Step forward Nick and Toyah...
Coronation Street star Jane Danson, who plays Leanne Battersby, has said that the emotive plot centring on screen son Oliver’s ailing health will lead to big stories for Nick and Toyah.
Three year old Oliver, who is the product of Leanne’s one night stand with Steve McDonald back in 2016, has recently suffered a series of seizures, which has led doctors to believe he has mitochondrial disease; a life-limiting genetic disorder in which mitochondria – tiny structures within cells that convert the food we eat into energy – fail to work properly. The result is that the cells eventually die, causing tissue and organ failure.
The news has left Leanne and Steve devastated, and the pair are further distraught next week when Oliver is brought out of sedation and doctors reveal that they think the lad’s seizures have left him with brain damage.
But Danson, who joined the soap back in 1997, says that it won’t be just Leanne and Steve who are affected by Oliver’s condition.
She tells us: “What’s really good is that it opens up other stories for other characters. Leanne is really close to Toyah, but she hits out at her a little bit and takes it all out on Toyah and is a bit nasty to her. Toyah stands by her because Leanne’s her sister and she’ll do whatever she can to support her, and that has an impact on how Toyah feels.
“Toyah can’t have children of her own, but there is a story that opens up for her in which she makes a huge decision about her own life, which would affect Leanne. It’s really clever.”
And she adds that screen partner Nick Tilsley will also be impacted.
“Oliver isn’t Nick’s biological child, and he’s reminded of that every day,” says Danson. “He bites his tongue, but he’s really hurting, and another story opens up for him that ties in with this. So there are loads of offshoots that come out of this sad situation.”
Mitochondrial disease can affect both children and adults, and males and females. Coronation Street have been working with The Lily Foundation on the heart-wrenching plot; a charity set up by mum Liz Curtis in 2007 in memory of her daughter Lily, who died from the illness at just eight months old.