Hollyoaks airs shock death for Jesse Donovan – Luke Jerdy explains why he’s left the cast

"It's a heartbreaking way to go!"

HOLLYOAKS Jesse Donovan

Hollyoaks has delivered a devastating blow with the surprise death of Jesse Donovan (Luke Jerdy), bringing his wedding day to Courtney Campbell (Amy Conachan) to a tragic end.

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Viewers feared for the groom after he collapsed in the village following a booze binge, and Tuesday 21st January’s E4 episode picked up from the cliffhanger and confirmed his tragic demise. The surprise twist means the end of Jerdy’s stint after four years, and the actor acknowledges the audience will be shocked as his departure was kept a secret to ensure maximum heartbreak…

hollyoaks grace black

“It will be a shock for Hollyoaks viewers,” he told RadioTimes.com. “But after four years I felt like it was the natural time to move on, see what’s out there and experience other opportunities. He’s such a nice character and it’s a heartbreaking way to go, but sometimes death is completely random and shocking incidents like this can happen.”

The reason nice guy Jesse drowned his sorrows with such ferocity was a reaction to discovering his big sister, gangster Grace Black, had teamed up with James Nightingale to try and kill Mercedes McQueen. Confronting the bolshy blonde, she convinced him to keep quiet – but it left a sour taste.

Fed up with his cursed family’s criminal behaviour, and wanting to ensure married life with Courtney wasn’t tainted by the clan’s illegal antics, Jesse felt utterly betrayed by what Grace. The fact middle sibling Liam Donovan was also in on it drove the horrified hairdresser to down drinks in the Loft while the new Mrs Donovan waited for her hubby to return home, unaware he eventually passed out in the street while staggering back to his flat.

hollyoaks courtney campbell

“Bad luck is just in the air for that family!” laughs Jerdy. “In his head there was no way back for his relationship with Grace after this which is really sad, because he’s forgiven her and remained loyal. But this is the final straw.

“Jesse’s death is ultimately on Grace. It will be interesting to see if she turns a corner because of her guilt, him finding out what she did to Mercedes was devastating. I’ll be keeping a close eye on what happens next, there’s bound to be a lot of soul searching, guilt and recriminations from Grace.”

The emotional episodes provided Jerdy a roller coaster of extremes to act out in his final scenes. “It was challenging to play the conflict of Jesse finding out what Grace had done right before the wedding, when he was already on a high of happy nervousness. Then he was completely conflicted about what to do and tried to put on a brave face for Courtney to give her the best day, but how could he?

“To help him make a decision about what to do he just kept on drinking. The wedding day became a microcosm of his character – trying to stay positive and thinking about other people. It’s so sad, Jesse had been dreaming of getting married and having a family – then his sister goes and betrays him!”

hollyoaks wedding week 4

Confessing he’ll miss his alter ego’s “Kindness, warmth and generosity,” Jerdy is now developing a one-man stage show, and is also planning his own real life wedding to former co-star Daisy Wood-Davis, who played Kim Butterfield.

“Daisy is touring in Beautiful, the Carole King musical, until September which is really exciting. I’m working on my show in Liverpool ahead of performing it at the Everyman Studio in February, and she gets Sundays and Mondays off during the tour, so I’ll structure my time off around her schedule. The wedding is not until June 2021 so hopefully we won’t have to make sure it’s a Sunday or a Monday by then!”

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