Waterloo Road bad boy Barry Barry pushes science teacher Sian Diamond to breaking point in tonight's episode (February 28), which leads to her slapping him in a moment of anger.
Sian lashes out at Barry after he goes to great efforts to humiliate her, stealing a piece of her underwear from her home and showing it to a class full of pupils.
The incident leads to Sian's departure from Waterloo Road as actress Jaye Jacobs bows out from the BBC drama.
Digital Spy recently caught up with Carl Au, who plays Barry, to hear his thoughts on his character's vengeful actions.
How easy has it been to settle into Waterloo Road?
"Well, when you look at the Barry family, we've been brought in as very bold characters. The writers have not shied away from us all being very individual and loud. Because of that, we've just had to take it by the horns and go with it. We jumped in at the deep end when we first joined Waterloo Road.
"With the characters being as outrageous as they are, I think we had to come into the show with quite a fearless attitude, because that's what the Barrys are like. They're not afraid of anything when it comes to status and competition.
"All of the other cast members were lovely and it's great to work in such a welcoming environment, because then as an actor you feel that you have a lot of safety and security to grow. There's nobody here who hasn't made us feel welcome, and Greenock - where we film the show - is so lovely and picturesque."
Are you pleased with the fan reaction to the Barrys?
"I definitely am. To be honest, I was quite overwhelmed at first. When you play a bad boy on a show, it could go two ways - people could hate him or they could like him. But I think even the people who hate Barry still love to watch him. Even though they might hate his behaviour and the situations he gets himself into, they're still going to tune in each week. I've had a lot of comments from fans and supporters of the show who've said that they can't wait see what the Barry family get up to next.
"I'm very passionate about the Barry family and I think it's something that Liverpool should be proud of - that three actors chosen from Liverpool have joined such a well-known show. We're doing what we do best and everyone has taken to us really well. I'm really pleased."
Have you felt any pressure when it comes to how your home city is represented on screen?
"Not at all, really, to be honest. I'm an actor and essentially when you're working on a drama, everything has to be heightened to a degree to provide a level of entertainment. I think that's what the Barry family provide. There'll always be a bit of pressure on yourself to do a good job and commit to the vision that the writers have for the show, and I think we have done that.
"We're all very proud of where we're from, but it's important to remember that we're representing a fictional family - it's not representing anyone specific in Liverpool. Everything we get to do, as outrageous as it is, is purely the Barrys - it's not anyone else!"
Do you see Barry as just a bad character, or is it more complex than that?
"I think it's very complex. There's always reasons for his actions. He won't just go and be a bully for nothing - there's always reasons for it. It's partly down to him trying to make a stand in this new school that he's come into. The Barrys have a massive reputation, so they have a name that they want to live up to.
"I think Barry has always got his guard up. He's very complex and it takes a lot to break down those barriers. Nobody has managed to do it yet, and I think it's going to take someone specific to be able to do that.
"With Barry's father being away in prison, that provides more reasons for his behaviour. I did a lot of research on this character before playing him. I read a lot of books and online articles, looking at kids' behaviour when they are fatherless. It's such a huge thing and it really does take a toll on a kid. Barry has developed a swagger and an intimidating persona, but maybe it's to disguise his underlying fears, resentments and anxieties. He could apply himself at school, but he chooses not to."
Why is Barry pushing the boundaries with the teachers so much?
"Barry's power and status comes from his connection to his family, his dad and his dad's mates. As far as he's concerned, that's way more powerful than any one of those teachers at Waterloo Road. That's why he comes in with so much swagger - he's not frightened or threatened by anyone. Barry is capable of so much - he doesn't quite know himself how much he's capable of.
"That can be very dangerous, especially in this week's episode. We start to see a real twisted nature to Barry. But he is very complex, and I'd love to have more opportunities to show that to the viewers. There are some people who'll think that he's just a bully, but it'd be good to explore the reasons for that and see those unfold.
"Barry is presented with a lot of situations where he maybe has to choose between what's right or wrong, and I think that's going to be interesting for people to watch. Again, it shows another side to him."
Why does Barry have such a vendetta against Sian at the moment?
"Their relationship has been established for some time now. Nikki Boston's approach to Barry wasn't the best for him with her commanding attitude. However, him being put with Sian seemed like a positive move, as she's the only female teacher in the school who he can talk to on a more mature level. Barry sees that and respects it, so it allows him to put a bit of a guard down. He also finds Sian attractive to a degree, because she's strong and she doesn't take any messing around.
"I think Barry genuinely liked Sian, up until the point that she poked her nose into the family's business with regards to Kacey's identity issues. Sian thinking that she knows Barry's sister better than he does is something he will not stand for. No matter who it is, he will go all-out to bring that person down and destroy them."
How do things progress between Barry and Sian in this week's episode?
"Barry pushes the boundaries and you'll see how far he'll go. He breaks into Sian's house, steals some of her underwear and finds a personal photo of her with Michael, which he knows he can use against her. Barry wants to humiliate Sian in front of the whole school and get rid of her, and he does so.
"It gets to the point where Sian calls him into her classroom, but he knows he has a piece of her underwear and he's waiting for the right moment to reveal it. When he shows it to the rest of the class, that's when Sian slaps him - and Barry is genuinely surprised by that.
"Sian's nature has been so different to the way the other teachers act, so when she loses control, that's as shocking to her as it is to Barry. That's why she ultimately makes the decision to leave Waterloo Road. Even after the slap, Barry plots how to turn it to his advantage, and he tries to turn the whole school against Sian. He knows that what Sian has done is not allowed and that the teachers don't have a leg to stand on."
What was this story like to film?
"I've absolutely loved playing it. Jaye is such a lovely person and the minute we did our first scenes together, we got along so well. It's great to work with someone like her. We had shared interests, as we trained at the same school and we had similar tastes in music.
"We both sing, so in between takes when we were tackling serious content, she'd suddenly say, 'Carl, let's do a duet together, to keep it light-hearted!' But then the minute we needed to get back into the game, we'd both be on the ball. I couldn't have asked for anything more from Jaye - I think she's a wonderful person."
Did Jaye have to slap you for real, or was it all staged?
"Well, when we rehearsed that scene, there had to be a level of me winding Jaye up. I had to go to extremities for her to step out of her self-control. In the rehearsals leading up to it, we just went with it and Jaye came up to me and gave me the biggest hug. She said, 'Thank you so much - I didn't know you were going to play it like this, but I found myself as Jaye getting really wound up by you!' That's what she wanted, so she was chuffed.
"When it came to the slap, we'd rehearsed it over and over with the fight guy, but with the first take, Jaye slapped me by accident! That was quite shocking for her, because she'd allowed herself to go to that extreme place, which I thought was wonderful. I gave her a hug afterwards as it was great to be so genuinely shocked and surprised by what she'd done. But I don't know yet if they've used that footage in the episode!"
Do you think Barry will ever accept Kacey's desire to live life as a boy?
"At the minute, I'd genuinely say no. Barry and Kacey have built up such a strong relationship since she was little. Kacey has always spent a lot of time with Barry, and they'd play football together at home which is why she's so natural at it.
"What's interesting in the episodes dealing with the gender issues is that Barry realises he doesn't know the person he grew up with. That's quite shocking for him. People might take it at face value and think Barry is just being mean, but he's as confused as she is.
"As much as I would like Barry to accept Kacey, I think it's important to show that he doesn't. There are still people today who find it hard to adjust to things like this. As Carl, I think, 'Whatever, enjoy yourself and be happy - that's all I care about'. But as Barry, it's important to represent the other side that still exists.
"Barry will take time and Kacey fears that he doesn't love her anymore. He does, but he doesn't know how to show it. It'll be really interesting to see how the viewers react to that. We're a drama so hopefully people will be talking about it, as that's the point of the show."
> Read our spoiler for tonight's 'Waterloo Road' episode
> Read more 'Waterloo Road' spoilers and news
Waterloo Road airs Thursdays at 8pm on BBC One.
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