Hollyoaks star Lysette Anthony speaks out about county lines storyline and her fears as a mother

Marnie Nightingale in Hollyoaks

Lysette Anthony, who stars as domineering mother Marnie Nightingale in Hollyoaks, reveals why she's delighted Hollyoaks are tackling the very serious issue...

As Hollyoaks continues to tackle the subject of county lines and gets ready to show an hour long special episode next week highlighting the issue, Lysette Anthony who plays Marnie Nightingale in the C4 soap,  tells us about her involvement in the storyline and her perspective as a mother in real life.

It's estimated by the Children’s Commissioner that as many as 50,000 children, young people and vulnerable adults are being exploited to take part in county lines operations in Britain. They are groomed by organised crime groups  to move drugs across the country, primarily to coastal and rural areas and provincial towns.

Here Lysette Anthony talks about the county lines storyline and why she's so pleased Hollyoaks is highlighting the very serious issue....

What was your understanding of county lines before this storyline?

Lysette Anthony: "I literally go to sleep listening to the midnight news, it’s sad but it’s true, so I am aware. When we lived in London we lived near gang members, even in ‘nice areas’ you can’t get away from it. I’m so impressed that we’re doing this story and am thrilled to be part of it because it’s vital, especially for us parents."

Juliet Quinn in Hollyoaks

Juliet Quinn (Niamh Blackshaw) is one of the teens in Hollyoaks who has been groomed by drugs dealer Jordan Price

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As a parent in real-life to a teenage boy, how worrying is county lines to you?

LA: "County lines is terrifying. I have a very communicative relationship with my boy. We argue about everything but he will talk over the important stuff. He tells me about things that are worrying him or things that he’s seeing. The kids have got a lot on their plates. I think the only thing you can do with a teenager is make sure that the door is always open, because if you try to police them then you will lose them. They seem savvier than we are. Jimmi doesn’t think we can teach them anything they don’t already know, but then he’s glued to Hollyoaks because it’s really good."

As Juliet’s guardian in the show, what do you think Marnie could do to protect her from the county lines gang?

LA: " Marnie has inherited a very troubled teen and Juliet is lashing out, but what Marnie doesn’t know is she’s lashing out because she loves Marnie more than anything, and wants to protect her. Whatever state their relationship is in, there is no way that Marnie will not march down to whatever depths to protect Juliet, so watch out."

Juliet, Ollie and Sid in Hollyoaks

Juliet and her boyfriend Sid are given drugs to deliver to the seaside

What can you tell us about Marnie’s new friendship with Misbah?

LA: "I’m really looking forward to this. We’re not there yet - Misbah and Marnie are scrapping at the moment as usual, but hopefully something profound is going to happen and however bad-tempered and judgemental and impatient Marnie can be, when push comes to shove, and if someone is loyal and kind, she will give that back in spades."

Misbah Maalik in Hollyoaks

Fellow mums Marnie and Misbah Maalik (Harvey Virdi) are going to grow closer

Hollyoaks showed an episode recently which flashed-forward to New Year's Eve  2020 and revealed an unnamed fatality. Could the Nightingales be in danger?

LA: "No, I won’t let them! [laughs] Yes, they’re all very much in danger. I’d like to say ‘over Marnie’s dead body’ but  I very much enjoy being in Hollyoaks."

Hollyoaks is shown on Mondays and Tuesdays on Channel 4 at 6:30pm (and E4 at 7pm) and Hollyoaks Favourites is shown on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays on E4 at 7pm. See our TV Guide for full Channel 4 listings

Tess Lamacraft
Senior Writer for What's On TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite week, Whattowatch.com

Tess is a senior writer for What’s On TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite and WhattoWatch.com She's been writing about TV for over 25 years and worked on some of the UK’s biggest and best-selling publications including the Daily Mirror where she was assistant editor on the weekend TV magazine, The Look, and Closer magazine where she was TV editor. She has freelanced for a whole range of websites and publications including We Love TV, The Sun’s TV Mag, Woman, Woman’s Own, Fabulous, Good Living, Prima and Woman and Home.