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Tuesday, April 7, 2020 3:40am ET by  


Interview with Harvey Virdi (Misbah Maalik) on Hollyoaks

What was your understanding of County Lines before this storyline? 

Following our research, I found out that county lines is when organised crime groups target vulnerable young people to deal drugs. It was shocking to learn how common it is. People think it only happens in run-down areas of towns, but we discovered that it’s across the board. You can go to lovely, green places where you wouldn’t think it was happening under your noses, but it’s there and these young people are being groomed and they’re scared to do this work.

What was your reaction when you heard about the plans for Hollyoaks to cover this topic?

 I wasn’t surprised because that’s what Hollyoaks does. It’s another first and I’m so glad. It’s not a happy subject, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be doing it, we should be doing it, especially for the young people who watch our show, and their parents and guardians to be aware of. I’m proud of Hollyoaks, of the writers, the research that goes on to try and show what’s happening – it’s called county lines and it’s happening right under our noses.

What research have you been part of?

I’ve tried to read up on my own about county lines, but we’ve also worked with The Children’s Society and police officers who work with young people, who have come in and talked to us about this.  They’re the ones who opened my eyes about how prevalent it is. They spoke about how they deal with it in schools and educate parents to recognise the signs. It’s not that the kids are bad - they’re looking for a sense of belonging, but they’re being groomed.

Is she confident that her children, Imran and Yasmine will stay away from danger?

She knows that she’s raised them to know right from wrong, but if they felt that somebody needed help then those two would probably get into trouble trying to resolve it, like when Imran got into the fight at school, which resulted in Nancy being stabbed.

What can you tell us about Misbah’s new friendship with Marnie?

It’s brilliant. It’s two characters who you wouldn’t put together because they’re so opposite. Filming scenes together is such a laugh because they are totally different people. We have fun and although they might have started off on the wrong foot, I think they’re starting to find a place where they make each other laugh and from that they’re starting to find a friendship. I hope that it carries on going that way.

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