An emotionally wrung out Carol (Lindsey Coulson) is to tell daughter Bianca (Patsy Palmer) that she has cancer in an upcoming episode of EastEnders. In scenes to be shown on Monday 13 January, the Jackson family matriarch will also reveal that the disease could have spread, leaving David Wicks (Michael French) trying to comfort them both in the wake of the shock diagnosis.
Executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins recently said of the emotional plotline: “Lindsey Coulson is acting her socks off for her breast cancer story. Our angle is that it’s about the Jackson family as a whole. And we’re looking at cancer not as a story device, but forensically. Half of my audience is women – and many will either go through breast cancer scares or will know someone who has breast cancer. It’s a very important story. I’ve been sobbing in the edit suite. A lot.”
Actress Lindsey Coulson added, “Through Carol’s story I hope we can raise awareness of the impact of breast cancer on the people that have it and their families.”
This isn't the first time that EastEnders has highlighted breast cancer in its plotlines: in 1987, Sue Osman (Sandy Ratcliff) discovered a lump on her breast that turned out to be benign, while Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor) was diagnosed with the disease in 1996. As Peggy underwent a mastectomy in 1999 following the return of her cancer, BBC Production chief executive Matthew Banister praised Windsor's performance, commenting that it "brought a good deal of comfort and help to us and a lot of other people".
Of the latest storyline, Dr Alastair Thomson, a clinical oncologist, said: “Cancer is such an important and common issue, affecting many lives in the UK. Breast cancer now affects one in eight women in this country. This means there are 50,000 new diagnoses every year. The cancer diagnosis hits the patient hard, but also impacts widely on her friends and family. It has been a pleasure to be involved in reviewing the EastEnders storyline.”