'He's one of the family!' - Champagne corks pop in Grouville as Jonny Labey makes his EastEnders debut

'He's one of the family!' - Champagne corks pop in Grouville as Jonny Labey makes his EastEnders debut
  • Jerseyman Jonny Labey makes his EastEnders debut

  • Family and friends popped the corks to celebrate in Grouville last night

  • See images of Jonny in character as Paul Coker, below

  • What did you think of his soap arrival? Comment here and read opinions from our Facebook page

THERE were scenes of celebration in the parish of Grouville last night as family and friends gathered around a television set to watch Islander Jonny Labey's national television debut on the BBC One soap opera EastEnders.

Shortly after 8 pm, the 22 year-old made his first appearance on screen, with his character, Paul Coker, going on to feature heavily throughout the half hour episode as he quickly established himself on Albert Square.

In a typical display of Jersey's community spirit, hundreds of Islanders took to social media to wish the young actor good luck and praise his performance, with many saying that they were tuning into the long-running series for the first time especially.

However, nobody could have been more proud than parents Mark and Collette Labey, sisters Rachael and Katie, and the other relations and friends who gathered for fish and chips at the family's Grouville home last night.

And as the actor made his first appearance on prime time TV, in front of millions of viewers, the sound of a popping champagne cork could be heard in the Grouville home, as the family toasted Jonny's success.

A regular on the Island's performance scene during his youth, performing in a number of different local productions, the former Grouville School and Victoria College student was also involved with the Grouville Battle of Flowers team for a number of years and performed and performed on stage at Jersey Live in 2011, playing guitar and singing one of his original songs.

During his busy first episode of EastEnders, his character Paul - who was heavily tanned having just returned from his travels - caused aggravation when he knocked someone over with his backpack, before going on to form a friendship with established character Lola Pearce then flirt heavily with Ben Mitchell, who it was recently revealed will be Paul's love interest.

Later in the episode the pair enjoyed a passionate kiss, before Paul was finally reunited with his grandparents, Walford's undertaker Les and flower stall holder Pam Coker.

The actor left the Island in 2011, aged 18, to take a three-year BA course at the Doreen Bird College of Performance in Sidcup, for which he received a bursary from the Jersey Arts Trust.

Since graduating last year, he has already performed in a London production of In The Heights, playing a talented and aspiring graffiti artist. He also starred in Soft Lad, a film about a young man who embarks on a journey of self-discovery when he falls in love with another man, and performed in the recent West End production of White Christmas.

However, EastEnders is his most high-profile role to date.

The Labey family and friends are glued to their screen
Cheers! A toast to Paul Coker's arrival

Heidi Crossley: Fab job done by Jonny. Rather saucy for his first episode! Well done.

Carole Dowden: He was great, looked like he has been acting for years. Well done. Good looking too.

Julie Turmel: Very good. Wishing him the very best in EastEnders.

Christine Fraser: Wow, dramatic first scene - well done.

Mary Lloydjones: Well done, great first appearance. Good looking guy, wish him well.

Paula Callec: He was so confident and a great looking guy. Well done.

Kylie-Anne Ware: He is so handsome!! The kiss was intense. Best of luck. At least he's giving EastEnders some eye candy.

Loretta Colligny: In my opinion the kissing scene was over the top. He is a good looking young man and hopefully he has a successful career.

Patricia Diane Mckenna: Well done Jonny.

You can watch the episode again here

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