Hollyoaks star pays tribute to abuse victim who inspired award-winning plot

Nathan Sussex won a British Soap Awards for his portrayal of a paedophile.

Press Association
Last updated: 1 June 2019 - 10.01pm

Hollyoaks star Nathan Sussex thanked child abuse survivor and former footballer Steve Walters as he accepted the villain of the year gong at the British Soap Awards.

The Welsh actor was honoured for his portrayal of paedophile football coach Buster Smith.

Accepting his award, he thanked Walters for advising on the storyline, which saw his character groom and abuse young students.

Former Crewe Alexandra player Walters, who managed Penycae FC and Rhos Aelwyd, helped craft the plotline which mirrored his own abuse.

Sussex thanked survivors of child abuse in a speech which saw him celebrate his win in his native tongue.

Wearing a sparkling suit jacket, he said: “Thank-you so much. If you see a few sequins on the floor they probably belong to me. This is great. I was only in Hollyoaks for a short amount of time but it was a really incredible experience. There are so many people to thank.

“Most importantly, Steve Walters is here tonight, who inspired the storyline. And also the survivors in Manchester, who I know many shows here are familiar with.

“And I’m Welsh as well, so thank-you Steve for inspiring this story and for Channel 4 for letting us tell this story.”

British Soap Awards 2019
Shayne Ward and Sophie Austin on the red carpet at the British Soap Awards (Lindsey Parnaby/PA)

The actor’s win snubbed Emmerdale’s Kim Tate, who was touted as favourite in the lead up to the ceremony at The Lowry theatre in Salford, Greater Manchester.

Scheming Tate (Claire King) appeared on the ITV soap between 1989 and 1999, during which time she attempted murder, faked her own death and stood by as her husband died.

She recently returned to the village with equally nefarious plans.

Shayne Ward and Gillian Wright were among the early winners at the ceremony.

Coronation Street secured the first award of the night, with Aidan Connor’s suicide and the aftermath earning the ITV soap the best single episode gong.

I’m A Celebrity star Nick Knowles handed the award to Ward, who played Connor.

Wright earned the gong for best female dramatic performance after her EastEnders character Jean Slater faced one of her toughest storylines yet, being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

The 59-year-old worked closely with Macmillan Cancer Support on the storyline, which won plaudits for its sensitive portrayal of Slater’s diagnosis and subsequent treatment.

Handed the award by Line Of Duty star Maya Sondhi, she said: “Thank-you very much. Loads of people’s work has contributed to this award, far too many to mention now, but thank-you to everybody. Every department. Every team.

“A special thanks to (producer) Kate Oates for giving me some responsibility. To the Slater ladies, this is yours as well.

“Just quickly, my mum and dad for their unfailing support, and my dear sister Lois who keeps my feet on the ground, pointing in the right direction.”

The gong for best male dramatic performance went to Adam Woodward for his portrayal of Brody Hudson in Hollyoaks.

EastEnder Kara-Leah Fernandes then secured the award for best young performance.

She took to the stage with her father, saying: “Thank-you. I don’t even know what a nomination was before this.”

She said she could relate to her character as she too has a disabled brother, ending her speech by thanking her school teachers.

Gail McIntyre’s monologue following Aidan Connor’s suicide won the gong for Coronation Street in the scene of year category.

Collecting the award, actress Helen Worth said: “Oh my god. How lovely is this. It was just a scene. But an awful lot of work goes into a scene. We should just thank Jonathan Harvey for writing that scene. I’m just the lucky one who got to say it.”

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