Doctors' Mandy Marquez will soon take centre stage in an experimental episode featuring flashbacks to the 1960s.
Monday's edition of the daytime soap sees Mandy have a serendipitous meeting with Eleanor Waite, an elderly lady who is haunted by memories of the past.
As soon as Eleanor sees Mandy, she is reminded of the love of her life Susie Lambert, whom she met in a café in 1962. When Eleanor opens up to Mandy, her sad story is told through flashbacks.
Danielle Henry, who plays Mandy, also takes on the role of Susie in the 1960s scenes. The actress recently caught up with Digital Spy to reveal more about the storyline and what's coming up for Mandy.
How did you feel about filming such an unusual episode?
"I was really excited about it, as it's the first time Doctors have done anything like this. I play two different characters in the episode, so I knew it would be a lot of hard work, but the subject matter was really sensitively handled.
"I was quite flattered to be the one who they chose for the episode. Our producer Peter told me that they originally had another character in mind for it, but he really pushed the idea of it being Mandy."
Can you tell us a bit about what we can expect from the storyline?
"The episode switches between the 1960s and the present day. Mandy meets Eleanor, an elderly lady who's had quite a colourful past. In her background, she met and fell in love with a woman in the 1960s.
"When Eleanor comes into contact with Mandy, it immediately takes her straight back, because Mandy looks so similar to Susie, the woman who she fell in love with all those years ago.
"In the flashbacks, Eleanor is taking quite a big step, because she's trying to stand up to her husband and say that she's in love with a woman. In the 1960s, that was still being viewed as a mental health issue, so it was a really dangerous statement to make. But I won't give away what happens as the story goes on!"
Was it a challenge to take on a completely different character for this storyline?
"It really was, but make-up and costume did the most amazing job. I had some great, authentic '60s costumes to wear. We also had some wigs and hairpieces, which they styled into a real 1960s, Diana Ross-type look. I actually didn't want to take it off afterwards!
"They did such a good job of making me look completely different to Mandy, so I think that'll be one thing that surprises people when they watch the episode. I also use a different accent, because the 1960s character has come over from Jamaica. I'm hoping both characters will seem quite different, if I've done my job properly!"
How do you feel about Doctors doing these experimental episodes?
"It's brilliant. Doctors isn't as high-profile as the other soaps, and in some ways I always think that's a shame, but it can also be a good thing because it means we have free reign to try different things. Doctors love being experimental and touching on different issues.
"I also think the show is quite unique, because we often go to quite high comedy but then turn very serious, such as with the Heston and Marina storyline which covered domestic violence against a man. That was a brilliant storyline. Doctors is so under the radar, but we were one of the first soaps to touch on that issue, and it was so brilliantly done."
How close do you think Mandy is to moving on from Freya's death?
"I think she's moving forward and going in the right direction, but Freya was the love of her life, and it's going to take her a long time to come to terms with what happened. I love that we still make regular references to Freya in the show. As much as I think Mandy's moving forward, I don't think she'll ever forget Freya and what they had. It's not something you can ever fully come to terms with."
How did you feel about Lu Corfield deciding to bow out as Freya?
"As soon as I knew she was leaving, I was crying about it! I had a lot of real grieving to do, and every now and again, we'd be doing a scene that had nothing to do with Freya's leaving storyline and then I'd just burst into tears because I knew she was going.
"Lu had been such an amazing support to me, because I'd worked with her before on Candy Cabs, and I didn't really know anyone else when I joined the show."
Do you feel like you're exploring Mandy more in her own right now?
"Yeah, it's been quite strange for me because I was brought in to facilitate Freya's storyline. I didn't really have any kind of background or history. I think sometimes people have struggled to understand Mandy because they don't really know anything about her, but I really hope that's changing now.
"The producers have started to bring in different sides of Mandy. There's a bit of a comedy side and in the episodes coming up, you find out more about her. I'm hoping people will get to know her better and like her more as well."
Would you like to see a new love interest for Mandy?
"Yeah, I think it could be nice for her. I know there are some interesting things on the way for Mandy later in the year, but there isn't a girlfriend on the cards that I've heard so far.
"I do feel for Mandy, because she seems to be the only character who's on her own a lot of the time. Kevin's always going on dates, Chris gets his bit of attention, and even Heston's had an escort! Mandy hasn't really had much."
Are you sticking with Doctors for the foreseeable future?
"Yeah, I'm contracted until Christmas, so I'll be here until December at least, and then we'll see whether I get my marching orders! But I'm having a really great time, and I feel really grateful to be involved in an episode like Monday's one, because they don't come along all the time.
"The episode is quite timely with the recent equal marriage news. We didn't know that would happen when we filmed it, but it's timed really nicely, and hopefully it's one that people will connect with."
How have the recent cast changes affected life on set?
"Well, Doctors are really good at picking nice people to join! Generally when there's a new regular coming in, you know they're going to be alright. I think a common misconception is that Doctors has done a big axing cull and got rid of loads of characters, but that's just not the case.
"People have a really nice time here, they tend to do two or three years or so, but then actors just get itchy feet and want to go off and try other things. I think it's really good for the show to have those new faces and a fresh energy.
"Last year a lot of people's cycles all ended at the same time and I think that was quite difficult for the audience, but I think people are starting to warm to the new faces now and get used to them. I still keep in touch with the people who've left. I still speak to Sophie Abelson regularly, and Charlie Clemmow as well."
Zara will be back very soon, which the fans are looking forward to! Do you think we can expect a lot of drama from her?
"Well, I think the two go hand-in-hand, Zara and drama! I can't imagine what's in store for Zara, but I'm sure they're cooking up something exciting. I know Elisabeth is really glad to be back working on set again now that she's a mummy, and it's really good for us to have her back as well. She brings the Dynasty element to Doctors, I always think!"
> Read our spoiler for Monday's 'Doctors' episode
> Read the latest 'Doctors' spoilers and news
Doctors airs weekdays at 1.45pm on BBC One.
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