Long-running character Donna Windsor leaves Emmerdale forever in spectacular fashion tonight (Thursday) and actress Verity Rushworth calls it a great exit.

Donna returned to the village five months ago, hiding the fact she had terminal cancer, and Verity applauds the writers for the massive, sudden twist they’ve penned for her exit.

Verity told What’s on TV: “It’s a great exit for the character. If you’re going to go out, go out with a bang, go big.”

Verity’s played Donna on and off since 1998, when she was 12. She jumped at the idea of returning for five months and the closure Donna’s death would give her as an actress.

“It was a real treat to hear the full story arc because normally on a soap you don’t know what’s happening from two weeks to the next two weeks,” she said. “The scripts come through the post and within two weeks you’re shooting them. It’s nothing like, say, theatre where you have all this prep time and rehearsal time. You just thave to be so quick. So I felt like I had the upper hand on everyone else because I had my whole story arc.”

But the role has been intense. “The last five months has been full on. I think had two days off or something like that and you do so much prep and line learning in your free time that when you’re away from work you’re still working anyway. I just threw myself into it, I just wrote off the whole five months really.”

Watch the interview with Verity Rushworth, above, and watch Donna’s exit tonight on ITV at 7pm.