Hollyoaks star Jude Monk McGowan on Liam Donovan's exit scenes

Daniel Kilkelly

From Digital Spy

Hollyoaks spoilers follow.

Hollyoaks has killed off Liam Donovan in the dramatic Devil's Dinner Party storyline.

Wednesday's E4 episode (March 25) saw Liam fall to his death after terrorising his enemies in a high-stakes hostage situation at the pub. Liam's own sister Grace Black let him fall from the top of the stairs to The Dog's cellar, which led to him suffering a fatal blow to the head.

Digital Spy recently caught up with Jude Monk McGowan, who played Liam, for a big interview about his departure from the show.

How are you feeling now that your time on Hollyoaks has come to an end?

"It's a funny thing as an actor – you make your peace with it and you move on fairly quickly. If you were too emotionally invested in everything you said goodbye to, you'd just drive yourself insane.

"I was hoping that I'd leave and have something lined up already. I had a little job, but – as you can imagine given our current situation – it's been postponed, which is quite sad."

Did the Hollyoaks producers give you a lot of advance warning over Liam's death?

"They did. It was nine months ago that [Hollyoaks' executive producer] Bryan Kirkwood told me they'd made the decision. I thought that was fair enough – they make the decision over when they feel the character has run its course.

"It's certainly been an explosive time for Liam, which is exactly what I wanted. I wanted to be busy and have some dynamic, interesting storylines. They were dramatic, fun and they also tested me.

"The storylines I've had helped me to learn about screen acting, as I've done stunts, fights, sex scenes, family feuds – it certainly hasn't disappointed in that respect."

Would you have stayed on Hollyoaks for longer if the producers wanted more from Liam, or did it feel like the right time to leave anyway?

"Internally, I wanted to do about two years on the show and that's more or less what I did – I did 19 months. I felt it had run its course. I don't think Liam is one of those characters who would stick around for as long as some of the firm fan favourites can and will."

Photo credit: Lime Pictures

How did you feel about getting the Devil's Dinner Party as your big finale?

"I intuitively knew that there'd have to be something dramatic to say goodbye to Liam. I must confess, the conceit of having all the people he'd done wrong in one place was great and I was excited about that.

"I enjoyed working with all of the actors who were engaged in the revenge storyline. To have the opportunity to work with them all again was great. It's not like I was taking a taxi out of the village – I got a dramatic episode-long narrative in which to leave my last mark."

How did you feel about Grace being the one to let Liam fall to his death?

"It was probably his just desserts after the way he's treated people! Maybe after how horrific Liam had been to Maxine, I would have understood if she'd got some final revenge – but she's a good character, while Grace is more of a nefarious one. It makes sense in terms of Grace's moral landscape that she'd be the one to kill Liam."

How do you think Liam's fans will react to your departure?

"I think they're disappointed there wasn't more of Liam and James. That's the impression I got – things shifted in people's consciousness when Liam was involved with James. That won't happen now and will probably be a bit upsetting.

"I should think the people who enjoy the theatricality of Liam will certainly enjoy his demise and the final episodes, but I dare say they'll be disappointed they won't see more of his antics in the village."

Photo credit: Lime Pictures

Did you always know Liam and James's relationship would have such a big reaction?

"It was a pleasant surprise – I had absolutely no idea. Obviously Greg [Finnegan, who plays James] is a brilliant actor and plays a really well-loved character in the show, so it was always going to be interesting in terms of what the writers were going to do with that. But I didn't foresee it would be as successful and as enjoyed as it was."

Were you proud to be the last Donovan brother standing?

"I am – it's nice company to be in, because they're all such talented and lovely dudes. It also leaves Grace in an interesting position now because she's just got Curtis – that's all she's got left."

Looking back, was it difficult to come in as a recast character after Maxim Baldry previously played Liam?

"I think it absolutely took time for the viewers to get used to it, because it was such a huge change from the sweet, puppy dog, endearing character that Liam was before. It was such a big shift when Liam because this drug dealer, womaniser, amoral, village hardman!

"I'm sure that took some adaption for people and I can commiserate with that, because there are TV shows that I've enjoyed where recasts have come in and I've struggled to adapt to them as well.

"I had to almost treat it like I was a brand new character coming in, because the two versions of the character were so, so different. It took time for people to adapt to that and I understood that completely."

Photo credit: Lime Pictures

Do you have any fondest memories or favourite storylines?

"I can just think of people that I very much enjoyed working with – Luke Jerdy, Jen Metcalfe, Tamara Wall, Greg Finnegan and the directors. Graeme Harper, who worked on the block airing this week, was wonderful as a final director.

"I did very much enjoy this final week because it was the endgame. It was wonderful to be able to go as far as I possibly could, because there are no repercussions."

It's a difficult time for actors and people in the creative industry at the moment. Can you tell us about the new job you had, which was postponed?

"I can't say what it was yet as it was confidential, just because of the nature of the work involved. But it's a really difficult time.

"I would hope this situation would lead to an acceptance that the film, TV and theatre industry in this country raises around £94 billion and we're world leaders in it as a nation. The Oscars and the BAFTAs prove it, whether that's with actors, directors or screenwriters.

"It's a really undervalued part of art, and of our society. We're born storytellers but we're now getting a sense of how valued we are. That doesn't seem to be very much when, if you're self-employed and now out of work, you get £94 a week – no-one can live on that.

"For an industry which brings in that much money and world attention and respect, we're collectively as a community baffled by it. We just feel like we should be more respected, given how revered the industry is and British people's contributions to it throughout the world.

"The government should certainly take a look at themselves and look to redress and support people who are self-employed in this industry, because it is so unpredictable.

"I now have no way of earning money from acting. I'm also in the fitness world as a personal trainer and, of course, that's going to be incredibly difficult to earn money from now too. It's a very precarious and difficult time – not just for actors, but for everyone who is self-employed."

Photo credit: Lime Pictures

Putting the current uncertainty to one side, what would you like your future to hold?

"I've always been very ambitious. I've always wanted to be in film and I've always wanted to be in big TV, both here and in America. I've always wanted to have a varied career, which is why I ideally wanted to be on Hollyoaks for two years. The great thing about being an actor for me is the varied stories that you can tell.

"My work has already taken me to China, Germany, Italy and all over the UK too. That's part of what keeps it so inherently enjoyable for me. I could sit here and list all day what I'd like to do, but you just don't know where you're going to be – that's the beauty of this profession."

How would you like the Hollyoaks fans to remember Liam?

"Hopefully with fondness at the level of unpredictability. One minute he could be threatening somebody, the next minute flirting, and the next minute doing the Macarena in the pub. You never knew if he was going to kiss you or kill you.

"Hopefully they can appreciate what Maxim did and what I did with the character and they'll see different things – both equally valid and as different as the actors who played Liam."

Hollyoaks airs weeknights at 6.30pm on Channel 4, with first look screenings at 7pm on E4.

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