Tonight in the Casualty episode ‘The Road Less Travelled’ nurse Jade Lovall waved goodbye to Holby ED in touching scenes.
It was the end of a traumatic shift - see our Casualty Spoilers for more - that involved Jade being set up by Stevie Nash, who planted drugs in her locker, an unexpected and explosive reunion with her mum Susie, and a suspension from duties, which led the Casualty favourite to suddenly quitting Holby.
We talked to Gabriella Leon, 25, who has played Jade Lovall in Casualty since 2018, to learn more about her departure...
It’s a fantastic exit storyline - we teared up at your scenes with Susie and Mrs Cole…
Gabriella Leon: "Thank you! Sophie [Stone] is incredible and always a joy to work with, so I was over the moon we got to do this episode together. And Mrs Coles is a huge catalyst for Jade’s feelings in this. "
Has it been difficult to keep your departure a secret?
GL: "Not at all! Actors are very used to keeping things secret and not talking about projects or new developments."
Can you explain why Jade’s so disillusioned with the job?
GL: "Jade is feeling like she is not valued and appreciated enough in the E.D. I think that is further heightened when the events of the day spiral into more chaos for her. It is a lot to deal with, especially when trust amongst her colleagues gets damaged."
How does Jade view Stevie - she really seems to trust her?
GL: "Jade is so open and giving as a person, it doesn’t take much for her to feel someone is a friend, if they recognise how hard she works and praise her with words of encouragement. I believe she does trust her, or at least she’s telling herself that..."
How do you think Jade would feel if she knew about Stevie's betrayal?
GL: "I think she would be so deeply embarrassed and hurt that she thought they were truly good friends, when all along this was her plan. I hope Stevie gets her comeuppance for putting Jade’s career in jeopardy!"
Jade has many touching scenes in this episode with her mum, Ethan Hardy, Charlie Fairhead, Stevie Nash, and Mrs Coles - did that make your exit storyline extra special?
GL: "It did feel like an extra special episode. The writing really captures Jade’s heart in this, and why she’s in such turmoil. I really enjoyed doing these touching scenes, especially because the cast are so amazing, and generous to work with."
How do you feel about this exit for Jade?
GL: "It feels like the right end to this chapter. It was really important to me that her future is hopeful and I think that’s exactly what her decision conveys."
What has working on Casualty meant to you?
GL: It’s been my first TV job, which is a golden nugget of a first TV job to have! It’s been such a joy. I will treasure the time I had here. It has meant that for the first time as an actor, I have gotten to play a character with the same disability as me, which has been really special, and it’s meant other deaf people have seen elements of themselves in Jade. Representation is so imperative."
What are you going to miss most about playing Jade and working on Casualty?
GL: "I will miss her humour the most. How she makes a joke or a silly comment at all the wrong and inappropriate times! I will also miss the cast and crew, it’s a really special place."
What are your favourite memories from your time on the show?
GL: "This is a hard question! I loved some of my earlier episodes - being Marty’s pretend girlfriend, forming team maggot with Dylan, winning a bet with Marty and getting an attractive patient’s number! Jade is so much fun to play, I love how silly and full of life she is. More recently, it was really lovely having my real-life partner on screen with me in the 35th anniversary episode. And, of course Jade meeting her birth mother episode will always have a very special place in my heart."
Did you manage to have a send-off before leaving?
GL: "When the block wrapped I was lucky enough to have a little send-off party with the cast. Was a really lovely night!"
Did you take any keepsakes from the set?
GL: "Sadly not. The medical mannequins were too big for me to carry!"
Can you tell us what’s next for you?
GL: "As I said before, actors have to keep secrets! I would love to do more theatre again..."
And, finally, could Jade ever make a return to the wards?
GL: "Who knows!"
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