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Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Jane Danson interview: Leanne's terrifying testimony

Drug boss Harvey has made Leanne Battersby's life a living hell for a long time now by terrorising her family. Just as Leanne finally sees the finish line, she is hit by more obstacles as Harvey's trial approaches. We spoke to Jane Danson to find out what Leanne has up her sleeve to try and rid her family of this nightmare. Will she succeed? 

After the heartbreak of losing Oliver, Leanne became hellbent on making sure she wasn't going to lose Simon as well, and Jane told us that Simon's safety is the most important thing. "Having already lost one son, she's got the potential to lose another one, so his safety is kind of paramount. The reason they've gone into hiding and staying away from everybody is to protect him, and obviously to protect herself as well and their little unit."

While it was only Simon who was initially involved, it has now spread to Natasha and even little Sam, leaving Leanne feeling terrible for involving Nick's family. "I think that's what's quite a clever thing about the story- it's not just a story revolving around one character, it's kind of drawing in lots of different characters. 

"[Leanne] feels terrible. I kind of feel for her in the sense that she can't really do right for doing wrong. She tried to protect Nick and not tell him anything, and in doing so, she kind of alienated herself and became a little bit distant. He wanted to know why, and eventually when he found out what was going on, he had to make that awful choice of being with his son or supporting Leanne. In terms of story layers, there's loads to explore there which has been really good."

From prison, Harvey has been using Sharon to put the frighteners on Leanne to stop her from testifying in court, which even resulted in Sam being kidnapped. As Harvey's trial looms, the family are put in danger once again when a gunman appears on the street. Will this make Leanne change her mind about testifying? Jane said: "It's another interesting element of the story that she makes her mind up on one day and then changes it the next. I think when we see the scenes with the gunman and stuff, you'll see a real shift in how she feels about it all.

"I think she's of the opinion that this is never going to end unless she stops it now- this is going to keep going on, and it'll be just one more thing and then another. She's terrified, and she's just trying to do her best and she doesn't really know whether telling the truth or lying is the best thing or not, so I suppose, it'll be how she feels on the day."

The trial eventually arrives, and Leanne is prepared to tell the truth, but her mind is sent racing when she comes face-to-face with Harvey in court. "I think that's kind of a lightbulb moment," Jane told us. "That's when we see a sort of strength forming again and she becomes a little bit old Leanne, which I always like doing. Obviously, she's been through what she's been through with Oliver, and she still kept that strength, which I really loved. Even when she might not have been right in places, her decisions might have been questionable at times, I loved the fact they stayed true to that inner Battersby, even though she's grown up and she's kind of a lot more sensible than she used to be. I think the writers have always remembered where she's from, and I'm really keen to keep hold of that, so I think we see old Leanne twinkling in the eyes there at the court."

During the trial, Leanne is shocked when Sharon appears, and turns on Harvey! However, Sharon can hardly be trusted, and Leanne is wary. "I think she smells a rat," Jane mused. "Leanne's not daft- she's lived a life, shall we say. She doesn't trust her as far as she could throw her. I think again, there's more to be explored there with those characters, but as things stand, she doesn't trust her at all."

Cast members across Corrie have been adhering to social distancing measures and keeping two metres apart, and Jane said this can be "frustrating" at times. "To say we're used to it is probably the wrong word, but we'd come off the back of the Oliver story which in a way, the distance leant itself to the way Leanne was feeling and she was pushing everybody away. Obviously with this storyline with Harvey, he was kind of asking her politely to get in the car, whereas on an ordinary day, he would've thrown her in the car, and it would've been much more physical.

"Maybe the scenes would've played out a little differently, but I think the audience understand that there are some things we can't do because we're just not allowed. It is frustrating because your natural instinct, as an actor, is to go forward and hug somebody or touch somebody, and that is really tough at times. We've got used to that way of working, but obviously, it's not ideal and then we're hopeful that things may change in the coming months, with a bit of luck for the world."

Throughout this storyline, Leanne and Nick's relationship has been pushed to breaking point, and while they seem to be supporting each other right now, will it stay that way? "I've dipped into the old classic Corrie's that are on ITV3 at the minute, and Nick and Leanne are very sort of prominent at that time, and it's 24 years ago, so you go: 'Isn't it fab that those two characters are kind of still together?' They've split up, they got back together, they've been off with other people, but Ben and I love working together, we've got a great working relationship and we really trust each other and it's just lovely. 

"We sort of campaigned constantly for those two to be together, just because we like working together and it makes our day nice! But on a serious note, from a creative point of view as well, we want them to have a happy ever after, which I don't think they ever will in terms of life stuff, but hopefully they can see it through together."

At the time Nick first found out about Sam, Leanne had a hard time coming to terms with it after her own tragic loss, but as time goes on, she understands the importance of Nick having Sam in his life. "I think she realises, having lost her own son, how important he is to Nick and how supportive he was bringing Oliver up as his own. I think she feels the same about Sam. There's a beautiful scene where she says: 'I will get sad sometimes, and I will need to be on my own, but that doesn't mean that I can't support you and let you have the life that you deserve.'

"I think that's really nice and I'm glad that they've continued to explore that grief. I know sometimes in soap, we don't like to see too much of that, but in real life, it's always there. Just the odd nod to that is really important."

As Leanne and Sam spend more time together, Jane told us what it's like working with Jude Riordan (Sam) and Alex Bain (Simon). "Alex and I have had some cracking scenes over the years, you know, we've had lots of different storylines together, and now seeing him grow as an actor and be challenged with different things and carrying a lot of the scenes as well, it's been really interesting to explore that, and he's really developing as an actor. 

"Little Jude is just delightful. He's just a joy to be around as well. It's just lovely seeing that innocence and obviously, we've got two very different characters there and different relationships, so it's lovely playing that out, and it means more scope for them as well together, which is really nice."

As Leanne fights for her family in court, is this the last we've seen of Harvey? Jane said: "I kind of feel that because of Covid, I feel like maybe we've not got into it like we could've done, so I'm curious as to see what's going to happen, because it feels a little bit unfinished for me. It feels like it kind of wraps up quite quickly, so I don't know. In soap, anything can happen, right?" 

Sophie Williams 

I'm on Twitter at @sophie_writer1

All original work on Coronation Street Blog is covered by a Creative Commons License

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