Donnaleigh Bailey leaves Doctors next week after four years playing nurse Michelle Corrigan. Here she talks about her exit…
You’re leaving Doctors next week. Why now?
“It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, but I’d reached a point in my life and my career where I just wanted to embrace new things. It was hard because I’d got this job straight out of drama school, but I thought I should start to take some risks while I’m still young enough.”
Michelle’s recently been working on Housman ward for injured soldiers. Why did she take the job?
“There are parallels between Michelle and I in that she realised she was getting older. She was so comfortable at The Mill, but she felt that there must be something more for her out there.”
What was Michelle’s initial reaction to Housman ward?
“Housman ward was so different to The Mill and to the Campus and I think it just overwhelmed her in a scary and daunting way at first. But then she stepped up to the plate and really began to grow.”
In what way?
“Working on Housman really put life into perspective for Michelle. Here are young men, going out and serving their country and coming back with horrific wounds. How can that compare to a row in The Mill staffroom over who ate the last biscuit? It totally made her grow up and realise there’s a big world out there and that she could do more to help.”
Michelle recently met a policeman named Louis. How has their relationship developed?
“She met Louis in a shoe shop where she was arguing over a refund. Louis helped her and there was a connection. They went on a date and things blossomed from there. Louis is everything Michelle wants: he’s handsome, sexy, full of banter and she thinks he’s the perfect man at last.”
But it’s not a match made in heaven, is it?
“Unfortunately, their relationship doesn’t go where he wants it to because Michelle sees the bigger picture. She doesn’t want to hurt Louis, but feels she has to make a life-changing decision. Basically, Michelle’s received a call, as it were, and feels she has to step up to the challenge.”
What can you tell us about this life-changing decision?
“All I can tell you is that Housman has affected Michelle more than people can imagine and Major Anna and the staff there have been such an inspiration. It makes Michelle see things so differently and there’s a great scene with Michelle and her mum Vera, where Michelle’s saying I’m a good nurse, but I can be a better nurse and do more to help people.”
How do the staff at The Mill react to the news that Michelle’s leaving?
“It’s very emotional, but they’re extremely supportive of her choices and understand all the reasons why she’s doing what she’s doing. Michelle’s a big character, so I think she’ll be missed. I hope she’ll be missed.”
Do you think Michelle’s made the right decision?
“100 per cent! I really wanted to see Michelle grow up and stop being selfish. Michelle often acts without thinking – but there’s no room for error in what she’s doing now, she has to think before she acts. It’s a great exit!”
What will you miss most about being in Doctors?
“I’ll miss my friends, I’ll miss getting my scripts and finding out not only what’s happening to Michelle, but to everyone else! And, of course, I’ll miss Michelle. It’s been a bumpy journey sometimes with all her ups and down, but she’s been a great character to play.”
*Donnaleigh’s final scenes can be seen on Friday, August 13 at 1.45pm on BBC1.