Hollyoaks Jemma Donovan’s life – famous dad, Amanda Holden mix-up and TV fame

Hollyoaks newcomer Rayne Royce finds herself in danger next week.

Channel 4 soap bosses have confirmed that something dark lurks just around the corner for budding couple Rayne and Romeo Nightingale (Owen Warner) in upcoming scenes.

Actress Jemma Donovan's life off-screen is far less dramatic, but just as interesting, with family connections to her former Neighbours co-stars, a famous pop star father and revealing her dream role outside of Ramsay Street.

READ MORE: Inside Hollyoaks star Anna Passey's stunning home – sprawling garden to antiques

As things take a dramatic turn for her character, Daily Star takes a look inside the life of the soap actress.

Spin-off fame

Before Jemma joined Neighbours back in 2019, she already had a link to the popular Australian soap, after she appeared in the spin-off series Erinsborough High for four episodes as Harlow Robinson – the character she would later play in Neighbours.

The series follows what goes on behind the doors of the town's famous High School, where many of Ramsay Street's residents have worked in the past, including Libby Kennedy and Susan Kennedy.

Before stepping onto Ramsay Street however, Jemma also had roles in the TV series Spotless and TV film Mr Stink in 2015, before rising to global fame as Harlow Robinson.

However after landing her role as Harlow, Jemma did reveal that she felt pressure to prove herself to viewers, saying to The Mirror: "I think, at the beginning I was like, 'Oh, I really want to make sure that I prove myself here as well, and not just come on because of the family name in that sense.'

"So, I think there was a bit of pressure, but I really enjoyed proving myself."

Dream role

Neighbours fans were left devastated earlier this year, when it was announced that the famous soap would be coming to an end after 37 years.

However, Jemma has opened up about the next stage in her career and revealed in an interview with Digital Spy the role that she would love to take on next.

"My goal at the moment is to be in a period drama," said Jemma.

"That's what I would love to do. It would bring me back home as well and I think that would just be great. I haven't done anything like that yet.

"So, for me, as long as I'm doing what I love the rest of my life, it doesn't really matter. As long as I'm happy as well. I also will play it by ear, because I'm kind of like that in life, and just see what I want to do that day."

It has since been confirmed that Neighbours will be returning to Amazon Freevee later this year.

Famous father

As many Neighbours fans will know, Jemma is not the first Donovan to step onto Ramsay Street, after her father Jason became a soap heartthrob as Scott Robinson from 1986-1989.

His character Scott was in a relationship with Charlene, played by music icon Kylie Minogue, with over 20 million viewers tuning in to watch Scott and Charlene's wedding in 1988.

Kylie and Jason later left the soap, launching their singing careers that shot them to new levels of fame across the world, including the release of duet Especially for You.

Following Especially For You, which has become a staple of slow dances throughout the decades, Jason also released singles including When You Come Back To Me and Sealed With A Kiss, scoring four No1 records during his time working with Stock, Aitken and Waterman.

Jason has also performed in hit musicals like Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, where he scored another Top Ten hit with the song Any Dream Will Do.

Fans also went when Jason and Kylie returned to Neighbours to reprise their roles as Scott and Charlene in August last year for the finale.

Famous family

A talent for acting certainly seems to run in the family, as Jemma's grandfather Terrance Donovan joined the soap in 1990 as Doug Willis.

He played Doug for over 26 years until 2016, when his character died outside of Lassister's hotel.

Her aunt is also a familiar face to Neighbours viewers too, as she is none other than Sky Mangel actress Stephanie McIntosh, who played the character from 2003-2007.

She later returned in 2015 for a brief cameo, as well as in 2020, when she returned as a police detective looking into Finn Kelly's death.

Although Jemma's mother keeps a low-profile away from the public eye, it is reported that she worked as a stage manager in London on a production of The Rocky Horror Show, which is where she met future husband Jason Donovan.

The couple later married in 2008 and have since had three children, including Jemma.

Amanda Holden mix-up

Britain's Got Talent star and radio host Amanda Holden appeared in Neighbours as Harriet, the aunt of Jemma's character Harlow.

The episodes saw Harlow travel to London to meet her aunt, following the death of her mother Prue, previously played by Denise Van Outen.

However, Amanda has since revealed that while filming, many people mistook Jemma for her daughter in real life, telling Daily Star: "The amount of times people stopped to ask, 'is that your daughter, Amanda?' We do look quite similar. We've both got kind of quite high foreheads and little round faces!

"She's just so cool and so sweet, and I know her dad, obviously, very well.

"I love him and the whole family, so it was just so brilliant to be part of it all. And just so camp!"

Hollyoaks airs weeknights on Channel 4 at 6.30pm followed by first-look episodes on E4 at 7pm

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