Tamara Wall ‘cried for three days’ after Hollyoaks axing

As Hollyoaks’ Grace Black, actress Tamara Wall has had too many dramatic storylines to count, from committing multiple murders, to being stalked and the surrogacy where she welcomed her son. But the most recent story, a failed bank heist, has led to Grace’s downfall and ultimately, her exit from the village.

It’s been almost 10 years since Tamara, 45, joined the show, and she reveals she’s leaving the soap, but it wasn’t her choice.

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“It’s absolutely devastating. When I got told, I bawled my eyes out for three days, I was so upset – it’s been the best time of my life,” admits Tamara.

“It wasn’t my decision, but I understand. It’s the name of the game, and Grace was going to get her comeuppance at some point. In the end, she probably deserved it. But I’m sure she’ll find her way out eventually, she’ll be back.”

The heist was an attempt to get money to secure Cindy Cunningham’s market. But the whole plan went awry, leading to the exits of Zara Morgan (Kelly Condron) and Damon Kinsella (Jacob Roberts) and now Grace. Grace took the blame for the botched robbery which lands her in prison, and Tamara is very pleased her alter ego isn’t being axed in a more ‘final’ way.

“There’s part of me that wants the big, dramatic exit of being killed off. But there’s too much of me that loves that they’ve kept the door open,” confesses Tamara. “I can’t tell you how lovely everyone was when people found out I was leaving, they were gobsmacked. They were really sad and that made me really happy! It’s a nice feeling to know you’ll be missed.”

Grace first arrived in Hollyoaks for her sister Clare Devine’s funeral and soon took over her reign as the village bad girl. But Tamara’s character was so badly behaved that she was almost cut from the show.

“She didn’t go down well at all,” says Tamara. “Bryan [Kirkwood, former executive producer] called me into this big meeting and said, ‘Look, we have to work out a way to change this character, or she’s going to go.’ If you look at how Grace started, she was sullen, moody, wearing black leather constantly. Then all of a sudden we brought in this massive big hair, a dog, and it made her more likeable.”

One of the biggest changes happened when the producers brought in Grace’s half-brothers, Adam, Liam and Jesse. Soon enough, Grace was dubbed the ‘Grim Reaper’ of Hollyoaks as her family died – she even murdered Liam, letting him fall down a flight of stairs.

“Her whole family is dead,” sighs Tamara. “And she did kill one of her brothers. I loved that scene – ‘I’m not a Donovan, I’m a Black.’ It’s an epic mic drop moment.”

Despite loving her job, there are certain things that Tamara admits she won’t miss, and it’s one of the most glamorous parts of working on a soap opera.

“I don’t ever do red carpets,” explains Tamara. “I just get so anxious. It’s the sea of everyone looking at you, what you’re wearing, how your hair is. I got the worst dressed once and I was devastated.

“And on social media people were going, ‘Is she pregnant? Why has she put on weight?’ That’s when social media comes into its own because I could put a response out there so everyone knows how I feel about it, and I’m perfectly happy with how I look.”

Not only has Tamara used social media to defend herself from trolls, she’s also very open and honest about going through the menopause.

“I just think it’s absolutely wonderful that people are talking about it,” says Tamara. “It’s a normal thing that happens to every woman in the world. So why didn’t we talk about it before? I find it bizarre. But touch wood, I’m not suffering too badly. My worst thing is my memory. It makes you feel sometimes, like you’re going insane. My other half has invented an all-natural menopausal supplement, so I’m going to experiment with that.”

Tamara’s other half is Gareth Jones, whom she got engaged to in 2018 after meeting through a mutual friend years earlier.

“We met through Rachel Leskovac [Waterloo Road’s Coral Walker]. She put us together, and said to us, ‘You two, you will either completely fall in love or absolutely hate each other,’ and she was right.

“We haven’t really discussed wedding plans because it’s so expensive. It’s gone on the back burner to be honest. We’re together, we’re happy and want to be for the rest of our lives.”

By meeting Gareth, Tamara also became stepmum to his 14-year-old daughter, Emily, which terrified her at first.

“I remember the first day I met her, we all had dinner together and I was so nervous,” admits Tamara. “Gareth kept going, ‘Why are you so nervous? She’s a nine-year-old kid,’ and I was like, ‘She’s everything.’

“Then the first weekend when Gareth was working away in London and it was just me and Emily, we had the best weekend ever. We camped in the back garden and from then we were as thick as thieves.

“I couldn’t have dreamt of a better stepdaughter. She’s grown up so much and you don’t realise how quickly it happens."

“Having biological children has never really been a thing for me,” continues Tamara. “I don’t know why. I’m very career minded. It just never really happened for me.

“I feel like I’m lucky because I’ve got my stepdaughter, and I didn’t have to give birth – it’s perfect.”

Hollyoaks, Weekdays, 6.30pm, Channel 4 and 7pm, E4

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