Coronation Street star Kym Marsh has taken the brave step of taking part in a miscarriage storyline - a plot that mirrors her own tragedy.
The soap is to tackle the difficult subject of late miscarriage in early January 2017 when Marsh’s character Michelle Connor loses her baby at 23 weeks.
In 2009, the actress lost her son Archie at a similar stage of pregnancy and the soap said that Marsh felt that, as it was a subject so close to her heart, she wanted to help raise awareness of the issues surrounding late miscarriage.
The programme has also worked closely with Stillbirth and neonatal death charity Sands on the episode which will air on ITV the week beginning January 9th 2017.
In the coming weeks, viewers will see Michelle and Steve (Simon Gregson) struggle to come to terms with the loss of their beloved baby boy Ruairi (pronounced Rory) after she goes into early labour.
The heartbreaking scenes explore how the death affects both the mother and father and also the extended family.
Marsh said: “I thought long and hard before agreeing to take on the challenge of this storyline. It is obviously a cause very close to my heart having lost my beautiful Archie at 21 weeks and 5 days. I discussed it with my family and friends, all of who were very supportive.
“In the end I felt it was an important story to tell in order to raise awareness of something which affects thousands of women every year.
“I have had to go to some very dark places in my mind whilst filming these heartbreaking scenes but my family, friends and colleagues have been incredible. Losing a child is something that never leaves you so to revisit those feelings as Michelle has been challenging.
“Coronation Street ensured that I had a counsellor on set at all times to go to after filming the scenes but for me the best tonic after a hugely emotional day was to go home to my kids and be reminded of how lucky I am to have them.
“I am very proud of what we have done with this storyline and I hope it helps raise awareness and helps people to talk about their own experiences.”
Coronation Street producer Kate Oates added: “The subject of miscarriage will always be sensitive; but telling this story with Simon and Kym at the centre would always have an extra poignancy. Through careful writing and research, we hope we are able to encourage discussion, understanding and compassion for those viewers affected by the loss of a baby. The cast were in safe hands with our amazing and empathetic director Tony Prescott, and it has been humbling to see all the actors involved being so selfless and generous in their performances.”
Erica Stewart, Bereavement Support and Awareness Specialist at Sands, said that the charity was pleased it was consulted by the researchers and writers on the soap and said that the storyline has been “portrayed truthfully and sensitively."
“Miscarriage, which is the death of a baby in the first 23 weeks of pregnancy, is not rare,” Stewart added. “Sadly, it affects 200,000 couples each year in the UK, with most pregnancies ending in the first 12 weeks.
“The death of a baby later than this, but before 24 weeks when the baby’s death becomes a stillbirth, raises many issues. Bereaved mothers of babies who die later in pregnancy but before 24 weeks don’t have the same rights to maternity leave or pay as mothers of stillborn babies, and the baby’s death is not formally registered.”
“We hope that with a TV drama as popular as Coronation Street covering this heart breaking experience, it will help to lift the taboo, and raise awareness of all the issues that surround the death of a baby.”