Hollyoaks' Mandy Morgan (Sarah Jayne Dunn) has finally admitted to boyfriend Darren Osborne (Ashly Taylor Dawson) the baby she is carrying might not be his, and that ex-lover Luke Morgan (Gary Lucy) could be the father.
The revelation came at the end of Monday 4 February's E4 episode which celebrated difference and diversity within the village. As Mandy and Darren clashed over the difficult decision about whether to undergo potentially risky surgery on the unborn baby to minimise the symptoms of neurological condition spina bifida, the mum-to-be crossed paths with several locals who have first-hand experience of living with disability, including teenager Brooke Hathaway who has autism, and Maxine Donovan who's daughter Minnie has Down syndrome.
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Upon hearing her baby's diagnosis last year Mandy visited Luke in prison, where he's currently serving a sentence for assault, and he confirmed a history of spina bifida in his family. As Mandy and Luke were also trying for a baby during her affair with Darren that ultimately split the couple, this puts Mr Morgan squarely in the frame as the father.
Back in the present as Darren called a truce with Mandy and apologised for being so against the surgery and agreeing to support her wish to have the operation, his guilty girlfriend confessed she thinks the baby is Luke's…
Will baby secret split up Mandy and Darren for good?
"After all the heartache of the decision over the surgery, this big bombshell then drops on Darren," says Taylor Dawson. "Having decided to support Mandy, finding out it might not be his kid leaves him in no man's land. It wasn't an affair and it's not a betrayal because he knew Mandy and Luke were together, but it's still massive for him to process. But Darren is not Charlie's real dad and he loves him to bits, so has been through something similar before. So will it really matter?"
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"And it's not what Mandy wanted to happen," reveals Dunn. "This is just how it's ended up. Now everything is out in the open it will be a massive relief for Mandy. She's been honest so there are no more secrets. They've got to be strong and come together to help each other in this huge thing that is happening. Hopefully it will cement her and Darren as a strong couple."
The twist played against the backdrop of a beautifully-written episode centred on disability and living with additional needs, highlighting Hollyoaks' admirable commitment to diversity in its cast and storytelling, with the choice of whether to have the surgery being sympathetically told from both sides.
"Mandy has already lost a baby, so is willing to try anything to give the child its best chance at having a healthy life. Whereas Darren already has Oscar, a child with disability, so he is immediately more accepting and prepared. The beauty of the diversity episode is showing that you can have a 'normal' life. Mandy sees these beautiful children like Oscar and Minnie who are happy. It's a big moment for her to accept what's going on."
But could the truth about the paternity put too much pressure on the couple, or unite them? Are we going to have to wait until the child is born before we can categorically find out if Luke or Darren is the daddy? And if Luke is the father, will he step aside and let another man raise his child?
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