Could it be that Leanne Battersby is set to spend Christmas caught between two suitors? Nick Tilsley may have a wedding planned for his sweetheart but he hasn’t reckoned on the reappearance of Leanne’s former husband Peter Barlow, who returns to Weatherfield just in time for the festive season.
Pretty soon, Leanne is in a quandary: should she be ruled by her head and marry Nick or go with her heart and reconcile with Peter? With so much drama in the offing, you have to hope that actress Jane Danson’s Christmas is a lot more settled than her alter ego’s:
“Oh yeah. Leanne’s life is so exhausting. She can’t do anything without a drama. Maybe the New Year will bring happier times for Leanne. I’ll be at home with all the family coming round. I’ve been so busy at work over the past few months – it will be nice to just chill out with my kids. It should be very civilised compared to Leanne’s Christmas!”
And will the family sit down to watch Corrie on Christmas Day? “Yes, me and my mum will sneak off into another room and watch it if nobody else wants to, it’s a biggie for Leanne this year so we’ll be watching.”
A “biggie” is something of an understatement as far as Leanne is concerned. We only have to see the effect that Peter has on her to know that she’s not 100 per cent united with Nick. Surely this bodes ill for her wedding? So how does Leanne feel about her ex husband being back on the Street and back in her life?
“I think her heart skips a beat a little bit and she hates herself for that,” admits Danson, “but Peter was the love of her life and, even though she’s telling herself she’s got over it, her heart’s saying something else.”
And then we see Peter opting to stay around and not go back to Los Angeles. Will Leanne be gaining some frown lines as a result of that decision? “She’s in two minds about it. Deep down she’s still harbouring this feeling that Peter is the love of her life despite how badly she’s been hurt. But she masks that by saying, ‘here he is again messing everything up for me’. There’s a bit of resentment there, but deep down she’s almost glad.”
One knock-on effect though is that her and Nick’s plans to marry in Las Vegas have to be cancelled due to young Simon’s desire to spend some time with his dad. If Peter weren’t to have shown up when he does, Leanne could have been off to the airport and getting set for the trip of a lifetime:
“She was all good to go,” agrees Danson. “Peter and Carla were out of the picture, so out of sight out of mind, and everything was sorted. Then Peter and Carla turned up and put a spanner in the works. She is disappointed but it doesn’t take her long to say they can’t go. She doesn’t mull it over. It’s an instant decision. I think Peter returning has thrown her off course.”
Nick, however, reacts very quickly indeed and re-books the wedding for Christmas Day. Is this really what Leanne wants?
“She does love Nick, she wouldn’t be marrying him otherwise, but he’s never going to be dangerous enough for her and that’s what excites her about Peter. Nick is always going to be the safe option. So when he books the wedding venue it feels so final – that’s the start of her conservative life. It’s what she wants on one hand, but on the other she thrives on a bit of danger. I think had Peter not turned up she would have thought it was the right thing to do, but Peter being there has thrown her into a spin.”
Leanne, of course, has a long history with Nick having run away with him as a teenager to get wed in Scotland. The marriage faltered, but in recent years, the pair have grown closer once more. So when it comes down to it, is Nick the love of her life?
“She’s really fond of him but if she laid her cards on the table I think Peter is the love of her life, not Nick. Nick’s the safe option, on paper he’s got it all. Nick’s got everything that Peter hasn’t but she’ll always carry a torch for Peter. There’s unfinished business there and obviously, with Simon in the mix, that will always draw them together. They were a family unit and she was devastated when that broke up. Peter is the love of her life, but she knows that he’s bad for her. He’s like a drug that she can’t give up.”
It all sounds like a recipe for disaster and, indeed, Leanne’s hen night certainly doesn’t go as planned! “On the hen night, she goes back to being Leanne Battersby. She gets really drunk and behaves the way she would have 15 years ago. Her real feelings come out and she has a moment with Peter where it’s a will they/won’t they kiss. It leads to big indecision on the wedding day.”
Is Peter suggesting that they give their relationship another go?
“He says, ‘don’t marry Nick’. And what she reads into that is ‘don’t marry him because of me’. He claims she’s doing an impersonation of someone who’s happy and he knows her better than anyone. Obviously, she won’t admit it to him but it plants the element of doubt in her mind that maybe there is still a chance for them. Because she desperately wants the family unit back together, she can’t see the wood for the trees. She also at her most vulnerable because she’s really drunk, so if there’s a time that her true feelings are going to come out, it’s now.”
And so the day of the wedding dawns with a severely hungover Leanne asking herself a few questions: should she really go through with it and is she doing it all for the right reasons? To get the answers she craves, she heads off – in her wedding dress – to see Peter:
“There’s unfinished business and she just has to know,” explains Danson. “The night before she was drunk, so she needs to hear him say it when she’s stone cold sober. I think it’s safe to say that she does make it to the church, but everything is not as it seems. There are lots of other factors involved with people who are double crossing Leanne. It’s a tangled web that doesn’t get untangled until the day of the wedding. It’s great.”
So who does Danson think is right for Leanne – Peter or Nick? “Neither of them! Whichever one she’s with, it’s never going to be good enough in her eyes. It’s like the Ken/Mike/Deirdre love triangle. Personally I think she’d be better of without either of them, maybe Leanne and marriage just doesn’t mix! But then I would like to see her reunite with Peter. You should be with the person you love, but how many times can you be heartbroken? Maybe it would be far more interesting if she were left on her own.”
And what have the fans made of Leanne’s romantic entanglements? Do they want to see her and Peter back together?
“It’s safe to say that the reaction I’ve had is really 50/50. That’s what’s been so good about this story – one minute you’re siding with Peter and the next you’re siding with Nick. Then there’s Carla and Eva involved as well. They’re all such flawed characters and the tables turn all the time.
“Nick’s been second best to Peter before and to do it to him again on his wedding day would be super cruel and Leanne knows that. She really does care for him, she fancies him, he makes her laugh, but she still aches for Peter.”