Coronation Street's Jane Danson reveals she worked with real grieving mum who lost child to same disease as Oliver

CORRIE’S Jane Danson has revealed she worked with a real grieving mum who lost her daughter to mitochondrial disease – the same condition as her onscreen son, Oliver. 

The actress, 42, spoke to Liz Curtis, whose eight-month-old little girl Lily passed away from the devastating illness in 2007.   

In the soap, Jane's character Leanne Battersby has been fighting to save her and Steve McDonald's son Oliver but have had to watch as his condition has slowly deteriorated. 

And despite all their efforts and love, this week sees the parents make the heart-breaking decision to turn his life support off. 

Speaking to the Mirror, Jane revealed she worked closely with Liz Curtis, who founded the Lily Foundation, a charity that supports families of children with the incurable disease. 

Liz’s heartbreaking story about losing her own daughter Lily to the illness made Jane determined to do justice to her and other grieving parents.


The actress said: “She [Liz] is just an incredible lady and I took a lot of inspiration from the things she was saying and I just wanted to honour people like her.

“She wanted to do something positive out of something so tragic, which is why she set up the foundation [the Lily Foundation] and she does some incredible work. I don't know whether I would be as strong as that.”

This week Jane’s character Leanne has to say goodbye to her little boy, and the mum-of-two explained that Liz told her about the days after the loss of her daughter. 

Admitting that the script had her sobbing at times, Jane said she's determined to do the storyline – and Liz – justice and hopes that it will help people talk about loss. 


“You have this huge sense of responsibility and part of that is understanding that person and what they've been through,” said Jane.

“It is in parts a very hard watch, even for me… It is hard and it is difficult. Death at any age is a bit of a taboo, and it is a child so it is heartbreaking.”

While preparing for the scenes, Jane revealed how she had to put down her scripts because she was crying so much she couldn't see. 

Calling the scripts “possibly the best” she'll ever have, Jane said: “It’s been really tough. 


“As a parent, it pulls on your heartstrings anyway, but as a parent, it feels even more overwhelming. The scripts have been so wonderful, it’s hard not to cry.

“The last few weeks we've had have been really tough, and the next couple of weeks on-screen are quite full-on.

“I think they're possibly the best scripts I will ever have, in all honesty. I had to put them down several times, because it is truly heart-breaking.

“So it wasn't hugely difficult [to cry] because it is so sad.”

Mitochondrial disease is an inherited chronic illness that can be present at birth or develop later in life.

It causes debilitating physical, developmental, and cognitive disabilities, seizures, learning disabilities and organ failure.  

The Lily Foundation provides support to families, aims to raise public awareness and funds scientific research. More can be found at thelilyfoundation.org.uk

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