Revealed: Assumpta's Ballykiss-off; QUESTION OF FAITH... Stephen with the cast of Ballykissangel NEWS HOUND S... Stephen with Neil Pearson in Drop the Dead Donkey (right) and in his new r ole in Oktober (above).
The star has divulged how his screen love Assumpta Fitzgerald will meet her tragic death in the new series.
Bar owner Assumpta, played by Stephen's reaife love Dervla Kirwan, will be electrocuted in a freak accident.
Her death comes after the pair finally declare their love for one another - but before they act on their feelings.
Stephen says that his character of Father Peter Clifford does NOT break his vows in the new series - and there is no question of any sex scenes.
He was hurt by the accusations that the drama is undermining the Catholic Church by showing Father Peter led into temptation by Assumpta.
Stephen and Dervla are leaving the series at the end of this run, and there were reports their characters would run off together after falling into bed.
But Stephen has revealed how their forbidden love ends in tragedy when the series returns next month.
He says: "The storyline between Peter and Assumpta had to be resolved in some way, it couldn't keep trundling along.
"But Peter is a man of integrity and he's not going to break his vows.
"The rumours that he would just weren't true. The editor of the Catholic Times went ballistic and said we were bringing the Church into disrepute.
"I was horrified. I'm a practising Catholic and I'm proud of my religion.
"What happens is that Peter has a crisis of faith and doesn't see what good he is doing as a priest. He doesn't know what to do about his feelings for Assumpta.
"Father Mac sends him on retreat to sort himself out, but his feelings are still there. He and Assumpta talk about it and declare their love for each other, and he decides to leave the priesthood.
"There's no big snog and certainly no steamy sex scenes.
"But then, in a freak accident, Assumpta dies. She is electrocuted while trying to fix a fuse in the cellar.
"It's awful - there will be plenty of tears.
"It was sad for me to film my last scenes in Ballykissangel. I had a wonderful time, but three years is enough.
"The series will carry on without us, which should work - it did with Peak Practice after Kevin Whately and Amanda Burton left.
"There is an option for me to go back, but I won't."
Leaving Ballykissangel means Stephen, aged 32, and Dervla will have less time together. But the couple, who fell in love filming the first series, are making a major commitment - they're finally buying a house together.
"Neither of us has ever been out with actors before, so we weren't sure if it would work.
"But we're soul mates. I can't imagine life without Dervla. We have no marriage plans, but we're looking at houses as we speak.
"I knew Dervla's work first and I fancied her like mad, because I'm not blind and I'm only human!
"We first worked together on radio but I didn't get much chance to talk to her.
"It was wonderful when I got the script for Ballykissangel. People were getting bored of looking at police stations and hospital wards. But what sealed it for me was when Dervla was cast."
Stephen is busier than ever at work. He's currently on his first stage tour, playing Tartuffe with Isla Blair and Simon Williams.
The play comes to the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham on March 2.
When that's finished he starts filming with Robson Green in Grafters, a series about builder brothers.
Then there's a new series of the Channel 4 comedy Drop the Dead Donkey, in which Stephen made his name as ruthless reporter Damien.
But next on screen, on ITV in April, is Oktober, a disturbing thriller a world away from Ballykissangel.
Stephen plays teacher Jim Harper, whose life turns into a nightmare when he becomes an unwitting guinea pig in the trials of a new mind-altering drug.
The action called for plenty of stunts, which Stephen did himself.
"The worst moment was hanging on to the outside of a train, held up only by a wire harness which was fed through my flies! There's a very authentic look of fear of my face."
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|Publication:||Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)|
|Date:||Feb 8, 1998|
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