Andrew Still as Joel Dexter (2012)
|Portrayed by||Andrew Still (2011–2013)
Rory Douglas-Speed (2016–)
|First appearance||22 November 2011|
|Introduced by||Gareth Philips (2011)
Bryan Kirkwood (2016)
|Hollyoaks Later (2012)|
|Other names||Scottish Foxy|
Club owner (2012–2013)
Trainee priest (2016–)
Joel Dexter is a fictional character from the British Channel 4 soap opera Hollyoaks. The character debuted on-screen during the episode airing on 22 November 2011, portrayed by Andrew Still. Still was attending the Scottish Youth Theatre when Lime Pictures presented the establishment with a casting opportunity for Hollyoaks. The actor secured two auditions for the role and after the second audition he was offered the part. Joel has been characterised through themes of violence. He is on probation for assault, and he loses his temper with various characters. Despite this, Joel does not like domestic violence because his step-father hit his mother. His dislike of such violence played a role in his early storylines. He was written out of the series in 2012 and departed on 9 January 2013. On 18 August 2016, it was confirmed that Joel would be returning to Hollyoaks with the role recast to Rory Douglas-Speed; he returned on 8 September 2016.
Joel was originally introduced as a "mysterious newcomer" who is hiding a secret. It was then revealed that he is the long-lost son of established character Warren Fox (Jamie Lomas). Lomas had already announced his intention to leave the series and Joel played a role in Warren's departure storyline. Still has stated that when his character first arrived on-screen, he was "quite floaty" with nowhere to live. Joel was later given further connections to characters within the show, such as Brendan Brady (Emmett J. Scanlan) who gives him a "criminal education" and Theresa McQueen (Jorgie Porter) as they begin a relationship. In May 2012, Joel was involved in a stabbing storyline. Still has spoken of his efforts to make the scenes in which Joel is stabbed as realistic as possible. This was because he felt that many people were victims of stabbing at the time. Upon the character returning to the show, his storylines were reunited with his father, trainee to become a priest, being target by Sienna Blake, for her revenge for her daughter's death and being responsible for his aunt Katy death.
Still's portrayal of Joel has earned him a "Best Newcomer" award. Anthony D. Langford from AfterElton opined that Joel was a "scrawny teenage boy" and that his storyline with Brendan was "quite laughable". While a Heat reporter said that Joel is a "smug" character. But a columnist from TV Choice said that Joel's stabbing was a "shockingly violent turn", and Laura Morgan from All About Soap branded the scenes "gruesome and dramatic".
Joel arrives to work as a new DJ at Chez Chez and on his first night at work he spends time with Maddie Morrison (Scarlett Bowman) who comes on to him. He takes Maddie outside thinking she is going to sleep with him. As he tries to kiss her she pushes him off and he accuses her of playing games and shouts at her for teasing. He later threatens Callum Kane (Laurie Duncan) for criticising his treatment of Maddie. He argues with Warren (Jamie Lomas) who suspects that Brendan Brady (Emmett J. Scanlan) has sent him to the village, where he reveals that Warren is his father. Theresa convinces Joel to give Warren some time to come to terms with the situation. She also gets Warren to take a paternity test which reveals that he is Joel's biological father.
Joel and Warren decide to give each other a chance and get to know each other. Joel reveals that he spent time in a young offender’s prison after he assaulted his violent stepfather who would abuse his mother. Joel agrees to go on holiday with Warren and his girlfriend Mitzeee (Rachel Shenton) where he bonds with Warren. Joel is shocked when Warren becomes forceful during an argument with Mitzeee. Joel tells Warren that he will not stand for violence against women because of his experiences with his stepfather. Joel pulls a gun on Brendan, who is trying to prevent Warren from killing Mitzeee. Brendan manages to talk Joel over and they stop Warren and get him arrested for murdering his ex. Joel attempts to comfort Mitzeee and when Brendan show no gratitude for Joel's help, he decides that he should leave. Joel goes to see Theresa McQueen (Jorgie Porter) before he leaves, who tells him that he should stay.
Joel returns and reveals that Warren has signed his share in the club to him. Brendan attempts to buy him out, but Joel tells him that the offer is too little. Mitzeee tries to help Brendan to get rid of Joel. Theresa goes on a date with Joel, which makes Will Savage (James Atherton) jealous. When Joel punches Will, Theresa tells him that she does not want to see him again. Brendan invites Joel to move in with him and makes an effort to befriend him. When Joel rebuffs Lacey Kane's (Georgia Bourke) advances because she is to young, and her brother Callum attacks Joel after Lacey pretends that he tried to kiss her. Joel tries to impress Brendan by running illegal errands for him. Brendan enlists Dave (Michael Camp) to beat Joel up during an errand, which Brendan does to test Joel. He later tries to become more involved with the business and sets up club night. Bart McQueen (Jonny Clarke) helps Joel set up for the night, but Bart invites many of his underage friends. When Joel learns that Callum has kissed Theresa, Joel attacks him and subsequently ruins his club night. Joel blames Bart and forces him to grow cannabis; while Brendan tells Joel he can no longer trust him. However, when Brendan's friend Walker (Neil Newbon) backs out of a dodgy deal - Joel goes along instead. Joel realises that he has walked into a trap and when he tries to escape he is stabbed. Joel is taken into hospital where Brendan apologises for putting him in danger. Joel is later kidnapped by Sampson (Sean Cernow) who ties his hands and puts a grenade in his hands. Brendan and Walker save him, but realise that Sampson used Joel as a distraction so they could vandalise Chez Chez.
Joel is seen outside the police station with police officer Ryan Knight (Duncan James) asking him to find out what Warren knows about the murder of Patrick Blake (Jeremy Sheffield). It later transpires that Ryan prevented Joel from being sent to prison for a drugs charge. Joel later catches up with Warren, and he confides in Joel that he has got Mitzeee's sister Maxine Minniver (Nikki Sanderson) pregnant, Joel convinces Warren to support Maxine and his child before revealing himself as a practising vicar. Joel later becomes a target of Warren's girlfriend Sienna Blake (Anna Passey), who blames Warren for the death of her daughter Nico Blake (Persephone Swales-Dawson). Using a false name, Sienna tells him that she wants revenge on an abusive boyfriend who was responsible for her daughter's death; visiting the church regularly and growing closer to Joel. She invites him to a bar and tries to kiss him, but he rejects her. Subsequently, Sienna tricks Warren into thinking that she is being stalked by a man from the church. Whilst looking for the "stalker", Warren meets Joel again and they begin to revive their relationship. Joel is later involved in a scheming plot with his father Warren's girlfriend Sienna. Joel meets Sienna believing she is someone seeking the word of God under the name "Anna". Joel soon discovers she is not who she claims and is involved in a dangerous revenge plan that Sienna had planned for Warren. After Joel discovers Sienna's true identity, she knocks him unconscious with his motorbike helmet and drags him into the garage, and accidentally sets the garage on fire. Warren soon discovers Sienna has trapped Joel in the flames. When Warren attempts to save Joel, the garage explodes and sends Sienna, Warren and Freddie Roscoe (Charlie Clapham) flying across the car park. Ellie Nightingale (Sophie Porley) attempts to help Warren, Sienna and Freddie, but Warren races back into the flames to save Joel who is still lying unconscious. Freddie chases after Warren after a burning plank of wood falls on him.
Still was cast into the programme after Lime Pictures, who produce the serial, presented the Scottish Youth Theatre with a casting opportunity. Although Still did not have any previous television acting experience, he impressed the casting department. Still had two auditions for the role and was offered the role on his way home from his second audition. Still revealed that when he was cast, he had to remain secretive for a period of two months. Still also said that the cast were "fantastic". Before his character debuted on-screen, Still revealed that he hoped to his character would remain in the series and become one of Hollyoaks' "staple characters".
"Joel is not the Angel he makes out to be. [...] The lad has a violent streak. For starters, he’s on probation. [...] The lad’s dangerous, no two ways about it. [...] But scratch the surface of that cool leather-clad exterior and you will see a soft, Scottish centre. He may be on probation, but the young jock has learnt from his mistakes. [...] He's so much more than a chip off the old block. He stands up for himself and he hates domestic violence. And he's probably the only guy who looks that hot in a battered leather jacket."— A writer from E4.com describing Joel. (2012)
A writer from the official Hollyoaks website described Joel as a "whole lot of exciting things rolled into one". They said that he "immediately caused a stir" upon his arrival and that when he is not trying to outsmart Brendan Brady (Emmett J. Scanlan) he is "happy to cause trouble elsewhere". Joel is nicknamed "Scottish Foxy" which was coined by Brendan and Still himself loved the name. Joel is often seen sporting a leather jacket. Still told a reporter from the serial's official website that "I hate that leather jacket, I wear it every day, I hate it and it squeaks so much". He explained that it was a vintage item but since it had since been "beaten up" from various characters always pushing Joel "up against walls". He said that his ideal scene to represent Joel in the opening titles would be him "ironing his leather jacket, the inside of it, making it all nice for his day". Joel's style also had an effect on Still, when he was shopping he started picking out items and saying "Joel would wear that" and the cashier looked at him like he was "insane". Still has said that Joel began "quite floaty as a character" because he had no fixed home. He is searching for a missing connection and he "doesn't really have a focus in his life". The actor concluded that "he's got a tough outer shell, but inside he's quite vulnerable."
He was initially described as a "mysterious newcomer" who would change the life of an established character "forever". Joel arrives to work as a dubstep DJ at Chez Chez at the same time Brendan disappears from the village. He is also planned to become part of a storyline in which fellow character Maddie Morrison (Scarlett Bowman) becomes attracted to him. However, Joel is uninterested as there is "only one person on his mind". On 15 November 2011, Digital Spy's Kilkelly reported that Maddie would attempt to use Joel by flirting to make Callum Kane (Laurie Duncan) jealous. Joel is not impressed and is "quite mean" to Maddie, Still told Kilkelly that Joel's outburst of anger was not a "one-off" because he does have a "quick temper". But Joel does have "conscience" and in one episode he was "ranting and raving" and the next he was "apologising straight away".
It was later announced that Joel's reason for coming to the village is Warren Fox (Jamie Lomas), who he believes to be his father. Sill stated that Joel is a great character because he is characterised as a "mysterious bad boy" who arrives "not really having any direction and is looking for his father". Joel doesn't have much in his life and he is searching for something that is missing. Warren is not impressed by Joel's arrival because he is "paranoid that Brendan sent Joel in to play with his mind". While Joel is essentially a "troublemaker" he has a "vulnerability because of what has happened in the past". Joel leaves for a while, but his return causes trouble and drama with "certain characters in around Chez Chez, perhaps with one Brendan Brady, they'll be clashing". Lomas told a writer from TVTimes that his character thinks that "this kid could be anybody's - he could be making it up or he could be after money". Joel shows Warren a picture of him and his mother, but feels that the evidence is not sufficient enough.
In December 2011, series producer Emma Smithwick said that she thought Joel was "great and so dynamic" and that she was enjoying his on-screen presence. She added that he would "be involved heavily" in Warren's exit storyline. Warren and Brendan's feud culminates in Brendan and Mitzeee (Rachel Shenton) plotting to rid of Warren. Scanlan told a reporter from What's on TV that his character uses Joel "as a pawn" by "befriending the kid and winning his trust". He added that there is no proof that Joel is Warren's son, but that did not matter because he is "as he's still a way for Brendan to get to Warren".
Still thought it was "fantastic" to be given the opportunity to be involved with Warren's departure storyline. In the lead up to his on-screen father's exit, Joel accompanies him on a holiday in Paris. Still explained that upon their return, it is evident that they have are closer. He thought it was "interesting" because Warren did not want Joel to go with him, but it conjured up a "connection" between the father and son. But Brendan's scheming soon takes hold. Still told Kilkelly that when Joel first arrived "he wasn't getting any answers at all", so he chose to befriend Brendan in attempt to discover more about Warren. As he Joel and Warren have made a "connection", Still stated that "Brendan has kind of fallen by the wayside. Joel's very wary of Brendan now - especially after what his dad's told him, and what he's seen for himself." In the same episodes, Warren's relationship with Mitzeee is failing and he becomes violent towards her. The actor said that because Joel hates violence towards women after his experiences with his stepdad, Joel feels responsible to take the role of protecting Mitzeee from the violence. Warren's violence does not "sit well" with Joel and he faces a dilemma. He is brought to the realisation that Warren and Mitzeee's situation "mirrors his family life back home" and Joel finds it "hard" to deal with. Still added that "there'll be a big conflict for Joel as to whether he stands by his dad or stands by his principles".
Feuds and relationships
Producers gave Joel romantic links, mainly in the form of Joel’s Theresa McQueen (Jorgie Porter). He also has a fling with Annalise Appleton (Tamaryn Payne) and "made eyes at" Ash Kane (Holly Weston). Still told Alan Ferguson from The Scottish Sun that he "couldn’t possibly choose" which one he preferred because he would receive "an absolute bollocking". He empathised with some aspects of Joel's attitude when he is partnered with Theresa. Still added that "he’s a bit more sweet — not crazy shouting, brawling and hitting people over her. That’s not like me, but more the old romantic side of Joel." Joel and Theresa's relationship began with a flirtation. Still told Hendry from the Daily Record that it occurs "by nature" because she has a history with Warren, which is "mirrored" between them. Theresa is the "kind of girl" that gains Joel's attention. Porter explained that the two character get together as "clearly there's something between" them. But Joel has a fight with Theresa's ex-boyfriend Will Savage (James Atherton) and it "all goes wrong". She added that "Theresa's not impressed by Joel's jealous streak - but she's still got the hots for him".
In March 2012, Laura Morgan of All About Soap said that Joel would get a "criminal education" from Brendan. Joel later begins feuding with Callum and in one scene they have a fight. Still told Ferguson that he really enjoyed filming the fight scenes, and the particular one in which Joel and Callum "smash through the table" had to be shot three times. He also praised his scenes with Duncan, with whom he "worked really well together". Joel's violent trait is played out once again when he attacks Doug Carter (PJ Brennan) to retrieve a package that Brendan has trusted Doug with. Brenndan told Digital Spy's Kilkelly that it was part of a "side-plot" between Joel and Brendan. Even though Joel cannot figure out what the deal is between Brendan and Doug - "he wants to be involved". He added that Joel is so "resentful over being left out of the loop" that he puts on a mask and attacks Doug and steals the package. In April 2012, a writer from Inside Soap reported that "bad boy" Joel would force Bart McQueen (Jonny Clarke) to grow cannabis plants. Clarke told the writer that his character does not know what he has agreed to do for Joel and is left feeling "unnerved".
In March 2012, Kilkelly reported that Joel would be injured in a new storyline. He noted that while it was unconfirmed, Still had been seen filming on location alongside Scanlan, covered in blood. Joel later tries to earn Brendan's respect. Still told a writer from What's on TV that Joel is desperate to impress Brendan because he is "young and naive and he's grown up without a male role model". As Warren is not around, Brendan is "fulfilling that role", but "basically Joel's a stupid little boy". Walker's (Neil Newbon) "shadowy and intellectual" persona intimidates Joel, he dislikes him because he becomes close to Brendan and that is something Joel is not a part of. Joel ultimately grows jealous. When they discover that Walker has been lying about his financial situation, Brendan recruits Joel to teach him a lesson. Still told Allison Slade from TVTimes that "it's really not a case of Brendan asking Joel to come on board; more that Joel nags his way into it. But he bites of more than he can chew." He sends Joel to pick up a package in return for money in "certainly not an above-board deal". Brendan knows that the men were "crazy" and Joel also realises that "all is not what it seems". Still stated that they treat him like a "piggy in the middle" and Joel grasps that they're nutters". He attempts to retrieve the money from them but Sampson (Sean Cernow) stabs him. Joel is "left in a bad way and his life is hanging in the balance". Joel's stabbing boosted ratings for the serial's "first look" edition airing on E4.
Still told Sally Brockway from Soaplife that filming the stabbing scenes was "intense". He was "determined" to make it look "real" because stabbings occurred often in his home town of Glasgow. Still said that he "wanted to get the severity of it across and prevent it from looking fake". He concluded that the storyline should have made Joel "see sense" and not be "in thrall" to Brendan. But noted that "you have to remember that Joel's a bit of an idiot".
In June 2012, Scanlan announced that Joel would feature in the fifth series of Hollyoaks Later alongside the characters of Brendan, Walker and Cheryl Brady (Bronagh Waugh). He added that their storyline would be "massive" and "hard-hitting".
In August 2016, Kilkelly reported that Joel would be returning to Hollyoaks with the role recast to Rory Douglas-Speed and that Joel has found God during his time away from the village and is now a trainee priest. Producers billed Joel as a man who's walking the road to redemption after his previous mistakes. Douglas-Speed commented: "I'm super chuffed to be a part of such a well-known and well received show. Everybody involved is amazing. I'm really excited to see how the character develops. Looking forward to the next chapter of my career.
For his portrayal of Joel, Still was nominated for "Best Newcomer" at the 2012 TV Choice Awards. A writer from TV Choice said that Joel was "well out of his depth trying to run Warren's half of Chez Chez"; they added that his dealings with Bart formed an "unholy alliance". A writer from Heat said that Joel is a "smug" character and his flirting with Theresa was an "ultimate cringe moment". Inside Soap's Laura-Jayne Tyler branded Joel an "impressionable" character. On Joel's stabbing storyline, a writer from Reveal said that "this is an exciting and dangerous week for Joel, his eagerness to fit in with Brendan and show him he's capable of being the gangster he aspires to be lands him in grave danger." While a columnist from TV Choice revisited their sentiments that Joel was "out of his depth" - but this time with Walker and added that his stabbing was a "shockingly violent turn". All About Soap's Morgan said that Still was "incredible" throughout Joel's stabbing storyline and a "shocking climax" to the episode. The writer gave praise to Hollyoaks for making the "gruesome scenes so dramatic" because it left her feeling as though she was viewing "a proper gangster movie". She said that the "cocky, impressionable teen" Joel just wanted to be Brendan's "right-hand man", but "while we love his swagger and steely determination, we’re not convinced Joel’s ready for a life of hardened criminal activity just yet." Morgan added that Still "hit the nail on the head" when he said that Joel cannot "stand up against the big dogs".
Anthony D. Langford from AfterElton said that the show was not being credible expecting viewers to believe that "this scrawny teenage boy" is a "worthy opponent for Brendan". He added Joel should have been treated as "just a minor nuisance" and he hoped that Hollyoaks would end the storyline because it was "really quite laughable". Langford later expressed his delight at Joel's exit from the show, saying "I have never liked Joel. He was an ill-conceived, pointless character from the start. The show should have never brought him on as Warren's son, especially with Warren leaving the show. I guess they had planned to make him a nemesis for Brendan, but the actor simply didn't have what it took to go up against someone with the caliber of Emmett Scanlan. Moreover, Joel was always kind of wimpy and failed at every attempt to be a bad ass." Langford added that he did not like the way the writers tried to turn Brendan into a surrogate father for Joel, noting that Brendan would have squashed him like a gnat months ago.
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