|Portrayed by||Kieron Richardson|
|First appearance||17 February 2006|
|Introduced by||David Hanson (2006)
Bryan Kirkwood (2006)
|Occupation||Chef (2008–10, 2012–16)
Deli owner (2012–14)
Restaurant co-owner (2014–16)
|Home||2 Oakdale Drive|
Steven 'Ste' McQueen (also Hay) is a fictional character from the British Channel 4 soap opera Hollyoaks, played by Kieron Richardson. He debuted on-screen during the episode airing on 17 February 2006. Ste was created by David Hanson and was originally intended to be a short-term character for seven episodes. The following series producer Bryan Kirkwood decided to bring the character back on a permanent basis. As of 2010, Richardson has revealed that he is committed to staying in the serial.
Ste has been at the centre of several storylines including joyriding, domestic abuse, a baby kidnapping plot, drug dealing, HIV and a gay relationship. He was initially portrayed as a "bad boy" type character. Although he changed producer Lucy Allan wanted him to revert. The issue of domestic violence has been portrayed through the character on two occasions: the first was his violence towards girlfriend Amy Barnes (Ashley Slanina-Davies), and the second when he suffered abuse from his boyfriend Brendan Brady (Emmett J. Scanlan). Richardson and co-star Slanina-Davies both fronted an anti-domestic abuse campaign called "Expect Respect" for Women's Aid. He has subsequent relationships with Rae Wilson (Alice Barlow) and Noah Baxter (Law Thompson) which become subject to love "triangle" storylines involving Brendan. Ste's gay storyline prompted Richardson to come out as gay. Its aim was to raise awareness of domestic abuse in a homosexual relationship. Whilst Ste and his storylines have received a mixed reaction from critics, Richardson has been nominated for various awards for his portrayal.
Character creation and casting
The character of Ste was originally a background character, who was cast by David Hanson for only seven episodes. Upon completion of his initial short stint, new producer Bryan Kirkwood decided to bring the character back for another handful of episodes in October 2006 in which Ste fled the scene of a car accident involving Amy Barnes (Ashley Slanina-Davies). Following positive viewer feedback after this second stint, Kirkwood asked Richardson to reprise the role on a permanent basis beginning 26 September 2007.
In 2010, speculation arose that Richardson would leave the show, due to his participation in ITV ice skating competition Dancing on Ice. Richardson said "I'm not leaving, I'm staying put". He added his participation in the reality television series was for "fun", and stating: "I still want to stay at Hollyoaks and progress in my career there" because he did not think he was a good enough actor to pursue other projects. However, he later revealed he was not sure executive producer Paul Marquess would renew his contract. In November 2010, Richardson commented on his future with the show, branding it a new era and thankful to be part of it. Richardson stated: "Marquess loved everything I've been doing and wanted to keep me on. I'm hoping to stick with the show no matter what."
When Ste was introduced on Hollyoaks, he was introduced as a violent and rebellious teenager who was often in trouble. He bullied several of his peers, including Josh Ashworth (Sonny Flood), Jamie "Fletch" Fletcher (Sam Darbyshire) and Nicole Owen (Ciara Janson). His troublesome personality continued as he became a drug dealer, stole money and began hitting Amy. During 2009, Ste's persona improved when he became a single father to Lucas Hay (Jude) and Amy's daughter to a previous relationship, Leah (Jessica Croft-Lane) after she developed post-natal depression. Ste began working in restaurant Il Gnosh to earn money for his children, showing that the character had matured.
In 2010, Richardson revealed that executive producer Lucy Allan was going to return Ste to his "bad" ways. Richardson said that Ste had portrayed the whole "bad thing" and mellowed. He felt Ste was emulating fellow character Tony Hutchinson (Nick Pickard), because Ste was "running a restaurant, camping it up like him and talking like him". Allan wanted to change that and see him regain some old habits. These changes did not happen because Allan quit her position soon after.
Richardson later told Inside Soap that he hated Ste when he first joined the show, adding: "When he came into the show Ste was a bit of a skater boy, and I hated that." Richardson would recite his lines in "a sinister way and do under-the-eyebrows stuff", which Richardson felt inspired the writers to develop Ste's character more deeply.
Domestic violence and fatherhood
Returning later in 2007, Ste and Amy eventually got back together. The pair moved into their own flat, to the dismay of Amy's father Mike Barnes (Tony Hirst). Despite this, Ste became increasingly violent and started to hit Amy, on one occasion even cutting off her ponytail. Slanina-Davis raised money from hair cut during the scene in aid the cancer charity CLIC Sargant. At this time, Amy became pregnant, but was unsure whether to keep the baby. Speaking about 2008 as a whole for Ste and Amy, producer Bryan Kirkwood said he was proud of the way Richardson had portrayed Ste in a sympathetic manner so viewers could understand - but not condone his behaviour. He thought he and Slanina-Davies delivered brilliant performances portraying the "reality of so many 16-17-year-olds", struggling to make a life for themselves. He felt some of their scenes were "downright shocking". Eventually, Amy decides to accept the help of her friends and family and leaves Ste for abusing her.
Whilst the storyline aired, Richardson and Slanina-Davies fronted a charity campaign called "Expect Respect" in order to combat domestic violence. At the time Richardson released a statement opining domestic violence affects many young people in any form of life. He stated he could imagine "how frightening it would be to have him as a boyfriend" and condemned his "violence and bullying" because it is always unacceptable."
During April 2009, Amy gave birth to Lucas, and subsequently left due to post-natal depression. Ste was left looking after both Lucas, and Amy's daughter Leah. A couple, Abi Raven (Elaine Glover) and Daniel Raven (Chris Hargreaves) befriended Ste and tried to convince him that he was a good father, and that he did not need Amy in their lives. However, Abi and Daniel planned to kidnap Lucas, at first in order to keep him and then later on to give him to another family. Richardson expressed to Digital Spy his pleasure with this storyline, saying, "It's getting quite dark." He was also shocked with its entertaining and unexpected ending." When the storyline came to its climax, Abi and Daniel tried to take Lucas, but they were stopped.
Ste told Amy's father Mike to look after Lucas and Leah in the aftermath of the baby plot because he didn't think he was a good father. Richardson reported that he enjoyed working with Jude and Jessica Croft-Lane, the young actors who played Lucas and Leah. He reported that Jude was camera shy and liked to play with camera equipment during filming and that he told Croft-Lane that his name was actually Ste. Richardson concluded the storyline was different and he felt it gave him a chance to showcase his acting abilities.
Homosexual domestic violence
During an interview on This Morning, Kieron Richardson revealed he was gay, and that Ste would explore his sexuality and come out as gay after embarking on a dangerous affair with his boss Brendan Brady (Emmett J. Scanlan). Ste saw a nicer side to Brendan and they formed an "unusual friendship," which eventually lead to having a wild lads night out and a drunken kiss. Brendan rejected Ste, giving into passion later, they kiss again. But the storyline took a dark twist when Ste was beaten badly.
During an interview, series producer Paul Marquess, he described it as a long running storyline, adding: "It is dark to begin with, the lessons that Ste learns are ultimately positive and life affirming." He also felt it was about not "being afraid of who you are" and Ste was "refreshingly accepting" of his feelings towards a man. Richardson revealed he was shocked to discover the details of the plot. He felt it was interesting to see how Ste coped with the being the victim of domestic violence.
Ste comes out to ex-girlfriend Amy first. During their conversation Ste reveales Amy was the only girl he really hade feelings for and that his confusion over his sexuality was not the reason for him abusing her during their relation ship. Ste is very relieved by Amy's good reaction. Amy is the one who discovers that Brendan is hitting Ste and she tells Ste to break it off, reminding him of how it was when he was hitting her.
Richard admitted his initial fears of the portrayal because he felt it was a taboo subject. He had difficulties portraying it initially, this was because he was not familiar with the subject. "The storyline had not been tackled in British soap opera before and Richardson felt Ste was "making television history". He then explained how the storyline differs from other soap operas because "Ste doesn't question his sexuality and it's not about a struggle — it's about domestic abuse in a gay relationship." Richardson also stated because of the plots dark nature, he hoped viewers would be "drawn into it". He branded the storyline as unpredictable because viewers never know if Brendan was going kiss or hit Ste.
A spokesperson for Hollyoaks confirmed that Ste didn't realise "how much power and control Brendan was wielding over him". This was because Ste was still coming to terms with his sexuality. Ste felt a connection he never felt before because he hadn't had another male partner. Brendan manipulated Ste into believing he was to blame for Brendan's anger. The representative said this was why he ended up apologising. The storyline also aimed to shock viewers with the "dark depths" Brendan would go to in order to control Ste. Marquess later stated that Brendan's past would be explained and that everyone should remember it was Ste who used to hit Amy first, adding: "So it's a dark and interwoven story made all the more complicated by the introduction of a new love interest for Ste".
Relationship with Noah Baxter
In early 2011 Marquess revealed that Ste would have a new boyfriend. This would help create another "classic triangle" storyline. It was then revealed that new gay character Noah Baxter (Law Thompson) would befriend Ste. Noah's friend Cindy Cunningham (Stephanie Waring) decides to help the pair start a relationship. Waring said Cindy does not care about Ste and Noah and she sees them as "the only gays in the village". Waring concluded that she thrives off the attention and gossip their romance generates for her. However Richardson said that despite his new relationship he is still "madly" in love with Brendan. Ultimately he stated "He may care for Noah, but he will always run back to Brendan".
Ste was originally portrayed as being a smart loner who kept to himself, with a cool older brother who taught him how to drive cars. It was later shown that his loneliness was just an act to get girls to sleep with him and that he was not really intelligent. In later episodes, his "brother" was never mentioned, possibly insinuating that Ste had lied about him. Ste was shown to have come from a broken home: raised by his alcoholic mother Pauline Hay (Julie Hogarth) and his abusive stepfather Terry Hay (Conor Ryan), with no contact with his biological father. Ste was regularly beaten by Terry, who was defended by Pauline. This led to Ste's violent nature and resentment of his mother.
Ste first appears as a friend of Wayne Tunnicliffe (Joe Marsden). Ste eventually begins a relationship with Amy and pressures her to have sex with him. Ste begins a feud with Josh and his cousin Fletch after they both defend Amy, who does not want to have sex. Ste and Wayne push Josh and Fletch into rebelling, which they go along with in order to impress them. Amy becomes pregnant by a stranger, but does not tell Ste. Afterward, Ste confides in Amy about the abuse he had to deal with from his stepfather. Ste takes Fletch, Amy, Josh and Michaela McQueen (Hollie-Jay Bowes) joyriding and causes a car accident, after which he flees. Following a confession to the police from Fletch, Ste is sent to a young offender's institute.
Months later, Ste returns and seeks Amy's help. After convincing her he has changed, Amy gives Ste a second chance. Amy's father Mike attacks Ste, but is told by Amy that Ste is her daughter Leah's father. Ste and Amy become a couple again and move into a flat of their own. Mike contacts Ste's stepfather Terry, who arrives and beats up Ste. Amy then throws Mike out. To help with their money worries, Ste steals Warren Fox's (Jamie Lomas) credit card. With this, he buys expensive belongings for the flat. When Warren finds out, he takes the belongings and threatens Ste, who later breaks into Warren's business, Evissa and sets a fire, which almost kills Warren's fiancée Louise Summers (Roxanne McKee). After this, Warren beats up Ste. Ste then turns to dealing drugs for money with his friend Nige Foster (Sam Townend) and influences Fletch to begin smoking marijuana. Amy lets Ste's mother Pauline see Leah, causing an angry Ste to end up hitting Amy. However, they reconcile. After Ste fails to find a job, Ste steals Carmel McQueen's (Gemma Merna) handbag, but is stopped. To defend himself, Ste lies that Leah has been diagnosed with leukaemia. Amy is angry, but also lies after they receive money. Ste and Amy's relationship turns violent, with his lashing out on several occasions. The lie about Leah's health is revealed and Amy has no other option but to stay with Ste. Amy discovers she is pregnant, so Ste agrees that he will change. Despite his promise, Ste steals a karaoke machine, which causes Amy to walk out and tell Mike of her abuse, after which he beats Ste up. A drunken Ste climbs onto scaffolding and threatens to commit suicide. Kieron Hobbs (Jake Hendriks) tries to talk him down as Amy, Sarah Barnes (Loui Batley) and Mike leave, believing Ste is attention-seeking. As they turn away, Ste falls and breaks his leg. After this, Ste and Justin Burton (Chris Fountain) become friends and move in together. For the sake of his unborn child, Ste gets a job in Il Gnosh restaurant and begins taking anger management classes.
Ste becomes friends with Natty, Daniel and Abi and begins a short-lived relationship with Theresa McQueen (Jorgie Porter), which he ends to focus on getting Amy back. Amy gives birth to her and Ste's son Lucas Hay, helped by Ste, Daniel and Abi. Amy, however, suffers from post-natal depression, and leaves to live with her grandmother, leaving Lucas and Leah with Mike, who later leaves them in Ste's care. Abi and Daniel begin to help Ste with looking after Lucas, with plans of taking Lucas to replace their own son who died. Abi starts drugging Ste as Daniel turns him against Natty, who grows suspicious of Daniel and Abi's interests. Mike finds Ste asleep whilst looking after Lucas, so takes him. However, Ste takes Lucas back and stops Mike from seeing him. Ste almost shakes Lucas, so Daniel convinces him to give his son up. The truth is revealed, Daniel is arrested and later released, he and Abi leave the village. Amy returns and slowly begins to bond with her children again. They move into their old flat together.
When Tony fires him, Ste starts working at Chez Chez nightclub as a barman. Ste grows suspicious of Brendan Brady after he uses Carmel to smuggle drugs. Ste's former co-worker and love interest Rae Wilson (Alice Barlow) returns following a stay with her ill grandmother. Brendan is jealous of their relationship, so gets Veronica (Lynsey McLaren) to kiss Ste, which Rae witnesses. They later make up after Ste convinces Rae that the kiss meant nothing. Following a drunken night, Ste kisses Brendan, who then throws him out. The next day, Brendan corners Ste and kisses him again. In the club a further day later, Ste follows Brendan to a cellar and moves to kiss him. However, Brendan punches Ste, who falls to the ground. Brendan then makes Ste tell Cheryl Brady (Bronagh Waugh) he was mugged. Ste avoids Brendan, still shaken by his actions. They resume their relationship and Ste tells Amy of his relationship. This prompts Brendan to attack Ste again. Amy realises that Ste is being abused. To hide their relationship, Brendan tells Ste to go out on a date with Rae. When Rae and Ste finally sleep together, Amy is hospitalised after being involved in a fire. Ste suspects Brendan started the fire. However, he denies it. Ste discovers Brendan's former lover Macca (Drew Dillon) is in hospital after being beaten up by Brendan. Macca and Ste end up kissing. Ste later confides in Dominic Reilly (John Pickard) about Brendan and the fire, however Dom is later charged.
Ste starts a relationship with Rae. Ste is angered when he sees Brendan has assaulted Trev Costello (Scott Neal), who he thinks is gay, leading him to believe that Brendan's denial of his sexuality is leading him to gay-bash, ending their relationship. Ste later decides to give Brendan a second chance. Brendan reluctantly agrees to a date with Ste and the pair go to a gay bar, but Brendan bails. Rae reveals to Ste that she is pregnant. Amy convinces Brendan to end his affair with Ste. Whilst sharing a goodbye kiss, Brendan and Ste are caught by Mitzeee Minniver (Rachel Shenton). Ste becomes jealous when Brendan and Mitzeee agree to pretend to be a couple. Rae catches them kissing, she suffers a miscarriage. Ste ends his affair with Brendan when he attacks him again. Ste gets revenge on Brendan by hitting him with a cricket bat. Brendan says they are even, he reveals the truth to Cheryl. Cindy helps Ste and Noah start a relationship and Noah convinces him to come out everyone. When Brendan comes back he kisses Ste and Noah sees. They fight and Ste sleeps with Brendan but leaves beaten up. Ste and Noah reconcile. Brendan later seduces Noah in an attempt to split the pair up. Ste forgives Noah realising Brendan's intentions. Noah secures a job in Newcastle upon Tyne and Ste agrees to move away with him. Brendan is angered by this and sets Noah up once again. Ste catches Noah sharing a kiss with Sean (Matt Kennedy), Ste ends their relationship which forces Noah to leave alone. Brendan confesses love for Ste and they sleep together and Brendan's wife Eileen Brady (Rachel Doherty) walks in on them. Eileen tells Brendan he cannot see his son Declan Brady (Jay Duffy) unless he does not see Ste. Brendan tells Ste they have to pretend until Declan returns to Ireland.Ste and Brendan break it off because of this,Ste leaving to go on vacation with his kids. When he returns he sees Declan and happens to mention his sexuality. This causes Brendan to panic and give Ste a black eye. Ste goes to the police but Brendan convinces him to not tell for the sake of Declan.
Brendan fires Ste to get him out of his life, and Ste starts a business with Doug. Ste meets Adam on online dating. Ste has dates with Adam which Doug, who has feelings for Ste, is jealous about. When Ste went on his first date with Adam,Doug's feelings were worked out by Adam. On one date, in the SU Bar, when Ste and Adam are about to kiss Doug makes a pass at Texas, which makes a scene and interrups Ste and Adam. When Ste and Adam kiss at the end of the date Doug expresses jealousy, which Ste mistakely believes is due to Ste being taken away from Doug as a mate by Adam. During an argument Ste finds out that Doug may be in love with him. After trying to forget about the incident, things get more awkward between the two. Adam dumps Ste, claiming that Ste has feelings for someone else. After Doug finds out, they have yet another argument which results in them kissing. Ste insists Doug must figure out who he is and come out before they can have a relationship. Doug then leaves Ste at his own at the Deli while Doug tries to "figure out who he is." During this time, Ste is approached many times by ex - boyfriend Brendan. After a few weeks, Doug comes out to his friends and then rushes to the Del. He tells Ste exactly how he feels and kisses Ste. He then kisses Ste again, and he kisses back - not knowing Brendan has seen the entire exchange.
After being pressured, Doug tells Ste that the loan he got to buy the deli was actually from Brendan.Ste does not take the news well and tells him it's over. Brendan proposes to be a silent partner of the deli. Ste signs a contract in agreement, but is still not satisfied as Brendan is still a part of it. Ste comes up with a plan. Ste kisses Brendan and asks for an equal relationship, and gets the Deli totally signed over to him. After, Ste leaves a note for Brendan telling him he has been fooled, and he wants Doug and the deli, not him.Ste finds Doug and kisses him.
Since he conned Brendan into signing the deli over to him, he has experienced many ups and downs in his relationship with Doug. Doug's insecurities over Brendan and Ste growing closer caused Doug to propose to Ste. Ste accepted, and went to the hospital after the explosion at the Brady's holiday home, to break the news to Brendan. When he gets out of the hospital Ste helps him out which upsets Doug. But the engaged couple book a place for their wedding. Ste is unsure if his kids will understand that he is marrying a man but they are excited as well. Ste agrees to take the kids for 6 months and they will get to be at the oncoming wedding. Ste discovers Doug has been trying to find evidence on Brendan's past crimes so he will be imprisoned and will leave stay alone. Ste decides not to marry Doug but later changes his mind and goes through with the wedding. Ste disocvers a recording of Brendan admitting to the murder of Danny Houston (Darren Day) to protect Ste. Ste declares the wedding is over. Ste goes outside to find Leah in the road. Maddie Morrison (Scarlett Bowman) swerves to avoid Leah but hits Ste. She then crashes in to the wedding venue.
Ste begins a relationship with Harry Thompson, but his father, Tony, does not approve, but later accepts it.
Richardson has been nominated for several awards for his portrayal of Ste. During the 2009 British Soap Awards, he was nominated for "Villain of the Year". He was nominated for the same award in 2008 and at the 2011 awards he was nominated for "Best Actor". Richardson was a nominee for the "Best Actor" award at the Inside Soap Awards during 2010, and was nominated for 'Best Serial Drama Performance' in the 2011 National Television Awards. At the 2011 All About Soap Bubble Awards Ste, Brendan and Rae won the award for "Best Love Triangle". At the 2011 Inside Soap Awards he was nominated for "Best Actor" and "Best Dramatic Performance". He was again nominated in the category of "Serial Drama Performance" at the 2012 National Television Awards. At the 2012 Inside Soap Awards Richardson was nominated for "Best Actor".
Holy Soap opined Ste's most memorable moment stating: "Sadly, it's beating up girlfriend Amy." The fatherhood and baby snatch storyline received mixed reviews from viewers. Digital Spy posted a poll asking readers whether they thought the plot was anti-climactic. 76.6% of voters thought it was truly anti-climactic, whilst the rest thought otherwise.
After Richardson came out on This Morning, Dennis Ayers, writing for gay men's news website AfterElton.com, criticised the revelation, believing it to be for promotional purposes only. Whilst acknowledging Ste as being a "violent bully, a domestic abuser, and a single father", Ayers could see nothing in Ste's "dark past hinted that he might be gay." In spite of his criticism, he praised Richardson for coming out as gay. Anthony D. Langford, also writing for AfterElton, who avidly followed the plot, felt shocked when he witnessed Brendan attacking Ste. He moped there was worse to come and found it compelling viewing. He also did not perceive it as a romantic story stating: "Ste and Brendan's scenes do have an element of sexual allure since the actors have chemistry, but there's too much darkness and manipulation on the edges of every scene to make real romance even possible". He also gave credit to the show for its slow build up over a few months. After Rae became pregnant All About Soap said: "Crikey, at this rate Mr Hay will soon be giving Walford's Jack Branning a run for his money for the Most fertile Man in Soapland award!"
When Theresa "had her eye on Ste" for a potential boyfriend, Jaci Stephen writing for the Daily Mail quipped "Given his history of violence towards women, that might be realised more literally than she would like." When he kissed Brendan, Stephen said Ste had joined the ranks of "very confused young men" that have featured in Hollyoaks. She added he had "banged about wanting to be a good boyfriend and dad for aeons" and being the victim of domestic violence was ironic for him. She later said the serial was brave for tackling gay domestic violence. She opined that Richardson gave an "incredible performance" and felt she was not alone in perceiving the storyline to be "deeply disturbing" and "deeply moving". She later expressed her view that "Ste hasn’t experienced much normality in his young life". She concluded that Ste never seemed to have a trouble free day. The Liverpool Daily Post said "You know you're not flavour of the month when even Ste Hay looks down his nose at you."
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