Hollyoaks has released a new behind the scenes video ahead of the special diversity episode showing on Monday 4 February on E4 at 7pm, featuring interviews with cast members including Talia Vanessa Grant (aka Brooke Hathaway) and Amy Conachan (Courtney Campbell) discussing the show's representation of disability.
Designed to celebrate Hollyoaks' on-screen diversity and explore the realities of people living with disabilities and additional needs, tonight's instalment centres on Mandy Morgan (Sarah Jayne Dunn) and Darren Osborne (Ashley Taylor Dawson) at odds over the difficult decision as to whether they should agree to surgery on their unborn baby that could minimise the symptoms of neurological condition spina bifida.
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Darren fears the operation is too risky, while Mandy wants to give their baby the best possible chance of survival. As Mandy muses over what to do, she encounters other characters in the village who live with, or have experience of, additional needs, all giving the expectant mum different perspectives.
The video, entitled 'See The Person', shows scenes from the episode where Mandy talks to Maxine Donovan ,who's daughter Minnie lives with Down Syndrome, and shares her fears of parenting a child with a disability to Darren, who's son Oscar is deaf. Little Oscar also takes centre stage in the episode as he performs in a choir as part of a disability awareness day organised by his mum, Nancy Osborne, who has multiple sclerosis.
Grant talks frankly about having autism, the same condition as her character Brooke, and the importance of raising awareness on how both she and her alter ego should not be solely defined by their additional needs. "Brooke likes astrology and fashion, and also has autism, but there is so much to a person than what you see. We need to be more progressive in what we portray."
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In previewed scenes from the episode, Brooke is bullied by classmate Juliet Quinn (Niamh Blackshaw) who labels her condition a curse. Brooke ends up being comforted by Mandy as she opens up about her unborn baby's diagnosis and coping with disability.
Conachan, aka Courtney, praises the soap for not resorting to stereotypes in terms of representation: "If you've got a disability and you're on TV, a lot of time you play the victim and I don't think that's an accurate representation of disability in general. It's fun for for me to play a part like Courtney that's about interesting stories rather than trying to tell a story about being in a wheelchair - I'm bored of playing disabled people saying it's a terrible thing, and I'm sure audiences are bored of seeing it."
Hollyoaks 'See The Person' is available on the soap's official Facebook and Youtube channels. The diversity episode airs on E4 on Monday 4 February at 7pm, and on Channel 4 on Tuesday 5 February at 6.30pm.
Visit our dedicated Hollyoaks page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.