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"It's been in the back of my mind for a while and when we got the news about going down to three episodes that was the push for me to feel like now was the right time to make that leap and leave."


After almost a decade on the show, actor Ross Adams has tonight announced on Instagram that he is leaving Hollyoaks with his final scenes as Scott Drinkwell (and Anita Tinkle) expected to play out this summer.

The news comes days after Owen Warner's exit from the soap and weeks after Channel 4 announced that the popular soap would be reducing from five episodes a week to three from September, which Ross tells I Talk Telly played a part in his decision to leave the show.

Ross joined the show in 2015 after working behind the scenes on Coronation Street and Emmerdale and is now a firm fan favourite thanks to some incredible storylines throughout the years.

Following a Best Comedy Performance nomination in 2017, Ross proved his versatility as an actor and the breadth of his character, by winning Best Male Dramatic Performance in 2018 in recognition of his powerful depression storyine which saw Scott attempt to take his own life.

Ahead of his exit and with his final scenes yet to be filmed, I caught up with Ross Adams to find out more about his decision to leave, what he makes of the changes being made at Hollyoaks, Doctors and the British Soap Awards, as well as his continued love for the genre.

We also spoke of what he'll miss the most from Hollyoaks, whether the door will be left open for his character to return and how the documentary he made in 2023 might be the start of a new direction for him as he considers his options for the future.

Let's start with the big announcement. Why have you decided to leave Hollyoaks?

First of all, it was the hardest ever thing to decide to do. They very kindly offered me another contract in November and this contract would have taken me into my 10th year. But you know, the landscape of soap has changed so much recently that I was beginning to wonder what else was kind of out there or what other things I could do.

I also did a documentary last year about adoption, and I got funding for that documentary and made it myself. And I really enjoyed doing something as me. Not hiding behind a character, but doing something as Ross.

It's been in the back of my mind for a while and when we got the news about going down to three episodes that was the push for me to feel like now was the right time to make that leap and leave.

It's so tough because I love it so much and I love the character and I feel like I could have happily stayed there for eternity just playing Scott, and Anita. But I think sometimes you've got to do things that are terrifying and that are brave. And I'm doing it.

This week we've seen Owen Warner leave the soap, others are rumoured to be leaving too and now you've made your announcement. Are you aware of the optics caused by these multiple exits at the moment?

Yeah. I mean we all are. And I think we have to be sensible because the show is changing. Going from five episodes to three, it has to.

Also, they’re shortening the length of the episodes. So in doing that, because of course my background was I was a storyliner, you think well, they can't tell four or five strands anymore because they don't have the time to fit all of that in.

So ultimately, the show will end up having to have a smaller cast because they'll have less time to tell less strands and therefore they'll need less characters.

I really feel for the crew and the cast there because I think generally at the minute, it just feels like a very unsettling time.

I feel like all I've ever really done is work in soap and when I was at drama school, people would say, “Oh, I want to go off to Hollywood. I want to do films and I want to go to LA!” And all I wanted, genuinely, was to be in a soap.

That was the only thing that I ever wanted to do. So when I got the part of Scott, it genuinely, as twee as it sounds, it was a dream realised, it was a dream come true. I kind of felt like soaps were just part of a bedrock of British TV. You know, they were never going to go anywhere.

They were relatively stable. And now I think that landscape has changed so much because of Netflix and streaming services. It's bizarre. When I was a kid, we would sit down and watch the soaps. It was like a pinnacle part of our viewing. And now I think people are just watching TV differently.

I think there'll always be a need for soaps because there'll always be a need for drama and the social issues that soaps tell are super important. So I think there's always going to be a need and people will always want to be entertained, but, it just feels like a very bizarre time.

Let's go back to when you joined Hollyoaks and the reaction to Scott. Because he wasn't immediately loved by the fans, was he?

No and I remember when I first joined, because obviously you read all the tweets, you have to, and I remember thinking “Oh God” because the audience just hated him at first.

I think there were several reasons. He came in and within the first six months, I’d poisoned Auntie Di. I'd kidnaped Baby Rose, I'd done all sorts of dreadful things. So the audience didn't really like him and also, I think I tried to split Ste and John Paul up, so that didn't go down well.

So I was looking at Twitter and people were like “Kill him off!” and I was thinking “Oh my God” and then slowly but surely, they came round to him.

I remember going up to have a chat with Bryan Kirkwood, our exec at the time, and I said to him, I really feel that there's more to him than this. I think there's a reason why he's this way. Thankfully, and I'll always be grateful to Bryan that he listened to that and that character very slowly started to change.

A lot of his bad behaviour was explained because of his upbringing and the fact that he was adopted. He’d had quite a tough time. And I think slowly but surely the audience started to root for him.

Now, I think the fans of the show are lovely towards me and towards the character. Telling them that I'm leaving is the hardest thing really, because they’ve been with me this whole time and the whole journey.

I'm going to miss their reactions to things. When Mitchell left me, for example, you get you get instant feedback from our fans. And the Hollyoaks fans are so loyal and so amazing. It's been a real turn around for the character.

I went in on a six month contract and I genuinely, genuinely thought because Scott was such a polarising character to start with, that I'll be lucky if I get a year out of this. So the fact that it's been almost ten, you know, I'm so grateful to the show and to still be there. It's just going to be really weird.

And then in 2019, came Anita Tinkle. What were your first reactions to that side of Scott and have you enjoyed playing her?

I remember when they first told me about Anita and that story, I was quite hesitant because I'd never done drag before and what I couldn't really get my head around was, “Oh, do I have to play this character completely differently to Scott? Because, is Anita different to Scott?”

That took me a while to kind of get my head around it. And the two hour makeup call! It was nice because doing the Anita Tinkle stuff, allowed me the opportunity as an actor to just have fun. There were some ridiculous outfits, the Bonnie Tyler! We did a Bonnie Tyler sequence, which was just incredible.

I had backing dancers and it was just all glitz and I felt like I was on Stars in Their Eyes. It was just fab. Initially I was kind of reluctant and a bit hesitant to take that on, but I grew to love it. I did.

And it's funny, because she's had a bit of a glow up, because when I look back at some of her early wigs and stuff, you can tell Scott didn't have a clue what he was doing when it came to drag. But as Anita has grown, the wigs have got bigger, the costumes have got a bit more kind of glitzy.

I did a scene about two weeks ago where I was in drag as Anita, it hasn't aired yet, but it was really bizarre to be sat in the makeup chair and think, this is the last time that I'll be Anita.

I can imagine! How long will Scott/Anita still be on screen for?

I don't know exactly when my last day filming is going to be, but my contract is up at the end of May, 26th May. So they've got me until then, so I think that'll possibly be July on screen or something. But they're not killing the character. So that's good.

How do you think you'll feel when it comes to filming your final scenes?

I'm dreading it. I'm absolutely dreading it. The more I've been going into work, the more I've been thinking about it. And I just think it'll be a really bizarre day because at the minute it doesn’t feel real, because I'm still working and I'm still in doing scenes and stuff.

Obviously, now that I've made this announcement, it's going to feel real. And then that last day of filming is going to be... I'm sure I'll be in tears. Just because I'm going to miss the people, I'm going to miss the crew and the cast. They've been a huge part of my life. I've been there for like almost ten years.

I've actually ordered, on Shein, 40 black veils and for my last scene, I want all of the crew to wear black veils. And then when I do my leaving speech, I can just look around and see everybody in their black veils!

What would you say has been your favourite storyline over the years?

I think my favorite from an acting perspective was probably Scott’s depression, which sparked the whole Don't Filter Feelings digital campaign. So that was amazing.

And you know, winning the Soap Award because of that, that was that was another dream come true. And also because that story, I had to film it myself and it was a 14-page monologue. So I feel like that's one of the stories that I'm most proud of.

But then I’ve loved doing all of the simpler scenes which are more full of heart, like Scott and Nana McQueen. Those scenes where Scott is in The Dog and he's getting ready for a drag show or he’s taking his make-up off and he's talking to Nana McQueen.

When Scott was falling in love with Mitchell, he had some really nice stuff with Nana McQueen where she kind of gave him some love advice and they formed this unlikely friendship. And I loved that.

The stuff with Scott and Mercedes when they were like a little twosome for a while. And that was lovely. I think I love those unlikely pairings.

You mentioned it there, but let's talk about the British Soap Awards. What was it like to win Best Male Dramatic Performance in 2018?

Unreal. I didn't expect to win because the other nominees were so amazing and because that was the year that Pat Phelan was huge. That Corrie storyline was huge.

I just kind of sat there and thought, well, clearly it's going to go to him. It won't be me. It was Tony Hadley who announced it and when he called my name, I just genuinely couldn't believe it. And I don't really know how I was able to make the speech that I did because I'd not prepared anything.

I just got up and spoke, but it was incredible and it was a lovely year because I’d just got married that year. We got married in the April. We'd been away on our honeymoon and then we came back and it was the Soap Awards in the June and Phil, my husband, was in the audience.

I wore my wedding suit, actually. So it just felt like a really special moment.

There are no Soap Awards this year, which is another blow to the genre, what are your thoughts on that?

It's just sad. I think it's a real shame. I also think Jane McDonald did an incredible job last year. She was unbelievable and what a perfect host. So I thought, brilliant. She'll be back and we'll all be there this year. I think it's particularly sad because obviously it would have been my last one this year. But also maybe it's because soap is changing, Doctors isn't here any more, the news of Hollyoaks so perhaps it's got something to do with that.

But I just think it's so important because people are still watching the soaps and they're still a big part of British life. It just seems like a real shame. I hope they bring it back. I really do. But I'm also kind of worried that if it's not on this year, then...

You know, for anyone who works in soap, that's one of the only awards where everybody goes. For other awards, they will take a selection or say, for example, NTAs, they'll take the people who are nominated or whatever because they can't take everyone. There just aren't enought tickets for them.

So the Soap Awards was that one awards ceremony throughout the whole year that everybody went to. I just think it's a shame that they won't get to have that this year.

You mentioned it briefly just then, but what are your thoughts on Doctors getting axed? I feel like this one particularly hurts because it's where a lot of people started out.

Well, I did an episode of Doctors before Hollyoaks. I think every actor has. Its a bit like years ago, if you hadn't done The Bill, you weren't considered an actor.

For young actors or for people just starting out and, and also and I have to say this as a northern actor who wasn't privileged enough to go to private school or anything, I think all of the soaps were a brilliant place for people like me to have opportunities.

It doesn't represent where I'm from. How I grew up. And you know, losing these things that are known to be a training ground not just for actors, but for writers, for crew. I just think it's it's an absolute travesty really, that It's gone. I feel for them. I've got a friend who works there who I did a job with years ago, a comedy series. And for Birmingham! You know, it’s such a shame.

Let's talk about your career before Hollyoaks, did working as a PA on Corrie and a Storyliner on Emmerdale prepare you for the demands of being a soap actor?

Yeah, completely. And I'm so glad that I did it that way around because I learned so much about just how hard every department works.

Working first of all as the PA taught me about the awards ceremonies and what goes into that, because many a time I was having to get Michelle Keegan into a car to go off to an awards show. Also what the press office do.

It was a really great learning ground for me, to figure out what every department does and then moving to Emmerdale and being more on the creative editorial side, taught me about the structure of soap and how many strands are in a scene and all of that. So when I went to Hollyoaks, I kind of understood how things worked and it was hugely helpful.

I have to say, one of the most amazing story brains that I ever worked with was Kate Oates. She's so dynamic and she's just so charismatic and she's got this amazing story brain and I learned so much from her, because she was my boss at Emmerdale. I would sit in story meetings and story conferences with Kate and I'd listen to her opinions and her thoughts on things.

I remember having to go and see Kate because she'd made me a script editor and I was really grateful and I kind of did think that was where my career was headed at one point.

Then Hollyoaks came along and I remember having to knock on her door and say “Kate, I've got this job on Hollyoaks, I'm going to have to leave.” And she was so supportive and amazing to me and allowed me to go off and do it. She was just an amazing boss.

What are you going to miss the most about Hollyoaks?

I'll miss the people and I'll miss just the everyday stuff of going in and having my breakfast in the canteen and going into make-up. I love the make-up room because everybody's there and it's the hubbub of the building on a morning. It's brilliant for gossip.

So yeah, the people. But I’ll also really miss the character. I'll miss playing Scott. I'll miss playing Anita, which I never thought I'd say, but yeah, I'll just miss that.

How have your co-stars taken the news?

Everyone's been super supportive. I've had some lovely messages. I work with Nikki Sanderson a lot, so Nikki's been amazing. Steph Waring has been amazing. I think it's one of those things, and I've done it myself, when you see people leave, you wish them well, but you're also super sad that they're leaving.

I'm sure I'll keep in touch with the people that I work with and am close to there. When I started, I was in the Hutchinson family, so I had a lot of stuff with Alex Fletcher and Nick Pickard and Nick actually met his girlfriend at my wedding! That's how they met.

All of those people are going to remain in my life. It's just I won't see them at work every day.

Speaking of Nick Pickard, might we see you following him into the I'm A Celeb jungle?

I'd be rubbish in the jungle. And I really would.. I'm scared of everything. I'm scared of bugs. I'm not particularly great with heights. Phil, my husband, thinks I'd be great in the jungle for that reason. But genuinely, I don't even go camping because I can't. I need a hairdryer. I like my moisturiser. There's all that, so I think I'd be hopeless.

What about Strictly?

I think Strictly would maybe be more my bag.. Because, I've kind of got the tan. Although I'm not as tanned as I used to be. I've got plenty of sequins. I just need to learn how to do a Paso Doble and then I'd be alright.

It's nice because now, when you're in a show like Hollyoaks, obviously you're on first call to them. So there's not much of an opportunity to do other things. But now, you know, if something comes up like that, then at least I'm available.

Any ideas as to what you'd like to do next?

If Corrie or Emmerdale came along, in a heartbeat I'd say yes. But then, because I've worked there behind the cameras, I kind of feel like maybe that wouldn't happen. But I still love soap and I love that camaraderie and I look that kind of thing of going into work every day.

It’s a lovely thing as an actor to be able to have that and get to know the crew and have that relationship with them. So I think I'd love to maybe go on to do another soap. But also, I'm really open. I think now just because of the way the landscape is,

I feel like I have to diversify a little bit and I need to think about maybe doing some more stuff as me. I really enjoyed doing the documentary that I did last year, and I think if an opportunity came up where I could be myself, then it would be something that I'd be open to. Maybe doing a bit of presenting. At the minute, I'm looking at all options.

And also writing. I really enjoyed writing my episode for Hollyoaks last year and I loved being a storyliner and stuff so I feel like it would be nice to give that a little whirl as well and see what happens there.

But yeah, at the minute I'm just going to see what's out there and try and be excited about it, you know what I mean? And forward to what could potentially happen.

Tell me a bit more about the documentary you made. Is it still available to watch?

Yeah, it's called Love, Dad and Daddy and it's on ITVX, Apple TV and NOW. Together TV are a community channel and they offered funding to budding filmmakers to make films that related to LGBTQ issues. We were adopting a little boy and the documentary talked about the aftermath of that journey because a birth dad came forward at the last minute and so we couldn't complete the adoption.

I felt like I just wanted to talk about it with other adopters, because it's quite isolating when you go through something like that. We had each other, but we didn't know anybody else at the time who had gone through something like that. It made me think, you don't hear often about adoptions going wrong.

So I applied for the funding and I was lucky enough to get it and we made it last year and it went out on Together TV and then it's now streaming on ITVX, Apple TV and NOW. As much as the subject matter was tough for me to talk about, it helped. I actually found it quite cathartic, being able to talk about it with other people who'd been impacted or had similar experiences, was really, really helpful.

It's a great soap story. Scott started fostering and I think that was something that potentially, if I'd stayed, we could have explored a little bit more.

I enjoyed doing the documentary because it was something as me, but it was also about an issue that was quite important to me and I felt like an issue that other people should be aware of. I have loads of other documentary ideas that I'd love to do, so that is definitely something that maybe I'll look into doing now.

Hollyoaks continues Mondays to Fridays at 7pm on E4 with first look episodes available weekdays at 7.30pm on Channel 4 streaming


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