We’ve known that Donna had a short amount of time left to her thanks to a diagnosis of terminal cancer, but could there be a twist to her exit from the village? Next week’s episodes find Donna and Ross take on their most ambitious criminal endeavour yet – and it’s a move that sees them taken hostage as a result. Will either of them get out alive? Verity Rushworth tells us all about Donna’s fraught final week on screen…
Can you talk a bit about Donna’s health situation at the moment?
Donna’s health has deteriorated, unfortunately. At a previous scan, she was told that she could have a year left. But at the most recent scan, she was told that she could only have weeks. It’s extremely sad, she’s in a bad way and she’s suffering in secret.
Why do you think she hasn’t told everyone the truth about her condition?
She doesn’t want her final weeks to be morbid and to be all about dying. She wants people to be oblivious so that she has normal interactions with people. Plus she has a job to do and she needs to focus on that before she lets the world know what’s been going on. She feels guilty about lying but she doesn’t want to implicate anyone in what she’s doing.
What about her feelings for Ross?
Donna’s completely in love with Ross, but she can’t tell him that because it would be unfair. He doesn’t know about her illness, but she’s definitely in love with him. She’s extremely conflicted. She wants to tell him but she can’t.
And what are her feelings for Marlon?
With Marlon, the fact that he now knows about her cancer is a big relief for Donna. She was upset about the way he found out because it caught her off guard. But, if that hadn’t happened, I don’t think she’d ever have been able to tell him. So it was a blessing in disguise. And Marlon has been a great source of support. She appreciates him being there for her.
Plus she needs he and April to have a good relationship after she’s gone. Donna wants Marlon and Laurel to be a strong unit for April. So she’s pushing for Marlon to consider Laurel in all this too.
Have things changed between Donna and Marlon since he found out the truth?
He now looks at her in a different way and Donna didn’t want that to happen. She’s now become a victim and he wants to take care of her and Donna wanted to avoid all that. So, yes, the relationship has now altered, but she keeps saying that she doesn’t want to talk about death and that they need to stay positive.
What’s Donna’s mood like at April’s birthday party?
She’s very sombre. She knows it’s the last one she’s going to be at. She gives her a locket with a photo of her in it. And Donna has a locket with a photo of April in it. She wants to be a good mum and be happy, but she’s actually quite reflective. And it shows. Plus she’s got Ross and Adam waiting for details of the job they’re planning…
So how does Donna feel when Ross reveals that he’s made plans for them to leave after the big job they’re planning?
It’s heartbreaking because we’re finally seeing Ross’s vulnerable side. He’s fallen for Donna and he wants to run away with her and look after both her and April. And Donna would love to do that, but she knows she can’t do that. Donna isn’t going to be around for much longer and April needs to be with Marlon. But she needs Ross to believe in his plan in order for them to get through this job. So she leads him on and says that she’ll go with him, but deep down she knows it’ll never happen.
How does Adam find out that she’s involved in all this?
Ross tells Adam that he’s got a bent copper on-side in order to make him feel confident that he’s in good hands. And then Donna arrives at the house and Adam is very surprised to see her! He certainly doesn’t think that Donna would have ever turned to the dark side.
Does she trust Adam not to make a mess of it?
She’s furious that Ross has told Adam. But actually, he comes in really handy and he’s helpful on the day. In the end, she does trust him.
Can you explain what this final job involves?
Gary North – the guy whose house Donna and Ross robbed for money – is out for revenge. And it turns out that he’s threatened April, which is obviously horrendous for Donna. Donna sees him talking to April in the café and she absolutely freaks out. So Donna realises that she needs to get Gary North locked up as soon as possible because he’s such a massive threat. So the job is about setting up Gary North – there are dodgy photos that he wouldn’t want anyone to see and Donna and Ross are trying to get hold of these to use for blackmail. But it all goes wrong.
Where are the photos in question?
They’re locked away in a safe in a nightclub. Donna and Ross have to get into the nightclub manager’s office and get the photos. And then, if they give Gary North his photos back, then he wouldn’t seek revenge. They’d be quits and he’d leave them alone. But it doesn’t quite happen.
Can you tell us what happens when Aaron turns up and threatens the job that they’re doing?
Aaron tries to stop Adam. He’s trying to protect him, but Adam has to be quite brutal with him to get him out of the way. Adam knows that Donna and Ross need him and that they cannot risk anything going wrong. So Adam sorts him out.
Talk us through how Donna and Ross get into the club…
Donna and Ross walk into the club and easily get into the office. They’re dressed as police officers at the time and they tell the staff that they need to see the books and that they’ve heard that there are counterfeit goods in the safe. And it all goes well until the manager refuses to open the safe. He knows that there are photos belonging to Gary North in there. Also, Ross gives the game away by not knowing how to work his radio and not knowing where his baton is. It’s clear that he’s not a real policeman.
It all goes wrong – it’s like a hostage situation because the door’s locked, their hands are tied, there’s a bag over Ross’s head, he’s badly beaten up and Donna is threatened by two men, which is very intimidating. It all kicks off and Donna gets really fierce – she gets her Taser out and they have to act very quickly. They’re in absolute danger and lives are at risk.
This is your last week on screen – what has it been like being back?
It’s been the most amazing five months. It’s the best place to work and everyone is so warm and professional. And I’ve been blessed with this really juicy story that’s had all this heartache and danger. I feel very lucky.