Hollyoaks star Jazmine Franks reveals the real reason for Esther's exit and her proudest moments
It’s the end of an era on Hollyoaks tonight (April 27) as Esther Bloom waves goodbye to the village after seven years on our screens.
The fan favourite gets her happy ending when she moves away to Spain with returning character Ruby Button, with friends and family all wishing her well as she goes.
Digital Spy recently caught up with Jazmine Franks, who plays Esther, to hear how her character’s exit came about and why she’s so proud of her time on the soap.
How are you feeling now that your time at Hollyoaks has come to an end?
“It’s strange as it’s all I’ve ever known. I quit university for Hollyoaks, so I’ve always been doing something. So now I’ve got all this free time, I’m like: ‘What do I do with it?'”
Was it your choice to leave?
“I think it was mutual. Obviously, our producer Bryan [Kirkwood] was the one who said: ‘Look, we just think we’ve come to an end with Esther.’
“I totally agreed. I got it. I was like: ‘Yeah, I’ve been here so long. I’ve done so much. I’ve had an absolute ball.’ It was just my time to go. I’m obviously sad, but I’ve not been upset by it or anything like that. The time felt right.”
Are you glad they haven’t decided to kill Esther off?
“Absolutely. I think that’s everyone’s fear, to be killed off. It feels like you’ve done something wrong. You’re like: ‘You’re killing me? Why? What did I do?’
“Knowing that Hollyoaks have always got my back and I can always fall back on them, it’s just such a relief. And being part of the Hollyoaks family, that’s such a big thing.”
Do you think there’s a chance you could come back in the future?
“Never ever say never. I’d hate to be the person that says, ‘No, I’m never going back’ and then in a year’s time is like, ‘Hey! I’m back! It’s me!’ (Laughs.) So I don’t know.
“There is no plan, but you never say never. Someone might die, someone might get married, someone might be terminally ill. The voice of reason might need to return!”
Were you glad that they brought back Anna Shaffer as Ruby for your final scenes?
“Yeah, that was the best. Having her around for my final few scenes was perfect. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Having the gang back together was great.”
Has Anna given you any advice about leaving the show, having gone through it herself?
“Literally just to take every day as it comes. Be free again, be able to say yes, and go out into the world.”
Who else will you keep in touch with?
“There’s quite a few. I’m obviously still good friends with Jorgie Porter (Theresa), Jess Fox (Nancy), Tamara Wall (Grace). To be fair, my best friends come from Hollyoaks, so there’s loads I’ll be in touch with. Even the crew and stuff like that. Simple things like going into the canteen, that’s what I’ll miss the most.”
How have the fans reacted to the news that you’re leaving?
“It’s been quite mixed. I think everyone’s like: ‘Esther’s done a good stint. You’ve been there a while. Congratulations. Good luck with everything.’
“Then there’s obviously your die-hard Hollyoaks fans that are like: ‘Nooo. Not Esther. Not the only normal one in the village!'”
Why do you think Esther has built up that popularity?
“I think she’s really relatable, but she’s got so many character traits. She just kind of lives her life. Some things don’t really go her way, bless her, but I think people can really relate to that. She’s just your average girl, trying to get through it. She’s been through some absolutely harrowing stories and she’s come out the other end. I think she’s a little survivor. Everyone just loved her for that.”
Your biggest storyline was Esther’s bullying and attempted suicide in 2013, which boosted helpline calls at the time. You must still be really proud of that?
“Yeah, my proudest moment from Hollyoaks is definitely the bullying storyline. Obviously, I was quite young when I started that. I was 20 or 21 and I was under pressure to do well. I was like: ‘Oh my God, they’re trusting me with such a huge storyline. I have to do it justice’.
“And I really think we did. The amount of feedback I got was just phenomenal. We had an internet spin-off called DocYou, which was the online bullying running alongside the main show. At the time, no-one really knew about that, as online bullying was just becoming a thing. But now, you get trolls every bloody day. If I scroll through Twitter, someone will have said something horrible.
“But back then, it was just becoming a thing: people messaging people online and hiding behind a computer screen. I think that really highlighted it, and I think it brought it to a lot of parents’ attention that it was going on. Because obviously kids keep quiet about stuff like that.”
What are your other fond memories?
“Definitely Kim and Esther getting married. It was Hollyoaks‘ first lesbian wedding and that was just massive.”
Are you sad that Esther didn’t get a chance to get rid of Glenn Donovan before she left?
“Yeah! I mean, we should have just turned Esther into a serial killer, and she should have just gone on the run. ‘I’ve had enough!’ (Laughs.) Yeah, I think she needs to get rid of him. He’s not good for Grace.”
It was a pretty bonkers move when Hollyoaks decided to make Esther and Grace best friends. Were you surprised by how well that worked out?
“I remember getting the script and being like: ‘What?’ Because obviously, if you don’t work with people that often, you don’t really get to know them enough. You’re not in the changing room or the green room at the same time, because everyone works on different sets.
“I’d never really known Tam on a personal level – I’d just say hi to her. But she’s quite a ballsy character in real life. Tam’s quite strong. So I was like: ‘Oh my God, I feel like we’re going to clash. We’re both quite loud and brash and say what we feel.’
“But we just got on great. I think that really showed when we were working together, we just bounced off each other. It was so easy to work with Tam, she’s a dream.”
Some fans used to complain that you didn’t get enough storylines. Did you ever feel the same way?
“I think it’s swings and roundabouts. Obviously, you’re going to have quiet periods. And when you’ve been so busy working and filming 12 hours a day, you learn to embrace those quiet periods. You go on holiday and you see your family. You do things that sometimes you just don’t have the time to do. Obviously, I’d been there long enough to embrace the downtime.
“But when you first get that few months of not working, you go into overdrive, like: ‘Oh my God. People hate me.’ It does kind of get to you. You think it’s something to do with the character and stuff like that.
“But you just gradually learn that it’s someone else’s turn. Then they’ll come back to you. It’s okay.”
Out of all of Esther’s girlfriends, who do you think was her true soulmate?
“Tilly. Daisy will hate me for saying that as well. She’ll be like: ‘It was definitely Kim!’ But Kim was not good for Esther. She was too crazy for Esther. She just needs a chilled-out, normal love life. Tilly was that, but she ran off with another woman!”
Hollyoaks never made a big song and dance about Esther’s sexuality. Do you think that was quite a refreshing approach to take?
“Yeah, a million percent. That, to me, was handled so brilliantly. Esther came in and she was a lesbian from the start. She didn’t come in like, ‘Hi, I’m Esther. I’m a lesbian.’ Because I don’t think people should have to explain themselves to strangers. It’s never something that defined her, so that’s something I’m really proud of. If people weren’t okay with that, then screw them. She was a lesbian and that was that.
“It was received really well by the LGBT community. Everybody loved the fact that she was just an average girl living her life as a lesbian, and no-one ever called her out on it. No-one ever questioned her on it. Everyone accepted it and loved her for it. I think it was brilliant.”
Can you tell us about your future plans? We see from Twitter that you’ve got really into powerlifting…
“Yeah, I like to lift heavy things! (Laughs.) I think I’ve got a temper inside of me and I just let it out at the gym. I’m just focusing really on my fitness. I’m living that kind of life at the moment. Because I’ve got the free time, it’s given me focus to get up in the morning, get in the gym and get it done. If a job comes along, a job comes along.
“I’m not going to be a professional powerlifter though. It’s just something I’m quite passionate about.”
How much changes in a year ? My first powerlifting competition. Possibly the most nervous I’ve ever felt in my life. Genuinely thought I’d do this competition and that would be it, I wouldn’t want to do another one. ???? 4 more competitions down and I’m slightly obsessed with it. Adding 30kg onto my total since my first time on the platform and dropping down a weight category i’m quite proud of what I’ve achieved this year. I’ve had terrible days and bloody marvellous days but I feel like I’m always getting stronger and I’ve learnt so much about the sport and about myself along the way. Which is pretty much all down to @dannydptraining ?? Thanks for keeping on at me until I finally cracked and wore a Lycra singlet. I’m a NW record holder because of you. ??♀️???? • • • #nwpowerlifting #powerliftingfairy #powerlifting #sbdapparel #sbd #benchpress #deadlift #squat #girlswholift #strongwomen #gymlife
How much changes in a year 😬 My first powerlifting competition. Possibly the most nervous I’ve ever felt in my life. Genuinely thought I’d do this competition and that would be it, I wouldn’t want to do another one. 🙃🙃🙃🙃 4 more competitions down and I’m slightly obsessed with it. Adding 30kg onto my total since my first time on the platform and dropping down a weight category i’m quite proud of what I’ve achieved this year. I’ve had terrible days and bloody marvellous days but I feel like I’m always getting stronger and I’ve learnt so much about the sport and about myself along the way. Which is pretty much all down to @dannydptraining 👊🏼 Thanks for keeping on at me until I finally cracked and wore a Lycra singlet. I’m a NW record holder because of you. 🏋🏻♀️👌🏼💪🏼 • • • #nwpowerlifting #powerliftingfairy #powerlifting #sbdapparel #sbd #benchpress #deadlift #squat #girlswholift #strongwomen #gymlife
A post shared by Jazmine Franks (@jazzfranks) on
Do you have any final message for the fans?
“Thank you for always being behind Esther for everything she did. I absolutely adored playing her. It was so nice that people were very much behind her.
“And also, without the fans, Hollyoaks would be nothing. So the die-hard, true people who love it, who have such a passion about it, that really rubbed off on us. When we see people that are so in love with the show, it makes us love it that bit more. So thank you very much.”
Hollyoaks airs Esther’s exit tonight (April 27) at 7pm on E4 and on Monday (April 30) at 6.30pm on Channel 4.
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