Coronation Street welcomes it’s newest arrival next week when Leanne Battersby gives birth to her and Steve McDonald’s love child.
Going into labour while stuck in a lift during an argument with her sister Toyah makes Leanne’s first experience of childbirth pretty action-packed – and for actress Jane Danson it was hardly a normal day in the office.
“This is the first time I have given birth on screen, although I’ve done it twice in real life,” reveals the star who marks 20 years of playing Leanne in July. “It was weirdly exhausting and a very heavy day. Leanne is terrified, this is her first experience of childbirth and the situation is not ideal. It was technically difficult from an acting point of view as there was a lot of dialogue, which isn’t usually the case in real life. Leanne doesn’t make it to hospital and doesn’t have medical assistance so it was quite intense.”
Leanne’s little one, who she names Oliver, is at the centre of an all-encompassing plot that started with her and Steve’s unexpected one-night stand last summer, then took a twist when both Leanne and Steve’s wife Michelle both fell pregnant, and has now snowballed into a multi-stranded storyline that involves practically half of Weatherfield.
Last month the show received huge critical acclaim when Steve’s wife Michelle tragically lost their son Ruairi through early miscarriage, unaware that her husband has another child on the way. Does Leanne giving birth compound her guilt about the situation?
“Leanne feels incredibly guilty. She has lost a baby herself so she knows what Michelle is going through. Leanne knows it must be difficult for Michelle watching her going on with her pregnancy, but there is the added layer of guilt over the fact the child is Steve’s.”
The reality of having his secret son living across the road being brought up by Nick Tilsley is about to hit Steve, and Danson predicts this is a recipe for disaster. “Initially Steve didn’t want anything to do with their baby so Leanne wasn’t worried. But then Michelle lost Ruairi and that changed everything. If their baby had been born and been fine it might have been different. Now she can only hope he will keep his side of the bargain. And Leanne is bringing up Simon around the corner from Peter – it’s like an episode of Jeremy Kyle!”
Despite it being his idea that he raises Oliver as his own, Nick is now seriously struggling with the situation, and it doesn’t help that he’s not there with Leanne when she gives birth.
“The one thing they wanted was to go through the birth together to help Nick bond with the baby, but because of the way it happens he’s not there. As soon as Oliver is born the realisation that he is not his dad hits home – they both know there is this obstacle and it’s got very real. It’s a child that is not his again, like Simon.”
No wonder then that Leanne decides not to have Nick named as the father on the birth certificate – and no wonder that doesn’t exactly go down well…
“It goes back to the fact Leanne herself was abandoned and lied to, and she has finally realised that it doesn’t get you anywhere and wants to start on the right foot. Simon’s real mum died but Oliver’s dad exists, and if Nick’s name is on the birth certificate it is a big lie.”
Could this be the final straw for the childhood sweethearts? “ They have a lot of history and in some ways want to stand together and be a family, but emotionally the situation is pushing them apart because Leanne feels naturally that it’s wrong to lie to her son.
“Ultimately it is about her child rather than Steve or Nick – Leanne is determined to be honest with him as soon as he can understand. Everybody has lied to Leanne or abandoned her at some point so she won’t want to do the same.”
Despite the liaison with Steve coming out of the blue, Danson is enjoying how the story has developed and praises the plot’s lack of predictably. “There are so many layers and it can go off in all sorts of directions. So many characters are involved now, some indirectly and some not even aware they are involved. Everybody has a part to play and I’ve never been able to second guess where it will go next.
“And it’s lovely to work with lots of different members of the cast – before this storyline Kym Marsh and I barely had any scenes together in ten years!”
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