It’s been a tough old year for Darren and Nancy – can you fill us in on what’s been happening over the last six months?
Jessica Fox: It’s been a pretty big year! We’ve had a wedding and then the pregnancy which was so exciting and that ended unfortunately in miscarriage which both characters didn’t deal with particularly well. And since then we’ve gone on to have Oscar, thinking that everything’s going to be wonderful and again that has been a very difficult time for both characters. It’s been a really big year for both of us, dramatically and emotionally, and it’s interesting to see how the characters have decided to deal with that and yet have come back together stronger. Now we’re going to bring baby Oscar home for Christmas which is very exciting… Ashley Taylor Dawson: The highlight of their year, definitely. So for now everything is good.
But with the festive period coming up, surely they’re set for their fair share of tears and misery?
JF: They think it’s all going to be good – of course it’s not going to be! Because it’s a soap and because it’s Christmas and there’s got to be something horrific that happens at Christmas ATD: They’ve got the baby back at home now and it’s a big Christmas for the Osbournes – a lot’s going on and everyone’s got their problems and it all clashes at the same time.
It all sounds pretty dramatic…
JF: Well, the Esther bullying storyline is kicking off at the moment and that’s really coming to a head over Christmas and the new year. And that obviously involves Esther and Ruby but the rest of the family is unaware of what’s going on. ATD: They’re all under one roof so everyone overlaps and they’re all part of each other’s lives. You think it’s enough having this premature baby coming back into the house but at times that’s the least of our worries because there’s so much other stuff going on. It’s absolute chaos at the Osbournes, but it’ll be good to watch…
You’ve had some pretty tough storylines this year – with the miscarriage and Oscar’s premature birth – have they been hard to film?
ATD: I think we’re happiest when we’re doing those sort of scenes because you’ve got a focus and when you’re doing real drama and real scenes and you’re holding up a persona like that – that’s why we do the job. You’ve got to do it justice as there are people out there who’ve been through it and if they don’t appreciate what you’re doing then you’re not doing your job well.
Do you ever find it hard to switch off after a day at the office?
ATD: When you’re getting those storylines, it’s more satisfying leaving work – when you’ve had some great scripts and you feel you’ve nailed them and you’re happy with what you’ve done. I think the focus when you’ve got stuff like this is so intense that I find it quite rewarding – you walk away from work feeling satisfied. Obviously the storylines are terrible and what you’re going through is the worst but that’s why you do the job – to enjoy that rush.
Did you do any research for the Oscar storyline?
ATD: I’m a patron of the children’s hospital in Manchester so I’ve been over there a few times and I’ve got some friends who have been through the same. It’s a really, really scary thing to go through and having a kid now myself I can only imagine what that must be like. You can never get yourself ready for something like that – it happens in your life and you’ve just got to deal with it. JF: I did a month of research online and went to Broadgreen hospital in Liverpool. People are incredibly generous with what they’ll put on the internet – their own personal stories and experiences. I found that really helpful to try and see all the sides of it – the hurt, the upset, the anger and the confusion that comes with something like that. When you’ve carried a baby and you’re expecting it to be fine and then it’s not, it was really interesting to see how people have dealt with that.
Have you had much feedback?
JF: The feedback from Twitter was amazing and I was shopping in Tescos shortly after the miscarriage storyline and a lady came up to me and burst into tears, gave me a big hug and said, “You’ve told my story, thank you.” And that was incredibly over-whelming. Amazing.
Nancy and Darren have been through so much but it was quite a surprise when they first got together – what makes them work well as a couple?
JF: Nancy was quite embarrassed about it when it first started happening but then they seemed to keep waking up in bed together so there was obviously some good chemistry there. And that since has turned into love. ATD: Opposites attract – Darren’s a male chauvinist and Nancy’s a feminist. They never, ever saw eye-to-eye in the past but they’ve been through a lot together and they’ve actually known each other a long time. Nancy brings the order and discipline and they make a good team. You wouldn’t expect them to but they work well together and I think through the differences they’ve gone away and dealt with their problems in their own way and they come back together.
But when Oscar was born prematurely, Darren blamed Nancy’s manic lifestyle for his condition and they nearly split up…
ATD: I think that was just the way Darren was dealing with the situation – he genuinely believed that Nancy was overdoing it and he was right in some ways about the way she’d been dealing with the pregnancy. They’d already had a miscarriage and she’d been running around and stressing out after he made it quite clear that he wanted her to relax and take it easy. I think his initial reaction may always be there because in the back of his mind he believes that that is the truth and if she hadn’t been running around and doing these things, the baby wouldn’t have been born like that. JF: And Nancy blames herself massively for the fact that Oscar was born prematurely and I think if there are issues that come up with his health, there will be whole new feelings of that guilt and blame which will come in – I think that will always be there whenever something happens with Oscar.
Nancy’s lost a lot of people important to her in the past – will she be able to cope if anything happens to baby Oscar?
JF: I think whatever you throw at Nancy she tends to come out the other side a bit stronger, but I would be absolutely horrified if they tried to take Oscar away or anything happened to him – I don’t know how she’d cope with that at all.
What can we expect from Darren and Nancy in 2013?
ATD: Our baby’s back at home now so it’s a journey of how we deal with Oscar. It’s a big year for the Osbournes so I think we’ll see a lot of Darren and Nancy’s journey, how and whether they stay together and how they deal with having a family. I think it’s going to be an interesting 2013 for us…
You’ve both been in Hollyoaks for a considerable amount of time – do you ever thing about the future of the characters and how much further they can go in the soap?
JF: I’ve been on the show for seven years and when I started Nancy was a fifteen-year-old rebellious schoolgirl with pink hair and wanted a tattoo. Now she’s a married mother who’s still working hard on her career so she’s taken a big journey – as well as having attempted rape and drug abuse and all sorts of things happening to her. So there always seems to be something and I think as long as the writers keep writing for your character, it’s always an absolute pleasure and Hollyoaks is a very exciting place to be.
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