Cleo McQueen is a fictional character from the British soap opera Hollyoaks, played by Nadine Mulkerrin. Cleo is a member of the show's established McQueen family and was introduced as the younger sister of Porsche (Twinnie-Lee Moore) and Celine McQueen (Sarah George), who arrived in late 2014. Actress Jennifer Metcalfe, who plays Mercedes McQueen, suggested that more McQueens should be introduced, as she knew the show was losing two members of the family. Mulkerrin had previously auditioned for the role of Phoebe Jackson. Upon learning she has been cast as Cleo, she gave up her job as a waitress and relocated to Liverpool, where the show is filmed. She made her first appearance during the episode broadcast on 26 January 2015.
Cleo is portrayed as being studious, sensible and witty. She leaves her boarding school to be with her family in Hollyoaks village. Shortly after, she is given her first love interest in Harry Thompson (Parry Glasspool), who struggles with his sexuality while dating her. Cleo is central to a long-running sexual abuse storyline, in which she is manipulated and abused by her stepfather Pete Buchanan (Kai Owen). The cast and crew worked with child protection charity NSPCC on the storyline, while Mulkerrin met with abuse survivors during her research. During the storyline Cleo is also involved in a car crash stunt, and takes the blame for killing Rachel Hardy (Jennifer Brooke) to protect her friend Holly Cunningham (Amanda Clapham). She later develops feelings for Rachel's fiancé Nathan Nightingale (Jared Garfield).
Cleo's second issue-led storyline saw her taking heroin, following the Nathan and Celine's deaths. Producers later paired the character with trainee priest Joel Dexter (Rory Douglas-Speed). The relationship has faced several obstacles, including a motorbike crash, Joel's recommitment to the Church, a kidnapping, and pregnancy. Cleo's third issue-led storyline saw her develop bulimia nervosa in December 2017. For her portrayal of Cleo, Mulkerrin won the Best Newcomer accolade at the 2015 Digital Spy Reader Awards. In 2017, she earned a nomination for Best Female Dramatic Performance at The British Soap Awards. She has been longlisted for Best Actress at the Inside Soap Awards twice. Television critics praised Mulkerrin's performance during the abuse storyline. Others have enjoyed Cleo's relationship with Joel, and one stated she was the best member of the McQueen family.
Creation and castingEdit
In May 2014, Daniel Kilkelly of entertainment website Digital Spy reported that three new members of the McQueen family were being in the process of being cast. The show's executive producer Bryan Kirkwood stated, "Towards the end of this year we're going to meet an extended branch of the McQueen family. There are going to be some colourful new faces to help them reclaim their crown at the heart of the show. later explained that the idea for the new McQueens came from actress Jennifer Metcalfe, who plays Mercedes McQueen. She knew the show was losing Mercedes' sister Carmel McQueen (Gemma Merna) and she herself was taking a break. Kirkwood and Metcalfe are both "passionate" about the McQueens and looked at other famous soap families, like the Mitchells from EastEnders, and realised there could be many other McQueens out there.
Two months later, it was announced that actresses Twinnie-Lee Moore and Sarah George had been cast as Porsche and Celine McQueen, nieces of established character Myra McQueen (Nicole Barber-Lane). Kilkelly's colleague, Sophie Dainty reported that Porsche and Celine would eventually be joined by their younger sister, but casting details had not been confirmed at the time. Mulkerrin gave up her job as a waitress for the part and relocated to Liverpool, where the show is filmed. Mulkerrin originally auditioned for the role of Phoebe Jackson three years prior to securing the part of Cleo, but the role went to Mandip Gill. She later stated that securing the role of Cleo felt like "fate", as she had been auditioning for the show for a while and wanted to be involved in Cleo's upcoming sexual abuse storyline.
Characterisation and introductionEdit
Describing her character, Mulkerrin stated: "Cleo is a typical McQueen – she's not usually a rebel. But she's got McQueen blood running through her, so there's a lot more to come from Cleo. Just watch this space! Mulkerrin also said that Cleo was very studious, into her books and also very witty. When asked if she shares any similarities to her character, Mulkerrin admitted that Cleo was smarter than she was, as Mulkerrin is the ditzy member of her friendship group. But she said that they were both sensible and would stay home to revise, while they were in school. The actress also thought Cleo was very different to her sisters, and said that while Cleo loves them, they would often bicker. A writer for the official Hollyoaks website commented that Cleo slowly gets used to living in a house full of "alpha females" and branded her "a drama-free McQueen". Mulkerrin added that Cleo would have a "turbulent time" following her return home to see her family, and would face some old demons. The character's hair is often styled into a bun. An Inside Soap columnist reported that Cleo's introduction would give viewers an insight into Porsche and Celine's backstory and their lives before they moved to the village. Cleo's first scenes saw her arrive in Chester in the back of a van. After leaving her boarding school, Cleo hitches a lift and manages to convince a passing beautician to drive her to Chester, after saying that her sisters would buy some of the beautician's stock. Mulkerrin commented that Cleo arrives in "typical McQueen style". Porsche and Celine are happy to be reunited with their sister, while Mulkerrin said it was good for Cleo to be with her sisters again, following several tragedies within the family. She also said Cleo had missed Porsche and Celine. Cleo is enrolled at Hollyoaks High and finds herself in trouble with the headmaster Patrick Blake (Jeremy Sheffield) on her first day. Mulkerrin explained that Cleo is "really clever" and was away on a scholarship, so when she spots Dylan Jenkins (James Fletcher) and Nico Blake (Persephone Swales-Dawson) spray painting a school wall, she points out that they have missed out an apostrophe and adds it in. Patrick catches Cleo and she finds herself in "a whole heap of trouble".
Relationship with Harry ThompsonEdit
When Harry Thompson (Parry Glasspool) returns to the village in February 2015, he begins a relationship with Cleo. During his first day at Hollyoaks High, Harry befriends Cleo when he needs help. He later flirts with her and Cleo "quickly warms to him", as she feels flattered by his attentiveness. Shortly after, Harry kisses Cleo's cousin John Paul McQueen (James Sutton) and he struggles with his sexuality. When his friend Zack Loveday (Duayne Boachie) mentions that John Paul has been showing extra attention to him, Harry kisses Cleo in front of their classmates to prove his interest in her. However, an angry Cleo pushes him away and says Harry has made "a mockery" of her, leaving him to make it up to her.
Glasspool thought Harry did genuinely like Cleo, saying "She's the first friend he made when he arrived. I think Harry does have feelings for her, but at the same time, you do get a sense that he's using her just to distract people and keep up an image. Harry does seem to be fond of Cleo and he does really like her, but it'll be interesting to see how it works out for both of them. I suppose it is a bit mean leading her on if he's not really interested!
With Harry struggling with his sexuality, he realises that he cannot commit to the relationship and breaks up with Cleo, who is "distraught" by the development. Cleo handles Harry's rejection poorly and hopes that they can sort things out and reconcile. The couple later reunite. When Cleo gets a job at the local coffee shop, she and Harry have a playful whipped cream fight. Her stepfather Pete Buchanan (Kai Owen) sees her with Harry and reports her to Jack Osborne (Jimmy McKenna) for unprofessional behaviour. Cleo suddenly breaks up with Harry and he becomes convinced that she is dating another man. Harry spies on Cleo, but dismisses his suspicions when she meets up with Pete.
Cleo's sister Porsche tries to convince her to give her relationship with Harry another chance. She then embarrasses Cleo by attempting to get her and Harry back together, but it does give Cleo a chance to talk with Harry and he agrees to have a coffee with her. Cleo learns that Harry was hurt when she ended their relationship and he thinks that there was more to her reason for the break up. Cleo later spots a "half-naked" Harry in the street and invites him out for a drink. An Inside Soap writer noted that there was an obvious chemistry between them. During their night out, Cleo suddenly remembers that she has organised a date with her stepfather, ending her chances of reuniting with Harry for good.
On 12 June 2015, Kilkelly (Digital Spy) reported that as part of the show's long-running, issue-led storyline focusing on sexual abuse within the McQueen family, Cleo's stepfather Pete Buchanan (Kai Owen) would form "an inappropriate relationship" with her. Mulkerrin learned about the storyline during her audition for Cleo and knew it would be "pretty heavy". The cast and crew worked with child protection charity NSPCC on the storyline and led a campaign titled "No More Secrets", which encourages victims to speak out. Mulkerrin was passionate about the storyline and wanted to do it justice. She thought that if one person watched the show and decided to speak out, then they had done their job well. On-screen, Cleo's sister Porsche tells her family that Pete sexually abused her when she was 15, but they do not ;klher. Pete then reunites with their mother Reenie McQueen (Zöe Lucker) and acts as a stepfather to her daughters, which allows him to start manipulating Cleo. Mulkerrin explained that there would multiple layers to Cleo's story and that it would push the boundaries. She continued, "Cleo turns 18 during this story, so then it raises questions of whether she's an adult who's consenting to this. It's not as simple as her being abused or being a victim."
During an interview with Sarah Ellis of Inside Soap, the actress revealed more details on Cleo and Pete's fictional backstory. She explained that Cleo was groomed from the age of thirteen by Pete, which caused her to think that what they have is normal. She thinks that they are in a loving relationship and has no idea that she is being abused. When Ellis pointed out that Cleo appeared reluctant to be alone with Pete, Mulkerrin replied that Cleo is not comfortable with the physical side of their relationship. She continued, "She doesn't get any pleasure from having sex with Pete – they're not equals like they would be in a normal relationship.When Pete wants to be alone with Cleo, she goes along with it because she loves him and does not want him to leave the family. Mulkerrin also told Ellis that Cleo was very jealous of Pete and Reenie's relationship, and she asks Pete to choose who he wants to be with. Cleo wants their relationship to be public knowledge, but Mulkerrin doubted that she could go through with telling her mother the truth. Pete targets Jade Albright (Kassius Nelson) as he sees that she is also a vulnerable teen that needs "rescuing". Pete befriends Jade after helping her with her school work and asking about her life. Owen commented that Pete wants to get close to Jade, but he also uses her to make Cleo jealous. When Cleo learns about Pete's new friendship, she confronts him and he "brushes it off straight away". Pete assures Cleo that Jade is just a child and he was just helping her with her school work. Owen pointed out, "We've seen time and time again that Pete can manipulate Cleo and easily get her back onside." Cleo becomes increasingly unsettled by the idea of Pete marrying her mother and wants to tell everyone about their affair. She also feels betrayed by Pete's closeness to Jade and his plans to go through with the wedding. She threatens to reveal their relationship and stop the wedding, so Pete tries to talk her round in an alleyway, but they are seen by Cleo's former boyfriend Harry Thompson. Harry confronts Cleo on her own and she reveals that she is in a relationship with Pete. Shortly after Pete and Reenie are married, Harry interrupts the ceremony and tells everyone the truth about Cleo and Pete. Porsche believes Harry straight away.
Pete is later injured in a car accident and Cleo visits him the hospital in secret. She wants "to keep that connection going" and it shows that Pete still has control over her. She also refuses to talk to the police when Reenie and Porsche invite them to the McQueen home. Harry learns that Cleo is visiting Pete and tells her to stop, but when she ignores his plea, he tells her family. Pete later asks Cleo to get rid of a key he has hidden under a floorboard, and viewers learn that it is for a storage unit where Pete has kept all of the correspondence and photographs documenting their relationship. Mulkerrin told Alison Gardner of What's on TV that Cleo realises that she has been abused when she finds photos of Jade among the items. She confronts Jade at the college and Jade describes how Pete called her special bought her gifts, which is what he did with Cleo. Mulkerrin called the moment that Cleo realises the truth "really sad."
Pete gets close to Cleo again and they plan to run away together.After receiving good test results, Cleo reconsiders her plan to run away with Pete and asks if they can wait until she has sat her A levels. An angry Pete is not happy with the change of plan. To take her mind off the situation, Cleo attends the Space Ball, while Pete attempts to reach her on her phone. Cleo eventually decides that she should leave with Pete. While she is attending school for the last time, Holly Cunningham (Amanda Clapham) discovers Cleo's passport and travel tickets. She puts them in her locker and refuses to hand them over to Cleo. Pete orders Cleo to get the documents back and their conversation is overheard by Nathan, who warns Holly. However, they discover Cleo has already broken into Holly's locker and taken back the documents. As Cleo meets up with Pete, Holly, Nathan and John Paul arrive on the scene. John Paul pulls Cleo away and punches Pete in the face, but Pete punches him back. Cleo is conflicted as she feels protective of her cousin, but she is also protective of Pete.
Car crash and Nathan NightingaleEdit
In March 2016, Cleo is involved in a car crash. She is a passenger in the car driven by Holly, who has been drinking, when it crashes into Nathan Nightingale (Jared Garfield) and his fiancée Rachel Hardy's (Jennifer Brooke) car. Nathan manages to free Cleo from the wreckage, but Rachel is killed during an explosion. Cleo takes the blame for the accident, so Holly is not punished for drunk-driving. Clapham told Carena Crawford of All About Soap that Holly feels guilty about Cleo taking the blame. She constantly tells Cleo that she does not have to and insists that she will hand herself in. Holly struggles to forget what happened and turns to Cleo for reassurance. She later grows closer to Nathan and Cleo sees him put his hand on Holly's knee. Cleo then confronts Holly and wonders why she is still covering for her. As the storylines continue, Cleo begins to feel isolated. She feels that Holly has betrayed her, her family have other priorities, and the rest of the village thinks she is a murderer. Cleo's stepfather Pete Buchanan uses this to manipulate her further. Holly later develops feelings for Nathan and kisses him. As the day of the trial arrives, Nathan is "desperate" for Cleo to face justice for killing Rachel, while Celine and Myra notice that there is tension between Cleo and Holly. Outside the courthouse, Cleo suddenly begins to panic due to the pressure. Cleo is given community service instead of a prison sentence, which causes a "furious" Nathan to tip a bin over her. The truth about the car crash comes out during Pete's trial for abusing Cleo. The defence team ask Cleo if she was really the driver of the car that killed Rachel. Cleo had told Pete the truth about covering for Holly, and he uses his knowledge of the incident against her. A few weeks later, Cleo and Nathan share a "heart-to-heart" and bond over their recent troubles with Pete and Rachel. They eventually agree that they should move on, leading to speculation that there could be a romance between them in the future. The show's social media accounts came up with the portmanteau "Clathan" for the couple.
Cleo and Nathan continue to bond when she is given a job at his family's pub. But when she notices that Holly is struggling and Nathan's behaviour towards her is not helping, Cleo encourages him to forgive Holly or risk losing her friendship. Nathan develops feelings for Cleo. When he receives an anonymous message inviting him to an event at the Loft, he assumes it is from Cleo and is surprised when Lisa Loveday (Rachel Adedeji) makes advances towards him. Nathan's sister encourages him to tell Cleo how he feels at her 18th birthday party, but she rejects him when he attempts to kiss her She later sets Nathan up with Lisa and they begin dating. However, Cleo later realises that she does have feelings for him. Mulkerrin commented, "It is that blurred line where you really love someone as a friend and start to realise that you are attracted to them on another level." She also thought that Cleo decided to "play Cupid" with Nathan and Lisa, as she did not think she and Nathan were ever going to get together. Celine encourages Cleo to write Nathan an email telling him about her feelings. Mulkerrin described the email as "sweet and honest" and said Cleo has no intention of sending it, but then she discovers Celine has done it for her.
Lisa grows jealous of Nathan and Cleo's close friendship. She also knows Cleo has feelings for Nathan, so she is "furious" when she discovers Nathan has set up a cinema night for Cleo. Lisa tells Cleo to stay away from Nathan and she also asks Nathan to choose between her and Cleo. Mulkerrin thought Cleo and Nathan shared some similarities, saying that they were "on the same wavelength". She also branded them both "cute", "sweet" and "geeky".She also thought they would make a good couple, saying "I'm a sucker for romance, so I'm completely backing 'Clathan', as the fans call them! Cleo knows they have a proper connection – but things are going to get worse for her before they get better..."Shortly after Celine's funeral, Cleo's family encourage her to tell Nathan how she really feels about him. However, just as she gets to the Dog in the Pond, Cleo witnesses Nathan fall to his death. Cleo's friendship with Lisa suffers as a result, and they later fight. Mulkerrin told a writer for the show's official website that Cleo really regrets helping Lisa and Nathan get together.
The character's third issue-led storyline began airing in December 2017.Cleo develops bulimia nervosa after learning Joel is now in a relationship with Sienna. At home, she binges on food and then makes herself sick. Mulkerrin said Cleo's bulimia is caused by her feeling "like an outsider", and the binging helps her feel like she is still in control. The show is working with the charity Beat on the storyline and they hope to increase awareness of the topic. Mulkerrin met with a bulimia sufferer and carried out her own research, so that she can portray the scenes as accurately as possible.
2015-: Cleo has a pillow fight with Holly.
2016 #1: Cleo and Holly laughing and jumping around
2019-: Cleo bumps into Goldie whilst dancing and Sylver stops them from fighting.