He burst onto our screens as Ryan Naysmith in Dream Team before heading to Hollyoaks as Calvin Valentine. Now, after wowing audiences on Strictly Come Dancing, it’s time for Ricky Whittle to bow out of Hollyoaks with a bang…
Was it your decision to leave Hollyoaks?
I actually wanted to leave at Christmas, but was persuaded to stay. I was told they had this great storyline where I was going to get killed. It was exciting, although it wasn’t really what I wanted to happen. But I’d already signed up, so it was too late. When your character dies, it gives you a kick up the bum to try and find that next role because you don’t have that comfort zone to come back to.
Did you imagine that you’d have such a dramatic exit?
I was so honoured that they gave me a flash forward — that’s never been done before. So people knew months ago that Calvin was going to die. You want to do a story justice and when it’s your exit, you want it to be memorable. You’re only as good as your last job and hopefully you’ll see me back on TV soon in one form or another.
Was your death scene actually the last scene you filmed?
Yes. Calvin was actually already dead, so it was more about the aftermath. I was just lying there while people were crying around me.
I love this show and I could have done it for life. But I’m ambitious and I’d rather look back on my life and think that I might have failed chasing my dreams. But I’d still rather that than be sat there with regrets wondering, ‘What if?’
And you had a lavish Wild West themed leaving party?
It wasn’t boring, was it? It was great and it wasn’t just the cast, it was all the crew from different departments from design to make-up to press. It was a great send off.
What are you doing next?
I’m shooting my calendar somewhere hot, and I’m also writing a drama. I’ve shown it to some people who have said they love it and that I may have found a niche in the market, as it’s something no-one has touched yet. It could be very appealing to the UK audience. Or even a worldwide audience. I’d like to be in it as well, but it’s great to be the other side of the camera, too.
You’ve said you’d like to make it big in America…
There are more talented actors out there than me, who have failed. So I’m going to keep my cards close to my chest and go out there and try my best.
You’ve also got a law background. How about starring in a legal drama?
I did study law, but I dropped out in my final year when I got offered Dream Team. But a legal drama would be great. CSI’s the way forward!
Wasn’t it while you were a student that you appeared in a music video for Blue?
(Laughs). I did a bit of modelling to pay for books when I was at Uni, and I appeared in the Fly By video. Everyone does something that they’re not proud of (laughs), but the band was lovely.
And are you keeping up your dancing?
I’ve got a big desire to carry on dancing. I’ve been in contact with the former Strictly professional Karen Hardy and I’m going to join her dance school in London. I was always a massive Strictly fan, because it’s a talent you have to learn. And now I can dance and I’ve got that on my CV, so I could go for a dancing role.
We also hear that you’re a bit of a practical joker?
(Laughs). I’ve licked Jamie Lomas’ ear when I’m meant to be whispering in it and I’ve mooned at people as I’m walking out of a scene. Or I haven’t been waiting at a door when the doorbell rings. The funniest was when Glen Wallace and I played a joke on Hollie-Jay Bowes. We spoke each other’s dialogue and she didn’t know who to look at.
Is it hard to go out when you’re in the spotlight?
As long as people are friendly and polite, I’ll stand there and take photos all day. But sometimes guys will grab you in a headlock, or girls will jump on you and I’m thinking, ‘Don’t do that because I don’t know you.’ I don’t mind shaking hands or hugging people if they ask. Mind you, I guess it’s all flattering.
And are you still with Carley Stenson?
I’m a single man, but she’s my best friend. And we’ll always be close. She’s an amazing girl. But I’m married to work at the moment. I’ve got to find the next job. I’ve got to focus on my work and love will come when it comes. What’s meant to be won’t pass you by.
By Elaine Penn