Hollyoaks airs Tilly Evans's final scenes next week as actress Lucy Dixon bows out from the role after two and a half years.
Viewers have recently seen Tilly cheat on her girlfriend Esther Bloom (Jazmine Franks) by sharing a surprise kiss with newcomer Chloe (Susan Loughnane), but show bosses are keeping tight-lipped over whether she leaves alone or with either of the two girls.
Digital Spy recently caught up with Lucy to hear why she decided to leave Hollyoaks and what her future career plans are.
How are you feeling now that your time on Hollyoaks has come to an end?
"I'm sad because it's the end of an era and I've had a fantastic two and a half years on Hollyoaks. I've met so many lovely people, I've learned so much about acting and I've had a brilliant character to play. I'll miss the people like crazy and I'll also miss playing Tilly, because she was fantastic."
Was leaving Hollyoaks a difficult choice to make?
"Yeah, it was. I had to weigh up options in my head of what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be in a year's time. For me it was one of those things where I never would have done it if I didn't do it now, so I had to take that leap.
"Yes it was a gamble and yes it was very daring to come away from a job that I enjoy so much, but the whole reason that I've wanted to be an actress is to challenge myself and play as many different parts as I can. That keeps it exciting for myself."
How long has your departure been in the pipeline for?
"I had a conversation with the producer back in June or July. I went upstairs and said that I wanted to move onto other adventures and challenges. I told him that I'd been so happy at Hollyoaks and it was a tough decision, but it was the right time.
"The producer was very sweet about it. He really listened to what I had to say and he took on board my feelings. I think that was great and I was very happy with the conversation. It was sad to have to make that decision, but I left that conversation very happy with how it had gone."
Your final storyline has revolved around Tilly being unfaithful to Esther with Chloe, which has been sad for Tilly and Esther fans! How did you feel about that?
"It was a huge shock when I was reading the scripts and saw that Tilly was going to kiss Chloe. I reacted exactly the same way as the fans did, because I also thought that Tilly and Esther were great together. It was a curveball, but the story writers constantly want to keep the audience on their toes with shock factors that people don't see coming. They did it well with this one, because myself and the fans didn't see it coming at all!"
Would you say Tilly's feelings for Esther have fizzled out?
"I don't think so! When I played it, I needed to know what Tilly was feeling and the thought processes she was having when it came to Chloe and Esther. In my head, Tilly has a very deep love harboured for Esther, and it's the same with Esther for Tilly. They've known each other for years and been through so much together. They're not only girlfriends, as they also have a very deep friendship.
"Tilly has a huge amount of respect for Esther, but she is also very scared after what happened to Esther earlier in the year, when she made a suicide attempt. Esther was obviously in a very fragile state, so there's still a lot of stress and pressure on Tilly's shoulders. She constantly has to be aware of what she's doing, what she's saying and how she's portraying herself, in case she upsets Esther in any way or rocks her stability.
"For a young girl like Tilly, that's a lot to go through. If I had a friend who was in a relationship like that and she was feeling as stressed and pressurised as Tilly does, I'd remind her that she also has to think of herself and her own needs.
"I think that's how Tilly felt and Chloe was this crazy girl who came out of nowhere. Chloe had a completely different outlook on life, which Tilly found very refreshing and very different. It's an outlook that Tilly had herself when we first met her, so Tilly has been reminded of what she used to be like - and she almost wants to get back to that person. She saw Chloe as a way of getting back to the old Tilly."
Was your last day on set emotional?
"Because we film out of sequence, I filmed Tilly's last scene on my penultimate day. Then on my last day, I only had two scenes. One of them was a scene between me and Anna Passey, which was quite a heated exchange between Tilly and Sienna. Then in my last scene, I didn't actually have any words - it was just a reaction shot for a scene with me and Esther.
"After that, they called out 'That's a wrap on Lucy!' and everyone came in with champagne and flowers. It was quite a surprise, because I thought it would have needed a couple more takes! Then it was just that realisation hitting me that I was leaving, so I did have a few little tears on set. But it was lovely - they were tears of joy and sadness that it was coming to an end. Loads of people were there to wish me well for the future, so it was really nice."
Are you hoping to stay in touch with many of the cast?
"Definitely. We had the Hollyoaks Christmas party earlier this month and I'd left two weeks before that, so it was really nice to see everyone and have a catch-up. There's a lot of people who have left the show in the past year who are living down in London, so there's lots of people who I'll be staying in touch with."
What were your highlights from your time with the show?
"I've had an incredible time. Both of the Abersoch weeks were great - it was perfect when we went there and I was really close with the cast involved in those scenes. I particularly enjoyed the first year there, because my first days working on Hollyoaks were in Abersoch. It was amazing to film on the beach and be able to sunbathe when we weren't needed for scenes!
"Hollyoaks Later was another massive highlight. Steve Brett who directed three of the episodes was just brilliant - he's a fantastic director. There was a great crew too and everyone just wanted to make it as good as it could be.
"Amy Downham, who played Jen, was also brilliant to work with and we had some fantastic scenes. I really liked Tilly at that point - she was really feisty. I really liked being Tilly when she was with Jen.
"I've also loved working with Jazz Franks, who plays Esther. Tilly and Esther have been through a lot together and they've had a long arc with many different storylines. Another highlight has been getting to work with Steven Roberts who plays George. He's a very good friend of mine, so I loved it when I got to work with him because we have such good fun together."
What do you hope the future holds?
"I love theatre. I used to do theatre before I worked in television and it was always enjoyable. It's a very different challenge but there's a real buzz in the air when you're on the stage, so I'd love to get into that. I'd also love to do some television dramas - maybe something quite gritty and very different from what Tilly is. I'm open to anything that comes my way, and I think that's probably the best way to be. I look forward to the next exciting adventure."
Is there anything you'd like to say to Tilly's fans?
"I just want to thank them so much for investing so many hours of their precious time into Tilly. The support that I have received over the past two and a half years has been fantastic, and it's been really encouraging. The fans have been brilliant and I've had some really wonderful messages and letters. I hope they'll stick with me for my future endeavours!"
Read more Hollyoaks spoilers and news
Hollyoaks airs Tilly's exit scenes next week on Channel 4 and E4.
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