‘Hollyoaks’ will break new ground for a soap in an upcoming storyline, which will see one of its long-standing characters becoming radicalised by the far-right.
In the upcoming storyline, Kieron Richardson’s character Ste Hay will be taken under the wing of newcomer Jonny, played by former ‘X Factor’ finalist Ray Quinn, and eventually groomed to become a far-right terrorist.
Kieron said: “At first, hearing this story, I was unaware of what radicalisation was or meant.
“After a lot of eye opening research, I’m nervous, honoured but most of all excited for this very different soap story to be told”.
The soap’s executive producer Bryan Kirkwood added: “From the research we carried out, we realised that in Ste Hay we had a character that was disenfranchised and vulnerable enough to be groomed into extreme views.
“The more we learned about how these groups operate and how insidious they are, the more passionate we became about telling this story, which is about how hate and fear can destroy communities.”
The storyline will see Ste blaming Misbah Maalik for the death of his sister, after which he’ll slowly be manipulated into anti-Islamic views by his new confidant, Jonny.
As is usually the case when soaps tackle more serious storylines, ‘Hollyoaks’ has worked closely with relevant organisations and charities to ensure that the issue is portrayed sensitively and accurately.
Author Jamie Bartlett, who has written books about radicalisation in the past, noted: “It’s vital that we get beyond the caricatures and understand the way extremists really operate.
“Having the chance to see the storyline unfold slowly over time will help viewers understand the reality of these groups: why and how people end up getting sucked in.”
The past 12 months have seen all the major British soaps tackling a number of important storylines, with ‘Hollyoaks’ taking on grooming within the world of sport earlier this year.
‘Hollyoaks’ will begin its far-right radicalisation storyline in the New Year.
Although best known for his turns on both ‘X Factor’ and ‘Dancing On Ice’, Ray Quinn originally began his career in soaps, as a child actor in ‘Brookside’.