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Hollyoaks' new bad boy Danny Houston appears on screen for the first time next week as he continues his blossoming relationship with Jacqui McQueen and makes his presence known at Chez Chez. The club's manager Brendan Brady is thrilled to have his best friend around, but Danny doesn't get a warm welcome from everyone as a jealous Rhys is more than a little displeased over his growing bond with Jacqui. As announced last month, theatre star and entertainer Darren Day has taken on the role of Danny - and while he's only appearing in one episode for now, the character will be back on screen in shocking circumstances later this year. DS recently caught up with Darren to get the lowdown on his new part.

How did the role in Hollyoaks come about?
"It's been a rollercoaster, really! It's happened so fast. I got a phone call from my agent about two and a half months ago, saying that Hollyoaks had called up and asking whether I could go over to Lime Pictures the following day. Then there was a meeting with the producer Paul Marquess and the casting director Dorothy Andrews - we had a little chat, they told me about the character and put me on camera. I thought it would be two or three weeks before I heard anything, but I got a phone call while I was on the train back from Liverpool, telling me that I'd got the part."

What happened next?
"The role was initially for one episode, and within a week of meeting the guys I was in filming. I filmed the one episode and really enjoyed doing it. Then there were a few phone calls back and forward, saying that they really liked what I'd done and were going to write the character back in. I thought that was great. It's been a bit mad really, but in a good way! It's really exciting. At the age of 42, you think that those really exciting times of your career have been and gone, so it's great to get an opportunity like this. I'm really happy about it."

Rhys, Danny and Jacqui
How would you describe the character of Danny Houston?
"The producer has told me that he's the baddest on the block. There is going to be no-one badder than Danny Houston - he's about as bad as it gets and is the epitome of a soap villain really. I've been told that some soap magazines are nicknaming him Dirty Dan! For me, that's really exciting. He's a London villain and he's the silent partner in the nightclub. He's been involved in the business dealings from afar, down in London, and now he's going to come up and get involved on a personal level. Him and Brendan will be doing a lot of dodgy dealings. I've also been told that the storylines that are coming up are shocking storylines, but I don't really know much more than that."

Is Brendan scared of Danny, or are they equals?
"Well, everyone's wary of Danny because of his reputation and what he's capable of doing. But it seems that the plan is going to be for them to be partners in crime. As Danny is 11 years older than Brendan, he's probably been there and done it all. He's probably given Brendan a lot of advice - what Brendan is doing now, Danny was doing ten years ago. From what I've been told, no-one will mess with Danny - and for an actor, that's really, really exciting."

What is it about Jacqui that attracts Danny?
"When they went out for lunch with Brendan off-screen, they just seemed to click. Then they go on a couple of dates. But I think Danny gets a little bit heavy and possessive, and he isn't happy to see her talking to another fella in the club, so she gets a bit scared and backs off. When Danny comes back, though, they get together properly - and I think Jacqui feels she might be able to tame him a little bit. But he's not really up for that! He can't be tamed really!"

Jacqui is a really feisty character - does Danny find that quality hard to deal with in a girlfriend?
"I think he's actually quite attracted to that! I don't think he's used to it, as he's used to getting his own way - both in business and in pleasure. But Jacqui stands up to him, and even though he's not used to it, I think he likes it. He's quite intrigued by the fact that she's so feisty and he likes that edginess about her."

Jacqui, Danny and Rhys
What are Claire Cooper and Emmett Scanlan - who play Jacqui and Brendan - like to work with?
"Well, when I filmed my first episode, most of my scenes were with Claire and Emmett, and they were both fantastic. I got on like a house on fire with Emmett - we've been keeping in touch over the past few weeks, phoning and texting. We got on really well and I'm really looking forward to working with him again. And Claire was great as well."

What about the Hollyoaks cast in general - did you get a warm welcome?
"I have to say, everyone was great. On my first day, it was kind of like the first day of school - even though I'm 42 - because obviously everyone else is really established with each other and with the show. Everyone was really nice and I'm really looking forward to going back."

Is it true that you were a fan of Hollyoaks before you joined the show?
"Yes - when it first started, I used to socialise quite a bit with Nick Pickard, who's still in it, as well as Will Mellor and Jeremy Edwards. I was on tour in Manchester when the show first started, and the boys were obviously over in Liverpool, so some nights I'd go over to Liverpool, and some nights they'd come over to Manchester, and we'd all hook up together. So I watched the show from very early on, because I had mates who were in it. I'm a fan of the show, and I think that what Paul Marquess has done is reinvented it - it looks a lot grittier and a lot edgier now. I've watched the transition happen over the past few weeks, and for that reason, it's a really exciting time to be joining."


I recently had a chat with Hollyoaks' new signing Darren Day to hear all about his role as sinister Danny Houston on the Channel 4 soap.

We've already heard quite a bit about Danny from various characters in recent weeks, and plenty of hints have been dropped that he's certainly not one to be messed with. Tuesday's episode, however, will give us an opportunity to judge for ourselves as he appears on screen for the first time.

Based on Darren's comments in our main interview - which you can read by clicking here - it sounds as if the villagers would do well to stay on Danny's good side once he becomes a regular fixture on the program later this year…

If you've already seen the main chat, read on as Darren tells us more about Hollyoaks and also shares his thoughts on his acting career in general and recent charity work.

How does working on a soap compare to the acting work that you've done in the past?
"It's hard to say at the moment, because I've still only filmed one episode, and since then I've been busy doing promotion. But I suppose the main difference is that most of the stuff that I've done in the past has been theatre-based, where your day's work starts at about 6pm when you get into the theatre. With theatre, your day's work is between 6pm and 10.30pm. So the biggest difference will be the timing, as the Hollyoaks cast work 7am to 7pm most days. That might be a bit of a shock to the system, but I have kids and they get up very early, so I'm used to being up at that time!"

Is TV something that you've always wanted to do more of?
"Yeah, it is really. I've done a bit of camera action over the years - I did a film and I did quite a few episodes of Doctors. But when I realised that I'd really like to have a go at this was a couple of years ago when I did an episode of The Bill. I played quite an unsavoury character on The Bill, and I really loved it - I found it really creative and I got bitten by the bug for camera action. So I knew a couple of years ago that I wanted to go in this direction, but I had other commitments - I had a tour in 2008 that was pretty much for the whole year, and then I did a couple of shorter tours last year, and was on tour with We Will Rock You, the Queen musical, at Christmas. I've never really had the opportunity where I could commit to a long contract, so this year I've held out and gone to meet various producers for various soaps and dramas, and this is the one that's come off. I couldn't ask for a better part."

What's Paul Marquess like to work with?
"He's fantastic. It's wonderful for Hollyoaks that Paul has gone in there. I think he's already turned it around. When a soap or a drama has been running for that long, it's good for someone new to come in and to inject some new life into it. I think that's what Paul has done - it's become much grittier and has a new edge to it. There's lots of big storylines coming up between now and Christmas - and I've been told that they're going to be quite shocking."

You recently recorded a single to raise money for ABF, The Soldiers' Charity. Why did you choose to become involved in that?
"A few reasons, really. The song was 'No-One But You (Only The Good Die Young)', which was written by Brian May when Freddie Mercury died. Having done the We Will Rock You show, I became quite good pals with Brian and he's quite a good mate of mine now, so I knew the sentiment and story behind the song being written. For that reason, I really wanted to be involved in it. When you're famous, you get offered a lot of charity stuff and you have to do as much as you can, but I think it's important to do the ones that you really feel passionate about. I've got a couple of mates - one in particular - who were out on the frontline last year, so it was something that was quite close. I'm a big supporter of the girls and the boys that are fighting for our country, like we all are. It was brilliant to be part of it and try to raise some money for them. The Soldiers' Charity has been running for 66 years and done some amazing work, and the support network that they give to the soldiers is amazing."

Would you like to do more work with the charity?
"I would - I've done a lot for them, gone out and done a few interviews, I've gone out and done the Forces' radio and Forces' telly. It was quite amazing really, as some of the interviews that I did were live to Afghanistan and I was giving messages to the girls and guys that were out there. I would get behind the charity 100% - anything I was asked to do for the charity, I would do."

Finally, have you ever felt like you haven't had enough recognition for your acting skills?
"If I'm going to be totally honest, perhaps yes. I think that tabloid headlines about my private life became the pinnacle of what Darren Day was about, and it was almost like my career was overshadowed and fell into the background a bit. Rather than being known for my work, I became known for my private life, and that was never the plan. As a younger guy, I never wanted to become famous just for being famous - I wanted to act and sing for a living, and be an entertainer. It was quite hard when my career and performances stopped being talked about, and it just became about who I was sleeping with and what else I was up to. But I live my life a lot differently now. I'm happily married, I have children - I'm a husband and a father. It would be lovely to think that my work could now be what's written about, rather than all the old headlines that I've read for years. I'd like my work to finally do the talking - but we'll have to wait and see!"
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