'Alfie isn't aware he has a mental illness' says Hollyoaks' Richard Linnell

Alfie Nightingale in Hollyoaks

There's big drama in Hollyoaks Village when Alfie thinks the authorities are after him and locks the Cunninghams up in their own home...

What's the story? Alfie Nightingale’s behaviour has become so odd, it’s clear he needs help, but as his nearest and dearest try to intervene, the teen spins out of control and puts his life at risk. "Things come to a head," says Hollyoaks star Richard Linnell who plays Alfie Nightingale. "He is heading for a full mental health crisis where he puts himself and others in danger." Will Alfie survive?

What's happening in Hollyoaks? See the latest storylines

Richard Linnell talks with Soaplife about what's next for Alfie in Hollyoaks...

Soaplife: Tell us about Alfie’s state of mind?

Richard Linnell: "He is not aware that he has a mental illness. He doesn’t realise that his increased paranoia is irrational, but it is clear to others now that something is seriously wrong. He is beginning to lose touch with reality."

S:What happens when Tom suggests he sees a doctor?

RL: "The voice in his head feeds into his paranoia and his distrust of family and friends. He is not receptive to the idea of seeking help as in his mind there is nothing wrong with him. He thinks that Tom is working for the Government."

S:Why does he think Cindy, Hilton and Holly are in danger?

RL: "When he saw Sienna walking through the village, Alfie was convinced he’d brought her back from the dead. He thinks he has supernatural powers and that these came from Cindy. This means it is likely that Holly and Hilton have them, too. He believes the Government will want to experiment on them."

S:What does Alfie do to protect them?

RL: "He barricades them into the Cunninghams’."

S:What happens when they are all inside?

RL: "Cindy tries to talk to him about the calculations that are all along the walls. Alfie has started to believe that gravity is not constant. Cindy manages to talk to him in a way that nobody else has. It’s the first time he’s been able to relate to someone since he became ill."

S:What’s it like when they are all trapped in the house?

RL:  "It is very tense. Alfie doesn’t believe he is keeping them hostage as in his mind he is protecting them. The pressure intensifies and soon Alfie breaks out and runs away to the Archway in the village."

S:Does he intend to jump?

RL: "Let’s put it this way, he is in danger."

S:What is the best-case scenario?

RL: "That he doesn’t jump and gets the treatment he needs to get better."

S:What were those scenes at the Cunninghams’ like to film?

RL: "We did a single strand episode and the scenes with everybody in the house took five to six hours to film with me being hyped, manic and shouting. Keeping that sort of behaviour up for any length of time is absolutely knackering."

What feedback have you had about this storyline?

RL: "It has been amazing. People have said they are really happy we are doing this. What’s most interesting is the people who know nothing about schizoaffective disorder, which is what Alfie has, starting conversations about it online. Our mental state is as important as our physical health, so it’s important we talk about this stuff."

See what happens when Alfie traps the Cunningham family in Hollyoaks on Thursday 7th June at 6:30pm on Channel 4

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