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Soaps Interview

'Hollyoaks': PJ Brennan on Doug, Brendan, Bex and Silas

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Doug from Hollyoaks

© Lime Pictures

Hollyoaks student Doug Carter looked set to be a short-lived villain when he had a destructive five-episode stint on the soap last September, but following a shock return for the character earlier this year, he has since established himself as a fan favourite. Viewers have seen Doug attempt to redeem himself in the village, while back in April, we saw a new side to him as his history with old flame Bex was explored, before the feisty blonde was tragically murdered by sinister Silas. Digital Spy recently chatted to PJ Brennan, who plays Doug, on set at the Hollyoaks Music Show to hear about his thoughts on his alter ego.

Doug is a really complex character - how do you describe him to people?
"The simple version is that he's a drug dealer who's very bad at his job! But I think that's changed over time, and he is very complicated. I think Doug is someone who has the best intentions but doesn't make the best choices, so the situations that he gets himself into are his own fault and his own making, but he's not a bad person at heart. I think that's why I really enjoy playing him - he's not two-dimensional, he has ups and downs, and he has a bad side and a good side."

Originally, Doug was only in the show for a week last September, but did you always know he'd be back?
"No, when I first came in I was told that I'd come in with the Freshers', my character would be the catalyst for changes in everyone else, but I would leave at the end of those five episodes. My episodes aired last September, and then I wasn't told until the beginning of October that I was coming back. Before that, I did have my fingers crossed because I hadn't been killed off, and that's always a good sign! But I actually really enjoyed coming in for that one week - it had a beginning, a middle and an end, so it was a great story to tell."

3094: Doug
It was nice that the writers started redeeming Doug pretty much as soon as he returned…
"Yeah, initially I was worried because Doug had nearly killed someone and done some horrible things, so when I was told that I was coming back, I kept wondering how they'd do it and why he wouldn't be rejected by everyone in town! I think it was done quite well, though - he snuck into the student halls and started replacing things that he'd stolen, and I think that set him off on the right foot. He became someone who you could empathise with perhaps a bit more than the first time."

The online fans all seem to love your scenes with Brendan Brady, don't they?
"Yeah! Emmett is fantastic to work with - he definitely deserves the two awards that he received at the Soap Awards, and I'm always happy to work with him. I'm always looking forward to doing scenes with him because he's just the type of actor that I want to work with - he's in the moment, he's challenging, he's free to try things and he's really creative. Also, when I first started at Hollyoaks, he was one of the best people to me. It's my first job out of drama school and he's really, really great. My time here wouldn't have been the same if it wasn't for Emmett, because he's been a great support for me and he's taught me loads."

Are there any more Doug and Brendan scenes on the way?
"We haven't worked together recently, but hopefully it will pick up again. As of now, Doug still thinks that Brendan killed Bex, so I don't know how we'd end up talking to each other again. I hope it happens at some point, though, because our scenes are always really enjoyable."

3067: Jenny
Many of the fans seemed gutted when Bex was killed by Silas!
"I know! In a way, I think it was really good that the writers did that. I thought that Daisy Turner was fantastic and really, really great to work with, but I liked the surprise of the character being killed. Hollyoaks did their best to keep that a secret until the last minute, and it just heightened the whole story. We knew that we had a very small window of time to make it seem like we had a significant backstory, and I was lucky that Daisy was so giving as an actress, as we immediately had chemistry. I can understand why the audience would be disappointed by Bex being murdered, as Daisy played the character so brilliantly and the character was written so well. If the audience were disappointed, that means they were invested in the character, so hopefully that means everyone did a good job."

Would you like Doug to be involved in Silas's downfall?
"I hope he will be! I have my fingers crossed that Doug will be somehow involved, as I'd love him to be. When I first found out that I was going to get involved in that storyline, I was very excited. I keep saying that I hope a little bit of a Scooby Gang gets together and figures it out, as there's quite a few characters in the village who are involved in some way or another. Maybe those characters could all be brought together in solving the crimes. Also, Jeff Rawle is a fantastic actor and a fantastic guy - working with him is a gift and it doesn't feel like work."

3093: Doug, Riley and Ethan
Have you enjoyed the scenes with Doug and his new flatmates too?
"Yeah! They call it the lads' pad and we try to be as laddish as possible. Off-screen, we've all become very close friends, so working with them is always a treat. I think the viewers have already seen some scenes there that have shown a bit of comedy, and a lot of the scenes coming up with the boys in the flat are quite comedic, which I'm happy about. I always want to play a character who can do the whole spectrum - I don't want to be identified as the 'mainly serious' character on the show."

Is it annoying when people think that your American accent isn't real?
"I still get it all the time! I am genuinely American - I lived in America for 21 years. But my accent has changed. When I have friends from back home who come over here, they ask, 'Why are you talking like Madonna? Your voice is different!' I think it's because my inflections are all different, but technically, Doug himself has been abroad for a while so I think it works well with the storyline. It doesn't tick me off when people say that the accent isn't real, though - I just laugh at it now. I still get lots of tweets asking me whether I'm really American!"

Had you been in the UK for a while before Hollyoaks?
"Yes, I moved here in September 2007 to come to drama school. I did a three-year degree at the Central School of Speech and Drama, and I went for the Hollyoaks job in April of last year. I have Irish citizenship and an EU passport, so I don't need a visa or anything like that. I love living here at the moment. I do have plans to go back to America at some point, but right now this is really enjoyable and I'm learning loads on this job. And I love Liverpool - I'm really happy to have moved up north to get a different taste of England outside of London."

Do you get recognised much by Hollyoaks fans?
"Definitely when I'm out in Liverpool! Especially because I live with a few people who work on the show, so we have a tendency to go out as a group, and that makes us more noticeable! But in Liverpool, everyone's really, really, really nice. I'm really awkward with stuff like that, though - I've yet to develop a cool rapport with people when they want to talk to me! But I guess you adapt to it as time goes on."

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The Hollyoaks Music Show continues on Saturday at 9.20am on Channel 4. Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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