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Claire Cooper 'cried like a baby' at Hollyoaks exit

After six years as Jacqui McQueen, Hollyoaks star Claire Cooper (opens in new tab) is bowing out of the Channel 4  soap this month. We caught up with Claire for a chat about her dramatic exit from the village...

How will Jacqui react if she finds out that Mercedes's 'kidnapping' is all a con?

"Jacqui's gut feeling was, 'This is ridiculous! How many times can someone get kidnapped? This is crazy!' Jacqui loves Mercedes, but she gets that she's always manipulating people. So I think she'll probably kill her if she gets the chance!"

Jacqui gets involved in a dodgy deal to raise the ransom money. Tell us about that...

"She agrees to drive a van full of knock-off booze for this guy called Trevor, someone you wouldn't mess with. While she waits to make the exchange she hears this noise coming from the back of the van. She opens it up to find there are people hiding in the back, and she's now somehow part of a human trafficking plot!"

Yikes! So what can Jacqui do?

"She can either let them go and deal with the repercussions of that. Or she can turn a blind eye and send these people off to a life of misery somewhere. But Jacqui has very strong morals so you may be able to guess which way she goes."

Is Jacqui shocked to discover that her former prison cell mate, Trudi, is connected to the human trafficking?

"Yeah! Trudi actually isn't as dodgy as Jacqui, which will surprise some people. Trudi is more manipulative. But this is something beyond anything that Jacqui would ever do. It's just wrong."

So is this the end for Jacqui and Trudi's dodgy partnership?

"Trudi knows she will be going down for this. But actually, in the end, she proves that she is a friend to Jacqui by tipping her off as to where she can get her hands on a load of money."

Did you have a good time working with Daniella Westbrook, who played Trudi?

"Daniella is absolutely brilliant. She's a wonderful actress to work with, she knows what she's doing and she brought so much to that role. There's no agenda with Daniella, she's very honest and I found that refreshing to be around. So to work with her during my last few months was a nice pressie!"

But there's danger for Jacqui when Trevor turns nasty?

"Yes, Jacqui messes up the human trafficking thing which means Trevor doesn't get his money. So just as Jacqui goes to collect the money that Trudi has left behind, Trevor turns up and tries to kill her!"

What was it like filming the fight scene?

"Trevor throws Jacqui about and it is quite violent. So she definitely fears for her life. I do love doing stuff like that, although it was quite hard while wearing stiletto heels!"

What's going on with Jacqui and Tony during these final episodes?

"They are soul mates. When Jacqui was with Rhys she loved him and there was no way she would have cheated on him. But she still had a connection with Tony. I think he does still love her and would never mess her about. I think he would treat her like an absolute princess and they would have an amazing life together."

Will we see Jacqui and Tony get back together?

"At the moment they are back together-ish! Tony understands all the baggage that comes with Jacqui McQueen."

So what was the last scene you filmed? Were you emotional?

"How Jacqui leaves the village is quite emotional. So I shot all these scenes with Nick Pickard and it was very emotional. I don't like seeing Nick cry! And then it made me cry! My face ends up looking all squishy!"

Are you happy with your exit?

"Yes. There are two parts to Jacqui's exit. All the stuff in the village... and then a surprise! So I've not been killed off, the door is still open which is very kind of them. But I'm very much ready to bow out as chav-tastic Jacqui McQueen!"

What have been some of your favourite storylines from the past six years?

"I really enjoyed the storyline where Niall (played by Barry Sloane, who now stars in E4's soapy Stateside drama, Revenge) tried to kill the entire McQueen family in the church explosion. While I was in LA recently I met up with Barry for a few drinks. He's having a ball out there and doing really well and we're all really proud of him."

Did you have a big send-off from the Hollyoaks cast and crew?

"I didn't actually do anything! I love going to everyone else's parties, but I'm a bit shy when it comes to things like that plus I was filming for 15 hours a day. But I got so many lovely presents, flowers and champagne. So I did cry like a baby!"


Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 

An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.