Young Oliver Battersby has been officially diagnosed with life-threatening mitochondrial disease, and parents Leanne Battersby (Jane Danson) and Steve McDonald (Simon Gregson) must face up to the heartbreaking possibility their son has a tragically short life expectancy.
As Leanne opened up to partner Nick Tilsley (Ben Price) after receiving the news in Monday 29th June’s Coronation Street, she referenced their previous chance at being parents, admitting when she fell pregnant accidentally after a one-night stand with Steve in 2016 she wished it could’ve been her and Nick having a baby.
Long-term fans will recall Lee and Nick eloped to Gretna Green in 1998 for a whirlwind wedding, much to the disapproval of their families, and later that year the new Mrs Tilsley revealed she was pregnant – she was still only 17.
By that stage, the teens’ relationship was on the rocks and Nick felt they were not ready to bring up a baby. He forced his wife to have an abortion in early 1999 and pretend she’d had a miscarriage, which unsurprisingly put more pressure on the marriage and they subsequently divorced.
Years later in 2011 Leanne found out she was pregnant by second husband Peter Barlow, only to tragically miscarry and be told by doctors she would struggle to conceive naturally due to medical complications.
When Leanne and remarried in 2013 (they divorced again before getting back together), she had all but given up hope of having a biological child of her own, having adopted Peter’s son Simon Barlow who’s birth mother, Lucy, died when the kid was just five.
Oliver came along in 2017 and was Ms Battersby’s miracle last chance at motherhood, which makes his illness all the more devastating.
Speaking about her alter ego’s complicated journey to parenthood, Danson exclusively told RadioTimes.com: “Leanne admits to Nick she thought this was it, all those times she could’ve been a mum it was snatched away from her, but resolves it by thinking ‘Maybe I was meant to be Oliver’s mum?’
“That struck a chord, it’s a lovely moment and the script gave me goosebumps. For all the families who have lost kids maybe it’s some kind of comfort, that they were meant to be that little boy or girl’s mum regardless of what happens? I think people will relate to that, the writing was very powerful.”
Oliver’s story continues this week as the impact of his diagnosis is felt by all branches of his blended families, with particularly huge repercussions on Leanne’s relationships with Nick, her stepsister Toyah Battersby and adopted son Simon.