The stress of coping with her son’s incurable illness continues to have a huge impact on Leanne Battersby (Jane Danson) in Coronation Street, and now it’s threatening to tear her family apart.
Simon Barlow (Alex Bain) overheard his adopted mum tell Oliver’s dad Steve McDonald (Simon Gregson) on Wednesday 1st July that if her toddler dies of mitochondrial disease, she will have nothing left, leaving the teen thinking Lee loves her biological child more than him.
Upset Si later walked out of an important school exam, putting the pair at odds with angry Leanne oblivious as to what the lad overheard earlier. Does Ms Battersby really rank Oliver over Simon, the boy she has raised since his birth mother died 12 years ago?
“She’s not thinking straight when she says it,” explains Danson, speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com. “Simon is older now and has a lot going on and for a minute Leanne forgets he’s got an exam, then berates him for missing it and tells him she’s got enough to worry about.
“That’s another kick in the teeth for him, as if to say ‘You’re not important any more, I don’t care about your exams.’ Ordinarily Leanne would be fussing around Simon making sure he was prepared, but temporarily that goes out of the window.
“She doesn’t love Simon any less but it must be different, I can’t really say as I’m not in that situation. She does later apologise and didn’t mean what she said, it’s a defence thing really, she’s saying: ‘Your problem isn’t as bad as mine, you can resolve this but I can’t do anything to help Oliver so think yourself lucky.’
“Leanne has brought Simon up like her own, but in this moment as she fears her biological child might be taken away from her it’s self-defence, and Leanne does tend to push people away. What she’s going through is so awful, some people are really brave and amazing at coping but she’s a hot-head – she deals with it in a way that’s true to her character.”
Nevertheless the damage is done, and later this week unwanted Simon announces he’s going to stay with his dad Peter Barlow, revealing what his mother said that drove him out. Has struggling Leanne done irreparable damage to her and Si’s relationship? She’s already upset step-sister Toyah…
“Yes, she was vile to Toyah before about her not understanding the situation because she can’t have her own kids,” sighs Danson. “Again it was said in defence, but it’s one of the really interesting things about Oliver’s illness as it opens up lots of different stories for the rest of the family.
“There is definitely a ripple effect on every relationship in Leanne’s life.”