Hollyoaks star Kieron Richardson on Ste’s wedding, coming out and the queer legacy of soaps

Hollyoaks star Kieron Richardson, who plays Ste, with his on-screen husband-to-be James

Kieron Richardson has told PinkNews why Ste’s wedding to James is the Hollyoaks event not to be missed, as well as dishing on Danny Beard, a White Lotus-esque honeymoon and why soaps are so important.

If you’re not up to speed on Hollyoaks, Kieron’s character, Ste, has had a hell of a ride. After starting life as a bad boy, being both the abused and the abuser in various relationships, and getting married once already in 2018, he’s now ready for his “happy ending”.

But hold on. This is Hollyoaks. So will the wedding go off without a hitch?

PinkNews: Ste has been through a lot on his time on Hollyoaks, including a previous wedding. What makes this event different?

Kieron Richardson: There’s no drama for Ste. Normally at a Ste wedding somebody cheated, somebody dies, an affair is exposed. There’s always some kind of dramatics that happen, but this is just a very camp wedding.

Was it important to have the wedding be camp?

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I think so. In the past, most [of Ste’s] storylines have been quite heavy and issue-based and you have to get those spot on because there are people out there going through those situations.

Ste has found his comedic side and we’ve been doing fun things and having more light than shade. It’s been fun to ramp up my performance.

It’s colourful in terms of the outfits, and the stag do is a real winner. And you know Ste loves a tracksuit. So everybody comes dressed in a tracksuit.

Now we do have to talk about that tracksuit. What was it like seeing that for the first time?

I loved it. Obviously. And I will say that the tracksuit gets shared around. It’s not just Ste who wears it.

Ste and James on their Hollyoaks wedding day. (LimePictures)

As you mentioned, Ste started off as a bit of a bad boy and he’s gone through this amazing character progression, so how does his marriage to James play into that?

Ste came from an abusive background with his stepdad, then that translated into his relationship with Amy and he started to be the abuser. Then it was flipped over when he got with Brendan, and he was getting abused again. Ste was always yearning for this perfect, happy ending.

And [with James], they’ve both got kids, so they’ve got this blended family unit that he’s always wanted. Hopefully, this is the happy ending that he’s always wanted. It probably won’t be, because it’s a soap.

What’s in store for Ste and James?

Well, there’s the issue of the honeymoon – think The White Lotus. “These gays, they’re trying to murder me.” That’s a little tease for you.

In terms of longer, for next year, there’s gonna be some quite big stories for the two characters, and not always together.

Ste and James recite their vows. (LimePictures)

On a more serious note, soaps such as Hollyoaks have a huge role to play in actually educating viewers, from HIV to addiction. What’s the importance in that?

The influence [Hollyoaks] had on me growing up, you can’t not know the weight behind those stories when you’re telling them.

We covered [an HIV storyline] years ago, and even then I was ignorant, and I was actually learning. It was educational for me. And when you put that into a heartfelt performance, with all the research that goes on, it’s worth it to know that people watching it open their eyes.

Ste’s coming out – and your own on This Morning – had such an impact on queer viewers. What does having that legacy mean to you?

There was a pressure – before I came out – of doing it the right way. I remember the fear of thinking: “When I say these words out loud, what will happen to me?”

People watched it live and I said it, and 10 seconds later I was still the same person. I didn’t combust. I wanted to show that it’s your right to say those words.

Danny Beard in a fluffy yellow and pink top and blonde wig, holding a cocktail.
Danny Beard in Hollyoaks. (LimePictures)

Drag superstar Danny Beard recently appeared on Hollyoaks. What was it like working with them?

Danny brought their electric personality to the scenes, even after shouting “cut”. They just have this high energy. The outfits were amazing, they’ve got comical stories and they’re definitely missed. We’d love them back in the show.

Danny has, of course, been a vocal opponent of those slamming drag queens. What’s your message to those who choose to spread negativity?

I just don’t understand that concept or that thought process, but I do want to say that sometimes, we pick up on the negatives. And in terms of those comments, I’m an openly gay man and when I go on nights out or to the shopping centre and meet all these people who come to stop me because I’m off the telly, there’s so much love and positivity out there for this character of Ste.

Sometimes we need to give people a pat on the back to be like: “There are nice people out there.”

Ste and James’s wedding will air on Hollyoaks on Friday (19 May).

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