Hollyoaks has aired the death of Scott Drinkwell and Damon Kinsella’s mum Maggie, who lost her brave battle with cancer surrounded by her family.
In moving scenes just aired on E4, ailing Maggie was determined to end her own life with the aid of long-lost son Scott Drinkwell, but when his brother Damon discovered their pact he was devastated.
Maggie decided not to end her life prematurely and instead spent her final hours with Scott, Damon and surrogate son Brody Hudson and passed away peacefully outside in the village.
The character of Maggie first appeared last spring when Scott learnt he was adopted and tracked down the mother who abandoned him – meeting half brother Damon in the process.
After a bumpy start, Maggie made peace Scott as she revealed she was dying of cancer, and she died knowing her sons were finally united.
It’s a tear-jerking exit for actress Michelle Holmes, whose raft of credits include the sitcom Goodnight Sweetheart, stints on both Coronation Street and Emmerdale and her breakthrough role in Alan Clarke’s classic film comedy Rita, Sue and Bob Too, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary.
We spoke to Holmes about her Hollyoaks experience, which culminated in her first ever death scene…
How did you feel about depicting a character battling cancer?
You don’t escape life without someone close to you dying of cancer unfortunately. My nan died when I was 21, like Maggie she went very quickly, it was a matter of weeks. I had that to draw on and you hope you do your best and people respond to it.
Were you glad Scott didn’t help Maggie take her own life?
Initially I think Hollyoaks discussed going down the euthanasia route, and we approached the topic in the storyline, but in this case the show decided not to do that. It still put the subject out there and up for debate.
Did you enjoy Maggie’s ‘bucket list’ challenges?
Yes, I didn’t want it all to be sad, I said to the producers I wanted Maggie to represent women going through this in a positive way. Maybe it does help people and can be inspiring, I hope so. Although it was a body double streaking through the village in my underwear, I didn’t fancy that! The bucket list brought some comedy into it which is what I love doing the most.
Maggie was quite unlikable at first, did you want to bring some of your comedy background into the role?
Probably the fact I was cast made the writers realise they could have a bit of fun with it and have some lighthearted moments. It’s always about a balance in a soap. Also my job was to facilitate the audience seeing things from Scott and Damon’s perspective, Maggie might have done some things that weren’t very nice but she had to in order for viewers to see how her sons reacted – there are lots of young people watching who will relate to what Scott and Damon are going through in terms of losing a parent.
What’s the reaction been like to Maggie?
I’ve come to social media very late, and it’s been fantastic to see how the fans really took to the character. It’s great to see what the audience is chatting about.
It was an emotional storyline, what were the hardest scenes to film?
The constant crying! We have a stick where they blow stuff in your eye to make you cry because you just can’t cry that much on demand every day. We were literally squeezing them out in the end, all of us! As much as it was intense and serious you’ve got to have a laugh to get you through, and we all did.
Will you miss your on-screen family?
Oh yes, I’ve actually known Ross Adams (Scott) for years, we worked together on The Road to Coronation Street, the drama about making the first episode, back in 2010. We’re like brother and sister and speak all the time. And Jacob Roberts (Damon) and Adam Woodward (Brody) were lovely. They sent me pictures of Maggie’s funeral on WhatsApp the other day! They’ve made me older than I actually am on the order of service, thanks for that!
You’ve been in Corrie and Emmerdale, how does Hollyoaks compare?
It’s a different regime now and a lot quicker – and you don’t get days to rehearse! But I don’t mind working like that. You shoot multiple episodes at same time on Hollyoaks and the amount of scripts I had that we were working on, it looked like the New Testament! At first it was overwhelming but it was a huge sense of achievement when I finished the storyline, I really enjoyed it.
Have you died on screen before?
I haven’t, never! Maggie’s was my first death scene. I can add dying to the CV!
Hollyoaks continues weeknights on E4 at 7pm and on Channel 4 at 6.30pm.