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Look!: HOORAY FOR Hollyoaks!; Dawn Collinson meets the soap star who's about to get a whole new family.

Byline: Dawn Collinson

UNLIKE most soap stars, Carly Stenson gets no hassle from fans when she's off duty.

``They must think I really am as nasty as Steph and I scare them off!'' she jokes. ``So I never get a load of trouble from other girls when I'm out because they think I'm a real bitch.

``But it's not true at all, I'm not a bit like her. I'm like the mouse compared to everyone else and I've honestly never had a fight in my life - other than on television.''

On screen she's had more than her fair share, though, since bad girl Steph Dean arrived in Hollyoaks in March 2000.

When Carly landed the role, it was her first TV acting job straight from leaving St Peter's High School in Orrell, near Wigan.

She'd been dancing since she was three and had plenty of stage experience but it wasn't until her mum entered her for a talent contest and she won that her career took off.

``I got an agent and from that I went to the Hollyoaks audition, so I fell into acting really,'' she explains. ``I was originally up for adifferent part as another friend of Zara's but they remembered me and rang me up for Steph.''

Her brief, she remembers, was far different from the Steph which fans love to hate today.

``All they told me was that she was quite naive and led along by Zara,'' smiles Carly. ``That's what she was like at the beginning, totally the opposite of how she is now. But as soon as Steph got her chance to be the bully, she took it and it's just escalated from there.''

Carly, who at 20 is four years older than her character, says she's glad about the transformation and enjoys the chance to make her the villain.

``I like her because you definitely remember her!'' she says. ``It's far better than having a character that no-one notices, who just tags along in the background, even if I do get called a cow sometimes.''

To viewers, Steph might not seem like the most likeable of girls but Carly is quick to disagree. In fact, she insists, she actually has her redeemingfeatures. ``I like trying to make her more comical rather than just outand-out nasty,'' says Carly. ``I make her more of a flirt as well.

``She's doing it for lads attention, but she never gets the lad so that's what makes it funny. She really isn't all bad, more of a lovable rogue who just likes making mischief for attention.''

After more than two years with Hollyoaks, Carly is about to acquire a new on-screen family: mum Frankie - played by Helen Pearson who joined her for our fashion shoot - dad Johnny, two brothers and a sister.

She's excited about it, and flattered, although she says she's not getting carried away.

``I don't like to think too much about things because I'd hate to get big-headed,'' she says, ``although my family and friends keep me so grounded there's no chance of that.''

Family are particularly important to Carly, who still lives at home in Billinge. She has considered moving out since starting on Hollyoaks, but says she likes to keep her work and other life separate, so she's come up with a compromise.

``In spring next year I'm hoping to buy an apartment abroad,'' she reveals. ``So I can go there when I'm off and still stay at home while I'm working and scrounge off my mum for a bit longer!''

Clothes: Reiss (227 9157) and Wade Smith (255 1077) Make-up: Emilia @ Body Shop, Clayton Square (709 6992) Location: Express by Holiday Inn at the Albert Dock, Liverpool (709 1133)

CAPTION(S):

Main picture: Carly wears silk paisley top, pounds 49; black scarf, pounds 35; black low-cut trousers, pounds 79. From Reiss. Helen wears black high-neck dress, pounds 95; black and white beaded belt, pounds 29 - from Reiss - and Nicholas Deakin ankle boots, pounds 95, from Wade Smith. .Inset (right): Carly wears Liberty print DKNY shirt, pounds 75; D & G brown velvet cords, pounds 135. From Wade Smith. Helen wears brown asymmetric cardigan, pounds 125; turquoise knit top, pounds 79; stone lowcut trousers pounds 89. From Reiss .Top (near right): Carly wears Diesel bronze tie top, pounds 75; D & G burgundy cord skirt, pounds 115; Patrick Cox suede fringe boots, pounds 125. From Wade Smith .Top (far right): Silk leaf print top, pounds 69; brown low-cut flared trousers pounds 75. From Reiss
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 30, 2002
Words:749
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