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More than just a model couple; James and Terri make the tricky transition from fashion to high drama with sensational storylines.

HE used to strut up the world's catwalks wearing high fashion by designers such as Calvin Klein.

She was once a photographic model whose faced launched beauty aids from lipstick to hair conditioner.

Now, pin-ups James Redmond and Terri Dwyer have the hottest storylines in Britain's favourite teen soap - Hollyoaks.

But how did two non-actors get their hands on a couple of top TV jobs?

James's arrival in the Channel 4 series two years ago was greeted with scepticism by the other members of the cast.

Cynics put James in the looks-good-but-can't-act pigeonhole. But he says he auditioned like the rest of the cast and proved them wrong.

"You have to go to work on me," he pleaded with the producer when told he'd got the job. And they did. "Now I am learning something new every day," he says.

James, 28, grins and the impish eyes twinkle as he says: "This company encourages people who have the intentions but might not have the qualifications.

"Anna Friel is a good example because she has climbed ladders, slowly up and up. It's all about timing.

"I was so nervous every day. Now I am the bloke off Hollyoaks."

And how did Terri, 26, land her soap role?

"They took a big risk on me," she says. "I had done nothing in terms of acting, and for two years I never understood why I wasn't sacked.

"I thought I was appalling."

A year after that she received a memo from Hollyoaks' creator Phil Redmond: "In danger of seeing the real actress like I always knew we would." That, apparently, is the closest you're ever likely to get to flattery from The Boss.

"I have so much respect for him," adds Terri. "He communicates with us on a one- to-one basis.

"He is not this guru who sits upstairs making those executive decisions."

James, who plays lovable nonconformist Rory `Finn' Finnegan in Hollyoaks, dropped out of school at 15.

"I was just a tearaway, good at my exams but disruptive, immature, hyperactive and more interested in going out with women and sports.

"I was always working in bars and clubs and took off to live in Greece and Italy."

While working in a bar in Greece, he was approached by a model agent who suggested he should try the catwalk. That was in 1994 when the whole Calvin Klein CK1 look came out.

Suddenly, there were all these indie-looking guys and James was one of them. He made loads of money for four years. So many parties, so much spare time.

"I was still looking around trying to find myself. I was 22, and I thought: `I am trying clothes on for a living. This is a girl's job'."

Having filmed a couple of TV commercials - he was a patriotic English fan in the Carling lager advert in the last World Cup - he received a call from the casting department at Hollyoaks to come for a screen test.

As for Terri, who plays sexy Ruth Osborne, small wonder she has been dubbed "mistress of the mailbox" by Ben Hull, who plays her live-in boyfriend, Lewis.

She has landed some controversial storylines - attempted rape, married young, kicked out her husband over an affair, then widowed, a lesbian kiss with a 17-year-old, and now an unwanted pregnancy. No wonder the blonde babe gets most of the show's fan letters.

"Young people ask my advice on some heavy problems I am not equipped to deal with it," says Terri. "What would happen if I gave them the wrong advice?

"Usually I encourage the ones with more serious problems to get professional help."

Hollyoaks has been spicing up its storylines and is become more like a like a Junior Brookside.

The soap ventured into late-night schedules recently for an hour-long episode with three sex storylines to attract more adult viewers. What the younger teenage fans thought of it is anyone's guess.

Ruth and Lewis turned their anger into a night of hot-headed passion which resulted in her becoming pregnant.

Stroppy GCE student Max finally lost his virginity. And Luke Morgan was raped by his footballing rival Mark in a graphic scene that shocked many parents.

Terri says: "It was great to be on after the watershed and be able to say `God' - which we are not allowed because of the Sunday omnibus. And we were able to have a lot more sex.

"I have been with the show almost since the beginning when it was a light- hearted soap. But it took a turn after 25 episodes towards gritty, more hard-hitting storylines. I think Hollyoaks has found its place in the market."

James's character, Finn, is currently engaged in a wild fling with an older woman he fancied when she visited his market holding one day.

He became deeply involved with her and then discovered the woman, who introduced herself as Vicky, happened to be the mother of his best mate, Tony.

This has allowed James to stretch as an actor, because he had previously been mostly used as the comic turn.

"Comedy was a facade I could hide behind because of my earlier insecurities as an actor," he says. "Doing drama is more difficult but I'm enjoying every minute."

James travels to work on his pushbike, wearing old jeans. He supports Liverpool and goes bevvying with his mates.

Terri, on the other hand, drives a Mercedes supercar, is a shopaholic, and says she is at her happiest when she is "being loved and loving someone".

That someone was Daikin, a young cameraman on Brookside, but Terri decided to end the affair. "I'm single again, but I would not say I am happily single," she says.

"I think I am just a person who needs her own space at the moment. I have got demons in my head, a few emotions I need to work out before I can share them with someone else."

Daughter of a Leicester police officer, Terri - short for Theresa - has had to come to terms with her mother's death from cancer.

"It was horrific," she says. "My Mum was diagnosed in November and died in February.

"She was a most amazing woman. She made us talk about her cancer and deal with it.

"The only regret I have was that she wasn't able to see the full fruition of my career. I am still trying to get over her painful final days in a hospice."

Modelling wasn't a conscious career choice for Terri. She says: "I was approached by an agent and started earning money modelling girl-next-door advertisements while doing A-levels.

"I didn't have the height required for a typical model and they kept telling me that I was too fat and needed to lose weight. At 17, I found that soul-destroying"

A friend suggested she go for a presenter's job on a regional TV station, which gave her a foothold in the business. Then she attended the auditions for Hollyoaks. "There were all these girls from stage school, and I came away thinking I didn't stand a chance. Three auditions later, I got the job."

Now Terri is an established actress and a member of the close-knit Hollyoaks family.

While most people leave work to go home to their family or loved ones, some of the cast of Hollyoaks go home to one another.

They share houses in the same Liverpool street - the lads live in one house, the girls two doors down the street.

Terri, who is big friends with Nick Pickard who plays Tony, lives with Natalie Casey, who plays Carol.

And Ben Hull, her on-screen boyfriend, moved into the street recently. Paul Danan, who plays Sol, lives in the middle.

"The other night I took my food down to the boys' house, put it in their microwave, and sat down for dinner with them," says Terri.

"I genuinely adore the boys. We all go out together. We go for drinks, we share secrets, we have barbecues, we go from one house to the next. It is idyllic.

"We argue but that gets dealt with and sorted - just petty squabbles."

Though it has become a part of her life, Terri realises she cannot stay in Hollyoaks forever.

"It's a young person's drama and I will have a limited shelf life. I will be too old at some point.

"However, my parents taught me to be sensible with money. I've got lots of pensions."

As for James Redmond, he says: "I have had two of the best four jobs in the world - male model and actor.

"Next, you'll be seeing me playing for Liverpool and releasing a single as lead singer of the Stones!"
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Docherty, Gavin
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 21, 2000
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