Donna Ludlow
Portrayed by Matilda Ziegler
Gender Female Female
First Appearance 27 August 1987
Last Appearance 13 April 1989
Episode Count 120
Status Deceased
Date of Birth 1965
Date of Death 13 April 1989
Occupation Shop assistant
Classification Former; regular
FatherMarcus Duffy
MotherKathy Beale
Adoptive fatherGerald Ludlow
Adoptive motherMrs Ludlow
Half-BrothersIan Beale
Ben Mitchell
GrandfathersDennis Hills
GrandmothersBrenda Hills
UnclesTed Hills
Colin Hills
Jonathan Hills
AuntsStephanie Hills
NephewsPeter Beale
Bobby Beale
Steven Beale (adoptive)
NiecesLucy Beale
Lexi Pearce
Great-nephewsLouie Beale
Great-niecesAbi Branning (adoptive)
First cousinsTony Hills
Sarah Hills
Nina Harris

Donna Ludlow made her first appearance on the 27th August 1987. She is the daughter of Kathy Beale and the half-sister of Ian Beale and Ben Mitchell. Donna was found dead in April 1989 by Dot Cotton after choking to death on vomit whilst unconscious from taking heroin.


At the age of 14, Kathy was bundled into a car and raped, resulting in her falling pregnant. Unable to cope with a child conceived in horrific circumstances, she gave the baby up for adoption. Mr and Mrs Ludlow adopted Donna.



Earlier in 1987, Kathy had received a visit from Donna's godmother, June Watkins, who brought news that Donna wanted to meet her. Kathy refused and told June that she wanted nothing to do with her illegitimate daughter (although she neglected to inform her about the circumstances of Donna's conception). Undeterred, Donna moved to the Square to be near her mother, and for the first year she kept her identity a secret.

Upon arriving Donna secured herself a job working at the First til Last shop for Naima Jeffrey and was soon approached by Den Watts, who offered her a job as a barmaid at the Queen Vic.

Donna spent the next few months trying to get close to Kathy and her family, which only succeeded in irritating Kathy and left her wondering why Donna was so interested in her. Donna compulsively lied to substantiate her fake persona, and she soon began to buckle under the pressure of hiding her real identity. It wasn't long before her lies were spotted by the residents of Albert Square, who quickly began to turn against her.

Kathy discovers Donna is her daughter

In an attempt to get even closer to her mother, Donna took to anonymously calling the Samaritans (where Kathy worked) to discuss her fabricated problems. Kathy eventually twigged that it was Donna calling and started to suspect that she was not all that she seemed.

Donna then started making a play for Kathy's son (and her half-brother), Ian. Ian was smitten, but Kathy was against the relationship progressing, and after furiously telling her to keep away from her son, Donna finally blurted out the truth about her parentage. She proceeded to vent her frustration about being rejected to a shocked Kathy and confessed that she only wanted a mother to love her and to be a part of her life. Donna had thought that Kathy would be pleased to meet her finally, but this couldn't have been further from the truth. Mortified Kathy ordered Donna to leave the Square, telling her she wanted nothing to do with her.

The rejection hurt Donna, but she wasn't perturbed and proceeded to cause as much trouble for Kathy as she possibly could. After it seemed nothing would put Donna off Kathy finally cracked and told her that the reason she wanted nothing to do with her was that she was the product of rape.

Unhinged Donna spent the rest of the year in a downward spiral. She obsessively chased Simon Wicks, who only used her for sex and frequently pitted her against his new squeeze, Cindy Williams. The subsequent fights culminated in her losing her job at The Vic and by August 1988 Donna was homeless. Michelle Fowler and Sharon Watts took pity and allowed her to stay with them, but after she maliciously tried to come between them she was thrown out, and by September, she was living in the squat at 5 Albert Square.

Donna turns to heroin, blackmail & prostitution

After Donna's manipulative games were discovered, no one on the Square wanted anything to do with her, and it wasn't long before she'd started using heroin with the other heroin addicts and slacking off in the squat. Predictably, Donna was soon addicted and she began stealing from anyone she could, in order to pay for her next fix.

In December 1988, now completely consumed by her addiction, Donna turned to extortion to fund her drug habit. Fresh from winning a sizeable sum at the horses, Ali Osman celebrated his success in The Vic, telling anyone who cared to listen about his lucky win. His boasting attracted the attention of Donna, who proceeded to take advantage of his inebriated state and the two ended the night in bed together. However Donna was only out to blackmail Ali, and the following day she threatened to tell his wife, Sue, about the affair unless he supplied her with regular monetary instalments.

Ali's money wasn't enough to supply her with drugs for long, however, and in February 1989 Donna ended up resorting to prostitution, by agreeing to sleep with her drug-dealer, 'Spike Murphy', in exchange for smack. She soon regretted her decision when Spike brought five of his reprobate friends along, and Donna was almost subjected to a vicious gang rape, which was stopped only by Rod Norman's chance appearance. Rod desperately tried to straighten Donna out following this, but Donna did not appreciate his efforts and continued to use heroin behind his back. Donna's manipulation worsened later that month when she concocted a plan to earn herself some more money by telling the entire Square that both her parents had been killed in a car crash. Everyone on the Square was sympathetic and rallied together a huge sum of money, which Donna gleefully accepted. However Donna's sick lies were uncovered once again when a woman entered the pub and announced that she was Donna's foster mother. She had been contacted by Rod in a vain attempt to get her off the smack. This was the beginning of the end for Donna, as her family and neighbours turned their backs on her after this (all except Dot Cotton, who took her in and had yet another go at trying to get her help). Donna hit back by spreading a rumour that Colin Russell had AIDS and telling Sue Osman about her sordid affair with Ali; destroying their already rocky marriage in one fell swoop.

Donna's death

However, they were hollow victories, and after Rod abandoned her and she was rejected yet again by Kathy, Donna flipped took a large amount of heroin in Dot's front room, passed out and choked to death on her vomit. Donna was found dead an hour or so later by Dot on the evening of 13 April 1989. Her funeral was held (off camera) on 18 April 1989 in Bromley, at a church near to her parents, with Dot being the only acquaintance from Walford who attended.


Ian Beale | Sharon Mitchell | Kathy Beale | Dot Branning | Martin Fowler | Phil Mitchell | Sonia Fowler | Robbie Jackson | Mel Owen | Ben Mitchell | Billy Mitchell | Kat Moon | Mo Harris | Bex Fowler | Patrick Trueman | Louise Mitchell | Bobby Beale | Stacey Fowler | Jean Slater | Ruby Allen | Honey Mitchell | Denise Fox | Max Branning | Janet Mitchell | Shirley Carter | Jay Brown | Rainie Branning | Jack Branning | Dotty Cotton | Will Mitchell | Whitney Dean | Tiffany Butcher | Amy Mitchell | Dotty Cotton | Kim Fox-Hubbard | Lily Fowler | Ricky Mitchell | Tommy Moon | Dennis Rickman | Tina Carter | Linda Carter | Mick Carter | Bert Moon | Ernie Moon | Kush Kazemi | Pearl Fox-Hubbard | Ollie Carter | Arthur Fowler | Keegan Baker | Ted Murray | Karen Taylor | Keanu Taylor | Bernadette Taylor | Chatham Taylor | Riley Taylor | Hope Fowler | Abi Branning | Arshad Ahmed | Mariam Ahmed | Callum "Halfway" Highway | Hayley Slater | Mitch Baker | Stuart Highway | Adam Bateman | Cherry Slater | Evie Steele | Mica Fox-Hubbard | Bailey Baker | Habiba Ahmed | Iqra Ahmed | Ash Kaur
Characters (Selected)
Saeed Jeffery | Debbie Wilkins | Tony Carpenter | Kelvin Carpenter | Naima Jeffery | Sue Osman | Mehmet Osman | Ali Osman | Vicki Fowler | Paul Trueman | Zoe Slater | Chrissie Watts | David Wicks | Simon Wicks | Ricky Butcher | Diane Butcher | Andrew Cotton | Peter Beale | Liam Butcher | Dean Wicks | Babe Smith | Courtney Mitchell | Grant Mitchell | James Willmott-Brown | Johnny Carter | Tanya Cross | Lauren Branning | Michelle Fowler | Alfie Moon | Annie Smith | Lofty Holloway | Mary Smith
Characters (Selected)
Lou Beale | Andy O'Brien | Pete Beale | Arthur Fowler | Cindy Beale | Steve Owen | Tiffany Mitchell | Ethel Skinner | Angie Watts | Roy Evans | Mark Fowler | Barry Evans | Den Watts | Dennis Rickman | Johnny Allen | Pauline Fowler | Frank Butcher | Archie Mitchell | Nana Moon | Bradley Branning | Pat Evans | Heather Trott | Derek Branning | Lucy Beale | Nick Cotton | Jim Branning | Charlie Slater | Peggy Mitchell | Arthur Chubb (Fatboy) | Ronnie Mitchell | Roxy Mitchell | Steven Beale | Abi Branning | Harold Legg | Hunter Owen
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