Emmerdale’s Verity Rushworth and Mark Charnock talk to TV Times magazine about Donna Windsor’s shock return…

Where has Donna been?

Verity: “She’s been working as a policewoman in Essex. She left the village after cheating on Marlon with Ross, but he left her when she found out she was pregnant with Marlon’s baby. She then started a relationship with a man called Barry, but that is over too.”

Mark: “I would love to have met Barry. In my mind, he is 6ft 8, has red eyes and long white hair.”

Why is she only telling Marlon about April now?

Verity: “When Donna left they said some hateful things to each other. There was no talking him around after the affair. She was scared and once the lie was out, there was no taking it back. But April has started asking who her daddy is and Donna has struggled as a single mum. She needs support and family around her. Plus, she wants April to have a dad.”

Marlon: “It is four and a half years late, but it is a very brave thing to do. It couldn’t be worse timing for Marlon, though, as he has got to a point where everything is together and that doesn’t happen often. He is with the woman he loves, Paddy and Rhona haven’t gone to New Zealand and he’s got Leo.”

How does Donna break the news?

Verity: “She has planned this in her head. She wants to sit him down and do it in a nice setting, but it doesn’t happen like that because Marlon forces it out of her.”

Mark: “Marlon sees April and doesn’t know who she is. She nearly gets run down and he saves her. Then he sees Donna and finds out it is her daughter. At first he is like  ‘Is she back for me? I am happy, I am over it.’ That’s when Donna tells him that she is back because of April.”

How does Marlon react to finding out April is his daughter?

Verity: “He is really, really upset. Donna had no idea about Laurel or that he was engaged. She knew nothing about his life.”

Mark: “Marlon is angry. He is like ‘I don’t want to know’, but of course he does. He hasn’t got the emotional range or maturity to be able to deal with the news. He is like ‘Get away from me, it’s your brat.’ He panics because fatherhood is so important to him. He over-reacts to the point where Laurel asks, ‘Do you still love her?’ Marlon says he doesn’t and Laurel realises he is in denial and tries to talk him down from this ledge.”

Could Marlon and Donna get romantically involved?

Verity: “There is that thing which all girls go through. You are really happy when an ex has moved on, but part of you is like ‘He’s moved on?’ She has to swallow her pride and be genuinely happy for him. I think there is too much water under the bridge.”

Mark: “I don’t think this will bring back romantic feelings. It is the child aspect that will confuse and cloud every aspect of Marlon’s relationship with Laurel.”

Why do Donna’s relationships always end in disaster?

Verity: “She has had a bit of a dodgy upbringing. She brings a lot of baggage, so maybe she is an absolute nightmare to live with.”

What’s it like working together again?

Verity: “It is almost like riding a bike. We established such a good relationship before I left that we slipped back into it. When I first arrived on set, I was incredibly nervous. But once you are there at 6am in the freezing cold, it all comes flooding back. The only trouble with Mark is, he is so warm and funny he makes me smile which isn’t what you want if you are doing a serious and emotional scene.”

Mark: “It’s a nightmare! I’m joking. Verity and I are good friends in real life. We’ve kept in touch and I went to see her in Hairspray and The Sound of Music. She’s amazing because she wanted to live her dream and she went out there and did it. I was watching her and thinking ‘Where did that voice come from?’ At work, we do laugh a lot – but we are professional.”

Are you pleased to be back, Verity?

Verity: “It is really good to be back. Lots of things have changed – for example the show is filmed in a new studio so I had to have an induction. Everyone was screaming and yelling when I turned up and this one was giving me split jumps through the canteen.”

Mark: “She ran away, but I found her and gave her a big hug.”

Have you had to relocate?

Verity: “I moved to London to do Hairspray and I am staying put as I really enjoy living there. When I was a kid, we used to go to London as my birthday treat and the place still excites me. I am in Leeds Monday to Friday and then I go home at weekends to see my husband – he is the theatre director and composer Dominic Shaw and we met during rehearsals for Hairspray. In our professions we are used to being apart – he was in Australia for 12 weeks and we managed that. You just have to get on with it. It won’t be forever. I am at Emmerdale for five months and in that time, a lot is going to happen. Watch this space!”