Hollyoaks: Frankie Osborne killed off – Helen Pearson reacts to shock death

The actress bows out of the show after 15 years

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Hollyoaks have pulled off a major surprise by killing Frankie Osborne in stunt week – without the character actually being involved in the stunt itself!

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In a huge twist during tonight’s E4 showing, Frankie had decided not to leave her family with ex-husband Johnno Dean and was frantically trying to get hold of other half Jack.

When she saw a TV newsflash about the horrifying explosion at Hollyoaks High, Frankie panicked knowing her family were in the building attending a prize-giving ceremony and collapsed in shock.

After escaping the disaster with his life intact, Jack woke up in hospital to the tragic news that Frankie had died of a stroke…

Along with Neeta Kaur (Amrit Maghera), Frankie is one of two deaths Hollyoaks had kept under wraps to preserve the secrecy surrounding their traditional autumn stunt episodes. Pearson’s departure had been rumoured but her character’s death had been kept quiet.

It’s certainly a big moment for long-time fans, as Frankie has been around since 2002 when she came in as mum of the Dean clan. Latterly she married ex-copper Jack and became matriarch to the extended Osbornes. We caught up with Helen Pearson to say a fond farewell to Frankie…

Why did you decide to leave Hollyoaks?

I’ve been here 15 years which is a very long time. I got married four years ago and wanted to spend more time with my husband down in London, so I chatted to our executive producer Bryan Kirkwood and thought now would be a good time to leave.

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How did you feel about being killed off?

Dramatically it’s very effective, I love how unexpected it is and that the audience assume it’s Jack who’s going to die. It should be a big surprise!

Has it been hard keeping the secret?

Really hard! People in my local shop have been asking me what’s coming up in the show and I’ve had to pretend I’m still in it! It has been difficult but also quite amusing. I’ll be very interested in the reaction once it’s aired.

Was your death scene emotional to film?

She dies alone! It’s so tragic. Frankie has been feeling unwell for a few days, she’s had bad headaches, then having decided not to run off with Johnno and abandon her family she sees the newsflash on TV and has this funny turn and collapses. There were no other actors around so it’s a very lonely end for poor Frankie!

Were you disappointed now not to be involved in the exploding school stunt?

No! Inevitably stunts are quite full-on and can mean very long days. I like the surprise element of how she goes. This was my first on-screen death you know, I died nightly when I played Cordelia in King Lear on stage many years ago. One night the actor holding me tripped and dropped me on to the stage! That got a gasp from the audience…

How do you think the Osbornes will cope without their matriarch?

I hope they fall apart! Joking aside, life goes on doesn’t it? It’s funny, I spent more time with Jimmy McKenna who played Jack than I have with my own husband. It’s like living a parallel life with another family. Ashley Taylor Dawson (Darren) threw me a lovely leaving party and I had a bit of a moment as I looked round at everyone thinking how much I’ll miss them. Although they’re already in touch keeping me up to date with the gossip!

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What have been your Hollyoaks highlights?

So many highlights, I loved going from high comedy like the Cher impressions – although I will not miss that wig – to serious stuff like Jade Albright’s cancer storyline. That was incredibly affecting, to work with such talented, intelligent young actors like Kassius Nelson was great. I’ve always been a versatile performer and liked the variety of material you get to play in a soap, it really suits how I like to work.

Whats’s next for you?

I’ve done a couple of music videos already, and would like to go back to theatre and classical drama which I did earlier in my career. I’m also a patron of a charity called the Marmalade Trust which tackles loneliness in vulnerable people. I did a short film with one of our Hollyoaks directors, Lee Skelly, on the topic, and became involved with Marmalade as they thought it was a good representation of the issue. I’ll be doing some work with them over Christmas and am so proud to be a patron. It’s nice to have more time to devote to it now. I shall miss my Hollyoaks family but I’m excited about what’s ahead!

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Hollyoaks continues weeknights on E4 at 7pm and on Channel 4 at 6.30pm.