Donna Ludlow
Portrayed by Matilda Ziegler
First Appearance 27th August 1987
Last Appearance 13th April 1989
Date of Birth 1965
Date of Death 13 April 1989
Occupation Prostitute
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
NiecesLucy Beale
Lexi Pearce
First cousinsTony Hills
Sarah Hills
Other relativesLouie Beale

Donna Ludlow made her first appearance on the 27th August 1987. She is the daughter Kathy Beale gave up for adoption and the half sister of Ian Beale and Ben Mitchell. Donna was found dead in 1989 by Dot Cotton after a heroin overdose.


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. Donna was adopted by Mr and Mrs Ludlow.



Earlier in the year 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' for Naima Jeffrey and was soon approached by Den Watts, who offered her a job as 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 began to get 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 finally meet her, but this couldn't have been further from the truth. She was mortified and ordered Donna to leave the Square, telling her she wanted nothing to do with her.

Although the rejection hurt Donna, she wasn't perturbed, and proceeded to cause as much trouble for Kathy as she possibly could, firstly by persisting in flirting with Ian, forcing Kathy to confess Donna's identity, and secondly by informing Kathy's husband Pete that her mother was having an affair with her boss, James Willmott-Brown, causing major rows between the two. 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 because she was the product of rape.

Donna was unhinged by this news, and 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 she 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 an abandoned squat on the Square.

Donna turns to heroin, blackmail & prostitution

After Donna's manipulative games were uncovered, 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 junkies dossing in her 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 taken over 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 his efforts were not appreciated by her and she 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 Russel 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 an overdose of heroin and choked to death on her own vomit. Donna was found dead by Dot on the 13 April 1989 and few mourned her passing.


Abi Branning | Amy Mitchell | | Ben Mitchell | Bex Fowler | Billy Mitchell | Carmel Kazemi | | Denise Fox | Dennis Rickman Jnr | Donna Yates | Dot Branning | Ian Beale | Jack Branning | Jane Beale | Janet Mitchell | Jay Mitchell | Jill Marsden | Kathy Beale | Khoroush Kazemi (Kush) | Kim Fox-Hubbard | Lady Di | Lily Branning | Linda Carter | Louise Mitchell | Martin Fowler | Matthew Mitchell-Cotton | Mick Carter | Patrick Trueman | Pearl Fox | Phil Mitchell | Ollie Carter | Ritchie Scott | Sharon Mitchell | Shirley Carter | Sonia Jackson | Stacey Branning |Tina Carter | Vincent Hubbard | Whitney Dean  | Johnny Carter | Honey Mitchell | Max Branning | Steven Beale | Lauren Branning
Helen | Jo | Marie Evans | Sarah | Shrimp | Tracey | Winston 
Characters (Selected)
Peggy Mitchell | Kat Moon | Alfie Moon | Sean Slater | Ryan Malloy | Jean Slater | Charlie Slater | Danny Pennant | Zainab Khan | Andrew Cotton | Yvonne Cotton | Glenda Mitchell | Carol Jackson | Charlie Cotton | Cindy Williams Jnr | Liam Butcher | Lola Pearce | Arthur Chubb (Fatboy) | Shabnam Kazemi | Cora Cross | Lee Carter | Babe Smith | Pam Coker | Les Coker | Claudette Hubbard | Preston Cooper
Characters (Selected)
Pat Evans | Stan Carter | Archie Mitchell | Nana Moon | Lou Beale | Tiffany Mitchell | Lucy Beale | Nick Cotton | Carl White | Bradley Branning | Pauline Fowler | Arthur Chubb (Fatboy) | Ronnie Mitchell  | Roxy Mitchell   | Sylvie Carter  | Paul Coker
Actors Danny Dyer | Shane Richie | Adam Woodyatt | Steve McFadden | Mike Reid | Thomas Law | Neil McDermott | Charlie Clements | John Bardon | John Altman | Peter Dean | Perry Fenwick
Actresses Barbara Windsor | Laurie Brett | Lacey Turner | Anita Dobson | Jacqueline Jossa | Rita Simons | Samantha Womack | Tameka Empson | Wendy Richard | Anna Karen