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'Hollyoaks': Jessica Forrest on Leanne's future

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Leanne from Hollyoaks

© Lime Pictures

Hollyoaks' resident bunny boiler Leanne Holiday has proved to be one of the most memorable of last year's batch of new characters, causing a stir in the village with her crazy ways, obsession with on-off boyfriend Lee Hunter and bitter rivalry with Amy Barnes. Following the news that Lee will be leaving the village later this year, Digital Spy recently caught up with Jessica Forrest, who plays Leanne, on set at the Hollyoaks Music Show to find out what the future holds for her character.

You've been at Hollyoaks for a year now! How has it compared to what you expected?
"Well, when I first started, I was really intimidated and scared because I haven't done anything for TV before, so I feel like I'm still training. But everyone's really friendly - from the cameramen to the canteen staff to production. You get a friendly reaction every time you walk into the building, so starting in the job wasn't as scary as I thought it would be. If anything, I think university was scarier! So I'm loving it at Hollyoaks."

As you started out on the online Freshers spinoff, was that quite a good way to ease yourself into the role?
"Definitely - doing Freshers, I was aware that anything I did was just for YouTube or the website and it really got me into the role. It helped me to understand the part and build up the chemistry with Alex Carter, who plays Lee, before we came on screen in the main show, so it worked out really well. Also, as I'm new to TV, Freshers really helped me to understand what to do on set while I was getting used to it."

Leanne and Lee
Leanne's bunny boiler ways seem to have intensified as time has gone on! Was that always planned for the character, or did it develop naturally?
"I think it developed naturally. The team were saying that they liked Leanne being funny and that the comic timing was good, so they really started playing on that - which is cool because I love it! There's definitely an element of Leanne being a bunny boiler, but I think what you'll also see in the future is that there's a loopy side to her - where she's quirky but quite funny with it. I love playing it because it's so different to me. Leanne is a character and sometimes people can forget that."

Would you like the writers to explore Leanne's background to explain why she is so loopy?
"Well, I think it would be really funny if they brought Leanne's mum into the show. Leanne's mum could be really straight-down-the-line and strait-laced - that would be cool as everyone would be wondering why Leanne is a nutter! It'd also be fun to do it the other way around and show that her mum is absolutely barking mad! I think that'd be funny, as it'd be nice to see Leanne away from Lee."

Are you disappointed that Alex is leaving Hollyoaks?
"Yeah, I am - I'm really gutted. Alex has taught me everything that I know - I've learned so much from him and he's an absolute star. He's one of my best friends and we'll be really good friends even when he leaves. So I am gutted, but I'm sure he'll go on to bigger and better things."

3106: Lee and Leanne
Do you think Leanne will find a new man to obsess over once Lee is gone?
"Well, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we're going to see more of Leanne in her own right, rather than just her around men - because I think there is a nice side to her. She's funny, she can make people laugh and she can entertain people without being obsessed with a man. This storyline has been running ever since Leanne started on the show, so it'd be nice for her to break free and maybe evolve as her own character. We've done some really fun stuff with Texas and the students and that's all been quite fresh, so I hope that we'll get some more fresh material. But who knows? It could be round two with the bunny boiler!"

Do you enjoy Leanne's rivalry with Amy Barnes?
"Yeah, myself and Ashley Slanina-Davies have such a laugh and we're really, really good friends in real life. We really go for it when we're doing the rivalry scenes on set. I love working with Ashley - she's ace."

Could Leanne's rivalry with Amy continue even when Lee has gone, or will it fizzle out?
"I really don't know, as they haven't told me! But knowing Leanne as I do, I think it will probably fizzle out. I think it's just an immature and insecure stage in Leanne at the moment. Leanne and Amy could even end up being friends - you never know!"

Are there any cast members who you're keen to work with but you haven't done much with so far?
"It's always fresh and new when you're in a scene with different people, as each person brings out something different in your character. But right when I first started, there was one scene that I did with Bronagh, who plays Cheryl, and we've not done anything since. Bronagh's a good friend of mine so it'd be quite cool to work with her more. I'd like Leanne to do some scenes with someone who's really bubbly, as I think that's what she needs - someone to bounce off."

3092: Leanne
Do Hollyoaks fans recognise you much when you're out and about?
"Yeah, I get people coming over quite a lot. Some people are really nice, but obviously because Leanne can be really manipulative and she's always scheming, some people can give you some stick! But I don't care, as if they're giving me stick, I think I'm doing the right thing as that's what the character is there for. You've got to have characters like that in soap, haven't you?"

How did you get into acting?
"I haven't trained so I'm learning on the job, but I really love it and I feel that I have improved a lot. When I first started, my confidence was on the floor but I'm really trying to put my own stamp on the character now and I think that's showing. I was at university for two years and I did do drama, but it wasn't practical - it was all theory-based, so I didn't get much practice. I went to an open audition for Hollyoaks, got the part of Leanne, left uni and it all went mental from there on! I've settled in here and made some really good friends. There's four of us that live together - myself, Bianca (Texas), Alice (Rae) and PJ (Doug). It's quite funny and it's like Hollyoaks under one roof!"

Finally, have you had much of a chance to chat with Hollyoaks' new boss Gareth since he's taken over?
"Yeah, I've had a couple of meetings with Gareth to find out what's next for Leanne. When I heard the news that Alex was leaving, I was wondering whether it'd be the end for her or whether we could develop the character further. It turned out Gareth was really happy and loves the character, which is great. He's keeping Leanne, so it's all good!"

The Hollyoaks Music Show continues on Saturday at 9.25am on Channel 4.

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