Hollyoaks fans are still weeping at the shock death of lovable Jesse Donovan (Luke Jerdy), killed off by a booze binge after learning big sister Grace Black conspired with James Nightingale to shoot Mercedes McQueen, and the cast are pretty cut up too.
“It’s so sad to see Luke go,” Amy Conachan, aka Jesse’s widow Courtney Campbell, tells RadioTimes.com. “You spend so much time building up a relationship with someone you work with closely, and it’s hard when they leave.”
Drowning his sorrows on his wedding day as he contemplated whether to shop his sibling to the cops for her crime, the conflicted hairdresser collapsed in the street as he staggered home to his new wife and ended up drinking himself to death.
The usually lighthearted character’s departure was all the more affecting as it occurred on what should’ve been the happiest day of his life, just hours after finally tying the knot with his schoolteacher soulmate. “Courtney has had quite the journey and we’ve seen her in lots of different scenarios, a mix of light and dark.
“The pairing with Jesse has generally been the light relief stuff in the show,” she acknowledges. “They became Hollyoaks‘ ‘Disney couple’, absolute relationship goals. Hopefully we can take advantage of fans investing in them, and Jesse’s death will have even more of an impact.
“Exploring all this grief and vulnerability for Courtney is going to be new territory for the audience, and for me to portray. We’ll see her on her own, trying to carry on without him. Immediately as she tries to pick herself up, it doesn’t go very well. She tries to fight being vulnerable but eventually she allows it in and we see her in a softer light. Courtney is strong, but can be hard and prickly.”
Mrs Donovan has no idea Grace is swallowing the guilt she feels at driving her brother to the bottle because of her bad behaviour, and actually starts to wonder if she played a part in the senseless demise. “You want to put the blame somewhere to make sense of it, and Courtney starts to think he didn’t want to marry her and blames herself. She’s in the dark about Grace shooting Mercedes and thinks Jesse had jitters and too much pressure on the wedding day.”
“The nice thing is we’ll see Courtney lean on people. As much as she likes to be independent, others lean on her – like Grace did when she was paralysed, and she’s given pep talks to Nancy Osborne over her MS. I’ll be working with Leela Lomax again which is great because that was the family group I was introduced in. Courtney’s links with the Lomaxes will be revisited.”
As for the famous Donovan curse, Conachan is cautious when it’s suggested her character has been one of the worst affected by her association with the dodgy clan, particularly dead patriarch Glenn who forced her into drug dealing. “It’s not been plain sailing,” she grins. “Although she did get her daughter Iona from her one-night stand with Liam Donovan, and she was happy with Jesse for a while.
“Poor Jesse was the ‘good Donovan’ and he’s ended up dead – actually I’d say he was the biggest victim of this so-called curse!”
Visit our dedicated Hollyoaks page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.