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Claire Cooper on Rhys, Jacqui and much more

By
Claire Cooper

© Rex Features

Jacqui McQueen has returned to the forefront of Hollyoaks this year - and judging by some of the comments from fans on the DS forums and Twitter, it's been one of the most popular decisions made by new producer Paul Marquess.

Jacqui's new romance with Rhys, rivalry with Bart and rocky relationship with the rest of her family have all made for some exciting and interesting scenes over the past few months - and as always, the fantastic Claire Cooper has been a joy to watch.

I recently interviewed Claire about Jacqui's role in Hollyoaks' upcoming late-night special 'King of Hearts' - and you can read the main chat by clicking here.

Read on, however, for loads more Hollyoaks chat from the star…

Rhys and Jacqui's relationship is proving really popular with Hollyoaks fans - are you enjoying it and are you pleased with the reaction?
"Yes, definitely! We were just talking about this on set. When the relationship first started, we didn't know how they were going to gel and how it was going to work, because people were such fans of Jacqui and Tony. Some people still ask me if those two are going to get back together, but people are really taken with Rhys and Jacqui and it's really good to play. I love working with Andy and he brings so much to the set every day - his energy is fantastic. We have good banter and he understands how I like to work, and I try to understand how he likes to work. It's a nice collaboration and we try to make it funny, emotional, hard-hitting, three-dimensional and as interesting for the audience as possible."

Rhys and Jacqui
Ste and Brendan have been christened 'Stendan' and on Twitter recently you were looking for an official name for Jacqui and Rhys - has one been chosen yet?
"We had Ja-Rhys - a bit like Ja Rule - and we had Racqui! It'll be interesting to see what people want to call us! I quite like Ja-Rhys because it's a bit like a rude girl sort of thing! We've had quite a few suggestions!"

What's the atmosphere like at work now that Hollyoaks is back on form and receiving a lot more praise?
"It's lovely for us all to be back up there again. Everyone is working incredibly hard - the producers are working non-stop doing crazy hours, and so are the writers and actors. We're really pulling it together because we want to be up there. We have been up there before and we are again now - I think we're really pulling it out of the bag. We've got some great actors and I think we're offering the audience something really exciting."

Jacqui has featured in the show a lot more since Paul has taken over, hasn't she?
"She has! When Paul came in, nobody knew what he was going to do, but he seemed to like what I did and he's worked on it and developed it. Paul has really taken me under his wing, he's worked me so hard and he's given me opportunities that I could only have dreamt of. I think that Jacqui's one of those characters who, if she isn't on screen for a while, it takes the audience time to warm to her again. But when they do, they find her funny, they find her interesting and I try to give them as much as I can. I try to tame Claire back because I'm a really emotional, sensitive person and very different from Jacqui, so I do work hard and I feel very privileged."

Myra, Jacqui and Bart
The issue between Jacqui, Myra and Bart is still ongoing - will there be any resolution there?
"I think there'll be something that will happen, but the audience will have to wait and see! Things have to pass in some way or form, and they do. But only until the next time! Something else always happens with the McQueens! Jacqui absolutely adores her family. She might not adore Bart, but she adores the rest of them and would do anything to protect them. Myra knows this and that's why she always comes back to Jacqui for help."

Have you enjoyed working with Jonny Clarke, who plays Bart?
"Oh, Jonny's lovely! He's such a sweetheart and we have so much fun. I do have to throw him about a lot - when you see it on screen it's just for a minute, but when it's take after take, it feels like it's all day long! The poor lad - I've scratched him and my rings have got on his face and all sorts. I keep saying, 'Are you alright?' and he says, 'Yeah, yeah, it's fine!' He goes home bruised and battered!"

Rhys and Jackie working in CHez Chez
Where does Jacqui go from here?
"There's going to be something really exciting in the New Year, but I can't say anything about it. But it's going to be very exciting and I hope the audience will be hooked. There's also lots of good stories coming up for the other characters from the bits and pieces that I'm hearing. The place is buzzing and I think people need to keep their eyes on Hollyoaks because it's going to be a fantastic year."

Away from Hollyoaks, you run a designer dress hire boutique called The Closet with Jennifer Metcalfe and Leah Hackett - how it's all going?
"Oh, just brilliant! We've just launched a new website and I'm so excited. It's going really, really well - we recently dressed Deniece Williams for the MOBOs in two of our dresses. The business is based in Liverpool but we want to be a website company so our new site shows the exact measurements of each dress, so if someone's in Scotland or in London they can take down the measurements, measure themselves and they'll know whether the dress is going to fit. We don't want the website to be about us, we want it to be about the dresses - it's about people getting fabulous dresses worth thousands of pounds for £100 a night, or whatever it is for that particular dress. I think it's the way forward, to be honest, as you only wear dresses once or twice and it's such a waste. It's hard work and it's all hands on deck, but we're all really enjoying it."

Are you enjoying Jacqui's current storylines? Let me know your thoughts using the usual form below! Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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