With one of the most thought-provoking and delicate storylines Hollyoaks has tackled in recent times about to come to its conclusion, one of the main actresses involved has revealed her part in the conclusion!
Fans of the hit Channel 4 soap will know how Esther Bloom (Jazmine Franks) is currently in hospital after a failed suicide attempt following months of relentless bullying from her supposed friends Ruby Button (Anna Shaffer) and Sinead O’Connor (Stephanie Davis).
Sinead and Ruby took over the insistent torment of Esther from former Queen Bee Maddie Morrison (Scarlet Bowman) after she was killed in the recent Enjoy The Ride wedding day bus crash.
Tortured to breaking point fashion student Esther decided her only option to escape the mental abuse was to take her own life. The suicide bid didn’t work but, as we reported last month, her condition is set to reach critical with only 24 hours to find a liver replacement before Esther dies.
Now, with next week setting the scene for this huge story to conclude, Alex Fletcher, who plays Sinead’s stepmum, Diane O’Connor, has been discussing her characters part in the dramatic storyline with Digital Spy!
“I feel so lucky at the minute, because the Hollyoaks ratings have been the highest they’ve been in the last two years with this storyline, and to be part of that is just brilliant. Everyone’s working hard and we’ve got our new producer Bryan [Kirkwood], who’s just been absolutely fantastic.
“The bullying is such a big subject and it’s been really interesting to see how all the different characters have reacted to it – and now you’ll see how Diane deals with it.”
Next week’s turn in the storyline will see Ruby, who lives with Esther and her family, finally feel a pang of conscience and decide to blow the whistle on hers and Sinead’s involvement.
After revealing all to her own family, Ruby heads over to the O’Connor’s to expose Sinead to her stepmother, Diane (Alex Fletcher). Not wanting to believe what she is hearing Dianne demands that Ruby leave her house, where she is accidentally run over by her guardian Jack Osbourne (Jimmy McKenna):
“Ruby is very distressed when she comes round to the house, and she owns up to the fact that her and Sinead were the bullies. But Diane’s reaction is, ‘Do you know what? You’re going to have to get out my house – I’m not having you spreading lies about my daughter!’
“Diane kicks Ruby out of the house and into the rain, and Ruby is in such a state that she ends up getting run over by Jack in his car. Then that’s another web that Diane is caught up in!”
However, Dianne, who works for the college where the girls attend, decides to investigate Ruby’s claims and is horrified when she discovers evidence that Sinead was behind the bullying on her laptop.
Furious, she confronts Sinead and an argument erupts, but what happens next will prove to be the most shocking development in the storyline so far:
“Diane decides to look through Sinead’s laptop and that’s when she sees evidence that Sinead was one of the bullies. She then gives Sinead the opportunity to tell her the truth, but Sinead still doesn’t admit it.
“It all kicks off as Diane gets Sinead’s laptop, smashes it up and slaps her around the face! She asks Sinead how could she do this – how could she treat another human being in that way? Diane orders Sinead to bring Ruby back round, as she wants to have it out with the two of them. But Sinead explains that Ruby is in hospital after just being run over, so it’s just a big massive knock-on effect.”
During the row Diane slaps pregnant Sinead around the face, of which Alex commented:
“We did a scene when I first started where Stephanie had to hit me. Both of them are quite volatile characters and I think that’s where the bullying comes from. Diane has got that aggressive side in her and she uses her hands to express herself, which is not right. Diane is almost bullying Sinead herself by the way she reacts.
“We did have contact when we filmed the slapping scene – we didn’t go for a fake slap. It was the same when we did it a couple of years ago, and its better because you just get a more natural reaction. It didn’t require too many takes, so Steph was okay and she survived! I felt awful, though, and I was hugging her between takes!”
Fearful for her daughter’s future, and her own job, Dianne tells Sinead to deny all knowledge of the bullying and lay all the blame on Ruby….
“Diane decides that they should just cover up Sinead’s involvement and pin the blame on Ruby. That’s really awful to play because you think, ‘Would someone really do that?’ But I think some mums definitely would to save their own kids’ skins.
“Diane is also going for a promotion at the college and she’s got the opportunity to be Head of Student Welfare, so everyone’s position is compromised. Diane also tells Sinead, ‘If you admit you’re a bully, you’ve got no future for you and your little baby’.
“Diane doesn’t mention herself in those discussions with Sinead, but she’s definitely thinking of her own position too. Bearing in mind that she’s a one-parent family, she’s probably thinking of her job quite a bit. So she just brushes it under the carpet, which is awful. It’s a really strong week and I don’t think Diane and Sinead are going to be the most popular!”
“In real life, I wouldn’t cover up for anybody – I’m too honest! I wouldn’t want to bring my family up to behave in that way at all, so if Sinead was my daughter, I’d expose her. There’s no way that I’d cover up for anyone.
“But it was really, really interesting to play something completely opposite to the way I’d behave in real life. When I was saying the lines, I realised that some people really would react this way in the real world, but that’s what made it brilliant.
“I think Sinead is a carbon copy of Diane in many ways, and she gets all of her bullying traits from her, as Diane is quite a tough cookie. She decides to bury this bullying problem, and I think Diane has got a few other things buried in the closet, to be honest with you.
Watch behind the scenes footage of the bullying with Jazmine Franks and Anna Shaffer who play Esther and Ruby in Hollyoaks in the clip below: