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Paul Danan: Being in a soap is one of the hardest jobs in acting

As he prepares to appear in Worth a Flutter at the Hope Theatre, ex-Hollyoaks actor and reality TV star Paul Danan explains why he's coming back to theatre

Paul Danan
(© David Emery)

Paul Danan rose to fame in the late '90s when he played Sol Patrick in the soap Hollyoaks. Since then he has made his name as a controversial reality TV star in stints on Celebrity Big Brother in 2017 and the first and second series of Celebrity Love Island. Recently he has been working on feature film Are We Dead Yet and is about to open in new fringe play Worth a Flutter at the Hope Theatre in Islington.

It's been a long time since I was onstage. I originally started with theatre – when I was really young I did musicals. I went to evening classes and got into EastEnders when I was 13, and then went to Italia Conti. It was after training that I ended up doing Hollyoaks for four years. But originally I was in theatre.

The craft of acting is on stage. You don't get take two. It's live and you have to just go for it. I've done panto over the years and if you mess up you can corpse and people laugh and that's fine, but with this you can't mess up. You have to change your way of acting too. Everything is a little bit bigger onstage. Less is more with film.

It's been difficult to get the industry to take me seriously as an actor. They see me as Paul from Celebrity Love Island or Celebrity Big Brother. I just think I'm versatile. I can play all different types of genres. I do Talk Radio and have presented documentaries. People just don't always want to hire someone who's been on reality TV. But it did open up other avenues for me, so I'm glad I got to do it all. You have to take the rough with the smooth.

Worth a Flutter is about relationships really. I play a guy called Paul who is in and out of relationships all the time, and has a friend called Matt who is unlucky in love and there's another guy called Sam, both of whom fall for a woman who runs a café. It's a dark comedy, and my character is a bit of an outrageous narcissistic flirt.

Hollyoaks was the greatest foundation of learning for me. It made me become a better actor. I had so much fun, but being in a soap is one of the hardest jobs in acting. It's nine scenes a day, then you go home and learn another nine scenes for the next day. With a film you're doing nine scenes over nine weeks. Soap is so fast-paced but you need to be at the top of your game. It's the closest thing to a normal nine-to-five job, and you're on TV a couple of times a week. I can't speak highly enough of Hollyoaks. Maybe one day I'll go back.