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Soaps Interview

Hollyoaks: Kirsty-Leigh Porter on Leela, Tegan, Ste and more

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Kirsty-Leigh Porter as Leela Lomax in Hollyoaks

© Lime Pictures

Kirsty-Leigh Porter as Leela Lomax


Hollyoaks' feisty newcomer Leela Lomax will face more family dramas this week as she is desperate to uncover the full story behind her sister Tegan's baby mystery.

Leela and the rest of the Lomax clan will also be left distraught when they later learn that Tegan (Jessica Ellis) has been attacked.

Digital Spy recently caught up with Kirsty-Leigh Porter, who plays Leela, to hear more about this week's episodes and what's to come.

After filming for a few months, how are you finding your time at Hollyoaks?
"I'm absolutely loving it. Leela is a character I've wanted to play for a long time. I've done other dramas and a stint in Emmerdale but I've never played this kind of character before, so it's just a dream to be at Hollyoaks playing her."

When did you first hear about the role?
"It was all hush-hush with us. We found out back in February or March that there were going to be new characters joining the show. We were drafted in to do two or three auditions and then they brought me and Jessica Ellis in to do a screen test.

"Lizzie [Roper] and Stephen [Billington], our on-screen mum and dad, were already waiting and they brought in girls to audition for Peri. So we were involved in that without being told that we'd got the parts! Sure enough, we were eventually told that we had been cast, which was great."

Was it always your plan to land another soap role?
"Not at all - I don't think I ever have plans! I used to, but now that I've been in the business a bit longer, I know that it's literally a case of chance when it comes to work. When this role came up, the character was so good that it wasn't something I could think twice about."

Kirsty-Leigh Porter as Leela Lomax in Hollyoaks

© Lime Pictures

Kirsty-Leigh Porter as Leela Lomax


Are you pleased with the reaction to the Lomaxes so far?
"I tend not to look too much at the reaction, because you can get roped into seeing bad comments just as much as you can with the good ones. But from what my bosses have told me and some fans I've met face-to-face, it's all been good. I haven't heard anything bad, so it's really nice to be accepted by a completely different fanbase."

Leela seems to have a harder edge to her than Tegan and Peri. Is there a reason for that, or is it just because she's the oldest?
"There's definitely a reason for it. Being the eldest is definitely a big part of that, because Leela feels that it's her duty to look after her younger siblings. As well as that, I think Tegan and Peri take after Danny, who's a flamboyant character and quite sensitive. Leela is such a daddy's girl too, but she takes on her mother's hard side by looking after the family. She's a bit of a force to be reckoned with, I think!"

Have the writers given you a firm idea of Leela's backstory?
"We kind of worked on it together, which was really nice. I've never had that experience before. I've been working in this business for a long time now and usually you get given a character breakdown and play them as you've been told.

"Here it was great to sit in a room with the executive producer Bryan [Kirkwood] and the writers to really talk about it. We're still learning, too - as we get new storylines coming through, we're able to understand them better because of the meetings that we've had about our characters and their aims and aspirations."

What do you make of the Leela and Ste dynamic?
"Leela wasn't the type to back down and say nothing while this new person came into the family. For anyone that would be a strange situation, but especially for Leela because she is the eldest. She's taken on the older brother role herself, because she's quite boisterous and a tomboy. If Danny's secret child had been a daughter I don't think Leela would have found it so hard, but she felt threatened by the fact that it was a boy and he could take over her position in the family.

"Now that some time has passed, Leela and Ste are literally like two peas in a pod as characters anyway. Danny has pointed out that they're very similar and that's what is seeping through at the moment. Family is important to Leela and Ste is part of her family."

Ste sparks a food fight among the Lomaxes

© Lime Pictures

Ste with the Lomaxes


How do you think Leela would react if she found out about Danny's secret life?
"So far Danny can't do any wrong in Leela's eyes. If it does come out, she'll be absolutely gobsmacked and heartbroken. Everything she stands for will be thrown into the air, because family is number one and so important to her."

With Leela being a firefighter, are you expecting to be involved in some stunts?
"That would be exciting. I was thrilled when I found out that Leela would be part of the fire service - I couldn't think of anything better! When we had the stuff with Ziggy hanging off the windowsill, that was amazing to play. I think with things like that, you'll see what a strong character Leela is. So far you only really see it with her mouth, but that could change."

Will Leela and Ziggy stay as just a friendship, or could it become something more?
"I'd never say never. Whether it be a male or a female, I think Leela goes for whatever makes her happy in that moment. At the minute she sees Ziggy as someone to play with and have a bit of fun with. She hasn't had much male interaction in the village, but she's so self-confident that it will take someone special to really turn her head. But in the meantime, that doesn't mean that she's not going to have fun. At the moment, Leela and Ziggy have a really good friendship."

Ziggy fears he's been caught out

© Lime Pictures

Leela and Ziggy


Leela is also desperate to know who the father of Tegan's baby is…
"Yeah, she's really keen to know and she'll keep going until Tegan tells her! It's something that Leela is really not used to, because Tegan usually tells her everything. At the moment it's a bit of a fight to get to the truth, and Leela isn't winning!"

Who have you made friends with off-screen?
"Every single person has been great and given me their little pieces of advice, but the people who have made it particularly special for me are Kieron Richardson, Stephanie Davis and Jessica Ellis. They've made it brilliant for me."

Do you have fond memories of playing Roz on Emmerdale?
"Yes, I loved Emmerdale. I originally only joined the show on a three-month contract, but [Emmerdale's late producer] Gavin Blyth, God bless him, kept extending it and I ended up staying there for a year and a half. I still speak to a lot of people who I worked with, in particular Chelsea Halfpenny. Now it's also great to go to the Soap Awards, sit on the other side but still see everybody!"

Read more Hollyoaks spoilers and news

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

Digital Spy Soap Scoop video - press play below to find out why things are looking up for David in Coronation Street, who makes a murder confession in EastEnders, which Emmerdale bad boy Charity is about to pursue, and what happens in the aftermath of Sienna's comeuppance in Hollyoaks.

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