Spoilers: Corrie star warns that Oliver's tragedy could destroy Leanne and NickMay 18, 2020
Coronation Street star Jane Danson has warned that there are troubled times ahead for Leanne Battersby’s relationship with Nick Tilsley (Ben Price) as the tragedy of Oliver’s illness could tear them apart.
The ill youngster is set to be diagnosed with mitochondrial disease in a harrowing storyline that will see his lifespan drastically reduced. And as Leanne struggles to come to terms with it, Nick feels pushed out and a huge wedge is driven between the couple which they may not survive.
Jane sighed: ‘Nick and Leanne have been through so much over the years and they do love each other but they have this thing whereby if something goes wrong they don’t necessarily become closer they push each other away and she certainly pushes him away.
‘He’s worried about her because she’s in this really dark place. So many relationships become fractured because of all these options that become available to them.’
Does it bring Leanne and Steve closer together as parents or does they find themselves pitted against each other with their views?
Jane mused: ‘A bit of both really, they’re the ones who have been in all the meetings and faced the news together. There are moments of real support and being there for each other but there are also moments of rubbing each other up the wrong way.’
As the conflict rises, the reality of Oliver’s future really hits home and Jane describes the moment that Leanne hears the diagnosis.
She said: ‘They have no idea what it is but they do that thing they’re told not to do but we all do and they google it. That gives them the absolute worst case scenario, the black and white of the disease and the bare bones of what will happen to Oliver and at that point it’s just devastating. Leanne has been in a bit of denial but this is the worst possible news.
‘Oliver is Leanne’s only blood connection on the street, so there’s a massive sense of loneliness for Leanne too. She pushes everyone away and tries to deal with it all herself.’
The actress continued: ‘I’ve been amazed by the little boys who play Oliver, the twins Jermiah and Emmanuel are only 3 and they’ve been unbelievable. They’ve done everything they’ve been asked, they’ve had medical equipment stuck to them, they’ve had to lay down in a hospital bed and be still and that’s really tough for a 3-year-old.
‘We’ve also got a body double George who’s older but quite small and he’s been an absolute star as well. Because they’ve been so brilliant and the scripts have been so heartbreaking, it’s not been hard to find the emotion.
‘So has it been hard to film emotionally, yes, the subject matter is harrowing so that’s tough, as a mum you can put yourself in that situation. But has it been hard to get there, no, because the scripts are so truthful and our little boys have done what they needed to do so well that it’s made my job a lot easier.’
What is mitochondrial disease?
Mitochondrial diseases result from failures of the mitochondria, specialized compartments present in every cell of the body (except red blood cells).
Mitochondria are responsible for creating more than 90% of the energy needed by the body to sustain life and support organ function. When they fail, less and less energy is generated within the cell. Cell injury and even cell death follow. If this process is repeated throughout the body, whole organ systems begin to fail.
The parts of the body, such as the heart, brain, muscles and lungs, requiring the greatest amounts of energy are the most affected.
Symptoms vary depending on the organ(s) affected but may include seizures, atypical cerebral palsy, autistic features, developmental problems, fainting and temperature instability.
According to United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation, the prognosis depends upon the severity of the disease and other criteria. As more research funds are raised to find more effective treatments and ultimately a cure, some of the affected children and adults are living fairly normal lives with mitochondrial disease.
In other cases, children may not be able to see, hear, talk or walk. Affected children may not survive beyond their teenage years. Adult onset can result in drastic changes from an active lifestyle to a debilitating ilness is a short amount of time.
Treatment plans vary from patient to patient but involve therapies, diet changes and other means to try and slow the progress of the disease.
You can find out more information from the NHS here.
Jane is determined, like the rest of the Corrie team, to give this story the right treatment, so she has thrown herself into researching the condition and speaking to parents who have first hand experience of its horrors.
She told us: ‘We’ve worked closely with Liz Curtis at The Lily Foundation. It was harrowing hearing the story of what happened to her daughter Lily but also really amazing to hear how people come through this, how they support each other and learn to live again.
‘It’s almost too much to comprehend but I came away from the meeting bowled over by her bravery and how amazing she is as a human being. She shared with me how she felt emotionally, how she got through her days, how people rallied around her. I’ve also read a lot of literature about how families cope around their children’s diagnosis with life limiting illnesses, looking at the human elements to their stories amidst all the medical speak and hoping I can get it right. It is quite overwhelming,
‘I’ve been so lucky to have so many stories with Leanne over the last 20 odd years but this one feels different, this one could really break her and it feels like it’s the one where I’ve got the most responsibility to get it right.’
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