Given the circumstances that saw him leave, Doug Carter’s return to Hollyoaks was always going to be a tense one!
Fans of the hit Channel 4 soap last saw Doug (PJ Brennan) leaving, broken-hearted, to start a new life in America last year.
The new start had initially been for him and his new husband, Ste (Kieron Richardson) and his children, but when Doug realised that Ste still had feelings for his ex, Brendan Brady (Emmett J. Scanlan) he made the selfless decision to set him free and headed home to his sick father in the States alone.
Since then Ste has rekindled his relationship with a now openly gay Brendan, and the pair are enjoying romantic bliss, that is until Doug returns home.
However, as PJ Brennan who plays deli owner Doug has explained to Digital Spy, his character is set to return much happier and focused on his own future than he was when he left:
“Well, right from the get-go, it’s clear that going home did Doug a lot of good. He seems to have got back a bit of the spark that was there before the doom and gloom of the failed relationship with Ste. It’s clear that he’s sorted things out and he’s more comfortable within himself. I think he’s got his priorities back in check!”
With regards to Doug’s father, who has recently been diagnosed with MS, Brennan continued:
“That will probably be explored at a later point, but his dad’s condition has improved – at least to the point where returning to Hollyoaks is a viable option for Doug. So Doug pops up out of nowhere, to the surprise of many characters including Brendan and Ste!”
Obviously Doug has prepared himself for coming home to find Stendan reunited, but Brennan insists that he still wants to be friends with Ste:
“It’s an interesting relationship to navigate at this point, which makes it fun to play. Doug comes back to the business, which obviously means that there has to be some sort of relationship there between him and Ste. It’s a case of building up the genuine and solid friendship that was there before they even started a relationship.
“But Doug definitely does want to keep one foot out of the door when it comes to Ste and Brendan, because it’s not really his place, and for his own mental health he realises it’s probably for the best! However, due to Doug and Ste working in close proximity, Doug doesn’t stay out of it as well as he would hope – and you’ll see that in the next couple of weeks.”
The actor, who recently stripped off with Kieron Richardson who plays Ste to help raise awareness of HIV in the latest issue of Gay Times, went on to say how, despite knowing that Ste was always going to end up back with Brendan, he was still sad with the way things turned out:
“We knew it was the plan from the start, but I was still incredibly sad when it was ending – although that was because I spent most of 2012 working with Kieron, and I knew I’d be working with him less afterwards. That’s enough to make anyone sad, because Kieron’s a great person to work with!
“But we all knew ahead of time where the story was heading, and it’s not as though Doug and Ste won’t talk to each other at all from now on. They’ll always be important to each other and they have the business, which is such a strong and uniting factor between the two of them. So there’s still plenty to come, and they’ll always be a part of each other’s lives at this point.
“I think Doug is just at peace with the whole thing! He doesn’t give away any surprise that they’re now together and have managed to stay that way for a month and a half! Doug knows that it’s best not to get involved or give any commentary either way. Doug wants Ste to be happy, and that’s why he encouraged him to go to Dublin in the first place. It was a selfless act.”
With regards to Doug’s relationship with Brendan, he continued:
“I don’t think it would be a Doug and Brendan scene without some sort of quip being thrown at Doug’s expense! There’s one moment where Doug admits that he’d actually missed that, in a masochistic way!
“Regardless of the tone of the relationship, Brendan is still one of the most important people in Doug’s life in Hollyoaks, because of all the backstory they have. I think it’s a case of familiarity breeding some sort of affection!
So, could Doug’s future include a new romance? With John Paul perhaps….
“As good as Doug and Ste were, there was a lot of mistrust and dodgy dealings going on. If there were to be a relationship for Doug, I would hope it would be a healthy one and one which makes Doug a happier person, which does seem to be the focus at the moment. But obviously not too happy, because who wants to watch that?
“John Paul is a character who re-appeared while Doug was away, so I’m sure that Doug would be interested in finding out who he is. Also, Leanne already knows John Paul, so there’s a connection there which suggests that there could be something coming along. But it’s one of those ones where you’ll just have to tune in and see!”
Watch an interview with PJ Brennan in the clip below:
Hollyoaks can be seen week nights at 6.30pm on Channel 4/ Channel 4 HD.