Donna (Verity Rushworth) and Marlon (Mark Charnock) are to be left devastated when they’re told by a doctor that Donna’s cancer has spread and that she might now only have a matter of weeks left to live.
Marlon feels that the time has now come for Donna to tell people about her prognosis, but Donna is reluctant to do so. Finally, Marlon cracks and leaves her taken aback by the depth of his feeling. But the pair are left shocked and mortified when, in the midst of their shared feelings of desperation, they share a kiss.
Marlon wants to tell bride-to-be Laurel (Charlotte Bellamy) about what has happened, but Donna insists that he shouldn’t as she doesn’t want to risk them splitting up. But can Marlon endure lying to his fiancee? Actor Mark Charnock thinks not…
How would you describe Marlon’s feelings for Donna?
He’s still overwhelmed by grief. Donna’s feelings for her are very strong – she’s the mother of his beloved daughter and – by extension – he loves her. Not in a romantic way, I don’t think. But he’s worried about how she’s dealing with everything and how they’re going to tell April. It’s eating him up.
Is Paddy right to be concerned about Marlon?
Paddy can see that he’s very distracted and that he’s not himself. It is born out of his worry for April. So yes, Paddy is right to be worried. Marlon is all over the place and Laurel can sense it too. But he’s been sworn to secrecy.
How does Marlon feel when he hears that Donna’s cancer has spread?
He’s absolutely devastated. As is Donna. It was not what he was expecting. Psychologically, he’d been planning in terms of months. So to hear she has only weeks left is the worst kind of hammer blow.
Why does he think Donna should tell people the truth?
Because time is running out. A watershed moment has been reached and Marlon thinks people should know. Everyone should know so that they’re able to help. He’s desperate for people to know.
Can you tell us how Marlon and Donna end up kissing?
There’s a very big episode where the news comes out, everyone’s devastated and Donna and Marlon go back to his house to talk it through. They’ve been hollowed out with the shock, they’re both crying and they’re hugging each other – and then comes the kiss. It’s a kiss of pure emotion. There’s nothing romantic or sexual about it. Not one per cent. It’s a grief-driven kiss that they both immediately regret.
Why does he think that telling Laurel about the kiss is a good idea?
Well, he’s lived through a lot of secrets and lies. He knows the damage they can do. And Marlon doesn’t want to go into his marriage to Laurel with this secret. The truth always ends up coming out. But Donna asks, “what possible good can it do?” And she’s probably right – it’ll only end up making him feel better. It won’t make Laurel feel any better.
Tell us what happens when Donna collapses…
Well, Paddy is there at the time. And he’s brilliant – he takes control of the situation, gets April away from the scene and takes Donna to the hospital. And all this time, he doesn’t know what’s actually wrong with her.
How do you think Marlon would react if he found out about Donna and Ross?
He strongly dislikes Ross, especially after what happened with Laurel and the carjacking. He doesn’t trust him. So it would be the most shocking person for Donna to be involved with. He’d be completely confused by it and angry with her.
Does what’s happening with Donna make Marlon feel differently about Laurel?
I don’t think he loves Laurel any less. The confusion comes with trying to look after everybody at the same time – he ends up taking his eye off the ball as a result. It’s bound to have affected him, but Laurel has every right to be confused by it too. He doesn’t handle it brilliantly.
Does he still want to marry Laurel?
Yes, he does. He’s deeply in love her. That’s never in question. It’s just that he’s lacking when it comes to his emotional duties because he’s concentrating so much on a dying woman.
Do you think he loves Donna?
Yes, because of what they once had. And also because she’s brought April into his life.
Do you think he can bear keeping the kiss a secret from Laurel?
I think he has to bear keeping the kiss a secret from Laurel. It wasn’t really an act of disloyalty, but he knows it would be misunderstood if he was to report it. Essentially, Marlon is a good bloke, so the physical act of it is going to eat away at him. It is going to bother him.
How does Marlon want to help Donna in her final weeks?
He just wants to be everything to her. He wants to be an emotional rock for Donna and to reassure her that he’s going to be a good dad to April. He wants to lessen the relentless tragedy of it – he knows it’s an impossible job, but he’ll do his best.
Does he think she should stop work?
Yes, he absolutely does. Marlon believes that they should spend as much time with their daughter as they can, so they can ease her through this. The fact that she won’t is very confusing for Marlon. But he doesn’t know her real agenda.
How do you think he’d feel about what Donna has been up to at work?
He’d be absolutely incandescent with rage. It’d be a good job if he doesn’t find out until after she’s gone. It would cause a storm between them. For her, it’s because she’s lost all that money in the financial collapse. But he wouldn’t be able to understand it.
And what are the next few weeks going to be like for Marlon?
It’s going to be a slow, crushing, on-going blow to him as reality starts to bite. He and everyone around him will be affected. It’s like a spiralling nightmare.