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Things may be less than harmonious in the family of his Hollyoaks character Sylver McQueen but life clearly doesn’t imitate art for blissed-out actor David Tag.
The 36-year-old star has just welcomed his first child, Reuben David, with girlfriend Abi Harrison and they are thrilled to exclusively introduce him to us.
The adorable tot arrived on 9 June at 12.14pm, weighing in at 7lb 14oz – and they say he immediately made them think about adding a sibling!
“He’s just hiccupping in my arms,” smiles David, who has played Sylver in the Channel 4 soap since 2018. “We instantly made ourselves broody again when he came out and we saw how cute he was!”
David admits he’s been feeling some “dad guilt” after returning to work just 10 days after Reuben was born, leaving Abi alone with him at their home in Knutsford, Cheshire. But he adds, “Abi is taking it all in her stride.”
David and beauty therapist Abi have been together for two years and moved in together just a week before the first national lockdown last year. While that period strained many couples’ relationships they found the time together made them stronger – and within months they were expecting Reuben.
“We moved in together a week before lockdown and then we moved again a week before I gave birth. I think if we can survive all that we can survive anything!” laughs Abi, 31.
Here, they open up about Reuben’s arrival, the gifts he’s had from his dad’s co-stars and tackling trolls…
Congratulations, both! How have the first few weeks of parenthood been?
David: It’s been completely life-changing but we’ve taking it in our stride, especially Abi. I’ve been at work a lot of the time but Abi has taken it on like she’s done it all before.
Aww! Is Reuben a good sleeper?
David: Not really [laughs]. He’s eating a lot at the moment, so we get about half an hour of sleep out of him and then he’s feeding for the next hour. I don’t feel it as much because I’m not breast-feeding, like Abi! When you’re acting, if you’ve got quite an emotional scene, the fact that you’re tired actually makes you more emotional, so sometimes it works quite well. Then, when I come home, he takes my mind off everything.
Abi: I’ve lost track of days and hours, and what’s even going on, but breast-feeding has actually been good. Although I’ve already jinxed myself by saying I haven’t really had any problems, then ended up with a blocked duct, which was so painful. But it has been fine, it’s just a lot and it takes up a lot of your time!
How did you choose his name?
David: It was basically the only name that we could both agree on. We both love it. I liked names like River, Forest and Zeus but Abi was like, “No, that’s not happening!”
Abi: I like more traditional names, so we thought this was in the middle.
David: His middle name is after his dad. I’ve got Iranian heritage, so I thought maybe we’d go for an Iranian name as his middle name. But he’s the first boy after me, so we changed our mind at the last minute.
We love it. How was his birth?
David: The labour was just over three hours. It was really good and really quick – well, really good for me, maybe not so much for Abi!
Abi: I had a water birth but I can’t really remember much of it. I was in so much pain at home and then when I got to hospital, and got on the gas and air, I just got into this zone and I didn’t know what was going on. I did hypnobirthing and it helped loads. But when I was in pain before the gas and air I said, “Oh my God, if someone could give me a C-section right now I would take it!” Before labour I was like, “Whatever happens, I don’t want a C-section, I want it to be as natural as possible.”
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Did he come on time?
Abi: He was two days overdue. On the Monday evening I started getting contractions through the night, so on the Tuesday morning I went to the hospital. But I wasn’t dilated, so we went back home. The lady said she didn’t expect to see me back for a week and I was back the next morning! My waters didn’t even break until 10 minutes before I gave birth.
Did you get in the pool, David?
David: No, I didn’t know until afterwards that I could have done. I didn’t have my tighty-whities with me either! But I was by the edge holding her hand the whole way through. I was very lucky that I was able to be there from start to finish. It’s my first child. I think I would have kicked up a fuss if they hadn’t let me in!
Absolutely! What was David like as a birthing partner, Abi?
Abi: He was good, he got me water and a Rennie [indigestion tablet] when I asked for it. He did tell me to lay off the gas and air though!
David: There was one point where her head had started falling into the water and I had to lift it back out, and I said, “Maybe lay off the gas and air for a minute?” and she just said, “Give it back now!” [Laughs]. I didn’t say that again. After I got her the water and some Rennie, she didn’t speak to me for the rest of the birth!
Did you cry when he arrived?
David: I did. I don’t think Abi knew what was going on but I was blubbing away when he came out! It was amazing.
Abi: I was in shock. We both thought we were having a girl, so we were shocked.
David: We just saw his big, swollen balls and we were like, “Oh my God!” [Laughs]. I wanted a little daddy’s girl but now he’s here I’m very happy we have this little one. As long as he’s cute and chubby, that’s all that matters to me.
And were you able to cut the cord, David?
David: Yeah. They handed me the scissors and I didn’t know what I was doing. It was really close to all his private bits and I was like, “Oh God, I can’t get this wrong!” But it was nice I got to do that and have that moment. I got to do some skin on skin as well, which was nice. I think that soothed him. Even now, I love it when he falls asleep on my chest.
That sounds so cute! Was it hard to leave Reuben and Abi to go back to work?
David: Yeah, I felt guilty more than anything. It’s so new to both of us and I felt really bad being at work. It’s a bit of a change of scenery and a bit of an escape for me, whereas Abi is doing the same routine. But she’s taken to it so well. We moved house a week before he was born and Hollyoaks was really good at letting me take time off so we could sort ourselves out. Then I went back 10 days after he was born.
Did you get any nice gifts from your co-stars?
David: The McQueen family sent us a big box of goodies with some teething toys, a blanket, a sleepsuit and a little nightgown and hat, which is so cute. I’ve had so many lovely messages from everyone, including all the production crew.
Aww! Are you closest to the McQueen gang on set?
David: Absolutely. Since we’ve come out of lockdown and we could start filming again, the way that the schedule works is you’re only really working with your “family” members, so you’re not mixing too much with too many people. That means we’ve grown closer over the past year or so. I’ll definitely take Reuben to the set when he’s a little less dependent on Abi. I think all the girls are dying to see him.
Did any of the girls give you any advice?
David: Yeah, most of the people I work with closely all have kids and, without fail, they all said how difficult it can be. They said make sure to get your sleep when you can and if they go to bed earlier, make sure you sleep when they sleep. We haven’t really learnt to do that yet but we’re getting there. They also said to embrace it and not get too stressed.
You’ve been in Hollyoaks for a while now. Is trolling something you experience?
David: I’ve been quite lucky in that respect. I’ve not really had any trolling. Obviously, I have had a couple of comments here and there, but I just do what I’ve always done, which is ignore, block and delete. It’s really not worth my headspace. Abi had something pop up quite recently on her work account and there were some comments on her post from a fake account.
Abi: It was on my work page. I put that I’d gone on maternity leave and they were saying things like, “You’ll soon be a single mum.” It was really weird.
David: It was so bizarre.
Abi: I didn’t reply. I deleted the comments and blocked them. The way the person was replying, it seemed like it was someone who was very young. It was unbelievable, I just felt so shocked. You wonder who this person is and what is going on in their life.
David: Even though you don’t know who is commenting, when they’re doing it over and over again it does wear you down and it does affect you. That’s why I try to block it out. Even the most strong-minded of people will get affected eventually.
Abi: Definitely. They then started commenting on one of my other business accounts because my personal account is private. But the only opinions I care about are those of people I know.
David: When I came into this industry I just accepted it was part of the deal. But I tend to keep myself relatively private, so I don’t give people too many opportunities to troll me.
Do you get quite a lot of attention from the female Hollyoaks fans?
David: Yes! I knew that was going to be part and parcel of the job. But when I’m out and about and people ask for a picture, everyone is so polite. They always ask first and they’re very appreciative. It’s actually really nice when people approach you.
What’s that like for you, Abi?
Abi: I’m the photographer! You get used to it and I think it’s quite cute really. A lot of the time I don’t think people do it as much when we’re together. Most of the time, people do it when I get up to go to the toilet!
How did the two of you meet?
David: In a bar in Alderley Edge. It was weird because that day I had broken up with my ex and then I went out that night and met Abi.
Abi: We were both living in Altrincham on the same street and we didn’t know it. We knew each other to say hi to from the gym but we had no idea we lived on same street and it was weird we were both in Alderley Edge that night.
David: She lived 10 doors down. It was definitely attraction at first sight. I was going through a lot at the time, as I’d just broken up with someone, so I was very up and down. But I didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity just because my head wasn’t in the right place, so I made sure I kept in touch.
Abi: We kept in touch and then ended up going to Ibiza together three weeks after we met! It was my holiday and my friend ended up not being able to come, so I asked him to come and we had a really good time. Then we went to Croatia two weeks after that and we’ve been together every day since then. David moved in with me a week before the first lockdown. We were both off work so we were together 24/7.
David: A baptism of fire [laughs]!
Abi: If we can get through that we can get through anything!
Definitely! Have you discussed getting engaged?
David: That’s something that could happen!
Abi: We both want to get married, but there’s no pressure.
David: I’ve just bought a house and put a lot of money into it, so as soon as I’m in the right place, why not? We’ll see.
That’s exciting. And finally, now Reuben is here, would you like to add to your brood?
David: Yeah, we instantly made ourselves broody again when he came out and we saw how cute he was! We would like more than one.
Abi: Yeah, when I was pregnant I said I wanted to not be pregnant for at least a year, as I didn’t really enjoy it. If I didn’t have to be pregnant, I would have another one right now! I would like them close together. I haven’t been put off at all. I know some people say, “Never again” – but I definitely would!
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