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KISS AND MAKE IT UP; We just closed our eyes and thought about our boyfriends say actresses who stunned Hollyoaks with lesbian affair.

THE grins on the scriptwriters' faces told her something was up, but teenage soap star Danielle Brent's suspicion turned to horror when they let her in on their steamy secret.

She was to kiss her real-life best pal and flatmate in a lesbian plot which stunned their fans and sparked rumours about an off-screen relationship.

Danielle and Lorna Pegler, who play gay lovers Emily Taylor and Gina Patrick in the hip Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks, also faced another problem - how to tell their boyfriends about their new roles.

For Danielle, her lover, Abs Breen from pop group 5ive, got over his initial shock. But Lorna's relationship has collapsed.

The steamy storylines also came as a total surprise to the two young actresses.

"As far as I was concerned, I auditioned for the role of a hippy chick who was a bit of an eco warrior," says 17-year-old Lorna.

"Then, every time I bumped into the producer or any of the writers, they would just smirk and say, `Have we got something saucy coming up for you!' I hadn't a clue what they were on about."

The mystery continued until Hollyoaks chiefs took Lorna and Danielle to dinner and went through their new storylines.

"I thought I was going to get a rollicking for something or other," says Danielle, 19. "Instead, they asked me how I felt about becoming a lesbian. I said I was fine with it, and then forgot all about it."

Danielle admits that at first her boyfriend, pop pin-up Abs, wasn't very happy that his girlfriend would be seen snogging another girl by millions of viewers.

"I had to let him know about the scene subtly, and he was a bit surprised," she says. "He didn't know how to take it at first, but he's now quite laid back about it. He hasn't taken too much stick"

Danielle and Abs have just returned from a romantic break in the Maldives, and haven't seen the latest development in the relationship.

"Probably just as well - it gets quite steamy," she jokes.

Boyfriends aside, Danielle and Lorna have had to face insinuations from fans that they are real-life girlfriends.

The rumours are thought to have started because the girls are the best of pals off-screen and even share a flat - as do most soap actors.

Lorna admits: "Some of the fans have become just a little too involved in the show and believe the relationship exists for real.

"We've even shared a hotel room on a few occasions, but I can assure people that we are just good friends.

"Danni's got her boyfriend, Abs, and I've just finished with mine," reveals Lorna, who stresses that the break-up had nothing to do with her character's antics.

Danielle and Lorna agree that filming the steamy scenes was a bit strange as neither of them had ever kissed a female before.

"We said, `Let's just close our eyes and think about our boyfriends'. We didn't rehearse the scene and hardly discussed it beforehand," says Danielle.

Lorna adds: "If anything, it was the still shots we had to do afterwards that were more nerve-wracking.

"The photographer wanted us to move slowly towards each other, as if we were about to kiss. By that time, we couldn't stop laughing."

Danielle trained at the famous Italia Conti stage school in London, where she met Abs and former Big Breakfast presenter and model Kelly Brook, who became her best friend.

"We used to sneak out to clubs when we were 14. We always got in because we looked much older," she says.

Danielle got her first TV part on the children's series The Biz, before being chosen to play the part of Gina.

Lorna studied at the National Youth Theatre, and appeared in the Channel 5 series Sister Said. "It was a bit like a female version of The Monkees," she says.

Hollyoaks is no stranger to controversial storylines. Past ones include drug abuse and an attempted rape, plus another lesbian affair.

That was between Ruth Osborne, played by Terri Dwyer, and Jasmine Bates, played by Elly Fairman. The trendy soap is the brainchild of Phil Redmond, who first brought Brookside to our screens 16 years ago.

Set in a fictional suburb of Chester, Hollyoaks has been on our screens for four years. It has become cult viewing for twenty and thirty-somethings.

Danielle joined the cast three years ago as part of the dysfunctional Patrick family.

Her role called for her to be a tomboy, wearing combat trousers and nose rings.

Danielle says: "Originally, I was only supposed to be in it for a short time but Gina is now a regular." Lorna joined around nine months ago.

Describing her character's new relationships, she says: "I'm glad they aren't going to make our relationship out to be something unnatural."

Danielle agrees: "We are going to play it just like any other couple together - the laughs, the rows and so on.

"Gina and Emily are quite different characters," says Danielle. "Emily is stylish, whereas Gina is like a female Swampy. They share a passion for animal welfare."

The girls' affair causes problems between Gina and her family, especially brother Sol, played by heart-throb, Paul Dannan. Talking to the Sunday Mail from his on-set trailer, Paul explains: "Sol is very angry with Gina.

"He feels she has kept her sexuality a secret from him for years. He feels hurt.

"Thanks to the new plot, everyone is talking about the show. It has just exploded."

Away from the soap, both girls have decided to look for flats of their own in Liverpool.

Danielle, who has admitted she dreams of doing a naked photo-shoot, will be spending more time shopping in the near future.

That will help take her mind off the fact that Abs is about to embark on a world tour with 5ive.

"I won't see him for six months," she says.

Lorna has set her sights on a singing career.

She reveals: "I've had discussions with a couple of record companies, so it looks promising. I won't quit the acting, though."

In Hollyoaks, Emily eventually decides she is bisexual and wants more men in her life.

With a laugh, Lorna adds: "It's not just Emily who needs a bit of male company - I'm on the look-out too"
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Wilson, Liz
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 16, 2000
Words:1049
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