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Hollyoaks star Nicole Barber-Lane has defended the soap, saying it is not too violent.

The actress has just bowed out of the Channel 4 drama – which airs on weeknights before the watershed at 6.30pm – after seven years as battleaxe Myra McQueen.

Her character was shot in the docklands and her body fell into the water – although she was later seen to have survived before fleeing the country.

Nicole said of her exit: “I don’t think it’s that violent. It’s not as violent as chainsaws and stuff. You don’t really see anything, because we’re not allowed to show anything too gratuitous and you don’t even see the gun for very long.

“It always goes through compliance and everything to make sure it is OK. I’ve seen lots of other violent things on other soaps before the watershed, so I don’t think it’s that bad.”

Hollyoaks was recently ticked off by TV watchdog Ofcom, who ruled scenes in which undercover policeman Simon Walker died, when he was hit by a train earlier this year, breached the rules on pre-watershed violence.

Nicole said she was very proud of Hollyoaks for helping its younger viewers by tackling topical issues like bullying and eating disorders.

She said: “It’s got high drama, Myra getting shot and everything – but it also deals with really important issues that especially young people can identify with.

“Maybe in some sort of trouble or trauma, it says this is what’s happening to this character, if you can identify with them this is how we can help you.

“I’m really proud of Hollyoaks, how it tackles stuff.”