|Character Profile||List of appearances|
James Nightingale is the oldest son of Mac Nightingale and Marnie Nightingale. He is the brother of Nathan Nightingale and Ellie Nightingale, the half-brother of Alfie Nightingale and Juliet Nightingale, and the father of Romeo Nightingale.
On James's 16th birthday, he was forced to sleep with Donna-Marie Quinn by his father Mac Nightingale in an attempt to turn him straight. Donna-Marie becomes pregnant with James’ child and Marnie Nightingale paid her £100,000 to keep her son with James (Romeo Quinn) a secret from him. In October 2018, James found out he's a father when Romeo tells him he's his son after many failed attempts to tell him for months.
- 1 Biography
- 1.1 1985-2016: Backstory
- 1.2 2016-2017: Arrival and Villainous deeds
- 1.3 2017-2018: Who Killed Amy?
- 1.4 2018: Sami's Revenge Plan
- 1.5 2018: Affair and Secret Son
- 1.6 2019: Harry's Return and Living with Romeo
- 1.7 2019: Mac's Revenge and Aftermath
- 1.8 2019: Harry's Baby Drama and James's Paranoia
- 1.9 2019-2020: Relationship with Liam and Shooting of Mercedes
- 1.10 2020-2021: Feud with George and County Lines
- 1.11 2021-: Getting closer to Ste
- 2 Kill Count
- 3 Other Information
- 4 Background Information
- 5 Introduction Sequence
- 6 Gallery
2016-2017: Arrival and Villainous deeds
James comes to Hollyoaks as part of a greater scheme, he introduces himself to Cindy as a solicitor and that he wants to help her out in her divorce. Cindy agrees at first but later backs out. When Cindy's daughter Holly gets arrested, Cindy tries to seduce James into helping her. Once her cover is blown, James agrees to help Holly if Cindy reinstates her claims against Mac. James tells her he has another client that is very interested in seeing Mac go down. When Cindy sets up a meeting at the loft, James comes face to face with Mac and Nathan as they learn James is Cindy's lawyer and that Marnie is behind it all. Marnie wants to help Cindy take all of Mac's money because when she divorced him she got nothing. James explains to his dad that he will help his mother, because Mac never fought for him, stating that James wasn't the son he wanted, that James wasn't like Nathan. Cindy is upset with James for lying to her and coming onto her, but James makes it clear he is gay and never was interested in her, but that he will help Holly with her charge. James successfully gets Holly's charges dropped. Originally Marnie and James plan to leave as soon as they have the money Mac is paying them to leave. Which doesn't surprise Nathan one bit as he points out the damage they have done to their family in only two days time. Nathan accidentally lets slips that Alfie is Mac's biological son and that Cindy is his mother. Marnie and James leave but return a little later ready to move to Hollyoaks to take down Mac.
In order to bring down Mac, Marnie and James have their eyes set on getting The Hutch. They made Tony Hutchinson and Diane Hutchinson an offer but the couple tells them The Hutch is not for sale. Marnie and James then befriend the couple and Marnie sets James up with Scott Drinkwell. James uses Scott to get information on Tony and to get access to The Hutch's laptop. Knowing the Hutch is on the brink of bankruptcy, Marnie and James decide to push it in the right direction. Being caught by Scott with the laptop, James fabricates a lie and goes on another date with him even though he dislikes the man. Later, James manipulates Scott into tempering with the spirits in order to save The Hutch. Marnie informs James that the plan worked and James reports The Hutch for violations. When Nathan discovers Marnie took out a business loan, She lies and says it was for Ellie. Nathan wants reassurance from James, but James simply tells Nathan that nobody remembers the past like he did. When Tony is desperate for money, James offers him his services as a Lawyer and helps Tony gain complete control of the Hutch by having Ste sign over his share. When Tony suddenly seems in high spirits, James discovers Tony has been gambling to gain the money. When Tony announces his new plans, James finds an ally in stopping these plan in Darren Osborne. James and Darren come up with a plan to make it seem like Darren got robbed and Tony ends up losing his winning along with the investment he put into it. James later manipulates Myra into filing a report against the Hutch for her fall earlier that week. James offers to be Tony's lawyer and settle the case for him, though his real intention is to get Myra to go for the highest possible compensation to further bring down the longevity of The Hutch.
In the meantime, it's revealed that Alfie's cancer has come back and that Nathan and Rachel are going on their planned world trip. James gives Nathan money as a present but he's not present when the couple sets off. Rachel dies in an accident on their road to the airport. James his absence during her funeral is noted and James replies on his return to town that he doesn't do funerals. Whilst working in The Loft, Harry Thompson catches James's eye and James finds out he and his boy friend Ste are homeless when he sees them sneak into The Hutch, the next day James confronts them and Harry begs him not to tell anything to his father. James offers them an alternative which Ste turns down. Harry asks James if he could give them a break and James does so by showing him the shack in which Harry and Ste end up staying for a while. James has no problem taking advantage of Harry's homeless position. James tries to win over Harry's trust by offering him a place to stay and giving Ste Hay a job. Harry mistakenly thinks James is after Ste and tells James to back off. James, however, is quick to set that straight and tells Harry, he's not after Ste, he's after him and that he always gets what he wants. Deliberately causing a fight between Harry and Ste, James offers Harry a warm meal and makes another move on Harry. Harry makes it clear he would never cheat on Ste, to which James offers him 10K for one night of pleasure. Harry turns him down. The next day, Harry is forced to work Ste's shift and James flirts with him, trying to make him change his mind. Harry once again turns him down. When Ste gets arrested later that day, Harry asks James for help. James helps Harry free of charge and reminds him about the 10K offer. Trying to prevent Ste from selling drugs Harry decides to sleep with James for the money. The next morning, he finds out Ste had sorted the problem. When Ste finds the money he lies about where it came from and gives it back to James.
When Tony Hutchinson and Diane Hutchinson won't sell The Hutch to Marnie, James blackmails Harry into helping him. He fake-kidnaps Harry, which seems to work as they sign over the Hutch. James starts to take an interest in John Paul McQueen after John Paul tells him and his mother off for the way they have been treating Scott. They have a one-night stand but John Paul decides to date Scott instead. James becomes Warren Fox his lawyer. Warren refers to James as the best criminal defence lawyer in the country. James asks Warren to pay him before anything else happens, Warren reassures James the money will come. Warren is released from jail remarkably early for good behaviour.
Harry asks James to give Diane and Tony their jobs back and James tells him they can have their jobs back if Harry sleeps with him again, Harry, however finds a different way and ends up blackmailing James into giving his dad and Diane their old jobs back. James makes it happen but wants to show Harry he's still the one in the charge and offers Ste a job as well, Ste recognises that James was Harry's kidnapper and goes to police forcing Harry to confess he helped set it up. When Ste confronts James, James has the last laugh and exposes their one night stand and the money he paid for it. Leading Ste and Harry to break up, though they reconcile after a while. He later tells Ste, that he thinks Ste is responsible for ruining Harry's life and his bright future. Needing legal advice John Paul turns to James for help. James ends up helping John Paul with Sally's case but they need a witness to say it was an accident. James is fully aware by this point Sally did push Myra in a way but doesn't inform John Paul of this. To persuade John Paul to find a witness James makes it clearly that it's Sally that will suffer in a male prison, if she gets charged, leading to John Paul making a false statement in the end to protect her. When John Paul finds out that Sally is guilty he is angry at James for lying to him. John Paul wants to go to police but James reminds him of his false witness statement. Later, John Paul asks James for help with the charges against Cleo McQueen and Holly Cunningham. James tries to convince Nathan to drop the charges and protects Cleo from getting in a whole lot of trouble. Nathan drops the charges and James texts John Paul asking how the man plans to pay him back for all the work he has done for his family.
When James' ex-boyfriend Carter arrives in the village and asks James to join him for dinner to discuss him joining his new law firm. Carter informs him that his girlfriend Lara will be there. In order to prove that he has moved on too. James orders John Paul to pretend to be his boyfriend and attend the meal. He reminds John Paul that he owes him for giving Holly free legal representation. John Paul cancels his plans with Scott to attend the lunch. He impresses James' friends and the meeting goes well. But Scott catches them and they argue publicly, embarrassing James. Rather than attempt to save his relationship, John Paul follows James home for an argument which leads to the pair sleeping together. After a few days, John Paul dumps James after he made some harsh comments towards Scott. Joanne Cardsley, an acquaintance of James is also after the job and ends up getting it. Though James is resentful, the two become friends rather quickly.
James continues to help John Paul with lawsuits and ends up making a bet with Joanna to split up John Paul and Scott. James succeeds in getting back into bed with John Paul but the latter gets hit by a car and loses his sight the next day before he could break up with Scott. Initially, James wants to take care of a blind John Paul, realising he loves John Paul, but his mother emotionally manipulates James into dumping John Paul. They don't get back together until after John Paul sees Mac beat up James and he wants to help him deal with his abusive past. James struggles with opening up and being a family with John Paul, but he is willing to try and learn. When John Paul gets a letter stating Finn O'Connor who had raped him might be released from jail. James does whatever he can to prevent that from happening. Unaware that John Paul is secretly growing closer to Ste and ends up kissing him. John Paul decides that he needs to be with James after James tells him he loves him, and the two end up getting engaged when John Paul accepts James his proposal, however their happiness is short lived as John Paul cheats on James with Ste and James finds out. In an act of revenge James pretends to have kidnapped Ste and makes John Paul believe he was in the boot of the car that he pushed of a cliff. John Paul then proceeds to leave Hollyoaks and a broken hearted James is left behind.
2017-2018: Who Killed Amy?
When the one night stand between John Paul and Ste is revealed at the wedding of Ryan Knight and Amy Barnes, James stays behind with Harry. They talk and eventually share a few kisses. James later sees Harry throw something away in the bin and asks if he has come back for more, Harry tells him he's back with Ste. In a flashback, James removes what Harry threw away from the bin and puts it in the pond. James is told the next day that Amy has been murdered and that someone broke into his flat. With Ste as the major suspect, Harry begs James to defend Ste, claiming he knows Ste didn't do it. James is baffled Harry would go back to Ste after what Ste did, but Harry has his reasons.
From the beginning, James thought Harry was the real killer, but James agrees to help Ste with his case. Though in actuality he is framing Ste in order to take revenge on him for sleeping with John Paul and keep him away from Harry. With the help of Ryan they remove the picture they found taken by DS Armstrong which would make him a suspect and James takes Ste's blood from the hospital and puts it on the found sneakers which belong to Ste and also has Amy's blood on them.
James is constantly trying to get Harry to give up on Ste and so Harry can realise he needs to move on with his life, because he still has a lot to offer and live for, but Harry cannot do this. Making James even more determined to put Ste behind bars for good. In the meantime Armstrong has been released from his stalking charges and James has paid him off to keep him quiet about what he saw (James hiding evidence), he tells DS Armstrong he threw away stuff belong to John Paul and that he spends the night with Harry as his alibi.
When Ryan regrets setting up Ste, James is forced to tell Ste that Harry is the real killer. Ste agrees to go to jail and let James do his job. Harry, however, cannot accept this and James decides to frame DS Armstrong instead. James urges Harry to keep quiet because of everything he put on the line for him, but Harry eventually tells Tony, who kicks him out of the house.
James runs into Harry at the police station and discovers Harry was arrested for soliciting. Harry tells him he's been sleeping with men for money for the last few weeks and that Ryan arrested him during an operation. James digs deeper into this and discovers this wasn't the case. He finds out Ryan is gay and uses it to blackmail him into dropping Harry's charges, the information came from Ryan's lover Kyle Kelly. James is trying to convince Harry once again he's a not a bad person and that he deserves a second chance. Harry tells James how he feels about everything that has happened and leaves. While Harry got arrested the police took his DNA and before the day is over they have taken him in for questioning. Harry rushes to James for help, which James provides in the form of an alibi. He tells DS Thorpe that Harry is his lover and that they were together the night Amy was murdered. He later tells Harry not to worry.
Harry returns a few days before Christmas, after breaking into James his apartment because he had nowhere else to go. Harry is beaten up after a client attacked him. James doesn't want Harry back on the street where he could possibly get hurt even more. Diane and Ryan have both learned Harry is the killer, but Ryan agrees to let Harry be, after being blackmailed by James. Later that day, James and Harry sleep together after an emotional, open conversation, where James opens up to Harry about Mac. James is hurt the next day, when Harry asks for money, because James felt something and thought it meant more than Harry does. James asks Harry if he is willing to give them a chance to see if Harry can feel something more for him. Harry turns him down, as he doesn't want to take advantage of James his feelings for him. Planning to go back to selling himself, James makes him an offer; Harry can stay with James and James will find Harry more trustworthy clients. James offers this as it is the only thing Harry will accept that keeps Harry safe and close to him. Harry accepts James his offer. Harry stays with James for the following few days and continues to sleep with men that James finds for him.
When James needs a date to a business event, Harry offers to come along. One of James his client takes an interest in Harry and demands James to arrange for Harry to sleep with him in exchange for a business deal. However harry gets caught in the act by Tony. When Harry doesn't return home, James goes looking for him and Diane informs him that Harry confessed to sleeping with men for money and that Tony has moved Harry back into their home. James manipulates Diane into changing her mind about Harry staying with them again and that Harry should come back to him. Furious with James after Diane told him to hand himself in, Harry demands an explanation for why James meddled in his affairs. James tells him he wanted him back, and reminds Harry of what James has done for him and the things he had risked. When Harry asks why, James confesses that he loves him. Harry doesn't take that confession well and tells James, he is incapable of love and that he was his pimp. Harry plans to leave James and makes it clear he wants to stay as far away from him as possible when James reminds him again of what he has done for Harry in spite of knowing the truth, they are overheard by Sami. James quickly reassures Harry that Sami didn't look like he had heard anything. James was wrong, however, as Harry shows up at his door because the police are looking for him a few hours later. James doesn't think there is much of case to work with, but Harry knows he will crack if he gets arrested. Harry begs James to help him. James however is still a bit hurt over Harry's words from earlier, but Harry tells him that if James really loves him, he has to help him. When the police show up at James his house, Harry hides and James tells them that he didn't come home yet but that he did mention he would be with Zack and that he would never give a false alibi. Harry thanks James and tries to apologise for the way he responded to James love confession earlier, but James doesn't want his apology. He quickly put the topic on getting Harry out of the country because DS Thorpe will not stop until he has Harry. James goes to Tony for help because the cops are already suspecting him of being somewhat involved. When Ste arrives at James' after having heard the news, James tells him Harry has to leave the country and that James already has a plan.
With Harry in the boot of Tony's car on his way out of town, James and Ste mislead the cops and get arrested for perversion of justice. Whilst waiting to be released Ste thanks James for his help and tells him he still loves Harry, James ask him where he is all the time, but Ste reminds James that Harry did in the end kill the mother of his children, DS Thorpe enters the room and informs them that there was a car accident involving the Hutchinson's. Ste and James rush to the hospital not knowing who was injured. When Harry gets out of the ambulance Ste wants to be with Harry but James stops him, telling him that he needs to be sure he can forgive Harry for killing Amy if not he should leave. Ste leaves and James enters the hospital to see Harry. James wants to take Harry away from the hospital before it's too late, but Harry wants to stay because Diane isn't out of the woods yet even it means he gets arrested. James tries to get Harry to change his mind, promising him to keep him update and get revenge on Sami for ratting them out. Tony arrives with good news but so the police, James tries one more time to get Harry to leave with him through a different exit but Harry refuses and walks towards the police. Harry confesses outside of the hospital to killing Amy Barnes.
2018: Sami's Revenge Plan
Harry struggles with being in jail and James promises that if he pleads not guilty he will get Harry out of here. His father is having none of it. Harry promises James he will plead not guilty and that when he is released the two of them can start a relationship together. When Sami learns of this because James is happily telling his sister, he tells Tony and Ste who visit Harry and persuade him into pleading guilty in exchange for a lenient sentence. Harry eventually breaks his promise to James and faces twenty years in prison. After Harry pleads guilty to killing Amy Barnes, James and Kyle meet up again as James is in need to drink away his pain and have some meaningless sex. Afterwards, James breaks down due to losing Harry and gets beaten up in front of his own home. The next day, it’s his birthday and Tony wants answers as to why James was renting Harry out. His mother and sister walk in and overhear. James confesses this is true and is disowned by his family, before he is arrested by the police. Sami is James his lawyer and sets him up to plead guilty though they need a confession from Harry for that. James is suspended from his work effective immediately. Sami tells James Harry confessed and James believes Harry has betrayed him and he is now truly alone in the world. He begs Sami to stay with him on his birthday but Sami leaves. Later James receives a phone call from Harry, who apologises for going against his wishes as he denied the allegation because he could never do that to James. James is confused because James never asked Harry to do this and realises Sami has been setting him up and been playing a game with him and Harry for a while now and Sami was the one that beat him up.
Seeing that James is without a job, Kyle becomes his tenant. James is unaware that Kyle has been hired by Sami to set James up. Sami wants to use Kyle in his plan to frame James for murder. Kyle helps James get his job back. He is desperately trying to make James love him, so that Sami will pay him the money he needs to get his treatment for MS.
The two have a turbulent relationship, with James throwing out Kyle when Harry agrees to live with him after he was found innocent. Though soon after Harry decides to stay with Ste, James asks Kyle to move back in and the two become more serious. Kyle tries to get a rise out of James to make it more believable he would kill Kyle, but doesn't succeed. In the end he drugs James and pretends James had hit him while he was drunk. James believes he is becoming like his father and attends therapy to prevent him from hitting Kyle again. James takes care of Kyle when he has an MS attack and Kyle wants out of the deal with Sami, having fallen in love with James. Though Kyle is quickly back to scheming when his insecurity regarding James and Harry's relationship gets the better of him. James tries to reassure Kyle that he loves him but in the end Kyle and James fight once again over Harry's presence in James's life. Kyle accidentally pushes James through the table and disappears. Sami uses the moment to frame James for murdering Kyle. James attacks Sami when he learns Kyle is still alive. James is arrested by DS Roxy Cassidy and put behind bars.
2018: Affair and Secret Son
When James is stuck in jail, he gets a visit from Harry. Harry is struggling with Dee Dee's illness and Tony's missing. Harry explains that James is the only one in the world he feels he can talk to. James and Harry embrace and Harry tells James he's been selling himself again. James is worried and wonders how Harry feels about sleeping with all these men, Harry says he feels more guilty about being here with James. When times is up James tells Harry to stop worrying about the darkness inside of him and to enjoy being Harry Thompson. He's trying to take his own advice as well and gives Harry permission to come again after Harry says he will risk everything with Ste for him. James and Harry talk about what James is doing in jail during their second meeting, though Harry is frustrated that James is in jail and wants to help him. James admits that he is lonely and that the most precious time he has are when Harry drops by and when he's watching countdown. The third time James receives a chocolate bar from Harry for him to eat during countdown. James talks about the class he's taking and Harry talks about the hatch, James explains to Harry that he cares about the fact that Harry doesn't know what he wants and about his current behaviour. James tells Harry not to waste his time on him, because Harry has his whole life ahead of him. Harry tells James he will be in touch before then. When James opens the chocolate bar he discovers a very small phone inside of it. He calls Harry with it and they play countdown together. The phone is confiscated a few days later and James gets a visit from Ste instead of Harry. Ste warns James to stay away from Harry. James bans Harry from coming to see him and at some point gets beat up in jail. When in hospital he is visited by his mother and later by Ellie and Harry. He tells Harry to stay away from him not wanting to hear what Harry has to say. Ste and Harry find Kyle and prove James' innocence. On the day of his release he runs into Romeo, who he mistakes for a beggar and gives him some money. Having learned everything about the scheme against him, James breaks up with Kyle but not before telling him he really did love him before. Not much later Harry drops by to check on James. Harry tells James Ste has forgiven him for sleeping with all those men and that he's lucky to be with him. James doesn't believe Harry. James starts to undress Harry but Harry puts a stop to it, saying that Ste has to be the one. James challenge it by telling Harry he's trading one closet for another, but that when he closes his eyes James is the one he thinks about. The two kiss and Harry breaks it off. He never makes it out of the door as the two then end up having sex. James spots Harry the next day with Ste but doesn't say anything. When Harry drops by James tells him, he knows the drill by now, but is taken by surprise when Harry didn't come to him to tell him to keep his mouth shut but instead to sleep with him again. They get interrupted when Romeo knocks on his door. James tells him he's not interested in what he's selling and goes back inside. Indoors Harry tells James he wants to be with Ste but also wants to keep seeing James and James tells him that this is not a problem to him.
James is informed that Mac has awoken from his locked in situation. Mac wants to make amends for what he has done, but he already lands Ellie in Jail. James, with the help of Sami, gets Ellie released by pointing out to the authorities that Alfie, the key witness, wasn't taken his meds. Alfie is very upset with James for using his mental health against him in order to free Ellie. After Ellie is released, she leaves Hollyoaks with Holly to travel the world and Marnie has sold The Dog to pay off the debt on the pub. Alfie decides to believe that Mac has changed and they move in with Cindy. Mac's return is driving James crazy, he wants distraction so he texts Harry, Harry, however, tells them they are in a relationship and should just talk about these things instead. James is not interested and throws Harry out. Later, he runs into Sylver McQueen and tries to convince him to kill Mac for money and when that fails he threatens to put Sylver back behind bars. Sylver refuses. When Mac tries to tell James he has changed, but James isn't fooled as he deliberately tries to rile Mac up. James succeeds but then goes back to Sylver, losing his cool and almost hitting him with a broomstick. James is stopped by Harry and the two go back to his apartment. James explains to Harry why Mac return is messing with his head so much and that he tried to get Sylver to kill Mac. Harry understands but reminds James not to psychically go after men twice his size since James isn't a fighter. James tries to kiss Harry, who initially refuses but then kisses him and they make it to bedroom. When Harry gets ready to leave, James tells Harry they are fooling themselves into thinking they can keep this a secret for much longer and that Harry should leave Ste to be with him because James loves Harry, he always has. Harry leaves the house without saying anything back. James is very frustrated with the lack of a response from Harry, who is not answering his phone either. Marnie wants to know what is wrong and James finally tells her about him and Harry. When James gets back home he is visited by Tegan Lomax, who wants to know about her rights as the biological mother of Dee Dee Hutchinson, she wants to prevent the hospital from giving her a treatment that could potentially be dangerous. James agrees to look into for her. Outside he runs into Harry, who doesn't have time for James because Ste told him to wait for him here. James is angry that Harry keeps on prioritising Dee Dee's illness and Ste over him and he ignored him after last night's love confession. James reminds Harry he loves him, but they get interrupted as Ste arrives with Tony. James walks away but later sees Harry hugging Ste. James tells his mother then Harry has clearly been playing a game with him. James goes to the hospital and walks into Dee Dee's chamber, where Harry, Ste, Tony, Diane, Tegan and the kids are all enjoying having Tony back. James announces he has two things to tell them and drops the bomb that Dee Dee and Rose Lomax were switched at birth. Before James can drop the second bomb about his affair with Harry, Ste pushes him out of the room. Harry prevents Ste from attacking James as James walks away Harry follows. Harry demands to know why James is trying to tear apart his family. James says he didn't and that he's not proud of what he just did, but that he tired of chasing Harry and Harry putting his family above him. Harry tells him, right now he feels nothing but contempt for James and leaves. James makes his way to the hospital and runs into Ste and Harry outside. Harry once again has to stop Ste from attacking him. James explains that he's sorry for what he just did and that he did it because he's a bully that lashes out when he doesn't get his way and that he's going to die alone and bitter. Ste yells at him that it couldn't happen to a better person. Later, Harry shows up at his door. James tells him he understands their relationship is over and that Harry never wants to see him again, but Harry kisses him instead, leaving James very confused. Harry tells James that he loves him but that James needs to be patient especially after today. James promises that he will be more patient.
At the start of October, James wants to take Harry away for a romantic evening of opera, when Ste spots them they lie about the topic of conversation. Ste needs James his help because Romeo and Prince have stolen his idea and are selling food in his name. James talks to the boys and tells them to stop the business, though he compliments Romeo on trying to making. Ste needs Harry to babysit and James tells him he knows he will always play second fiddle to Ste. James is later told by his mother that Harry had gone to his house for a date, but there was a break in in the house, and Harry hurt his foot and landed himself in the hospital. James arrives with flowers, but Harry tells him to leave because Ste is there. James overhears Harry tell Ste, he's the only man for him and Marnie tells him, Harry has clearly made up his mind on who he wants. James decides he's had enough and finds himself a date. He deliberately meets up with this man at the Bean and kisses him on the cheek when he spots Harry. Harry goes to talk to him and James tells him that he's moving on, because clearly that is what Harry wants him to do. Harry tells him that is not what he wants and that he wants to be with James, but they just have to keep it a secret. James will not play second fiddle any more. Harry tries to tell him he's not, but James makes is very clear that if Harry wants to be with him, he has to cancel the wedding. James walks in on Tony, Ste and Harry and Ste asks if James knows more about the break in yet, but James has nothing to go on and nothing was taken. Harry shows up at his door afterwards trying to get James to change his mind. Harry tells James that he is not marrying Ste and that they are worth the wait. James says he understands, so he will give him to 4 O' clock in the afternoon to postpone his wedding. When Harry returns he kisses James and tells him that he wants to be with him, but that for his family he needs to be with Ste and he leaves his key behind before walking out and ending their affair. Marnie has tried for a week to get James to go out with her, James finally agrees to go shopping with her and Marnie reveals she has set him up on a date. James has his date in the Loft, though he's not happy with the guy Marnie has chosen. His date arrives at the same time as Harry arrives for his stag night. James tries to get a rise out of Harry and succeeds when the latter tells him to stop this charade once he's alone. Harry tells James that they were a mistake and that James needs to keep his mouth shut about the affair. The next day, Harry shows up angry with him because he received a blackmail letter. James denies knowing anything about the letter. Harry leaves and makes a phone call to Christopher, a former client of him, asking if he fancies a reunion. James takes his phone away before it goes any further and tells him he is not going back to renting himself. He takes the letter and tells Harry he will sort it. Harry is surprised at that and James points out he can be a decent person when it counts. James goes to the meeting place and is faced with Romeo. He asks Romeo if he even has any proof, which the boy admits he doesn't. James finds out that Romeo was the one that broke into his flat and warns him that he could have him arrested. James tells him he's not getting the money and leaves. Harry waits for James to come back and when he returns James tells him not to worry. Harry is very relieved and thanks James. James reminds him that he should go because he's getting married but Harry cannot make himself leave and asks James why he did this for him. James explains to him that he cannot let Harry get hurt. Harry tells James that he cannot live without him and they have sex in the living room. This reignites James's hope for them to be together. However, when Harry leaves, he tells James that this cannot happen again because he is still marrying Ste because his family is depending on him to do this. Even if he cannot live without James, he will have to. They kiss and Harry tells him to stop because someone could see. James tells Harry to enjoy his wedding, when Harry leaves James spots Romeo who has been filming the kiss as evidence for the money he needs. James chases him and eventually catches up to him outside the Dog. James asks him why he risked getting the evidence if he knew James would turn him in. Romeo explains that he knows James will pay him because he loves Harry enough to want him to be happy. James doesn't contradict that but tells him that he is also the kind of man that does bitter and twisted things when he doesn't get what he wants and that if he cannot be happy, Harry shouldn't get to be happy either. James tells Romeo he will give him the money, but only if they expose the affair together.
It's the day of the wedding and Harry tells James not to ruin this for him. Later Romeo shows James the key chain that he made for the gift-bag to expose the affair. James approves and tells him to go ahead with the plan. When James spots Harry again, Harry tells him that Dee Dee has been placed in a coma and is most-likely dying, so this wedding has to happen and go well. James changes his mind and tells Romeo to undo it. When Romeo returns James breaks down over having lost Harry to Ste. James explains that he is all alone, to which Romeo tells him he is not, because James has him. James mistakes Romeo's comment for an attempt at being James his new lover, but Romeo shocks him by telling him, he is his son. James is struggling with the information and makes harsh remarks to Romeo, claiming that Romeo is nothing to him and he's disappointed in him. He insults Romeo's mother, which makes Romeo punch his dad in the face. James laughs it off and tells Romeo that what he is feeling is the Nightingale darkness. After Romeo leaves, James is clearly shaken, but he looks at his phone and sees new messages on his voicemail. He listens to it and realises it's Harry, who has told him that it's him he wants to be with and he is asking James to show up at the wedding, so they can run away together. James looks at his watch and realises the wedding is well under way. James runs to the wedding ceremony but arrives too late as Ste and Harry seal their marriage with a kiss and the storm forces everyone back inside. James goes back home and desperately tries to get a hold of Harry. Harry picks up and James explains why he missed the message. The connection breaks, however, and James is left to believe Harry hung up on him. Marnie arrives home later that evening and James informs her of the arrival of Romeo and losing Harry. Harry later shows up after his affair was found by Ste, but James throw him out, believing he comes only because Ste found out. The next day, Harry left Hollyoaks.
2019: Harry's Return and Living with Romeo
James arrives back into town after new year and spots Harry hugging his father when he returns to town. When he spots Harry waiting for him out the house, he listens him out and pretends to be interested for second before making it known to Harry he isn't interested because he knows he will never be number one on Harry's priority list. Harry doesn't give up, which is hard on James, but when Harry tries again James tells him it's not going to happen. Running into Sami, Sami tells James, he has no one and that even his son doesn't want him. James makes it clear it is him who doesn't want anything to do with Romeo. When James arrives, Harry has used the spare key to let himself in, determined to make James listen to him. Harry tells James the truth about where he was the last few months and how much he had thought about James and missed him. James says that whether or not James missed Harry it's all irrelevant as they are not getting back together to what they had before. In an attempt to make James listen Harry puts on James his robe and wig and pleads his case as a lawyer. He wants to be James his boyfriend. It seems to have done the trick as Harry and James make love in the bedroom. When they come out Harry gets ready to leave and James thinks this was one off. Harry says he has missed this and James agrees. James tells Harry that he doesn't want to have his heart trampled on again, but that he cannot hide what Harry does to him. Harry tells him he's done playing games and that they should be together. James agrees and suggests Harry moves into his place. Harry is surprised. James explains there can be no more flip-flopping between him and Ste and that James needs to know Harry is his. Harry tells James, he is all that he wants. The next day, Alfie comes storming in as James is getting ready for a run, while Harry unpacks his stuff, Alfie needs James to help out Romeo, who got arrested for beating up Sami. James shows up in order to represent Romeo, but Sami tells him he's not pressing charges. Sami tells James that Romeo needs a dad not a lawyer and that he's worried Romeo will spiral out of control. Before he leaves the police station Sami reminds James that even though his dad failed him, he doesn't have to fail Romeo. Romeo shows up and James tries to talk some sense into Romeo, but Romeo points out he doesn't know him. James says that he knows Romeo has had a hard life and what it has done to him. James tries to tell Romeo that he is loved. Romeo tells James that nobody loves him, Mac threw him out, his mum did nothing and he doesn't know who to trust anymore. James asks him to trust in him and to live with him so he has a roof above his head. Believing Romeo needs stability in this life right now, James tells Harry he cannot move in. Even though Harry offers to help out with Romeo together. James rejects this. Even though he loves Harry and Harry loves him, he cannot put his own needs first now, Romeo has to come first. James and Romeo are now living together. James is struggling to bond with Romeo and in an effort to bond more download a game Romeo is playing. When James runs into Harry he asks Harry for help with the game. Romeo is happy his dad can play the game, but James isn't that good at it as he claimed he was. When Harry wants to try again, James tells him they cannot keep doing this dance of back and forth and that he needs to be there for his son. They are interrupted by Romeo, James tells him Harry was about to leave and Romeo realises when Harry leaves them, that his father is very much in love with Harry. When Romeo teases James about his relationship with Harry, James tells Romeo that Harry and him split up because James wanted to be a good father. Romeo isn't used to being placed first and is very touched by James his confession, but he doesn't want James to give up on Harry and tells James to text Harry, because James can have both of them. Harry, however, never replies back. The next day, Harry still hasn't replied and Romeo tells James to find Harry and just talk to him, however, James spots Harry in The Hutch getting ready for a date. Zack tells James, Harry has moved on. James leaves and Romeo tells him to stop being a coward and fight for Harry if he really wants him. So James crashes the date and tells Harry he wants him back. Harry is not sure he wants to get back with James after being rejected a lot of times already in the span of three weeks. Romeo comes to James rescue by pointing out they love each other. Harry's date Vermon is not very successful in getting James to leave. And James tells Harry he wants him to move back in and he loves him. When Harry doesn't respond, he gets ready to leave. Harry stops him from leaving by calling out his name and tells James that he cannot mess this up. He then kisses James and they reunite.
2019: Mac's Revenge and Aftermath
After seeing Alfie talk to himself, Romeo finally tells James that Mac has been switching Cindy's medication for vitamin pills. James immediately contacts Cindy's mental hospital to arrange her release and informs Marnie about what Mac has been up to. Alfie has called all of his family members together and James and Marnie are worried Alfie had his medication swapped as well, however, Alfie simply wants to tell them he's got an internship in America. James gives Alfie his full support as he wants Alfie out of the way when he takes Mac down. While getting ready to leave Donna Marie drops the bomb about Cindy's medication and Alfie finally learns what Mac has been up to. However, he decides to leave the village nonetheless and says goodbye to his family later that evening. The next day, James joins Romeo for lunch at the Dog. It's Juliet Quinn's sixteenth birthday. Mac arrives and reveals the secret that Juliet is his daughter. Making Juliet both James and Romeo's little half-sister. James also finds out Mac is now the legal owner of Cindy's house. James knows he can help Cindy get her house back. He barges into Mac's house and promises him he will take everything away from Mac until there is nothing left. With Cindy having no place to live, James offers her a place at his house. Due to Cindy moving in with them, Harry and James are sleeping in the guestroom sharing a single bed. When James and the rest try to convince Juliet that Mac is evil, she won't listen and he decides to steal her phone to get evidence on him. The evidence, however, is later disputed and Mac is freed the next day. Upset at everyone for lying to her, Juliet throws a brick through the window of the high school and gets expelled, James decides to sort this out because Juliet is important to Romeo and she's his sister. He manages to turn the punishment in one week suspension. When Mac spots him, James amuses himself with the idea of Mac behind bars, whilst Mac mocks him that if he were to disappear nobody would miss him. James is working hard on Cindy's case against Mac when Breda drops by in need of legal advice, being blackmailed by Mac in order to kill James, she grabs a tie and plans to strangle James. She's interrupted by Romeo who arrives and informs James of Juliet cutting school. Breda overhears their conversation and changes her mind about James having to die, because he's a good father. She later interrupts a night of passion with Harry with an offer for holiday tickets, James initially refuses as he's too busy but Harry is all excited to go and the two go on a romantic holiday together to Vienna. Back from their holiday James jumps straight into business until Harry points out he needs some other things as well, so he takes Juliet and Romeo out to lunch, they are later joined by Donna Marie and Mac. When James makes fun of Mac during a "who am I?" game, Mac loses his temper and threats to completely destroy James. To ensure Mac goes down, James wants to enlist the help of Donna Marie. Juliet and Romeo ask her to help her out, but after Mac threatens to harm Juliet, Donna Marie tells them she won't help them, as she doesn't love her kids. Donna Marie then leaves town. The stress of the trial is slowly getting to James, as he wants everything to be perfect, but Harry calms him down. He rehearses the conversations with Cindy to make sure she is as believable as possible as he wants to be ready for tomorrow. Elsewhere Breda agrees to kill James for Mac.
On the day of the trial, James is in The Hutch with Marnie, Cindy and Harry, going over the spreadsheets he made, so everyone knows what their roles are. He snaps when Cindy and Marnie argue telling they can do all of that when it's over but for now they need to focus on taking down Mac. James and Harry then make plans for what to do when the trial is over and they have the house to themselves again. When it's time to leave Juliet bumps into James causing him to spill coffee over his suit. He tells the rest to go ahead and he will meet them there. On his way home, he runs into Mac. The two talk about why Mac hates James and Mac tells him that once he's taken care of James, he will go after everyone James loves, Marnie, Harry and Romeo. Juliet overhears this and Mac chases after her whilst James goes back home. When James his home he finds Breda in his apartment who has offered to clean his clothes for him. They talk and when James changes his tie, Breda put the poison in his coffee cup. On his way to trial, James listens to the voicemail Harry left him earlier, but starts to feel unwell. He drops the coffee and his phone and ends up losing consciousness on the park bench. He is found by Harry and Marnie, who quickly call an ambulance. It is revealed that James was poisoned with something non-lethal and they all suspect it was Mac's doing. When James wakes up, he tells Harry he loves him, before realising his feud with Mac put them all in danger and that he has too much to live for, so he has to let it go. Romeo, however has left the room and went to find Mac, who he discovered dead in Cindy's apartment. James desperately wants to find Romeo and when he sees two missing phone calls from his son, he calls him back. Romeo tells James that Mac is dead and that he found him. James tells Romeo to get to the hospital as quick as he can. He's focused on making sure Romeo stays out of jail, suspecting Romeo might have killed Mac, though Romeo begs him to believe him when Romeo says he's innocent. When DS Yates arrives to inform the family of Mac's murder, James pretends he didn't know yet, but is informed at a witness placed Romeo at the scene of the crime. He, then, fakes feeling unwell so Romeo can sneak out of the hospital. In a hurry to get back home so he can further help Romeo, he is confronted with the body of his father, who is brought into the hospital. James unzips the bag to make sure Mac is well and truly dead before stating he's going home to celebrate. Harry follows him and tells him to let him take care of James. James then breaks down wondering why his father wanted him dead and that even after all the things his dad had done to him, he still hoped that one day is father would tell him that he loved him. James doesn't feel relief at the death of his father as it doesn't undo any of the damage he has created nor does it bring back Nathan. Even though James doesn't want to cry because his father doesn't deserve his tears, he does and Harry comforts him. In the meantime, Romeo has been arrested by the police and the following day, James is trying to get him out of jail. They learn that Mac was poisoned with the same substance that James was poisoned with, making James realise that Romeo was indeed innocent. The cops, however, believe they have enough evidence to charge Romeo. James also accompanies his mother to say goodbye to Mac. As she is grieving for him. James says his final words to him and walks out. Romeo is released on bail, and together they try to figure out who killed Mac and poisoned James, a conversation Breda overhears. When the cops arrive after an anonymous phone call, they find the bottle of poison in Romeo's coat. Romeo is arrested and James gets him out on bail. Seeing no other option for Romeo, James tells Romeo to flee the country and head to Dublin. Romeo thinks this decision is easy for James to make but a tearful James tells Romeo it's definitely not and that he loves him. James promises Romeo he will look after Juliet. James then proceeds to play clueless when the cops arrive to arrest him. Even when Diane informs James Lily McQueen has gone with Romeo and that she is seriously ill, James keeps his mouth shut and gets taken to the station, where he makes it known they cannot keep him there without proof. James is released, but finds out Romeo handed himself in, after Lily dies of sepsis at the train station. DS Yates informs them they have enough evidence to charge Romeo with murder and Romeo is locked away in a cell. James is determined to keep his promise to get Romeo out on time for Lily's funeral. Having no luck getting Romeo out the legal way, Marnie tells her son it's time to simply frame someone and their eyes fall on Cindy. After asking Cindy if she would confess to the crime, James goes to search for Donna Marie. He offers her money and a guarantee that he will get her out on bail right away, if she confesses to killing Mac. Donna Marie accepts the offer but James lets her go down for it. He informs Romeo that he is free to go and tells him that Donna Marie confessed to killing Mac. Romeo is reluctant to believe him, but his focus is quickly placed on Lily's upcoming funeral. They have to wait a day for CPS to get the papers in order and when James plans to pick up Romeo from jail, his tires are slashed. He finds out Prince has gone to pick with Romeo and that the grieving teenager has a loaded gun with him. James is on the phone with the police when Romeo returns unharmed. The next day, James is set to go to the funeral, thus breaking his no funeral rule, to support Romeo, but Romeo informs him that Tony told him not to come. Prince later shows up at the house because he needs Romeo to be at the funeral and James informs him, Romeo has left the house. Romeo eventually makes it to the funeral, but his family remained at home. Romeo wants to see Donna Marie, so James lies and says that it takes time due to official guidelines for visitors. Romeo doesn't believe the lie and assumes his mother doesn't want to see him. James confirms this. To cheer him up James tells Romeo to spend the day with Harry, who agrees to spend the day with him. Romeo is reluctant but the two eventually bond over James and Harry tells Romeo about his time inside jail and how he shouldn't give up on his mother. When James arrives home the next day from a conference, Romeo has learned the truth Donna Marie being innocent and is very angry with James. Trashing James his stuff and telling James he wish he had never met him. James has no interest nor patient to deal with Romeo when he's throwing a tantrum and accepts Harry's offer to help. Harry solves the problem.
2019: Harry's Baby Drama and James's Paranoia
James decides to gift Harry a car as a thank you for helping his relationship with Romeo. Romeo mistakes the car for his and James cannot correct him in the moment. James informs Romeo the car is Harry's a week later before he heads off to a conference. Harry was originally supposed to join him but cancelled on him to work on his school application. When James arrives home, he has been informed that the car he bought Harry was at the police station and it was involved in a hit and run which seriously injured Grace. Harry and Romeo tell him the car was stolen and replaced and they lie to James about Harry's absence. Harry gets arrested and lies to the police, which the police tell James. When they get back home James warns Harry that if anything he said to him was a lie, they will be over. James later that week takes on the case of Laurie Shelby, who has been accused of raping his wife. He keeps it a secrete from Harry. When Harry finds out, he demands James to drop the case because the victim is his step sister Sinead, but James tells Harry that his career is above anything and if Harry has a problem with it he can pack his bag. The next day Romeo tells James he is convinced Harry is having an affair with Kyle and confesses to giving Harry a false alibi. James' first response is that how much trouble Romeo has put himself in. James ends up getting drunk and telling this news to Liam Donovan, who uses this information to come up with a plan to frame Harry for the hit and run caused by him and Mercedes McQueen. Romeo is arrested and James is informed by the police that Harry has an alibi. James decides to confront Kyle about sleeping with his boyfriend but Kyle tells him that Harry is having personal problems and to confront Harry about it.
When James arrives home, the door is locked. Harry explains why he never came home and James tells him that he wants to know the truth about the affair and then Harry can pack his bag because they are over. When James hears a sound come from behind the door, he tells Harry to show him who it is, before he will drag them both out himself and Harry reveals Sadie Cressington, his ex-girlfriend. James is shocked at the reveal but gets an ever bigger shock when Sadie tells him she's pregnant with Harry's baby before Harry returned Hollyoaks. After the reveal, James gives Harry an ultimatum either him or the baby. When James finds out Romeo is cross with him, he tells Romeo the truth of what he would have done if he had known about Romeo when he was 16 years old. Romeo points out that James giving Harry an ultimatum is exactly something Mac would have done. James tries to get a hold of Harry but Harry is busy trying to convince Sadie that he picked her and the baby over James because he needs Sadie as his alibi. When Sadie finds out Harry was lying to her and that Harry would never pick the baby over James, she takes Liam up on his offer and accepts the money to disappear. Harry arrives home to tell James he chose him, but James had a change of heart and tells Harry he can learn to live with having a baby around. Harry is then arrested as his alibi fell through. The next day Grace finds out Harry is the main suspect and James advises Harry to lay low. James had no luck finding Sadie and is questioning whether or not Harry is telling the truth. James decides it's best to make a deal to have Harry plead guilty, and tells Harry it's time to come clean, as he doesn't believe Harry is innocent. Harry informs James that earlier in the day Grace tried to shoot him and James immediately suggests they put Grace behind bars. Harry isn't interested in having Grace behind bars because the biggest problem is James not believing him. Harry tells him that when he thought he was dying James was all he thought about and that if he doesn't have James, none of what they do matters. He asks James to believe him and James in the end does and puts more men on finding Sadie, who is the key to getting Harry of the hit and run charges. James continues to have issues trusting Harry and is stressed up the case. When Harry says he has a lead on Sadie and James finds him outside the hospital, James makes his doubts known once again.
His trust issues increase when he overhears Harry talking to Ste, whilst he is visiting Sami for legal advice. James starts to imagine scenarios in which Harry is cheating on him and trust him even less. He even punches Harry by accident when he tries to find out Harry and Ste's alleged affair. Sadie tells James Liam bribed her and threatened her but when James confronts Liam, he begins to doubt things again. Harry breaks up with James because James doesn't trust him. Marnie comforts him and James wonders why he is the way he is. Harry returns the next day and the two reunite but Ste runs into them and he tells James, he and Harry kissed, Harry explains to James that Ste kissed him and that he wants nothing to do with him. When Harry finally gets a hold of Sadie a few hours later, he informs James, who thinks Harry is lying. James is convinced Harry is having an affair with Ste. James spikes Harry's drink with sleeping pills. The next day, James finds out Harry was telling the truth and that Sadie is no longer picking up her phone and that Harry is now more likely to end up in jail. James feels guilty and takes Harry out of the house. Marnie isn't fooled by James his act and ends up finding the sleeping pills. She confronts James and tells him, that she thought this behaviour was in the past, as it's revealed James drugged a different boy once upon a time. She urges him to come clean, otherwise she will tell Harry herself. James begs her not to and hands over all the sleeping pills, but actually he still keeps some. Sadie gives birth to Issac at the Hutch. Holding the baby, feeling the connection, Harry decides that he will be part of his son's life, take the responsibility as a father. James discourages him by implying that he's not capable of being a father. Harry runs into Ste. Ste reminds Harry what Harry had done for him before, how amazing Harry was and he will be a good father. Harry can't help kissing Ste, but later he tells Ste that it's a mistake. After Harry confesses that he kissed Ste, James decides he has had enough and drugs Harry so he will miss his court hearing and could get arrested immediately. Without better choices, Harry decides to run away. Harry says goodbye to Tony, Issac and Ste. When he and Ste kiss goodbye, he expresses his regret and confesses his love to Ste. Later that day, he is killed by serial killer Breda McQueen. She is in a mission to kill bad dads, and she believes Harry is a bad dad because he is walking away from his new born baby.
2019-2020: Relationship with Liam and Shooting of Mercedes
With Harry supposedly on the run, James finds it hard to move on. James agrees to represent Damon Kinsella in his fraud case and convinces him to plead guilty after James discovers Damon's wife, Maxine, faked an illness to get people to donate money to her. James is devastated when he learns Harry's body has been found. James is charged with Harry's murder after Breda tips off the police. James becomes suicidal and attempts to jump to his death, but he is saved by Romeo. The next day, a grieving James punches Romeo, which causes Romeo to move out and squat at the Maaliks. A few days later, Romeo is found by Peri Lomax and he tells her everything, and Peri later confronts James about punching Romeo, which shocks Marnie. Marnie convinces Romeo to come home, and then throws James out after witnessing him about to attack Juliet. After talking to Kyle, James returns home the next day.
On the day of Harry's funeral, Grace reveals to James and other villagers a recording on Harry's phone where Mercedes confesses to the hit-and-run and threatens to kill Harry if he reveals the truth. Believing her to be Harry's murderer, James is determined to make Mercedes pay for what she has done. Mercedes is shot, but she survives and James is in the frame as one of the culprits. James forms an unexpected bond with Liam and they begin sleeping together. It is revealed that Grace and James shot Mercedes together; Grace missed on her first shot because of her injuries, but James came and assisted her with the second shot that hit Mercedes. Liam is disgusted to find out what his lover and sister have done, but James and Grace convince him to stay quiet. James later leaves for a business trip.
James returns in January 2020, where Liam reveals to him that Breda was the serial killer and that she killed Harry. This causes James to become overwhelm with guilt as he realises that he shot Mercedes for no reason. James wants to go to the police over the shooting but Grace talks him out of it. Jesse Donovan overhears James and Grace talking about shooting Mercedes on the day of his wedding to Courtney Campbell and is so distressed by the news he ends up drinking himself to death.
James struggles with being responsible for Jesse's death, but later confides in John Paul about his emotions, but keeps quiet about Jesse. After talking to John Paul, James leans in and kisses him, which is seen by Liam, who ends his relationship with James. James continues with his guilt and starts drinking to cope. John Paul finds him and manages to help him, which results in them sleeping together and starting a relationship.
In March 2020, Liam finds out through CCTV footage that James and Grace were responsible for Jesse's death and plans revenge. Liam organises a Devil's Dinner Party and invites James, Grace, Mercedes and Maxine, whom he blames for ruining his life. During the event, Liam reveals that he has also kidnapped John Paul and Sylver McQueen. Liam reveals to everyone that James and Grace were the ones who shot Mercedes, which shocks everyone. James explains to John Paul that he regretted shooting Mercedes and that he has been feeling guilty ever since, but John Paul refuses to forgive him and ends their relationship. At the end of the night, Liam dies after being pushed down a flight of stairs by Grace, and James and the others escape unharmed. The next morning, James turns himself into the police. When Mercedes arrives at the police station to give her statement, James apologises for shooting her. After realising that it was her actions that led to Grace and James shooting her, Mercedes tells the police that Liam shot her and that she killed him in self defence which they believe and she lets James and Grace go free.
2020-2021: Feud with George and County Lines
James and Marnie are horrified when they see Juliet burning Nathan's shirt and shouts that she hates the family and is moving out and moving into Leela's. The real reason for this is that Marnie got too close to finding out that Juliet is selling drugs for Jordan Price and Juliet only did what she did to protect them because Jordan threatened to hurt them if they found out the truth. The next day, James arrives at Leela's and she says that Juliet is welcome to stay until things calm down. James gives Leela money to say thanks.
In April 2020, Tony's half-sister Verity Hutchinson move into the village and approaches James at Salon de The de Marnie, revealing that she wants to open a law firm practice in the village and wants James to be her partner. James accepts Verity's business proposition. The next day, Sami, who has feelings for Verity, asks to join her and James' law firm as a law firm. James isn't sure, but Verity says if he find them a location she will consider his offer. Sami proposes the abandoned Donovan's Salon for the new firm location. James is unimpressed but Verity likes the location. Verity approaches Grace and makes an offer on the salon. Grace is interested in Verity's offer, but Maxine points out that they will need to ask Courtney. Courtney visits Verity, and agrees to sell to her, James and Sami on the condition that she keeps Maxine on as an employee and Verity agrees.
In May 2020, James bumps into John Paul, who is still mad at James for shooting Mercedes. James wants to talk to John Paul and begs him to give him five minutes. John Paul says that he didn't think James was capable of shooting someone. James tries to explain his actions but John Paul decides to leave so James tells him that he's in love with John Paul. John Paul gets annoyed as he is trying to move on from James. He reveals that he is going on a date and leaves. James finds John Paul and George Kiss in The Dog. Goldie shouts at him to leave and George notices James looking at an uncomfortable John Paul, who plays down his discomfort. George believes that John Paul is still in love with James and decides to leave. Marnie can see that James is jealous of George so she tries to build up his self-esteem and encourages him to go see John Paul. James interrupts John Paul and George's conversation and tries to make things uncomfortable, but fails as George gives John Paul a second chance. John Paul stops by James' to collect his things but is unimpressed to walk in to James wanting to treat John Paul to dinner. James says that they both know that they are meant to be together and promises to wait for him.
In June 2020, James decides that Juliet has been away far too long and confronts Leela. Leela reminds him that he's not paying her to be Juliet's guardian and convinces him to talk to Juliet. Marnie, James and Romeo try to talk to Juliet but tries to make them see that she's not coming back, despite it not being what she actually wants. James vents to John Paul about Juliet. John Paul informs James that one of his students were caught with drugs. He is intrigued to learn that John Paul said nothing to George. John Paul accepts James's offer of a drink and calls George to postpone their date. The next day, James tries to talk to John Paul but is interrupted. James is smug when he finds out that John Paul cancelled his date with George to be with him. James enjoys winding up John Paul and John Paul retaliates to James's amusement.
In September 2020, James invites John Paul to a meal with one of his clients and John Paul accepts his offer, without telling George. When George catches John Paul with James, he arrests them for supposedly drinking alcohol in a public space and tells John Paul to think about who he wants to be with in the cell and then he'll release them. James is relieved to learn that they have not been formerly arrested, and will be released after John Paul solves the ultimatum. In the cell, James pours his heart out to John Paul and they nearly kiss, but are interrupted by Mercedes arriving to collect John Paul. After they're released, James offers John Paul the opportunity to pick up where they left off. Later that day, James prepares to meet John Paul, but is left heartbroken when John Paul reveals that he's chosen to be with George.
2021-: Getting closer to Ste
James and Ste share a night of passion after working together to stop Sid from going after Victor. They reluctantly agree the next morning that it was a one time thing, but James invites Ste over for dinner after Sid tells him they would make a good team and that Ste hadn't stopped talking about him all day. They flirt a bit before getting into an argument over a bottle of wine that Sid had given James as a thank you - unaware that it was in fact Ste who had paid for the drink. James insults the wine and angers Ste before trying to get him into bed, the latter storming out after remembering why he hated James in the first place. Sami then gives Ste a job at the law firm, which irritates James as he can't seem to escape him. Sami spots James admiring Ste through the window, teasing him about liking him. James denies it and tells Sami that he refuses to work in the same place as Ste. They head over to the Salon de The de Marnie and James, to his annoyance, finds out that Sami had convinced Marnie to also hire Ste. Ste helps Marnie cook and clean her house for a dinner party before finding out it was in fact a virtual dinner party. Marnie invites him to be her guest and James finds Ste once again, agitated over discovering that Ste was wearing his jacket. Later on, as Ste tidies the Nightingale's house once more, he and James argue again. Ste states that he can't work out if James wants to argue with him or get him into bed, the latter stating that what happened between them would never happen again. Ste purposely works as loud as possible, angering James into giving him a verbal warning for disruptive behaviour. Ste tells Marnie what happened and she tricks her son into admitting he's Ste's employer so that the latter could file an official complaint for harassment. They discuss the terms of the complaint later that day, Ste referring to the night they spent together as physical harassment. James denies this theory, stating that it was just bad decision making. They come to an agreement after James almost breaks down over his sister being in prison. James apologises for the way he treated Ste, and Ste reassures him that he could talk to him about Juliet anytime he wanted.
Peri teases Ste with a picture of James while he gets ready for work. James starts to get annoyed with Ste once again, but is quick to apologise after he tries to leave. Ste takes a look at Juliet's case and offers to give him a hand, James wary as to whether he could make a difference. He tells him that it was sweet of him to offer before asking him to make more coffee, stating that there is nothing he could do.
Ste returns to the flat later that night, showing James the profile of one of Jordan's fellow drug dealers, Sacha. They wait for her to reply to Ste's messages, Ste suggesting he should get a hobby and James hinting at wanting to sleep with Ste after saying he should do pottery because he was always good with his hands. Ste leads him into the bedroom and they sleep together once again.
James teases Ste when he returns the next day, accusing him of having caught feelings and mocking him for being a domestic. Ste manages to shut him up, but not before making fun of his dressing gown and coffee cup. He tells James that he managed to get in contact with Sacha and they arrange to meet her later that day.
The pair bond while waiting for Sacha, Ste showing his understanding of what she was going through and James questioning him as to why he was helping James. He makes a quick escape after Ste says he wants to stop the kids ending up like him, before turning back to say there were worse people to end up like.
James shows his first signs of vulnerability in front of Ste after Sacha fails to show up. He opens up about feeling like he let Juliet down and how she wouldn't be in prison if he had been a better brother. He compares himself to Juliet, stating that they both acted out to stop themselves from getting hurt. He refers back to their discussion that morning and admits that the dressing gown and coffee cup that Ste made fun of were part of his armour, confessing that most people thought he was a cold and cutting snob, which is the reason that nobody dares get too close to him. Ste reassures him that it isn't his fault, to which James respectfully disagrees. James then compliments Ste, admitting that he had him down as a no mark scally before realising he got it wrong. He thanks Ste and the pair almost share a kiss before Ste's phone interrupts him. He answers the call, thinking Sacha is the one calling him when it was in fact Victor. He reveals that he knows Sacha was a grass and tells them to stop trying to free Juliet as she's going down for everything.
They're back to arguing the next day, Ste storming out after complaining that he's not appreciated enough. Marnie witnesses the fallout and shares her suspicions, suggesting that James has feelings for Ste. He tries to convince her she's wrong, Marnie firing back with assumptions for how she thinks Ste feels about him, of which James shows some interest in. Marnie's attempts at setting the pair up prove to be futile, as James enlists the help of Romeo to sign him up on a dating app. However, James comes across Ste's profile and, after Romeo asks if he's found anyone he likes, smiles and confesses that he isn't sure yet.
- Mercedes McQueen, 6th November 2019 - Helps Grace Black shoot Mercedes when he holds tight on Grace's hands and helps aim the gun.
- James is left-handed.
- James loves macchiato and dressing gowns.
- James is lactose intolerant. He therefore only drinks soya milk with his coffees.
- James' favourite film is American Psycho.
- James was portrayed by David Perkins in flashback scenes airing in episode 4941 (2nd July 2018).
- 2016: James stands in a party with several candelabras around.
- 2016-2019: James stands in The Dog with his mother.
- 2019-: James is walking in the rain under an umbrella with Marnie in front and Romeo behind him.