Jake Hendricks: ‘They were going to hang Kieron!’

Actor Jake Hendricks reveals all about his character Kieron Hobbs’ exit from Hollyoaks AND his whirlwind nine months working on the Channel 4 soap…

Tell us about the Hollyoaks production process?

“It’s a sausage machine. Don’t tell them I said that! But yes it’s a machine. It rolls ever onwards. It’s a strange thought when you leave – ‘I can’t believe they’re still filming things. What else is there? There are other storylines – you what?!'”

You’ve played Kieron Hobbs for nine months. Would you have liked to stay?

“I don’t know. I think I got the best of both worlds. I’ve been in there and had a lovely storyline, had great people to work with. Nine months is a good amount of time. What’s the expression? Leave them wanting more. They might have got sick of me if I’d stayed.”

How was it, acting so intensely for five days a week?

“I went up [to the set] on my motorbike to visit James and Barry and they could barely make it out for a drink when I was there. They were absolutely shattered, bless them. Tiny eyes staring at their pints. I thought, this is what I’m missing! I’d almost forgotten.”

How tough was it?

“Physically there are more demanding and rigorous jobs to have in life, but it’s a different sort of pressure and tiredness and expectation. I felt often I was… not nervous but your heart rate. You’ve got big things coming up, you’ve got a big scene. It’s just draining mentally, trying to keep yourself at that intensity. But who am I to complain! It was a wonderful job and I’ve had lot worse jobs…”

Do the directors cut you some slack if you need retakes?

“It depends on the director really. You have a new director every week. You pick the weeks you can relax on…(laughs) No, not at all. It’s up to you to make sure your work is of a good standard. You only let yourself down really. There’s such a high turnover (of scenes). If you’re lucky you’re with someone who’s prepared to go through it and look at the possibilities of the scene. But it’s not always possible. You turn up and you’re given rewrites very shortly before you film. Or you’re doing so many in a day, you don’t get to give as much as attention as you’d like. Or they’ll leave a five page scene til the end of the day and you find you’ve got an hour and a half to come up with 11 minutes of TV!”

Time is precious?

“Yeah, but I was very lucky for the big scenes with James (Sutton, who plays John Paul) and Barry (Sloane – Niall). We cared so much about it we’d go home and look at it in our own time.”

Exactly how does Kieron exit?

“The thing most people are interested in is the death. How do you die?! I was originally going to be hung, but Channel 4 wouldn’t accept that. Kieron gets poisoned. He basically discovers everything about Niall’s dark past and Niall’s left with a choice – either to confess all and make things right, or take Kieron out of the picture. Sadly for Kieron, it’s the latter. Maybe it’s fitting he has such a dramatic exit, everything else in his life has gone to pot.”

What happens to his and John Paul’s marriage?

“In true TV fashion, the most dramatic thing that could happen does happen. Their wedding plans are all being set and his ex-boyfriend (Craig) turns up, the love of his life. And Kieron’s many things, but he’s not an idiot. He realises something’s up, that something’s not quite right and forces John Paul to admit that fact. And things are all over at that point. I think he has gone into it a bit too quickly, but he got caught up in the idea of it. He’s confused and shattered when he realises John Paul isn’t as in love with him as he is with him.”

How has it been playing a gay priest?

“To be honest it’s gone better than I thought it was going to. I think that the overwhelming feeling was relief when the first month had gone out and producers responded well to it and I started getting good feedback. A producer said that not everyone was thrilled with the idea of the storyline and they weren’t sure how it was going to work out. He said, credit to you, you’ve changed people’s minds who were dead against it.”

And kissing another guy?

“It’s like swimming underwater. You take a deep breath, go under and hope you come out the other side! It is funny, it was like that. Everyone built it up, they were teasing me a few days before, making you nervous. You know, ‘If you like it enough it might change your life!’ The actual filming of it was very professional. James had obviously done it before, so it was the possible way to do it.”

Is he a good kisser?

“Think how many people I could make unhappy if I said he was bad! I’ll decline to comment on that one… But James knows the truth!”

What have you got lined up in the future?

“You sound like my dad: ‘What are you going to do with your life?’ I don’t know dad, see what comes up. I’m still on screen. I’ve got a few bits and pieces, I’m doing some writing, I enjoy that. I’m working with Guy Burnet (who plays Craig) in fact on a short film. I’ve got panto coming up. Just try and keep busy and get back into the auditions circuit… I’ll try and be proactive, but I’m essentially a lazy person!

Did you ever think, I’m on TV now – I’ve made it?

“It’s very complimentary for people to think I’ve made it, but I’ve got a lot more goals to achieve. It’s not the be-all and end-all to be on TV – there’s all sort of work out there I want to do.”