Sarah Jayne Dunn, best known as Hollyoaks' Mandy Morgan talks about the special episode which airs tonight and why she feels privileged to be part of the ongoing emotional storyline...
Hollyoaks viewers have seen expectant mum, Mandy Morgan, go through emotional turmoil ever since her unborn baby with diagnosed with spina-bifida.
Here Sarah Jayne Dunn tells all about the special episode that airs tonight on E4, why she is proud to be part of the emotional storyline and what happened when she spoke to mums with children suffering from the condition....
Tell us about the special Hollyoaks episode and what Mandy is going through
Sarah Jayne Dunn: "There is a special disability awareness episode, which follows Mandy, as she takes a journey around the village. She has to make some serious decisions about her unborn baby and she bumps into a few of the characters from the show who have disabilities or additional needs. It helps her come to a decision about her own baby. There is a big charity concert with loads of children involved - it’s lovely and a very emotional episode."
Who does she talk to?
SJ.D "She finds Brooke (who is autistic) upset and crying outside The Dog and has a really nice chat with her, which was a really lovely scene to film with Talia Grant. She bumps into Maxine and Minnie (who has Down's Syndrome), so characters that she has never really crossed paths with before.
"When she arrives at the charity concert, she sees that Oscar’s involved in it and obviously he’s got his hearing impairment. I think it just really opens Mandy’s eyes that people with disabilities are living all around her, and she’s never even noticed that before. I think the fear Mandy has is whether she will be able to cope with a child that has disabilities. It’s a really eye-opening episode, and it was a real privilege to be a part of."
Why hasn't Mandy told Darren that Luke may be the father of her baby?
SJ.D "She is feeling super guilty that she hasn’t told him the baby might be Luke’s but I think she’s going through so much at the moment, and dealing with so many different emotions. Also, the hormones from being pregnant make it so much worse. There is a real possibility that Darren may not want to be a part of their lives after he finds out the truth. She so desperately wants the baby to be Darren’s, she wants them to be a happy family."
How is Mandy and Darren's relationship going?
SJ.D. "At this point, Mandy and Darren’s relationship is a bit strained and they have to make a huge decision about whether to go ahead with the spina bifida surgery. It’s such a huge operation and it’s only just become available in the UK. It’s still new, and not many people have had it yet. It can lessen the effect that the spina bifida might have, and it can also possibly stop the baby having hydrocephalous, which is something the baby can have because of the spina bifida."
How does Mandy feel about the operation?
SJ.D "Mandy wants the operation. I think she feels it’s the best option for their unborn child. She knows it’s a massive risk and she’s still unsure about it, but in her heart of hearts, she believes she’s doing the right thing for the baby. The fact that Darren is against the operation does sway her thoughts. It’s such a tough situation for the both of them, but I can see it from both points of view, and I can see why she’s being like that."
Why does Mandy go to her ex- Luke for advice?
SJ.D "I think because she feels guilty. She knows there’s a chance that the child is his so she believes Luke has a right to know what’s going on and be involved. It’s to ease her own conscience and guilt."
How did you research this storyline?
SJ.D "I’ve been working with a charity called Shine who help people and their families with spina bifida and hydrocephalus. There are charities involved in the Diversity Awareness Day at The Bean, and Shine has a stand there. I asked whether Mandy could wear a yellow jumper, as that’s the colour the charity use and it’s also such a bright and hopeful colour. Shine have been amazing and so helpful. They’ve been on hand to answer all my questions, and I’ve met up with three wonderful mums with kids with spina bifida who were so honest and open about sharing their situations."
Hollyoaks has released a 15 minute documentary today which celebrates the importance of diversity on television (below) which interviews members of the cast, their parents, and crew members, who have disabilities and additional needs.
Executive Producer Bryan Kirkwood says, "At Hollyoaks we really like to celebrate diversity, I grew up in a house that wasn't very well represented on TV at the time and I really like the idea that there are generations of people, from all walks of life, who can grow up watching themselves be represented on Hollyoaks".
You can see the #CelebrateDifference episode today, Monday 4th February on E4 at 7pm
Tess is a senior writer for What’s On TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite and WhattoWatch.com She's been writing about TV for over 25 years and worked on some of the UK’s biggest and best-selling publications including the Daily Mirror where she was assistant editor on the weekend TV magazine, The Look, and Closer magazine where she was TV editor. She has freelanced for a whole range of websites and publications including We Love TV, The Sun’s TV Mag, Woman, Woman’s Own, Fabulous, Good Living, Prima and Woman and Home.
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