for her family. Being Jacqui, it may be perceived by the audience that she's being manipulative and contriving, but that's not my intention."

She appears to have taken on Myra's motherly role…
"I'm wanting Myra to come back into it as Myra, as a mum. They've both had the matriarch feel but ultimately it's Myra - she's the boss. Jacqui deals with the sisters in a different way and can get different responses from the sisters but if there's a massive problem, Myra will deal with it. The thing is, Jacqui always protects Myra from information so it's like she's looking after Myra as well. But you'll see a lot more of Nicole in the coming months."

How long are you with Hollyoaks for?
"I'm here 'til next June at least. Hopefully it'll be an interesting year because I've felt that this last year, I've not really been used. You've got to step back at times but I felt that Jacqui's not really had an identity, so it would be lovely to get back into it."

Jacqui and Mercedes have the same dad - will we ever meet him?
"I'd love someone like Vinnie Jones to play him! Both of us are from West Yorkshire but in terms of people it would be really good. I can imagine him being a brash Yorkshireman - quite heavy-set - and you'd see how they get their qualities. They are quite rough. Even though Mercedes is a bit more polished, sexier and sassier, if Jen's hair was scraped back with two bits coming down I'm sure she'd be Jacqui, part two!"

You must be pleased that the McQueens are safe…
"We've been really fortunate. You don't know which way it would have turned out so we're all really grateful and appreciative of our jobs."

What was your reaction to all the cast changes?
"I think when any new producer comes onto a show there's going to be change. You can't be part of a show and not expect that, but a lot of people made their own choices to leave. The characters had fulfilled what they needed to on screen and a lot of people chose to move on. I think it's a positive step for the show."

Are you excited about the new signings?
"Yeah! I'm really excited about the new cast. You have to keep it fresh and it has to be revitalised every so often."

What's happening with this year's Hollyoaks Later?
"I don't know - can you find out please?! It said on a press release I saw, 'Theresa, Michaela and Mercedes'. I'd like to be involved but I don't really know that much!"

Were you pleased for your old boss Bryan Kirkwood when you heard he'd be working at EastEnders?
"I was so chuffed. He's fantastic. He helped develop my character initially and supported me from the word go and trusted every choice that I made. I'm a friend of Bryan and think he'll do some fantastic work over there."

If he asked you over to EastEnders, would you go?
"I don't know. You're never going to turn down work and it's a fantastic show in its own right. I'm so happy where I am right now, I try and live in the present rather than the future but if the opportunity ever arose and I wasn't here, gosh - I'd be delighted."

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

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