Hollyoaks can now add 'death by mince pie' to its list of unique exit storylines, after the show's Christmas special ended with a fitting comeuppance.
Scheming supervillain Edward Hutchinson (Joe McGann) has been killed off after his attempt to kill his son Tony with a poisoned mince pie backfired badly.
When a batch of Tony's festive desserts got mixed up amid a tense final showdown at The Hutch, Edward tucked into the deadly one by mistake and passed away in the middle of the village (after one final cello performance, of course).
Digital Spy recently caught up with Alex Fletcher, who plays Diane Hutchinson, for her reaction to the dramatic episode.
We've all been shouting at the screen over Diane's relationship with Edward in recent months. Have you had a lot of comments from the fans?
"I try not to take the comments too personally! But I won't lie, I have noticed quite a reaction to Edward. The fans just despise him, don't they? I think the audience knew that a bit of payback was on the way and that it couldn't go on for much longer, because he was such a good baddie. I think the audience are going to be quite pleased about that."
What was it like to film Edward's final episode?
"It's a great twist and it was a really soapy Christmas special. We all worked our socks off. A lot of the time in soap you think: 'Oh this is way out there, how are we going to make this real?' But we did.
"When Edward put Diane in the back of the car in the garage and she didn't know where she was, I was really trying to play the fear. I was really pleased because the director said: 'Alex, that was amazing, but can you make it a bit less harrowing?'
"I said: 'I don't know how to do that, Diane's been in a coma and she's been locked in a car.' She had to remind me that we're a 6.30pm show! (Laughs.)
"I just hope the audience are happy that Edward has got his comeuppance. Hopefully there'll now be a bit of happiness for Diane and Tony in the New Year, but there is more to come. The plot thickens, as usual in Hollyoaks."
Despite everything, is Diane emotional over Edward's death?
"When we filmed his final scenes, where Edward was playing his cello and took his last breath, I just remember thinking: 'You're vile! You're a vile human being!' Diane has seen his true colours now, so I don't think she sheds a tear, to be honest with you.
"It's a shock but she's not emotional about it. I didn't want to be crying over him, otherwise the audience would have thought: 'Oh God, Diane, seriously? Get a grip!'"
Can Diane and Tony's marriage get back to normal?
"I'm not sure in the beginning. I think they're miles away from all of that right now. So much has happened to them, but it's not of their own doing.
"The only thing I wonder about, from Tony's point of view, is how you forgive someone who has slept with your own dad. It's just not on, is it? Diane has just got to take it on the chin until Tony is ready, because she's bang out of order. Even if she thought Tony was out of the picture when the relationship started, you just don't do that.
"I don't know, deep down, if Tony will ever be able to forgive Diane. But he is a very forgiving character, so we'll have to wait and see."
What was it like saying goodbye to Joe?
"I wasn't in on his last day, so I felt awful really! But he was fine – he was with Harvey [Virdi, who plays Misbah]. The last scene I shot with him was the one where he died. It wasn't until we filmed it that we realised it was our last scene together, because we work out of sequence and often film pick-ups.
"The only sad thing was that normally when someone leaves, we'll go for a nice meal or a few drinks to celebrate that person's time on the show, but we couldn't do that because of the restrictions. So it was a tough one, but Joe has been in the business for a long time so I don't think he's too sensitive about anything like that.
"Joe sent me a nice message and I sent him one in return. I hope our paths will cross again. His time on the show has gone so quickly. Hopefully we'll keep in touch."
This year marked the 10th anniversary of you joining the show. How do you feel about such a big milestone?
"It's like having a child – it's like when your child goes to senior school! I'm just grateful that I've been given the opportunity to have a job that's in my home city. I've not had to tread the boards or travel around. I haven't had that heartache that a lot of actors have, where they're striving to get work.
"I feel really grateful to have been on Hollyoaks for that long. You make life-long friends when you're working with people day in, day out. I spend more time being Diane than I spend being Alex, but I've had the best time.
"I've been lucky enough to go to some fabulous awards and get glammed up. Us mums don't always have the time to do that. My son Hanson is only four.
"It's been nice to be able to go and celebrate some of the amazing things the show has won over the years. We've won Best Soap twice while I've been there and I feel like I've been a big part of that because it's a team effort. I've worked with some of the best people and I've been so lucky with the storylines I've been given."
"I'm sad to see Bryan go. I'm also excited for his next venture. I've been on my journey with my character and it can be tiring, because Diane is full-on! But Bryan lives and breathes the show – he knows it inside out and back to front. I always think: 'God, he's living and breathing every single character, every emotion.' I imagine he needs a break!
"I've never worked with Lucy Allan before, but a lot of our cast have. I'm excited for the show and to see what direction we go in – a change is as good as the rest.
"It'll be interesting to see where Bryan ends up and I'm looking forward to Lucy joining – girl power and all that!"
Hollyoaks airs weeknights at 6.30pm on Channel 4, with first look screenings at 7pm on E4.
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