John Paul McQueen
John Paul McQueen is a fictional character from the British Channel 4 soap opera, Hollyoaks, played by James Sutton. The character debuted on-screen during the episode airing on 6 September 2006; his storylines have significantly revolved around his sexuality, evolving from the initial denial of his homosexuality, to the pursuit and relations with best friend Craig Dean (Guy Burnet), the storyline gained a fanbase and garnered them "supercouple status". The storylines received acclaim from LGBT rights charity Stonewall. John Paul later has a relationship with a priest, Kieron Hobbs (Jake Hendriks). In 2008, Sutton quit the serial and his character received a "sunset ending" with Craig, which was promised for fans by executive producer Bryan Kirkwood.
|John Paul McQueen|
|Portrayed by||James Sutton|
|Duration||2006–2008, 2012–2017, 2019–|
|First appearance||6 September 2006|
|Created by||Bryan Kirkwood|
|Introduced by||Bryan Kirkwood|
|Classification||Former; regular (returning)|
|Home||26 Leigh Road|
Sutton reprised the role in 2012 and John Paul returned on 18 December 2012, after leaving his role as Ryan Lamb in Emmerdale. Producers placed the character at the focus of a male rape story in 2014 when he is assaulted by a student, Finn O'Connor (Keith Rice). In early 2017, Sutton announced his intentions to leave the serial and the character departed on 9 March 2017. He reprised the role on 26 March 2019 for a cameo appearance, and four months later, it was announced that Sutton had reprised the role on a permanent basis.
John Paul is the sixth eldest of Myra McQueen's (Nicole Barber-Lane) eight children. He grew up around all women and was always the most level-headed of the group. John Paul meets Craig Dean (Guy Burnet) after saving him from a beating by Sonny Valentine (Devon Anderson). John Paul becomes close friends with Craig, Sarah Barnes, (Loui Batley), Hannah Ashworth (Emma Rigby), and Nancy Hayton (Jessica Fox).
John Paul and Hannah begin dating and they lose their virginity to each other. However, John Paul is clearly not as into Hannah as she is into him. After John Paul breaks up with Hannah, everyone mistakenly believes it is because he has feelings for Sarah, who is Craig's girlfriend. John Paul and Hannah later reconcile. At Hannah's 18th birthday party, John Paul emotionally confesses to Craig that he is in love with him. Afterwards, John Paul tells Craig he did not mean it and they agree to forget about it.
Craig drunkenly kisses John Paul at a school dance-off competition. Hannah sees the kiss and announces it to the whole school. John Paul tells a devastated Hannah that he is gay. After Hannah's mother, Suzanne (Suzanne Hall), tells Myra everything, she confronts John Paul about his sexuality. John Paul comes out to his family and while his sisters are supportive, Myra struggles with the revelation. John Paul also comes out to his friends and classmates, which leads to him being teased and bullied. Craig, not wanting to be perceived as gay, attacks John Paul physically. Craig apologises, but John Paul makes it clear they are no longer friends.
John Paul and Craig later make up and become close again. John Paul begins dating a DJ named Spike (Tom Vaughan). Craig is jealous of all the time John Paul spends with Spike and John Paul tells him that he needs to accept his new relationship. Much to John Paul's surprise, Craig confesses he has feelings for him, too, and they sleep together. Afterwards, Craig pretends nothing happened between them. Eventually, they sleep together again and John Paul assumes this means Craig is going to come out. However, Craig tells John Paul that he is not gay, not finishing with Sarah, and wants to see John Paul on the side. John Paul is disgusted by the proposition at first, but he eventually gives in and the two begin an affair.
Craig tells John Paul he loves him and they both agree to finish with their partners so they can be together. John Paul finishes with Spike, but Craig keeps finding excuses not to finish with Sarah. John Paul grows increasingly frustrated with Craig, who keeps on assuring him that they have a future. Spike finds out about the affair and threatens to expose it, but John Paul gets him to back down. Hannah is suffering from anorexia and tells John Paul it was triggered by their break-up, leaving him guilt-ridden.
John Paul finally reaches his breaking point when he finds out Craig and Sarah are engaged when he walks in on their engagement party. John Paul demands that Craig makes his choice, but Craig is unable to. John Paul texts Sarah on Craig's mobile and she discovers the two of them kissing. Sarah announces to everyone at the party what she saw. Craig furiously tells John Paul he had no right to do what he did, but John Paul tells him it is all his fault.
In the aftermath of the revelation, everybody is left in pieces. John Paul still wants to be Craig and he is thrilled when Craig tells him he wants to be with him, too. Despite the disapproval of their friends and family, John Paul and Craig officially start a relationship. However, John Paul cannot get over how Craig seems ashamed to be with him. To prove his commitment to him, Craig asks John Paul to move with him to Dublin. At the airport, John Paul overhears Craig tell his brother, Jake (Kevin Sacre), that he is not gay. John Paul expresses concern at Craig's reluctance to come out and this is further exacerbated by Craig not being able to bring himself to kiss John Paul in public. John Paul tells Craig he loves him with all of his heart, but that he needs more than to be with a man who cannot even display affection towards him. Heartbroken, John Paul returns home, leaving a devastated Craig to go to Dublin alone.
John Paul tries to move on with his life. He begins attending Hollyoaks Community College and making friends with other students. Myra offers their home to a young Catholic priest named Kieron Hobbs (Jake Hendriks). John Paul is shocked to find out that Kieron is gay, but Kieron says it does not matter since he is celibate. An attraction grows between Kieron and John Paul, but Kieron refuses to break his vow of celibacy. Eventually, he cannot deny his feeling for John Paul any longer and they begin a relationship in secret. Kieron decides to leave the church and they take their relationship public. John Paul proposes to Kieron who joyfully accepts.
A while later, John Paul realises he is too young to get married and calls off the engagement, though he still wants to be with Kieron. John Paul is surprised when Craig returns to the village. Kieron accuses John Paul of not being over Craig, but John Paul insists he is. Kieron gives John Paul an ultimatum: either they get married the following week or it is over between them. John Paul tells a heartbroken Kieron that he cannot marry him. Craig tells John Paul he is not over him and wants a second chance. John Paul admits he still loves Craig and they sleep together. John Paul tells Craig he is and will always be the one. John Paul goes to finish with Kieron and is devastated when he finds Kieron dead after he was poisoned by John Paul's secret brother, Niall Rafferty (Barry Sloane). John Paul decides to start fresh with Craig and they leave together for Dublin.
A few weeks later, John Paul reappears when Niall kidnaps all the McQueens. John Paul had been lured back to Hollyoaks by Niall under false pretenses. When Niall makes Myra choose four of her children to die, John Paul volunteers to sacrifice his own life. Niall blows up the church they are in. They all survive except for Tina (Leah Hackett). John Paul later returns to Dublin.
John Paul unsuccessfully attempts to prevent Craig from leaving him at the coach station in Dublin. He ends up meeting Brendan Brady (Emmett J. Scanlan) and sleeps with him. He returns home for Christmas only to find an abandoned baby at his family's doorstep. He later discover Mercedes' actions and Carmel's face accident. John Paul tells Nancy that he is the father. He reveals that he and Craig decided to have a child to save their relationship. However, it is unknown who is the paternal father. He initially rejects the baby, but decides to be a single parent and names him Matthew. He secures a teaching job at the local sixth form. His colleague Jen Gilmore (Amy Downham) gets fired when it emerges she was previously in a relationship with student Tilly Evans (Lucy Dixon). However, when Patrick discovers John Paul's awareness of Jen's actions, he believes he will lose his job, so he and Doug cover Patrick's car with post-its as a prank. It seems John Paul will embark on a relationship with Doug Carter (PJ Brennan), after a tumultuous start, the two sleep together. Later, it turns out that Patrick was not intending to fire John Paul, but suspends him from work because of his prank. John Paul later starts dating Doug but ends because Doug is still in love with Ste Hay (Kieron Richardson).
John Paul meets supply teacher Danny Lomax (Stephen Billington). He kisses John Paul but does not see him for two weeks. John Paul later tells Danny that he will not be treated badly, but they soon begin dating. Matthew's mother, Chloe, (Susan Loughnane) arrives and claims Craig is Matthew's father. She demands money or she will fight for custody, but a DNA test proves John Paul as the father. John Paul and Danny find the body of D.S. Trent while on a date. John Paul is upset to learn that Danny is married to Sam Lomax (Lizzie Roper), lies about Danny being present at the discovery and briefly implicates himself in the murder investigation. Finn O'Connor (Keith Rice) and Robbie Roscoe (Charlie Wernham) begin tormenting John Paul. The bullying intensifies with a series of pranks and homophobic abuse directed at John Paul. He tries to reason with Finn and help him with his family problems, but it only makes the situation worse. John Paul shares a kiss with Ste and they grow closer.
After John Paul humiliates Finn he is placed in charge of a detention in which Finn is present. While alone with Finn, he attacks John Paul with an ornament and rapes him. John Paul goes to the police to report the attack but changes his mind before making a statement. John Paul confines himself to his bedroom and Sam offers him support. When he loses his temper with Peri Lomax (Ruby O'Donnell) for but Sam forgives him. John Paul returns to his job and is placed on a school trip with Finn and Robbie. Finn is involved in a quad bike accident and John Paul contemplates letting him die before administering CPR. Robbie wants to know why he was reluctant to save Finn and starts taunting him in class. John Paul loses his temper and punches Robbie. John Paul is suspended and arrested but given bail. He begins drinking and takes cocaine with Ste. But Robbie learns that Finn has raped John Paul and he apologises for his role in bullying. On the day of John Paul's assault hearing Robbie tries to confess, but Finn intercepts the confession writing an accusation that John Paul sexually harassed Robbie and this is read to the court, which serves him a six-month jail sentence. Sam learns of John Paul and Danny's affair and refuses to see him again. He also orders Ste to never visit him in prison.
Finn is later imprisoned for raping John Paul. Carmel is killed by a train accident during the wedding of their cousin Porsche after saving their cousin Theresa from Sonny. His relationship with Ste begins to recover and they agree to get married. But he begins taking drugs and drinking. John Paul tries to support Ste through his addiction but later decides to end their relationship. The pair reconcile and they marry. Their happiness was cut short, when he discovers that not only did Ste impregnate Sinead, he also has HIV. John Paul worries that Ste has passed the virus onto him but his test comes back clear. He tries to stand by Ste but their relationship eventually ends. He begins an affair with his cousin Porsche McQueen's (Twinnie Lee Moore) husband Lockie Campbell (Nick Rhys), but is shocked to learn that he is also sleeping with Mercedes. Porsche soon discovers her husband's infidelity and she orders John Paul, Lockie and Mercedes to leave the family home. John Paul supports Mercedes when her son Gabriel is stillborn. He tries to reconcile with Ste but he reveals he has moved on with Harry Thompson (Parry Glasspool). John Paul decides to focus on his career working alongside new head teacher Sally St. Claire (Annie Wallace). He discovers that she is a transgender woman and they form a friendship. John Paul incorrectly assumes Sally has developed romantic feelings for him when she tries to spend more time with him. Myra goes to confront Sally, but is shocked to learn that she had a relationship with her before she had gender reassignment. Sally reveals that she fathered John Paul and wants to reconnect with him but Myra asks her to keep it a secret.
John Paul along with Sally, Nathan Nightingale (Jared Garfield) and Holly, discover that his cousin Cleo McQueen (Nadine Rose Mulkerrin) is running away with Pete Buchanan (Kai Owen) who sexually abused her and her half-sister Porsche McQueen (Twinnie Lee Moore) when they were younger and psychologically abused Celine McQueen (Sarah George). They rescue Cleo from Pete and when Pete is behind him, John Paul punches him. Pete then violently assaults him. While Pete assaults him, Sally accidentally reveals to John Paul that she is his father. After the discovery, he is angry at Sally and Myra for keeping it a secret all these years. After when John Paul angrily tells Sally to leave, he disowns Myra and kicks her out. John Paul's boyfriend Scott Drinkwell (Ross Adams) admits to John Paul that he knew that Sally was his father for over a week and promised her that he'd keep it a secret from him. John Paul breaks up with Scott and sleeps with James Nightingale (Gregory Finnegan).
John Paul reconciles with Scott, but there is clearly still something between him and James. John Paul ends up sleeping with James again and decides he has to break up with Scott. John Paul is temporarily blinded after being hit by Nancy's car. James and John Paul grow closer and James confides in John Paul about the physical abuse endured from his father, Mac (David Easter), as a child. John Paul pushes James to tell his family about the abuse, but James vehemently refuses. When John Paul tells James's brother Nathan about it, James dumps him. They get back together and John Paul moves into James's flat. While James accepts that John Paul has a son, due to his own family history, he says he cannot be father to him. John Paul realises that they might not have a future because James is too stuck in his ways. James tells John Paul he loves him and that he will try to be a father to Matthew.
John Paul is horrified when he learns that Finn may be released from prison. James goes to the prison and winds Finn up to the point where he tries to physically attack him. This insures that Finn will remain in prison for the foreseeable future. James asks John Paul to marry him and he accepts. John Paul and Ste finalise their divorce. During their divorce party, John Paul and Ste reminisce and they end up sleeping together. John Paul tells Ste he loves him and wants to be with him not James, but Ste tells John Paul he wants to be with Harry. Ste calls John Paul to reiterate his point, but James picks up the phone and hears Ste say they slept together. James takes John Paul to the cliffside, where he tells him he knows he slept with Ste. James falsely claims he knocked Ste unconscious and stuffed him in the boot of his car. James shoves the car off the cliff and John Paul runs after it. John Paul opens the boot and sees that Ste is not inside. James tells John Paul they are over for good.
John Paul decides tell Ste he loves him, but then he sees Ste proposing to Harry. He decides to leave the village and move to Singapore. John Paul says an emotional goodbye to his family and boards the plane with Matthew. While on the plane Craig calls him. It is later confirmed that John Paul and Craig reconciled and they are together in Singapore.
Creation and characterisationEdit
John Paul McQueen was created in 2006; back story given to the character is that he grew up with five sisters (Jacqui, Mercedes, Tina, Carmel, and Michaela), his mum (Myra), and no father. He is characterised as smart, witty, and not afraid to stand up for himself and his beliefs. Sutton described his portrayal of John Paul's personality as different and similar to his own. "He's very, very quick to take [offence] sometimes", Sutton relayed. "He's a bit up and down, so that's a side of him I’m not too keen on, but he's also very sensitive and loving and he cares a lot about his family and his friends and that side of it is very true to me as well and that's kind of what I kind of brought to the table." Sutton stated that he had no trouble portraying a gay character because he had "spent a good part of [his] youth [in the theater] and there were a lot of openly gay men".
When detailing insight he gained about the gay community while portraying John Paul, Sutton stated, "My character was straight when I first started so I had to do the whole sort of questioning your sexuality and finding out who you are and what you’re about and what your likes are and what your sexual preferences are, so I got a real insight from the storyline and just how hard it is." Sutton cited that John Paul "was very, very lucky in that his family were pretty much all supportive". Further detailing his character's personality and how he did not want John Paul to be a gay stereotype, Sutton revealed, "I was very, very keen to make this character a straight-acting gay man. He's just a normal guy, like any other guy. He plays football. He likes music. He likes going out. He likes all the same things that straight men like. He just happens to like blokes, and that's it." It was a joint effort by the writers and Sutton to characterise the character this way. "We kind of met in the middle and that was the path we wanted to go down", stated Sutton. "I think it was really important for people to see because, like I say, even now, especially older generations, often in my mind view the stereotype of the gay man as this kind of screaming queen with glitter and all that kind of … feather boas and glitter and you know, Danny La Rue."
In 2008, Sutton decided to leave the role of John Paul, stating that it was not an easy decision to make. "I’m twenty-five-years old and I’ve done this character for two years now", he cited, "and I feel like I’ve made my mark and I’ve got to get off my soapbox now. I kind of feel like I’m ready to take a risk before I hit 30 and realize that actually I’ve missed my opportunity. A calculated risk."
In September 2012, Inside Soap named John Paul and Craig's exit as their number 1 happy ending, "This tentative, tremulous, tortured romance is still regarded by Hollyoaks fans as one of the show's greatest-ever storylines – if not the greatest. So fervently were viewers wishing for a happy ending for gay teenager John Paul and his no-I'm-not-gay-but-maybe-I-am friend Craig, the producer even promised a happy ending in advance. And so, as they flew off to Dublin together, they kissed in front of a holiday poster of a sunset. Aw!"
On 12 October 2012, Daniel Kilkelly from Digital Spy revealed that Sutton had returned to Hollyoaks. The actor was seen back on the set, shortly after agreeing to reprise his role as John Paul. He had entered talks about a return with the show's producers earlier in the year. Kilkelly reported that little was known about John Paul's return storyline, but he would be seen on-screen in time for Christmas. He returned on 18 December 2012. At Christmas a baby was left on the McQueens doorstep and it was revealed to be John Paul's. After speaking with his mother Myra, John Paul decided to keep his son and named him Matthew.
Homophobic bullying and male rapeEdit
In January 2014, John Paul became the focus of an issue-led story when he is raped by his student, Finn O'Connor (Keith Rice), after enduring months of homophobic bullying from Finn and Robbie Roscoe (Charlie Wernham). Planning for the story by the production team began in 2012 due to the extensive research required to portray the issue. The plot marks the second time Hollyoaks has tackled the issue, having previously explored it in 2000 when Luke Morgan (Gary Lucy) was raped. Bryan Kirkwood, the show's executive producer, stated that the story would be explored "within the constraints of a tea-time soap". He also wanted to showcase the "far-reaching consequences" for John Paul, Finn and their respective families. He also complimented Sutton and Rice, who he thought would perform the plot with "skill and empathy".
Hollyoaks worked with multiple charities, including Stonewall, St Mary's Sexual Assault Referral, Survivors Manchester and Survivors UK. Richard Lane, the media manager at Stonewall, commented that the soap contacted them to make the story "realistic and sensitive". Survivors Manchester became heavily involved in the storyline and Sutton went onto become an ambassador to the charity. Duncan Craig, founder of the charity, was impressed by the work of the cast and crew across the story, which he called "a culturally important milestone". He thought it would form a good example when he performed seminars about the issue. Craig added that the story would help the charities providing "services to males to break the silence". Sutton visited the charity to understand how to tackle the story and explained that the story would explore the "consequences of what happens to the character", as well as "how it changes him as a person". Additionally, he expressed his interest in portraying the story.
Finn, Robbie and other students begin bullying John Paul at school by insulting him and planning "malicious stunts in the classroom". After John Paul discovers evidence that could implicate Finn and Robbie, Finn argues with John Paul, before raping him at school. A press release from Hollyoaks explained that Finn is heterosexual, but attacks John Paul as "an act of aggression" and "an attempt to assert power over him". In the aftermath, John Paul began to blame himself for the assault. Sutton explained that John Paul believes that since he did not "fight back", he cannot justify it and is to blame for the incident. Consequently, John Paul is wondering "why he didn't do anything". Sutton added that the character feels "ashamed", "dirty" and judged following the assault. He also mentioned that John Paul is changed as a person by the attack, commenting, "You see this outgoing, confident man be completely destroyed".
On 11 January 2017, it was announced that Sutton was leaving his role as John Paul. The Sun newspaper reported that John Paul was set to meet a grisly ending after driving off the edge of a cliff in his car in dramatic scenes airing later in the year. However, bosses remained tight-lipped as to whether it would actually be John Paul's exit storyline or not.
On 18 March 2019, it was announced that Sutton had reprised his role for a cameo appearance in one episode that month. John Paul returns for the wedding of his parents, Myra and Sally St. Claire (Annie Wallace). Sutton filmed a video appearance, which was played to the congression at the wedding. The actor was unable to commit to a longer return due to commitments in theatre.
It was confirmed on 19 July 2019 that two former cast members would be returning on a permanent basis in the build-up to Hollyoaks' twenty-fifth anniversary during the following year. Sutton's return was announced five days later, following the announcement of Jamie Lomas' return as Warren Fox the previous day. Sutton expressed his delight at reprising the role, calling John Paul "a character that [he cares] deeply about". Executive producer Kirkwood called the character "one of the most beloved characters in Hollyoaks' history" and was pleased that he would be returning. He explained that he wanted John Paul to become a "figurehead" at Hollyoaks High School and bring order to the McQueen household as he returns for "another groundbreaking chapter".
Sutton's return coincides with Rice reprising his role as Finn and therefore, exploring the male rape story again. When Rice's return was announced, he expressed an interest in working with the actor again. Craig (Survivors Manchester) was pleased that Sutton had agreed to reprise the role as it brought the opportunity to raise more awareness on male sexual violence. He also looked forward to seeing how John Paul "continues his healing journey" as a male survivor.
AfterElton.com stated that when they did a poll of their readers in 2007 for The 25 Best Gay Characters on Television, John Paul came in at #21. Sutton had not known about the poll, and when told of it stated, "Wow. That's really cool. I don’t tend to read too much press and stuff, but I mean I’m aware that we’ve sold the program to other countries and surfing through the Internet, I’m aware that there are people who really, really watch it. I mean I’ve heard from the States and there's a couple of people who are in the Far East, actually, who regularly post on forums about me and stuff. And that's just incredible."
Sutton's pairing with actor Guy Burnet, as John Paul and Craig, has also been successful, winning several LGBT awards. Sutton stated that he had spoken to young gay men and had e-mail conversations with people about his character and that it "really" opened his eyes to how difficult it can be and that "there is still prejudice out there and there are still people who are living this." He added, "We call it Middle England way out here. I don’t know what you call it", a reference to Middle America.
When asked how popular his John Paul character is in the United Kingdom, Sutton relayed, "It's incredibly, incredibly popular over here, the show. We broadcast an omnibus edition Sunday morning, which every student watches. Right now we’re on five nights a week and it's an incredibly popular show, especially with young people." Sutton stated that the reaction he and the cast get is "sometimes a bit frightening, but it's really, really big business". Detailing how recognized he is when walking down the streets of Liverpool or London, Sutton revealed, "Oh, pretty recognizable. Pretty recognizable. My girlfriend gets it worse than I do, actually. She gets pushed out of the way by people trying to get to me sometimes. She's my girlfriend and my official photographer. All these f**king cameras – pardon my language – these camera phones that people have right now. The bane of my existence."
Virgin Media compiled a list of their "Sexiest soap opera couples", they included John Paul and Craig in the list and stated: "The love affair between the Hollyoaks students gripped viewers so much that they started their own campaign for the pair to ride off into the sunset together. They got their wish, and we like to think that Craig and John Paul are now living happily ever after together in Dublin..."
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