AS one of the prime suspects in perhaps the most talked about soap storyline of the year, Darren Jeffries is currently in the eye of a soap opera storm.

But in just a matter of months the actor who plays the loveable Sam OB' O'Brien - one of the key characters at the centre of Hollyoaks' recent whodunit' plot line - is set to wave farewell to the Chester soap in favour of the bright lights of London city.

Since joining the cast of the Channel 4 soap at the age of 14, fans have spent the past decade watching the young actor grow up alongside the award-winning soap.

As one third of the comedy trio made up by Max and Tony, played by close friends Matt Littler and Tony Pickard, OB has grown from a mischievous young school boy to one of the soap's best-loved characters and has been in some of the most dramatic, heart wrenching and most viewed scenes in the show.

Yet success and fame hasn't gone to the 25-year-old's head and when I met him to talk about his time in Hollyoaks following a production at Warrington's Parr Hall, he comes across as a warm and friendly person who feels lucky to be in such a privileged position from an early age.

On the night I talked to him, the Hollyoaks crew had spent the day shooting scenes which will reveal who tried to kill Claire Cunningham and he has made a guest appearance at a youth show called Trash: The Production - a collaboration put on by Warrington Borough Council's 14 to 19 team and performed by a pupils from schools across the town, including his own former high school.

As he patiently spends time signing autographs and posing for pictures for the queues of fans lined up backstage, he is charm personified, taking time to talk to each one and congratulating all the young stars of the show.

But when asked by inevitably every single person he meets who the culprit is, he laughs but remains resolutely, and frustratingly, tight-lipped.

"I really, really can't say," he said when I asked the same question, before quickly changing the subject to tell me about how his acting career started instead.

"Bizarrely it was actually at the Parr Hall that my agent who got me the role in Hollyoaks spotted me. I was in a devised production, something like this, when I was about 14.

"Who knows, some of these kids might be as lucky as I was one day."

Hollyoaks is Darren's first professional acting job, but the former Padgate High School pupil was always involved in school plays, taking the lead in Toad of Toad Hall and the part of Fizzy in Bugsy Malone' as well as studying drama at GCSE level.

But it's on set where he really learned the tools of his trade and, in recent years, he's had the chance to get his teeth stuck into some meaty storylines.

"I've been in Hollyoaks for 10 years and the whole thing has been a bit of a whirlwind really - I feel like I've grown up with the character and I really like playing him," he said.

"But the past two years have been brilliant for me and for the show."

Darren attributes Hollyoaks' current success to the arrival of new producer Bryan Kirkwood, the man responsible for some of the show's most thrilling storylines - Becca's doomed love affair, the fire at the pub and Claire's manipulation of Max and Justin - many of which Darren has played an integral part in.

"I've absolutely loved the whole who pushed Claire' storyline," he said.

"But over the years I've done so much it's hard to choose a favourite moment.

"From recent memory I'd say my favourite storyline to work on was the explosion at The Dog in the Pond. Filming that was amazing - having all the stunt people there and the special effects team was just brilliant. And it was a really brave thing for us to do because so many central characters were killed.

"I also enjoyed the whole storyline between OB, Max and Claire, especially when OB cottoned on to what she was doing to Max. That was great fun to play and again was just a great storyline."

He assures me that Gemma Bissix, who plays the manipulative (some might say downright evil) Claire Cunningham is a really lovely girl' and adds he is amazed with how well she and new cast members have managed to handle the glare of the media spotlight.

"When I first started it was just getting off the ground and wasn't as popular as it is today. I've evolved with the show and have been able to gradually get used to it," he said.

"Now it's just so huge and I really don't know how the new actors cope with that level of instant fame."

With his contract up at the end of October Darren is setting his sights on future challenges and has been in discussions and meetings in London.

Although he said it's too early to reveal what his next step will be, he cited a desire to tread the boards again and excitedly told me of his dream to win a part in one of the BBC's biggest hit shows.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge of whatever comes my way. It's been years since I've done any theatre, not since school reall,y so that would be fantastic," he said.

"To get a character who is the complete opposite of OB would be brilliant and as an actor you want to tackle different roles and test your skills. Maybe something like Doctor Who - now that would be amazing."

As he gets ready to leave I try one last time to get him to reveal the would-be murderer but ever the professional, he won't give anything away.

Although he does leave me with a bit of a soap-style cliffhanger.

"Obviously the killer's going to get discovered and the aftermath of Claire finding out is very, very exciting.

"Put it this way - she's not the sort of character who'll let something like that lie."