Cleo finally realises that Pete’s been manipulating and abusing her for years, says Hollyoaks star Nadine Mulkerrin

How is Cleo so blind to what Pete is doing to her?

“You have to remember Pete [Kai Owen] has been grooming Cleo since she was 13 years’ old. He’s manipulated her into believing what is happening between them is normal. She believes they’re in an equal, loving relationship and she genuinely hasn’t seen a glimpse of what is so obvious from the outside.”

What did she make of Porsche’s accusations?

“It was easier to ignore it and sweep what Porsche [Twinnie-Lee Moore] said under the carpet. Nobody else believed Porsche, so why should Cleo?”

How does Cleo react when the police turn up?

“She realises Reenie [Zoe Lucker] and Porsche have set up the visit and refuses to say anything. She’s secretly visiting Pete in hospital and she’s looking out for him. She’s desperate to keep that connection going, so he still has that element of control over her.”

But Harry knows she’s visiting Pete…

“Yes and he tells her she has to stop. But the urge to see Pete is stronger than Harry’s threats. In the end, Harry [Parry Glasspool] tells her family and that’s when it all starts falling apart.”

What does Pete’s mystery key have to do with everything?

“Pete’s hidden this key under the floorboards at home and he wants Cleo to get rid of it. It’s for the lock-up he has and it contains all the materials he’s kept from their relationship over the years: letters, photographs and gifts. She thinks it’s lovely that he’s kept these things and she can’t see the true meaning behind it.”

How does Cleo eventually come to realise the truth?

“She finds photos of Jade [Kassius Nelson] in among Pete’s things and she goes for her at college. Nancy takes them into a classroom to talk and Jade reveals Pete called her his special girl and he bought her gifts. She’s describing all the things Pete has done to her and Cleo realises it was abuse. She knows he’s lied to her and she feels betrayed. When she finally realises the truth, it’s really sad.”

Where does Cleo go from here?

“There’ll be a trial and we want to show that if you speak out, you can get justice. Cleo will go through a range of emotions. We worked closely with the NSPCC on this story and we met a group of survivors. I learned it will be a long process for Cleo.”

Hollyoaks, C4