Click here to read the main interview with Ashley, or alternatively read on for more Hollyoaks chat from the soap's long-serving actor...
Darren has gone in an interesting new direction over the past few months - becoming a student, ditching his old dress sense and embarking on quite a serious relationship. Have you enjoyed the chance to show a different side to him?
"Yeah, definitely. I think, back in the day, Darren was just a horrible child and he had nothing nice to say about anyone. But he's definitely matured a lot and softened up a bit. It's nice to see that side to him, rather than just the brash and horrible side - even though that's fun to play!"
Do you ever miss his old dress sense?
"I do actually! It's quite funny - it's fun wearing new stuff, but then you feel normal again! It used to be quite fun going into work and saying, 'Oh God, what have you got me dressed in today?', as every day it would be a different joke! So yeah, it is missed, but I think the producer was right to say that he's moved on now and grown up a bit. I think a bit of change is good - everyone goes through changes in their life and Darren just hit that time. It was good timing for him."
Steph Waring, who plays Cindy, has returned to Hollyoaks following her maternity leave - are you looking forward to working with her again?
"Yeah, she's great. It's an interesting story with Darren and Cindy because I think that Cindy has always been Darren's first port of call, basically. So yeah, Steph's back now after having her baby. I've actually got a baby on the way as well, so that's amazing!"
"Thank you! It's all been a bit strange between TV and real life!"
Were you sad to see Carley Stenson leave last year?
"Yeah, she's like a little sister to me. It's really sad, but she's gone on to do what she's always dreamed of doing, which is West End theatre, and she's gone into it straight away as well. I'm really proud of her and really happy - we still chat and I know she's having a great time doing it. It's horrible seeing anyone go, but she was at that point in her life and I'm really happy for her."
Has it been nice for you to see the old faces like Alex Carter, Jamie Lomas and Sarah Jayne Dunn return to Hollyoaks?
"Definitely, it's certainly fun. It's great to catch up and you can just pick up where you left off - even with scenes and the way you work together. It's been brilliant to have everyone back and to catch up."
Many of the Hollyoaks fans were quite sad over the news of Paul Marquess's departure - do the cast feel the same way?
"Yeah, it's like anyone leaving - it's always hard. Paul has come in, made a lot of changes and done a great job. I think he's moving on to do other stuff now and fair play to him. I'd just like to say thank you from all the cast for all that he's done and good luck for the future."
Finally, what have been the highlights from your time at Hollyoaks?
"I've loved all the explosions we've done - they're always good fun to film, from the one in the church to The Dog exploding. All of Darren's gambling problems have been fantastic, and getting shot! And now it's this - this storyline with Darren as a father. I'm looking forward to it and the changes that Darren is going to go through. I also think there's a great cast at Hollyoaks at the moment - there's a real feeling that we're going to do well, that the show's going to continue and get lots better. It's a good time to be here!"
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