Life After Soap: Will Mellor

He shot to fame in 1995, when he won a role on Channel4's sensational new teen soap ‘Hollyoaks’. Will played the much-loved Jambo Bolton, the show's joker.  Zany character exploits included climbing through windows instead of using doors, having a close friendship with a cow and driving a three-wheeled car called Beryl.

Later things got serious when he got together with Dawn Cunningham before she lost her fight with cancer and his character left the soap to live in Anglesey. But one thing is for certain - most of his legions of female fans will never forget the moment when through a series of unfortunate co-incidences he became the unwilling stripper at the opening night of a club.

Now Will tells us his memories of the soap and the details of his hit new series White Van Man (available on DVD from 2 April)

[Related news: EastEnders boss quits show]
[Related feature: Life after soaps - Louis Emerick]

Can you remember where you were when you heard you'd got the part?
Oh, God. Yes. I knew it'd change my life.  Jumping around, tears, the works. I was working in two part-time jobs as a roofer and in a warehouse and there was an open audition for the role. There were thousands of people, it was like an ‘X Factor’ type thing, it really was. And I went up for Kirk. But then I didn't hear anything and went on holiday to a caravan park in North Wales. And I decided, because this was when Gazza was popular, to dye my hair blonde. Then I got a call back to say I was one of the final four. I thought I'd ruined it 'cause of my comedy hair do. But as soon as they saw it they told me to read for Jambo instead and I got it.

What can you remember about the time?
It was amazing. We were 19, living life in a bubble. The boys rented a house up the hill and the girls had one down the road. We just partied non-stop. You'd always wake up to random people passed out in the living room. Or we had a bouncy castle in the garden and there'd be people asleep in that. It was all wild, innocent and crazy. The best time of my life.

And do you still see those people?
Oh, yeah. We were totally bonded by the experience. We lived together and worked together every day. And it was hard work. Nick Pickard, who plays Tony on the soap, texted me just the other day to say that nothing had ever changed and we'd always be best mates. We're all very close.

What did you learn from Hollyoaks?

I learnt to control my anger. At first I couldn't understand that people could come up to you on the street and insult you. That was a learning curve. I'm proud of coming from a council estate and if people did that to you, you'd fight them. I was 19 and fiery. Jeremy Edwards had to take me to one side and say 'stop it, we can't go out with you, 'cause you're such a nightmare'.

And when you left? Did you find it hard to find work?
It was a risk leaving, yeah. Definitely. But I could see that they were going to do more and more episodes. When I joined it was two a week, then it went to three. I could see it was going to get more and more intense. Also, I like doing different things. I left and did a musical on stage. My agent was really good. He told me to get on stage and think about the kind of career I wanted to have. And I did. I was lucky that ‘Two Pints Of Lager’ came along but we were working towards that kind of thing.

And the singing...
I released a record that got to number five. I thought I was going to be a Justin Bieber figure, but it turned out I was just a Leo Sayer cover singer. I wanted to be a singer, you know. But that business. Oof, that business. It's not for me.

And so what now?
Well, there's ‘White Van Man’ which I love so much. It's alternative but it's really funny. This second series we felt a bit of pressure because it was BBC3's biggest-ever show. But we have moved the characters on and we learn much more about them. It's a brilliantly written piece. And I've got ‘In With The Flynns’ coming out later this year. Again, I hope it's changed. We've got Simon Nye, who wrote ‘Men Behaving Badly’, coming on to help on the scripts. But I like doing a combination of mainstream and alternative stuff.

What about straight drama? You were brilliant in ‘The Street’...
Yeah, of course. I want to do more of that. It's just a question of the right thing coming up. But it'll be soon.

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