|Portrayed by||Nicole Barber-Lane|
|First appearance||19 June 2006|
|Introduced by||Bryan Kirkwood (2006, 2014)|
|Hollyoaks Later (2011)|
|Home||26 Leigh Road|
Myra Celestina Philomena Portia McQueen is a fictional character from the British Channel 4 soap opera, Hollyoaks, played by Nicole Barber-Lane. She made her debut screen appearance during the episode broadcast on 19 June 2006 and was introduced by series producer Bryan Kirkwood as part of the McQueen family. Her storylines have included discovering her son John Paul (James Sutton) was gay, the revenge of her abandoned son Niall (Barry Sloane), which led to the death of her daughter Tina (Leah Hackett), a relationship with Dirk Savage (David Kennedy), faking her own death, coming to terms with the death of her daughter Carmel (Gemma Merna) following a train crash and the disappearance of her daughter Mercedes (Jennifer Metcalfe). On 1 August 2013, it was announced that Barber-Lane had quit the serial and Myra made her on-screen departure during the episode broadcast on 5 September 2013. The character was shot by Dr. Paul Browning (Joseph Thompson), but survived and then emigrated so he thought she was dead. On 31 January 2014, Myra made a brief return to the show following the death of Jim McGinn (Dan Tetsell). In July 2014, it was announced that Myra would return again later in the year, but for a longer stint. It was crossed with the return of Theresa McQueen (Jorgie Porter). Myra returned to the serial on 12 September 2014.
In January 2015, Barber-Lane took a break from the show, with her return date yet to be confirmed but in a magazine interview Barber-Lane revealed that she currently had no plans to return. Barber-Lane stated that Myra was in the city of Alicante in Spain, visiting daughters, Michaela (Hollie-Jay Bowes) and Jacqui (Claire Cooper). It was announced in October 2015 that Barber-Lane had returned to filming and that Myra would return in November to support her daughter Mercedes after her baby is stillborn, with her Venezuelan boyfriend, Diego Salvador Martinez Hernandez De La Cruz (Juan Pablo Yepez) in tow. In June 2016, Myra discovered that she is pregnant with Diego's baby, her eighth child.
Casting and creation
Hollyoaks' executive producer, Lucy Allan said that Myra is not central to storylines as she is not central to the show. She explained that "Myra plays a very important role as the mother in the McQueen household" but that she would find it "abnormal" to run a storyline from Myra's perspective. After Barber-Lane lost weight she was asked to put on weight by producers as she "didn't look like Myra any more".
On Myra, a journalist from Hollyoaks' official website said: "Myra McQueen, the mummy bear of Hollyoaks. This formidable matriarch of the village's most fearsome tribe keeps her troublesome brood in line with a mixture of love, understanding and bacon sarnies – all three of which have been in great demand during the McQueens dramatic tenure [...] Fiercely protective of her family, Myra's often has to choose between them. [...] when push comes to shove Myra will always put her family first". Another journalist for the site added that Myra possesses scepticism, scathing remarks and relentless double standards. They described Myra as the "Queen of the McQueen clan", saying she is the "Mediator of squabbling kids, harbourer of stray relatives, she is the rock which grounds the feral McQueen family through turmoils and tragedies galore". They continued that Myra has a "feisty, no-nonsense nature" before saying that "with her trademark gold chains and sovereigns, we'd put our money on Myra over Mr. T any day". Barber-Lane described her character's personality saying: "She can be quite serious, she can be selfish, she can be loving and giving, she can be ridiculously stupid and she can be amazingly clever - all at the same time! What a woman!" On Myra's parenting technique, Barber-Lane said: "I think like many mothers, she tries her best. Whether her best is up to scratch is another question. She's certainly a very lenient parent, but also she would do anything for her kids, that comes before anything else". Claire Cooper, who plays Myra's daughter, Jacqui, also commented on Myra's role in the family, explaining that although Jacqui often adopts a maternal approach in the McQueen family Myra is always "the boss" in the family. She added that both characters possess a "matriarch feel" and if the family had to face a big problem then Myra would be the one to deal with it not Jacqui.
The character has had numerous failed relationships in her life with the fathers of her children, Martin, Billy, Marvin and Ricky. Barber-Lane described Myra's relationships stating: "She's always fallen for the bad guy, the ones that aren't good for her. They're the ones who give her a challenge along with a bit of fun and excitement. She always believes in true love, though. That's why she constantly gets hurt". Barber-Lane went on to express her interest in introducing one of the fathers of her children, saying: "I'd love for one of the kids' dads to come back, I really would. We've seen one of them already [...] but there was no interaction with Myra".
Executive producer Bryan Kirkwood announced that a "tall stranger", Niall Rafferty (Barry Sloane), would soon join the serial and "the McQueen family take him into their bosom – Myra's to be precise". He explained that the character is Myra's son who she was forced to give up when she was young. Kirkwood added that the storyline would be "the big storyline" of the year as Niall "wreaks revenge" on the family. During the storyline Myra's children begin to disappear making her "panic" upon the realisation. Barber-Lane told Kris Green of entertainment website Digital Spy that Myra no longer wants to look for her son as "she thinks that she's a bad omen. All the bad things that have happened to her, she believes, happened because she gave her son away. However, by trying to find her son, she's being punished in different ways with her other kids. The Catholic guilt kicks in and she feels that it's all her fault. She decides that if she tries to find her son, she'll take him away from the white picket fence and the lovely life that she's created for him in her head. As far as she's concerned, she thinks that he's in a beautiful home, with a lovely mum and dad that are probably lawyers or doctors. That's why she really believes that she did the right thing giving him up when she was young".
Niall lures Myra to the church she left Niall at when she abandoned him at. Niall "stuns" Myra by grabbing her and showing her the step she abandoned him on as a baby. Myra is "completely confused" by Niall's actions but "it slowly starts to dawn on her, especially when she sees the rest of her family in the church". Barber-Lane explained that Niall decides to play one last game with the family and tells that he is "going to wipe them out". Niall decides that he will ask Myra questions and for every one of his questions that Myra answers correctly she can choose one of her children to live. Barber-Lane added that it is "really traumatic" experience for Myra. Myra answers all but two questions correctly and must choose out of her six children which two can live. Myra is told that if she fails to make a decision all of her children will die. Barber-Lane commented that for "a mother, that's such a ridiculously difficult decision. She does choose, though - that's something that comes back to haunt her". Myra chooses Jacqui and Carmel (Gemma Merna) to die, when John-Paul (James Sutton) and Mercedes (Jennifer Metcalfe) volunteer to die. The church exploded and Tina (Leah Hackett) is killed. Barber-Lane explained that Myra "can't forgive herself" for choosing Jacqui and Carmel to die. She added that the family dynamics changed when Myra made this choice. Barber-Lane said that Jacqui is less responsive to Myra and she became stronger than Myra who is "constantly riddled with guilt". She concluded that Myra now lets her children "get away with a lot more things than they usually would" because of her guilt.
On her time on the serial Myra has often become involved in her family member's storylines. In one storyline Bart McQueen (Jonny Clarke) steals money from Myra. Bart lies about stealing the money when he is accused by Jacqui. This causes tensions between Jacqui and Myra who has "had enough of Jacqui muscling in". On her characters reasons for not believing Jacqui, Barber-Lane explained that "When Myra stopped believing Jacqui, I think it was also partly because Jacqui had hid all the stuff about Theresa (Jorgie Porter) killing Calvin (Ricky Whittle) and it was Myra's way of saying, 'Listen - this is my house, my rules'. Maybe she was wrong, but Bart's 15 so she felt that she couldn't kick him out as he had nowhere else to go, and she just thought that Jacqui should behave herself!" Jacqui is later raped by Gilly Roach (Anthony Quinlan). Barber-Lane explained that there is a "part of Myra that thought, 'You'd never let that happen - how have you let that happen? Have you just changed your mind afterwards?" Mercedes lies she is pregnant to cover up her affair with Carl Costello (Paul Opacic), the father of her fiancé Riley Costello (Rob Norbury). Myra discovers her lies and believes that Mercedes should not tell the truth as Mercedes has "landed on her feet" with Riley. Barber-Lane told Daniel Kilkelly of Digital Spy that Myra believes Riley will benefit the McQueen family financially and take them out of the poverty they are in. Myra is getting "carried away" with excitement and enthusiasm over how her life could change due to Riley. She said that the most important thing for Myra is what is important for her daughters although "sometimes she may forget that for a moment, but she's always there for her kids".
Myra starts a casual relationship with Leo Valentine (Brian Bovell), she then discovers she has caught pubic lice from him. Tina and Russ Owen (Stuart Manning) both catch them after sharing her towel. This causes issues with their respective partners Dom Reilly (John Pickard) and Mercedes until Myra admits she introduced them. Myra spends New Year's Eve 2007 with Leo, they become drunk and engage in sexual activity. Leo's ex-girlfriend, Valerie Holden (Jacqueline Leonard/Samantha Giles) becomes jealous and attempts to ruin their romance. Myra's son, Niall arrives in the village. She gave him up at birth and he lies about his identity. It soon becomes apparent that he is after revenge on the McQueens. Myra disapproves of Tina acting as a surrogate for Jacqui and Tony Hutchinson (Nick Pickard). She begs her not to make the same mistake she made in giving her child away. Niall causes trouble for Myra's family by reporting Myra for benefit fraud, injecting Myra's daughter, Michaela (Hollie-Jay Bowes), with heroin, pushing Tina down the stairs and attacking Myra's mother, Nana McQueen (Diane Langton).
Myra makes a friend in priest Kieron Hobbs (Jake Hendriks), who comes to stay with her. They becomes good friends and Myra is hurt to discover Kieron has a secret relationship with her son, John-Paul McQueen. She asks Kieron to track down Matthew, the son she gave up. Kieron manages to find his adoptive mother and is shocked to learn it is Niall. When he confronts Niall, he drugs him and kills him to stop him from revealing his identity. Niall then kidnaps all of the McQueens and takes them to the church he was abandoned at. He lures Myra to the church and reveals his the truth. He holds them hostage and asks Myra six questions. For each correct answer she gets to choose a child to live. After answering all but two wrong, she is forced to choose daughters Jacqui and Carmel to die while John Paul and Mercedes volunteer. When help arrives Niall detonates explosives he has rigged the church with. Jacqui refuses to help Myra out of the rubble. Niall saves her after she tells him that she always loved and thought about him. Myra is devastated to discover Tina has died in the explosion and Niall commits suicide. Jacqui cannot forgive her for her actions, but Carmel does.
Myra's niece, Theresa moves in with her. She then develops an unwelcome crush on Mike Barnes (Tony Hirst) and later sleeps with Archie Carpenter (Stephen Beard). When her sister Kathleen McQueen (Alison Burrows) arrives comes to see Theresa, Myra lets her stay for Theresa's sake. Kathleen uses Tina's old credit cards for money, when Myra finds out she forces Theresa to choose between her mum and relatives, Theresa chooses her relatives. Theresa shoots Calvin dead. The rest of the family keep it a secret from Myra, when she eventually discovers the truth she is hurt that no one told her. Myra's cousin Victor agrees to let his son Bart live with Myra, after his wife dies. Myra saves the life of Alistair Longford (Terence Harvey), a rich pensioner. He assumes Cindy Cunningham (Stephanie Waring) has saved him and gives her money. Cindy becomes engaged to him, so Myra and Jacqui blackmail her for money and the role of her wedding planners. The money is later stolen and Jacqui accuses Bart. Myra defends him and Jacqui tells Myra she will move out if she doesn't believe her. She sides with Bart and looses Jacqui.
Myra agrees to let the Savage family live with them after they squat in her home. She becomes close to Dirk Savage (David Kennedy) and the pair have a casual relationship. When Mercedes becomes engaged to footballer Riley she immediately takes a liking to his rich background, to the dismay of his mother Heidi Costello (Kim Tiddy) who Myra feuds with over the wedding. Myra discovers Mercedes' affair with Riley's father, Carl. She keeps the affair secret and helps Mercedes continue to lie when she pretends she is pregnant. When Riley causes Mercedes to fall, Myra lies that Mercedes is having a miscarriage. Mercedes discovers she is really pregnant and Myra joins Mercedes and Michaela in Ibiza for her hen party.
On the day of Mercedes' wedding to Riley, Myra walks Mercedes down the aisle. At the altar, Mercedes confesses after feeling guilty that she had a four-month affair with Riley's father Carl, and that she isn't sure if the baby she is carrying is his or Riley's. Riley doesn't marry Mercedes and ends their relationship, disgusted that she would cheat on him. Mercedes tells everyone that she needs some time to clear her head, and therefore she plans to travel to Dubai on their honeymoon alone. Mercedes is kidnapped by serial killer Silas Blissett (Jeff Rawle). Silas texts Myra pretending to be Mercedes saying she is fine. Myra becomes concerned when Mercedes fails to contact her, but is reassured by Theresa who tells her that Mercedes will call when she is feeling better. Silas is arrested and Mercedes' ring is found amongst the possessions of his victims. Myra is stunned when it is revealed that Silas, who kidnapped Mercedes when she was seven-months pregnant, murdered Heidi. Myra is upset at Mercedes' ordeal. As a result, she begins to show Mercedes how much she loves her by helping her out with her newborn son, Bobby McQueen.
Bart begins growing cannabis for Joel Dexter (Andrew Still). The police discover this and Bart runs away. Realising Bart could have a career if he did not have a criminal record Myra claims the drugs are hers. Myra is sent to prison for 6 months. Mercedes visits Myra who warns her not to do anything stupid when she realises Mercedes could hurt Mitzeee (Rachel Shenton). Myra disowns Mercedes after she uncovers that Mercedes stabbed herself and has been released. Mercedes' ex-lover Dr. Paul Browning (Joseph Thompson) returns following being released from prison, found innocent of the murder of Lynsey Nolan (Karen Hassan), and reunites with her, later getting engaged.
Doctor Browning fakes Myra's medical tests, in order that she might reconcile her relationship with Mercedes, and she becomes under the impression that she is dying. Doctor Browning accidentally puts a medical record under Myra's name which states she is pregnant. When Mercedes sees this, she tells Dirk that Myra is pregnant with his baby. Dirk then proposes to Myra, only for Myra to admit that she is terminally ill and not pregnant. Myra later agrees to marry Dirk, and takes out a loan of several thousand pounds for the wedding. Doctor Browning later informs her that she has no "shadow". Myra decides she wants to sue the hospital, so that she might pay back her loan, but Jim McGinn (Dan Tetsell) later tells her that it is not a case worth pursuing. When Jacqui finds out about Myra's debt, the McQueens decide to gather money together, but to little avail. The bailiffs arrive at the McQueens' and strip the house of furniture and other items. Doctor Browning starts to get anonymous text messages from someone claiming to know he murdered Lynsey. He thinks that Myra has been sending these messages. It is later revealed that it was Jim who was sending the messages, still unknown to Doctor Browning. Thinking she had sent them, he attacked her in the florist's where she worked. Myra survived the attack, but she now starts a hate campaign on Doctor Browning by throwing fliers around the whole village labelling him a murderer. Doctor Browning decides to hire Trevor Royle (Greg Wood) to kill her. Myra still survives, and now knowing that someone is out to kill her, she decides to flee Chester. Jim arranges a boat to get her away from those trying to kill her. However, as she was waiting at the docks, Doctor Browning showed up with a gun, and after a heated argument, Myra was shot and fell into the water. She was presumed dead, until John Paul follows Jim to the airport, where it was revealed she was wearing a bullet proof vest and is alive, however, she must flee so Doctor Browning will be locked away for the crime. John Paul promises to keep their encounter a secret and watches on as Myra leaves forever. Myra makes a brief return, reuniting herself with the rest of the McQueens. She reveals that she is now living with Jacqui in Spain and can never return to the village as she would be arrested for faking her death.
In 2014, when Mercedes fills Myra in on what they have discovered about Carmel's fiancée, Sonny Valentine (Aaron Fontaine), Myra hatches a plan to make Carmel realise what he is like. Myra is devastated when John Paul tells her he was raped by Finn O'Connor (Keith Rice), and vows to help him through it. When Nana and Mercedes tell Myra to go back to Spain, she tells them that her family need her, and she is not going anywhere until the McQueens are safe. Myra later visits Trevor, who threatens her. She visits The Hutch to see John Paul who had got engaged to Ste Hay (Kieron Richardson) who wants her blessing, and she runs into Frankie Osborne (Helen Pearson), and food falls onto Frankie. Myra doesn't want to be seen by Frankie who then spots her. She makes a quick escape, and later gives Ste her blessing for him to marry John Paul. Myra, Phoebe and Mercedes hatch a plan to get rid of Sonny for good, and they force him into a car with a toy gun. They park the car by a lake, and as Myra, Phoebe and Mercedes discuss what their next plan is, Myra realises that she has left the handbrake on and the trio watch helplessly as the car and Sonny roll into the water. They confess all to Carmel, who is furious and contemplates telling the police. Myra, Phoebe and Mercedes manage to convince Carmel against the idea, but when they go to pay their respects to Sonny at the lake, they look on in horror as the police are pulling the car out of the water. Carmel later reveals to Mercedes, Myra and Phoebe that Sonny was not found in the car, and he is now a missing person. During Finn's trial, Myra becomes enemies with Finn's stepmother Diane O'Connor (Alex Fletcher), after Myra discovers that Diane is intending to lie for Finn in court. When Diane is later attacked in The Hutch, she believes it was one of the McQueens after an argument with Myra, but it was in fact Ste who was robbing the restaurant for money. When is transpires that Ste robbed The Hutch and attacked Diane to buy drugs, Myra is disgusted and tries to keep Ste away from John Paul, but Ste convinces Myra to allow him to speak to John Paul. Myra finds out that Diane's daughter Sinead O'Connor (Stephanie Davis) had been having an affair with Tony. Myra wants Diane to suffer and vows to make her find out. John Paul takes the camera which had recorded Sinead and Tony to Diane. John Paul returns a few minuets later and smashes the camera. Myra then helps Carmel to get Phoebe's mobile phone to the police which holds a confession that Sonny had said to the McQueen's in order to free Theresa from prison. Theresa is later freed and she goes into labour. Myra then helps Theresa to hospital and helps her give birth to Myra-Pocahontas Savage-McQueen.
The McQueens discover that Carmel is planning to abduct Kathleen Angel with Sonny whilst attending Myra's niece Porsche McQueen's (Twinnie Lee Moore) wedding to newcomer Lockie Campbell (Nick Rhys). They disown her, and Myra is disgusted in her daughter. Sonny sneaks aboard the train and attacks Phoebe and Theresa, before Sienna Blake's (Anna Passey) car on the tracks causes it to derail. Carmel frees Theresa from Sonny's clutches in the wreckage just before it explodes, and Myra and the rest of the McQueens are devastated when Carmel dies due to injuries sustained in the explosion. Myra clashes with Mercedes in the aftermath of Carmel's death, due to Mercedes believing Theresa ruined Carmel's life and Myra disagreeing. Myra picks Theresa over Mercedes, and Mercedes is left out on the streets whilst the rest of the family grieve for Carmel. Mercedes shows up drunk at Carmel's fueneral and starts bringing up incidents from the past where the family hurt Carmel, when Mercedes starts to insult Carmel Myra tells Mercedes that she's done nothing but bring shame on the family and that it should be her in Carmel's coffin, Mercedes storms out in distress. Later that night, Mercedes is supposedly "murdered" by an unknown assailant. The next day, Phoebe calls the police concerned about Mercedes whereabouts and when the police detective notices blood on the kitchen floor the house is turns into a crime scene and a murder investigation is launched. Myra starts to fall into a depression after the death of Carmel and apparent death of Mercedes. She was later shocked that John Paul was engagement with Ste, which makes her angry and never wanted him to get married with him, and afraid that it will be like Mercedes late husband Paul Browning. Several weeks later she decides to go to Alicante to see Jacqui and attempt to work through her pain and weeks later is joined by Nana.
Myra returns in November 2015, after Theresa informs her about the stillbirth of Mercedes' son, Gabriel. Mercedes apologises to Myra for faking her death, and Myra forgives her. She is also reunited with her youngest sister Reenie (Zöe Lucker), who she is close to. The day after her return, a young Venezuelan man named Diego Salvador Martinez Hernandez De La Cruz (Juan Pablo Yepez) arrives in Hollyoaks searching for the "Countess of Chester". It transpires that he is Myra's boyfriend, after lying to him that she is the ruler of Chester and is 38 years of age. The pair reconcile and he moves in with the McQueens. She is disgusted to learn that Reenie's husband Pete Buchanan (Kai Owen) has been sexually abusing her teenage niece Cleo McQueen (Nadine Rose Mulkerrin), and comforts Reenie when she reveals that she too was repeatedly raped as a child by Nana's abusive ex-partner, Derek Clough (Bruce Montague). In March 2016, Myra is furious to learn that John Paul's transgender boss, Sally St. Claire (Annie Wallace), has sacked him, so behind his back she confronts her. However, she recognises Sally as her ex-boyfriend, Iain Naismith, who is also John Paul's father. She is adamant not to allow Sally to reveal her identity to John Paul, and after a heated argument, Sally agrees that it is for the best not to say anything. When the truth comes out during a showdown with Pete, John Paul refuses to speak to Myra or Sally. However, he slowly warms to Sally when he finds and reads a letter from her which should have been given to him when he was a child, and becomes more hostile towards Myra for withholding it. She later demands that Sally pay for all the years of child maintenance that she missed out on for John Paul, which Sally agrees to but Myra storms off. When Sally catches up with her, she attacks Sally, which results in Myra falling down the stairs at the school. She is rushed to hospital, and it transpires that Sally pushed Myra down the stairs in self-defence. Celine McQueen (Sarah George) then breaks the news to Myra that she is pregnant with Diego's baby.
At the 2009 Inside Soap Awards the McQueens won "Best Family". In 2012, at the Inside Soap Awards Barber-Lane was nominated in the category of "Funniest Female" for her portrayal of Myra. In a poll run by Hollyoaks' official website to discover the best mum out of Myra, Diane O'Connor (Alex Fletcher) and Martha Kane (Carli Norris), Myra came second receiving over 3450 votes, over 45% of the total votes.
Kris Green, of Digital Spy, felt that Myra was a "shining star" in the Hollyoaks' flashfoward episode saying that although Myra does not have a lot to say in the episode her "shimmying and witty quip" about other characters makes up for it. Inside Soap critic Laura-Jayne Taylor said she had grown to love "faithful mum Myra". Taylor's colleague, Sarah said she is unsure who her favourite member of the McQueen family is as she is torn between "the bumbling leadership of McQueen matriarch Myra" and other members. When Myra begins wearing a neck brace in an attempt to sue Tony Jaci Stephen of the Daily Mail felt that "a gag would be more welcome". Caroline Fitton also of the Daily Mail said that if Hollyoaks decided to have a character be an Olympic games torch bearer in celebration of the 2012 Summer Olympics then Myra would be a good choice, "just so she can get her hair done".
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|last1=in Authors list (help)
- Stephen, Jaci (20 August 2010). "JACI STEPHEN: The ultimate insight into the week's soaps". Daily Mail. (Associated Newspapers). Retrieved 21 July 2012.
- Fitton, Caroline (30 December 2011). "SOAP WATCH: Caroline Fitton's ultimate insight into the week's soaps". Daily Mail. (Associated Newspapers). Retrieved 21 July 2012.