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Just Luke what I'm doing now!; Ex-Hollyoaks star who's scoring with the wives.

WHILE the female soap stars of Hollyoaks often promote themselves by appearing on the covers of men's magazines, the boys tend to get a lot less coverage.

All that is except Gary Lucy whose profile was raised dramatically when the series embarked on a harrowing storyline involving the last taboo subject to be touched by soaps - male rape.

"When they first told me about the storyline I was dubious as to whether or not I should take it, " he recalls.

"Firstly because I was so young and secondly it hadn't been touched before so no-one knew how the public and press would take it.

"After thinking about it and doing research behind it I thought it was definitely a subject worth approaching. So we did it and reaped the rewards. I feel very lucky."

The storyline propelled Gary to a fame not enjoyed by the rest of the cast and the actor even netted an award for his compelling performance, Best Newcomer at 2000's British Soap Awards.

"I never expected to get it as EastEnders and Coronation Street run away with these awards usually, " says Gary. "When it came up we were over the moon and I just stumbled my way through my speech. It wasn't just for me though, it was an award for all of us who worked on that storyline because we worked so hard."

Now Gary is reaping the rewards in other ways. After leaving Hollyoaks, the actor landed a lead role in ITV's sexy new drama Footballers' Wives.

From the same stable as Bad Girls, Footballers' Wives is just as over the top as the prison drama, and should make compelling viewing.

"It's colourful and there's lots o good-looking people, great cars and big houses so it's got a lot of elements there to make it work, " enthuses Gary.

So far, so Dallas but Gary says there's only one comparison you can make with the glamorous 80s soap. "It's as much about football as Dallas was about running an oil company, " he laughs. "The programme doesn't concentrate on the football pitch, it's much more about the lifestyle of the footballers."

Gary has a long term love of the beautiful game and it's been apparent in every role he's taken. The Arsenal fan started off with ambitions to be a footballer, playing for Tottenham Hotspur and then Watford before being released at 16. His first acting role was in the football drama Dream Team before he landed the role of Luke in Hollyoaks, who was also a keen player.

Now he's playing Kyle Pascoe who, like David Beckham, is as much a media star as he is a football player due to his engagement to glamour model Chardonnay Lane. Gary shrugs off comparisons of Kyle to Beckham but he's obviously enjoyed the role.

"He is a young up-and-coming star, " he explains. "While he does enjoy spending his money and isn't as wise with it as some of the other characters, he is very level-headed.

"He's very much in love with his fiancee Chardonnay but they live in this lovely house with his mum Jackie (played by ex-EastEnder Gillian Taylforth) who's always on his back about getting rid of her. He drives flash cars and has basically got everything going for him, which sets him up nicely for quite a few falls throughout the series."

It only 20, Gary is as excitable as a kid in a sweet shop about landing such a high profile role.

"I'm not nervous as such, " he says. "I'm obviously hoping it'll do well but I've had great fun filming it and I've gained a lot from it so it's been good on that side if nothing else. We are excited about it though and if the producer Brian Park's past record is anything to go by it should be successful."

It's a safe gamble and definitely one worth leaving Hollyoaks for. Playing a hunky footballer will cement the heart-throb status he found with the soap.

Having said that, it was a difficult decision for Gary to make the break. It's not just the job he's left behind, it's a whole lifestyle. During his time there he shared a flat in Liverpool with various other cast members and became an integral part of the close-knit unit that makes the soap.

"I'm missing it already. I cried my eyes out on the last day, " he admits. "I had three good years there but I felt after doing such a great storyline I wasn't going to get more big ones. That storyline was my opportunity to forward my career. It has been left open, but I don't know if I'll go back."

Gary is now living with his parents in Chigwell, Essex, awaiting the completion of his new flat. He's currently single after his long-term relationship with former Hollyoaks co-star Dannielle Brent ended last year.

Since the split he's been linked with Michelle Heaton, who sings with the Popstars runner-up Liberty.

But he's looking forward to living the single life in his new flat. "It's been good at home though, but I'm ready to get out and have a little bachelor pad."


ROLE PLAY: Gary as a male rape victim in Hollyoaks; appearing with Terry Dwyer in a party political broadcast for New Labour Footballers' Wives: ITV1, Tuesday, 9pm
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 7, 2002
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