Hollyoaks’ Darren star’s life – pop star past, club career and tragic death

Hollyoaks star Ashley Taylor Dawson might have an interesting life as his character Darren Osborne, but outside of the soap, his real life is just as intriguing with a nightclub career and hidden pop star past.

Born on January 11, 1982, Ashley joined Hollyoaks as a teenager in 1999, but alongside the role, he also had a chart topping pop star career.

In 2001, he became part of pop group Allstars* who even had their own TV series called Star Street on the BBC.

The very essence of cheesy pop, the group scored four UK No1 hits, including a cover of Bucks Fizz's Land of Make Believe, and even had their song Bump in the Night featured in the 2002 Scooby Doo movie.

However they were only together for one year before the group disbanded.

That wasn't the end of celebrity fame for Ashley though, who continues to appear in Hollyoaks as Darren Osbourne and has been involved in some of the soap's major storylines including Darren's gambling addiction and on-screen affairs with other Hollyoaks residents.

One of his storylines also resonated with Ashley in real life, when his character Darren was involved in a storyline about male suicide, where character Kyle Kelly, played by Adam Rickett, took his own life.

Ashley's has revealed that he has lost five friends to suicide, the first when he was 16 years old, and that the storyline was like "counselling" for him.

He told Soap from the Box Podcast: "The plot was a wonderful education for me, because I was that guy who had never approached or dealt with it, never understood it.

"It’s been like counselling, it’s been brilliant," he added.

"I’m open to learning and speaking about it more throughout my life now."

Away from the soap, Ashley is also an entrepreneur, running a successful nightclub business that has seen some of the biggest stars of sport, stage and football enter his doors.

He and business partner George Yiannis opened Symposium in Wilmslow, Cheshire in 2016 and since then, everyone from Wayne Rooney to Duncan James and a host of millionaires have partied at the club.

However, Ashley told The Mirror that the club is for everyone and not just VIPs: "Anyone who comes through your door should be treated the same, and that’s exactly how it is here."

He added: "The best thing about this place is that people – whoever they are – feel quite happy chilling by the bar, they don’t get hassled, there’s a nice vibe.”

Away from acting and his glamorous nightclub, Ashley is quiet about his personal life.

However, he regularly shares sweet snaps of him and long-term partner Karen McKay, who he has been with since 2004, on Instagram.

Together the couple have three children.

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