The Hollyoaks cast have filmed a very special episode to air shortly which will centre around disability awareness and inclusion after Darren Osborne and Mandy Morgan have learned their unborn child has spina bifida.
The episode is set to help Mandy see that she and her child can both lead normal lives despite the disability, simultaneously raising awareness for viewers.
Sarah Jayne Dunn and Ashley Taylor Dawson revealed to metro.co.uk what we can expect from the touching episode.
Its little Oscar singing in a little choir, and he is nervous. He doesnt want to do it. Brooke then helps him. Mandy and Brooke have a really lovely scene together where shes having one of her attacks, and Mandy brings her back around, Sarah Jayne explained. And theres this scene with Maxine and Minnie. Im so excited.
So basically, this episode almost follows Mandy around the village, and she has lots of interactions with people with disabilities. And I think for her, it cements that actually its not a thing – you can have a normal life.
The episode comes as Mandy and Darren are forced to make a decision over whether to go ahead with risky surgery that could potentially put both Mandy and the babys lives in danger.
She sees these beautiful children living a normal life and being really happy, Sarah Jayne continued. So I think thats a really lovely episode, and a big moment for her, to go: “We can accept this.” She still wants to give the baby its best chance at a normal life, but she knows that they can accept it.
Ashley added that the two of them have had to do plenty of research to make the storyline as authentic as possible.
You have to know what youre doing, and why youre doing it, he said. The first thing, as a parent, with a child involved, is: you do as much research as you can, as you worry about the pros and cons of the operation and surgery. And thats what it is. So its always a learning curve, anything like this, because youre looking to do it yourself.
Its a job. You go into work every day and have a wonderful time dressing up and acting. But the reality is, these are real subjects.
He continued: When you speak to the people, thats the most rewarding thing – when you meet people in the street, and theyll hit you with something like that. You almost forget that thats what you do, and why youre doing it, in a way. Because thats when you get the real response. So yeah, its always really important to know what the subjects about.
Sarah Jayne added that the two have drawn on their own experiences as parents in portraying their heartbreak at discovering their babys condition.
I think as parents ourselves, as well, reading up on something like spina bifida, its really its own hell, she said. Its actually really quite common as well. I didnt realise that. Its like one in every thousand. Ive had this storylines before when Mandys had children. But this is the first time where Ive actually now got my own child, and it is easier to relate to how that must feel, and the decisions that Mandys got to come to, and what it all means moving forward for them as parents.
Ashley added that for him the reward in storylines like this is touching other peoples lives.
Its when you actually feel someone, when they talk to you, and theyre genuinely telling you about that experience and how they relate to what youve done, he said. You can be quite… I wouldnt say “flippant” about it at times, because you are going to work, and youre doing your job. But when you hear that, you know youre hitting home. And thats a rewarding thing.
He continued: And the feedback from what were doing here is amazing. The charity said that its increasing the amount of phone calls. To be able to get that – its priceless. You can do work all year, raising money for charity, but to get people taking it upon themselves to approach the charity and open up – youre doing something special. So its good.