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Hollyoaks Star Amy Conachan On Courtney Campbell’s Exit And Future Career Plans

June 30, 2021

 

Hollyoaks spoilers follow from Tuesday’s E4 first look episode (June 29).

Hollyoaks star Amy Conachan has left the soap after a five-year stint as Courtney Campbell.

Fans saw Courtney’s final scenes in Tuesday’s E4 episode, as she departed the village to accept her dream job as a headteacher in a school in Scotland.

Digital Spy recently caught up with Amy for an exclusive chat about her departure from Hollyoaks.

How are you feeling now that your time on Hollyoaks has come to an end?

“It’s such a strange one, because everything gradually calmed down. When I was filming, I’d think: ‘Okay, I’ve got two weeks left. I’ve got one week left. I’ve got two days left…’ Then it was my last day, so it gradually just went away.

“Then when you’re out of it, you’re still on screen, so it comes in stages. Coming to the end of filming, I was a bit of a woman on the edge – so emotional about it!

“I’ve been fine since then because I’m on screen, but now I feel a bit emotional again. I was catching up on episodes last night and thought: ‘My God, this is it. She’s only going to be on a couple more episodes and that’s it.’

“It’s strange when it’s such a big part of your life for five years and then it’s just gone. It’s a funny one to get your head around.”

Was it your choice to leave?

“I suppose it was my choice to leave, but it was more that I wanted to go out on a high. I’d been on the show for five years and it felt like a nice, round number. Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

“I hadn’t done a whole lot before I was on Hollyoaks. I was only at drama school for a year and there’s loads of things that I want to do. The training that I got at Hollyoaks was probably the best job that I could have done so early in my career.

“Even though it was me that said it was maybe the right time to do something else, it was still very much a hard decision for me because Hollyoaks was just the best job ever.

“It’s a one-of-a-kind opportunity when you’re an actor, to go to the same place every day, see the same people and play the same character. But it just felt like the right time for me to leave… although I’ll let you know in about six weeks’ time if I still feel the same way!”

How long has Courtney’s exit been in the pipeline for? Was it something you spoke to Bryan Kirkwood about before he left as producer last year?

“It has been talked about for a while. I’d discussed it with Bryan and we wanted it to be a nice ending for Courtney, but the exact details of how that would happen all came at a later date.

“Obviously a lot has happened in the past year. When I was first thinking about this, there was no pandemic! So things did change along the way, but it’s definitely been in the pipeline for a while.”

Did you have any input into Courtney’s exit storyline or did you leave it to the writers?

“I definitely left it to them, but I was quite adamant that I didn’t want Courtney to be running away from anything. When I first got the scripts through for the storyline with Courtney and Sid, I didn’t really want her to be leaving because something bad had happened with them.

“That wasn’t only because I didn’t want Courtney to leave on a bad note, but I also really loved that relationship between Courtney and Sid and I didn’t want them to end things on a sour note either. I just wanted Courtney to leave the village to further herself, rather than running away from anything. Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

“Also, I really wanted the door to be left open. I didn’t want Courtney to die! It’s such a nice thing to have that door open and maybe one day she might come back.”

We saw Sid develop inappropriate feelings for Courtney. Was that storyline a challenge?

“When you do a storyline like that, it’s hard to know where to pitch it. I had a lot of personal feelings around it, not only over the character but also my relationship with Billy [Price, who plays Sid] as two actors and two friends.

“Sometimes the writing can go in a different direction than you want it to as the actor, just because you want everything to be lovely and to go to plan, like I’m sure the fans do. I saw a lot of comments saying: ‘No, don’t do it!’

“But I think once me and Billy realised where the storyline was going, we relaxed into it a bit more. At first I thought: ‘Oh my God, Courtney, don’t do it. Stick to your true self and be that sensible person that you’ve always been.’

“It was actually so lovely that so many of my final scenes were with Billy. It was that tightrope of the teacher wanting to be there for someone but not too much, because she knew where it could go.

“It was a challenge for me to know where to place that, but I think we got there in the end and I enjoyed playing that.”

What was your final day on set like? Had the rules changed by that point, allowing you to spend some time with the cast?

“Things had changed a little bit on the outside. At work we still had all of our restrictions, which was a wee bit of a shame, because it meant that my entire final year on the show was restricted by COVID protocols. But outside in the world, I was able to see friends here and there in small groups.

“That was so nice, because there are amazing people at Hollyoaks who are going to be my friends for the rest of my life. To just end it and go back to Glasgow without seeing anybody would have been such a shame.”

Who do you see yourself keeping in touch with?

“Definitely Jessamy [Stoddart, who plays Liberty]. She’ll be one of my best friends forever. We still talk most days, so I’m not going anywhere and she’s stuck with me, unfortunately!

“Nadine [Mulkerrin, who plays Cleo] and Rory [Douglas-Speed, who plays Joel] are my go-to when I need somewhere to stay in Liverpool, they’re the best.

“I’m also still very much in touch with Luke [Jerdy, who played Jesse] and Daisy [Wood-Davis, who played Kim]. They’re my really good friends.”

What are your future plans for your career?

“I just hope that it carries on with the trajectory that it’s on. I’ve been so lucky. Even before I’d left drama school, I’d worked in theatre in Scotland and done some amazing projects.

“I look at my friends who I went to drama school with and it’s not necessarily worked out as well for them, just because that’s the industry. So I realise how lucky I am after doing this show for five years.

“I do have a few projects that I’ve done already and that are coming up, so it seems like it’s all going to be okay. I’m a hard worker and very passionate about it, so I’m ready to do the work.”

Are you proud of what Courtney’s role in Hollyoaks meant for disability representation? The character never seemed to be defined by her disability.

“I think that is just incredible. Hats off to Hollyoaks for doing that. Coming into the show, I was adamant that this was the type of character I wanted to play.

“I was at the point where I’d played a lot of parts where they’d been looking for someone in a wheelchair, or wanted to tell a story with someone about them being in a wheelchair.

“I didn’t really want to do that anymore because I had seen that. I think we’ve all seen that over and over again. It’s a bit boring and not representative of what it’s like to live with a disability.

“I wasn’t faced with any argument. Hollyoaks were on board with that and it was never in their mind that they wanted to tell a story about a girl in a wheelchair. Courtney just happened to be in a wheelchair, but she was going to do the same fun, soapy stuff as everybody else.

“Other productions, writers and directors could learn from Hollyoaks in that manner. It’s been a privilege for me to be able to champion that.”

Were you sad that Leela wasn’t around for Courtney’s exit?

“Yeah, when Kirsty left I already knew that I was going. She said to me: ‘Oh my God, this is the last scene that we’ll ever do together.’ It was so far in advance that it didn’t feel real.

“Kirsty messaged me when I finished. I thought it was such a shame because Leela was a massive part of why Courtney was there in the first place, but obviously there was an incredible reason why Kirsty wasn’t there and I’m so happy for her.

“Courtney’s final scenes were with Ste and Peri at the Lomaxes’, so it has still come full circle. Leela was very much there in spirit.”

What were your Hollyoaks highlights?

“It has to be when we went to Spain. It was the most fun week ever and the storyline was just incredible. I never thought I’d do a storyline where I was smuggling drugs in my wheelchair and trying to get them through an international border! Getting to go to Spain to do it was the cherry on the cake.”

How do you hope fans remember Courtney?

“I want them to remember Courtney as someone who added a lot to the show and I hope they remember some of the storylines in years to come.

“Courtney was a fierce, feisty Scottish girl who came in and ruffled a few feathers and also supported some of their favourite characters.”

Hollyoaks airs weeknights at 6.30pm on Channel 4, with first look screenings at 7pm on E4.

 

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