Hollyoaks Life for Jemma Donovan: Iconic Father, Amanda Holden’s Confusion and Rival Soap Stardom

Hollyoaks Life for Jemma Donovan: Iconic Father, Amanda Holden's Confusion and Rival Soap Stardom

Jemma Donovan, who plays Rayne Royce on Hollyoaks, joined the cast in January 2023; however, she is the daughter of a soap icon and has previously appeared on a competing soap.

Hollyoaks Jemma Donovan’s life has a famous dad, a mix-up with Amanda Holden, and fame from a rival soap

Channel 4 soap producers have confirmed that Rayne and Romeo Nightingale (Owen Warner) will face some trouble in the near future.

Far less dramatic, but no less interesting, is actress Jemma Donovan’s life off-screen, which includes family ties to her former Neighbours co-stars, a famous pop star father, and the disclosure of her dream role beyond Ramsay Street.

We peek into the soap actress’s personal life as events take a shocking turn for her on-screen persona.

Celebrity thanks to a spin-off

Before Jemma joined the cast of Neighbours in 2019, she had already established a connection to the long-running Australian soap through her role as Harlow Robinson in four episodes of the spin-off series Erinsborough High.

Erinsborough High follows the lives of the students in the town
(Source: Fremantle)


Many of the residents of Ramsay Street, including Libby and Susan Kennedy, have worked at the town’s renowned High School in the past, and the series explores what happens there behind the scenes.

Before her global breakthrough as Harlow Robinson on Ramsay Street, Jemma appeared on Spotless and in the television film Mr. Stink in 2015.

However, Jemma did admit to The Mirror that, after landing the role of Harlow, she felt pressure to prove herself to viewers : “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

When it was announced earlier this year that the long-running soap opera Neighbours would end after 37 years, many viewers were devastated.

But in an interview with Digital Spy, Jemma has discussed the next step in her career and named the role she would most like to play.

Jemma Donovan revealed she would love to star in a period drama
(Source: Shared Content Unit)

“My goal at the moment is to be in a period drama.”

“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.”

The return of Neighbors to Amazon Freevee later this year has since been confirmed.

Famous father

Many viewers of Neighbours will recall that Jemma’s father, Jason Donovan, was a soap star crush as Scott Robinson from 1986 to 1989.

Over 20 million people in the United States alone tuned in to watch his fictional character Scott get married to Charlene, played by Kylie Minogue.

Kylie and Jason eventually left the soap to pursue music full-time, and after releasing the hit “Especially for You,” they became international superstars.

Jemma Donovan revealed that her father was her 'greatest supporter'
(Source: @jemma_donovan)


In addition to the timeless classic “Especially For You,” Jason also collaborated with Stock, Aitken & Waterman on the top-charting singles “When You Come Back to Me” and “Sealed with a Kiss,” for a total of four No. 1 hits.

In addition to Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, in which he sang “Any Dream Will Do,” another Top Ten hit, Jason has also appeared in other successful musicals.

Fans also showed up in August of last year, when Jason and Kylie reprised their roles as Scott and Charlene on Neighbours for the series’ finale.

A well-known clan

Terrance Donovan, Jemma’s grandfather, has been on the soap since 1990 in the role of Doug Willis, so acting must run in the family.

Jemma's grandfather Terrence Donovan played Doug Willis in Neighbours
(Source: Fremantle Media)

He played the role of Doug for over 26 years until his death in 2016 outside of Lassister’s hotel.

Stephanie McIntosh, who played Sky Mangel from 2003 to 2007, will be instantly recognizable to anyone who watches Neighbours, as she is her aunt.

Later, he made a brief appearance in 2015, and she returned in 2020 as a detective investigating Finn Kelly’s death.

Jemma’s mother may prefer to stay out of the spotlight, but it has been said that she met Jemma’s father, Jason Donovan, while working as a stage manager on a London production of The Rocky Horror Show.

After dating for a while, they tied the knot in 2008 and now have three children together, one of whom is Jemma.

Mistaken identity of Amanda Holden

Radio host and star of Britain’s Got Talent Amanda Holden played Jemma’s character Harlow’s aunt Harriet on Neighbors.

After the death of her mother, Prue (Denise Van Outen), Harlow visits her aunt in London.

Amanda, however, has since revealed to Daily Star that many people confused Jemma with her real daughter during filming, saying: “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!”

Amanda Holden recently starred in Neighbours as Harlow Robinson's aunt
(Source: Fremantle)

“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!”