I learned all about sex from Hollyoaks.
SOAP babe Sarah Dunn was just 14 when she stormed on to our screens as Hollyoaks sex kitten Mandy Richardson.
In the blink of an eye, the teenage temptress was plunged into a steamy on-screen romance - but in real life the little girl with the body of woman knew nothing of love.
Now 19, the stunning actress - who plays predatory Mandy - admits she learned everything there is to know about love and sex on the set of the Channel 4 soap.
Sarah's first screen kiss, when she was just 14, helped her get some early practice in as she waited for a real man to come along.
Subsequent liaisons with the eligible men in the soap has earned her a reputation as a maneater.
She said: "When I first snogged someone I was so young. It was with the character Ollie Benson. It was really embarrassing and I was really shy and didn't know what to do.
"My mum was really shocked when she saw it because I turned out to be quite good at it. She just wanted to know where I had learned it from.
"Now Mandy has worked her way around nearly the whole cast. She has been with quite a few fellas, so it isn't a big problem for me to kiss someone now.
"I realise it isn't real. When the director shouts 'Cut', we stop kissing and start talking about our weekends. I get all my practice in on Hollyoaks.
"My mother is alright with those things as long as I'm alright with it. The most outrageous sex scene I've had is to be lying in bed with a cover over me.
"I just don't know how I would react if I had really steamy sex scenes."
But in real life Sarah says men run a mile when they see her propping up the bars of her hometown Leeds, because they think she is as bitchy as her character.
Sarah said: "I don't get chatted up because people find it difficult to approach me. They see me and get all shy because I am on TV. They don't know what to say. It's unfortunate.
"All I want in a man is someone who is genuine and can make me laugh, who'll take me away from thinking about the Hollyoaks storylines.
"I want someone who can give me a giggle and who isn't interested in the job that I'm doing, but in me.
"I love going out with my friends from school and my best friends, Mel and Sarah, because I don't see them a lot. I like going to the same places I went to before Hollyoaks made me famous.
"But meeting men is impossible. Unless they're drunk or supremely confident they tend to hang back.
"I'd be the same in their position. I still get starstruck when I go to awards and the like. I could never approach someone who is really famous. So I can understand how it is."
Sarah, who began modelling when she was just 12, has been with the soap for five years.
While studying for the prelims for her GSCEs, scriptwriters came up with a hard hitting plotline in which she was raped by her father.
SHE recalled: "Mandy was raped by her dad, a storyline I did when I was 15. That was tough to do.
"She was abused by him and it turned out he raped her. I was still at school in real life doing my GCSEs and it was difficult to concentrate.
"I would do the storyline and be really upset, then turn up for my exams thinking about what I had done in the scene that morning.
"My mum was still chaperoning me until I was 16. It was really good to have her on the set. The director would talk to my mum and check that it was okay with her.
"My dad was just pleased that I had an interesting storyline. He's a policeman which was really useful. He told me about things he had dealt with in the police and gave me case studies to read up on.
"He spoke to my mum and made sure that I wasn't being hurt."
Despite her character's experience, Sarah says she is a very different breed to Mandy.
She added: "I don't have much in common with Mandy. She is really confident and is outgoing. She is opinionated, but I'm more laid back and not quite as bossy - I hope.
"I wouldn't go over to a fella and start chatting him up, whereas Mandy would. She is a bit of a flirt and, if she wants a fella, she will go out of her way to get him."
Her problems in finding a man aren't exactly helped by Hollyoaks bosses banning her from dating any of the male cast members - despite rumours that she is seeing the soap's hunk, Marcus Patrick. She explained: "We're all working so closely together there is an unwritten rule that nobody goes out with each other because it could be difficult. If two people were seeing each other then fell out, that could spill on to the set.
"The producers would rather we didn't see each other on a personal basis and I can understand that."
Sarah, who recently featured as a cover girl in Maxim magazine's Soap issue, has just bought her own flat - and is now a landlady, thanks to Hollyoaks pal Joanna Taylor.
She added: "We went to the Bahamas to do the Maxim shoot together and it was brilliant fun. We got friendly in the Bahamas and Joanna began renting a room from me when we got back, so we spend a lot of time together.
"So I'm a landlady in my spare time - but there's no arguments about who does the dishes - because I've got a dishwasher.
"I really enjoy the modelling part - things like the Maxim shoot. That's how I started off my career, on the catwalk.
"It was nothing major, but I would sit in for college students and have my picture taken. I'd love to do more of that. In the meantime, I really want to do a period drama or costume drama.
"A bodice ripper would be great."
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|Publication:||Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Jul 18, 2001|
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