Melissa Walton as Loretta Jones (2009)
|Portrayed by||Melissa Walton|
|Created by||Lucy Allan|
|First appearance||26 November 2008|
|Date of birth||1986|
|Status||In a relationship|
|Home||65 Christleton Terrace|
Loretta Jones is a fictional character from the British Channel 4 soap opera Hollyoaks, played by Melissa Walton. The character first appeared on-screen on 26 November 2008, during the first series of Hollyoaks Later as a new love interest of Dom Reilly. She made her first appearance in main Hollyoaks episodes in February 2009 as the first character to be introduced to the series by producer, Lucy Allan. In 2010 Loretta was axed from the series along with 15 other characters during a cast cull by executive producer Paul Marquess.
Although her occupation was a pole dancer, the character has been portrayed out of conjunction with the 'blonde stereotype'. She has been involved in storylines including facing prejudice and body scarring issues.
The character is most noted for the series intending to portray her as a child killer trying to piece her life back together. She was intended to have the birth name of Joanna Norman in the storyline, later the plot was subsequently axed having caused a great amount of controversy among the British public after newspapers alleged that the storyline was copying a real-life case.
The character of Loretta was created as a temporary love interest for Dominic Reilly (John Pickard), initially created to feature only in the spin off series of the soap opera, titled Hollyoaks Later. In 2009 it was announced that the new producer Lucy Allan had decided to introduce the character, along with Cheryl Brady (Bronagh Waugh) into the main show. Speaking of this decision, Allan said: "Cheryl and Loretta will bring an energy and a sense of fun to the show. Both Melissa and Bronagh impressed me with their performances in Hollyoaks Later and I'm sure viewers will warm to them quickly." She was paired once more with Dom and later parted from the character and was given links to other characters in the series. After Melissa Walton secured the part, In preparation for the role she carried out research at a lap dancing club with her father, watched girls perform and then carried out routines in her underwear.
In 2009 Allan decided to renew Walton's contract, extended beyond her initial three months which, keeping Loretta in the series until 2010. In early 2010 it was announced that Allan had stepped down from the position of executive producer and Paul Marquess took over the role. It was soon revealed that he planned to give Hollyoaks a 'shake up', changing the productions team, then began a cast cull starting with the axing of three established characters. Stephanie Waring (who plays Cindy Hutchinson) then then revealed that all remaining cast members feared their character would be axed. One month later the cast cull continued as Marquess announced his plans to axe a further 11 characters, including Loretta at the end of Walton's contract. It was stated that she will depart at the same time fellow character and love interest Jake Dean (Kevin Sacre).
Loretta's character is unique as she has been shown on-screen that stating does not want to conform the stereo type of being a blonde pole dancer. She made it clear to certain characters that she is a keen bird watcher and enjoys factual documentaries. Speaking of her character Walton stated: "I love that Loretta’s not a stereotypical stripper sort of girl – there’s a lot more depth to her. She’s actually quite shy and reserved. She’s got lots of interesting little hobbies, like bird-watching and Roman history! Then at night she skips off and turns into a stripper. It’s like two different lives, and I think many real-life pole-dancers are like that. They’re really nice, normal girls by day, and by night they turn into these temptresses (like Loretta). Walton also praised the character's realistic portrayal of the occupation, as many every day females attend university or have good professions but rely on stripping and pole dancing for extra money and confirming she has met people like her character in the a strip club where they filmed scenes.
Speaking of her character's alter ego as a stripper, Walton stated that she hoped viewers would find her appearance tasteful, further commenting: "As tasteful as you can be in a pink frilly bra and knicker set, with a little skirt that’s more like a belt, and back-combed hair and fake eyelashes!" An appearance that is in stark contrast to her every day life look.
On-screen Loretta's relationships helped develop the character further. Her first relationship was with Dom Reilly, the pair shared a lot in common such as bird watching, ancient Roman documentaries and literature. This immediately gave viewers an insight to the character and as their relationship progressed it became apparent that Dom could not handle Loretta's profession, which ultimately lead to their break up. Loretta's second relationship was a short lived fling with Ravi Roy (Stephen Uppal), she was determined to see the good in him and help him out at the time he was suffering from a brain aneurysm, they later called a halt to their budding romance after he attempted to assault her. Loretta then began a secret romance with Jake, opting to deceive her friends, believing had been mislead and like with Ravi, saw the good in him.
In November 2009 the character became the centre of media controversy when it was revealed in various media outlets that Loretta would be part of a storyline which revealed she killed a child in her past. The controversy began when tabloid newspaper The Sun compared the storyline to the real life murder of Jamie Bulger. Soon after other various news sources picked up on the story and mimicked the claims, as did lifestyle magazines. This led to Bulger's mother, Denise Fergus, to condemn the storyline. Speaking to Click Liverpool, she criticised the decision to air a plot that allegedly mirrored her son's death, stating they should have consulted her first. She said "I'm shocked and disgusted at what Hollyoaks is doing. They have clearly based this story on what happened to James and it's outrageous that they should do this without consulting with me in any way." She threatened to encourage a boycott of the show.
"The storyline is not based on any real-life case and it will in no way seek to recreate real events."
——Channel 4 spokesperson's statement on the plot (2009).
Channel 4 released a statement defending the plot, explaining it had nothing to do with any real life case, stating: "The forthcoming storyline is not based on any real-life case and it will in no way seek to recreate real events. The storyline focuses on the psychological repercussions for two characters in the show who were responsible for the death of a 12-year-old girl in the past." The storyline will answer questions for viewers who had been speculating what Loretta's secret past was. It was revealed that Loretta had spent time in prison for her crime, was born with the name Joanna Norman, and is living under a false identity.
Speaking to entertainment website Digital Spy about delving into her character's history, actress Melissa Walton commented: "It took a little while and until now, we've known little about her. Nobody in the village knows who she is or where she's come from. She's just planted herself in the village knowing hardly anybody. She's quite a mysterious character. I'm absolutely loving the opportunity to explore her backstory." Speaking about her reaction to the plot, she continued: "I was like, 'Oh my gosh!' I was so shocked but absolutely chuffed to bits because this is what all actors want - something massive like this to sink my teeth into. I feel so privileged that they've trusted me with this story. I know they've wanted to do it for a while and they've finally chosen me!"
In the same interview, Walton commented on Chrissy and Loretta's past: "Loretta and Chrissy were best, best friends through childhood. They were closer than sisters. She somehow tracks Loretta down and turns up out of the blue after Loretta's finished a dance class. What we learn is that when they were 12, they bullied a young girl and didn't stop until they killed her. They kept pushing and pushing and eventually killed her. Since then, Loretta and Chrissy have been completely separated from each other, their families and friends. They've spent years in institutions having psychiatric and behavioural treatment."
Angry with the backlash the storyline had generated, Kevin Sacre whose character was directly involved in the storyline, voiced his his support for the story stating: "I think the fact that it's the sort of thing that happens in real life means it's something that should be addressed. Anyone who buries their head in the sand is a bit naïve. And I think soap is a medium where you can explore issues of real life."
Just days before the episodes were set to transmit, Channel 4 announced that it was axing the storyline due in part to Fergus's reaction to the storyline. Whilst Walton had previously claimed the storyline was about three twelve-year-old girls, Channel 4 admitted the similarities between the story and the Bulger case. "This particular storyline was not based on any real life case and was not intended to recreate actual events. However, after conversations with Denise Fergus we have agreed to amend certain aspects of the storyline."  Amber Hodgkiss (Chrissy) later expressed her disappointment over the decision to axe the plot all together stating: "The storyline has been completely cut. I am not so happy about it. I would like it to go ahead, but I don't have that decision. It wasn't based on Jamie Bulger, but people portrayed it that way. It was quite a big storyline that could affect people, but it happens."
When episodes that were intended to feature the storyline transmitted, they instead featured a selection of then 'last minute' filmed scenes featuring Loretta making excuses for her distant behaviour with Jake.
Loretta first appears as a stripper who works in a lap-dancing club. During her job, Loretta meets Dom. The pair begin to like each other, however she decides not to go out with him because she feels he is not over the death of his wife Tina (Leah Hackett).
Loretta is not seen again until February 2009, where she and Dom begin a full relationship. Loretta clashes with Mercedes Fisher (Jennifer Metcalfe), who is not happy to find out Dom has moved on from Tina. Loretta moves in with Cindy Cunningham (Stephanie Waring) and Darren Osborne (Ashley Taylor Dawson). Loretta lies to Dom she has quit her job, however she does not tell him the truth until Darren finds out and begins to blackmail her. After finding out she lied, Dom tells Loretta of his concerns about her safety in her job, but she reassures him. Dom struggles with this and gives her a rape alarm, much to her amusement. However, she realises how serious it is for him when he reveals that Tina's abduction and death had left him uptight about safety.
Loretta drunkenly teaches Nancy Hayton (Jessica Fox), Zoe Carpenter (Zoë Lister), Hannah Ashworth (Emma Rigby) and Sarah Barnes (Loui Batley) how to dance in the SU Bar. During this, she slips and falls onto glass bottles, which break and cut her stomach. Loretta is horrified when she is left scarred by the glass and she is forced to leave her job. She is then given a job in Tan & Tumble by Ash Roy (Junade Khan). Loretta develops a crush on Ravi Roy, which makes his brother Ash jealous. After Loretta catches Ravi being violent towards sister Leila (Lena Kaur), she backs off and Ash starts flirting with her. Ash kisses Loretta, which Ravi sees and lashes out at. This leads an angry Ravi to fight in an illegal boxing match. After Ravi taunts Ash, he then punches Ravi, who was diagnosed with an aneurysm. Ravi falls into a coma. Loretta explains to Kris Fisher (Gerard McCarthy) and Anita Roy (Saira Choudhry) that Ash tried to kiss her, which Kris believes and Ash tries to deny.
Loretta gradually becomes good friends with Nancy and Hannah and after Jake Dean returns to the village, Loretta consoles Nancy even moving in with her, who is scared of the past repeating itself with her ex-husband, who tried to rape her and kill his son Charlie (Joshua McConville). Nancy stops speaking to Hannah after discovering she had been writing to Jake whilst he was in prison. Loretta tells Jake that she was the one that had been writing to him in prison, not Hannah. The pair grow close and kiss, however Loretta stops herself. The two kiss again, with Loretta wanting a relationship. The next day the pair sleep together, they begin a relationship and eventually go public about being together, after Loretta is kicked out by Nancy. Loretta has no where to go until Jake offers to move in with him. When Jake's sister Steph (Carley Stenson) suggests the pair are moving too quick, Loretta agrees and talks to Jake, who gets angry and shows his temper to Loretta for the first time. The couple reconcile with the help of Steph. Loretta strikes a friendship with Holly Hutchinson (Lydia Waters), who aspires to be a dancer like Loretta after feeling unnoticed by her mother Cindy. Holly tells Loretta she sees her like a sister and Loretta soon avoids the subject. As they bond, Loretta gives Holly advice on dancing.