BBC’s Casualty finally returned to screens this evening with an eventful and emotional affair for one nurse in particular: Jade (played by Gabriella Leon).
The nurse has overcome many hurdles in her way to be a successful and important member of the ED, but tonight saw her face her toughest challenge yet as she arranged to meet her birth mother who abandoned her when she was little.
Jade, who is deaf, wondered if her mum left her because of her condition, but when she was finally face-to-face with her, she discovered they share the same disability.
Actress Gabriella Leon, who is also deaf, was thrilled to have been a part of such an important storyline for the community.
Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com, Leon told us: “It felt incredibly exciting to have this story come to life. Authentic representation on screen of the d/Deaf and Disabled community is so important to me.
“It feels like a triumph having Jade’s storyline told in this personal way, created by an amazing team of creatives who are deaf also. It is a first-hand experience of ‘A day in the life of Jade’, dealing with her invisible disability and meeting her birth mother for the first time.”
Leon explained: “For me the most important thing I wanted to convey with this episode was bringing Jade’s invisible disability into the visible much more. We literally see and hear how she perceives the world and how much harder she has to work to maintain a good job.
“I think it may make people more aware and perhaps mindful of those with invisible disabilities, and their access needs. I think the episode also celebrates the fact that this is a story of a young woman who is a nurse, meeting her birth mother for the first time- who just happens to be deaf. Having a person with a disability leading the narrative is a wonderful thing- I wish to see more of across the industry.”
What’s more, Leon had her say in the creation of the story from the very beginning having been invited into early meetings about this particular episode. Deaf writers Charlie Swinbourne and Sophie Woolley also helped bring this to light. “There was a wonderful open diaglogue throughout the making of the episode that always had Jade’s experience of the world present at its forefront,” Leon told us.
Almost the entirety of the episode takes place from Jade’s perspective, with the camera on her face throughout most of it. Leon told us the production team used a specific type of lens which ensured Jade was “present at all times” and “we see her live her daily human experience”.
But was it difficult to adapt to? “Because the lens was literally 5cm from my face at times, I found it quite a fun challenge to not get thrown off at my face being right in the camera!”
It’s safe to say Jade and her mum’s relationship didn’t end on a sweet note, as her grandmother made sure to put a stop to any hint of a reunion in the future.
Shunning poor Jade explaining her daughter didn’t need any more hassle in her life, the grandmother warned the nurse to stay away and not reach out any more.
But Leon hinted to us there could be more to come in the complex story. When asked what the future looks like for Jade, the actress teased: “Who knows?! Lots of hard work being a great nurse!
“I doubt that will be the last we see of her birth mum. I think Jade always wants to do the right thing and build on things she believes in – her relationship with her mum might be one of them!”
Casualty continues Saturday on BBC One at 8.25pm. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide.