Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Baby blues and beyond

Corrie's new mother Claire Peacock is sectioned due to severe post-natal depression on Friday. Newly-married actress Julia Haworth tells about her future plans...

Joe, can you get rid of widows and do caps in local text on page (49)

For a character who is usually so well-balanced and sweet Coronation Street's new mum Claire Peacock has been displaying some very strange behaviour of late.

Soon after giving birth she energetically scrubbed her house down, started decorating and regularly foisted her new baby on various babysitters.

But this week, her behaviour begins to spiral out of control. First she takes her baby to hospital, after getting the idea into her head that the child isn't hers.

After asking the puzzled receptionist where her real baby is, she takes the opportunity to abandon the tot there and then.

"She reaches the point where she can't take any more," says actress Julia Haworth (26) who plays Claire.

"Like you take a pair of shoes back that don't fit, she takes the baby back and says, 'this baby isn't mine'. I know it sounds comical, but in actual fact, she's reached the point of no return.

"Claire is suffering from an extreme form of post-natal depression, or post-natal mania where you don't feel any love, bond or connection with your baby," she explains. "It changes your personality in quite an extreme way."

And things go from bad to worse as the week goes on. When a concerned Ashley tries to explain to his wife she needs urgent help, she pushes the pram with the baby down the hill, where it crashes and tips over.

"It's completely unintentional. Frustrated and angry, she pushes the pram in a fit of rage, but doesn't realise how disastrous the consequences could be."

Luckily the baby is fine, but it's this incident which persuades Ashley he needs to get Claire help, and fast.

"Ashley is really confused. Claire is normally very sane and together and he's seen a complete turnaround in her. He doesn't know what to do."

The butcher ends up tricking Claire into visiting the hospital where she ends up being sectioned by doctors.

"It's hard for Ashley to have her sectioned, and Claire sees it as the ultimate betrayal."

Whatever happens to Claire, Julia reckons the experience is bound to change her.

"Claire will be fragile for a while. Something so huge must have an impact. You can treat post-natal depression with anti-depressants and counselling, but you can't just click your fingers and it gets better. It's not an overnight thing."

Portraying Claire's struggle meant lots of research.

"I spoke to people who had suffered. Some had suffered badly, others just got severe baby blues. I also searched the internet and read books."

Luckily, Claire's trials and tribulations don't extend into Julia's life off the Corrie cobbles. Following her marriage in May to accountant Jon Wormald, she couldn't be happier.

"Married life is brilliant. I absolutely love it. There's this grin over my face whenever anyone mentions it. I'm very happy."

But at the moment, the couple have no plans for children.

"One day we will. They're not on the immediate to-do list.

"I don't think I'd have time for morning sickness. And I can't really say what kind of mum I'd be because I thought Claire would be the perfect all-round mum but that's not the case.

"The only thing I'd say is, if I were a tenth of the mum that my Mum is, I'd be very happy."

Although she's been part of the Coronation Street cast for three-and-a-half years, it's only recently that Claire has been involved in some of the more dramatic stuff in Weatherfield - Ashley's son Joshua's biological dad Dr Matt Ramsden caused friction, before Claire's post-natal depression storyline.

"Up until then, Claire's been in the background, but it's really nice to be at the front of it for a while. You've just got to wait your turn."

However, there's one thing about Claire that Julia would certainly change.

"We have a huge difference in the wardrobe department. Claire is a disaster area. She likes conservative clothes and her dresses are about 40 years too old."

On her days off Julia also indulges her passion for script writing - she's recently completed a six-part comedy with a writing partner and is also penning her own drama.

But right now, she's happy to concentrate on acting.

"Work brings a smile to my face because I love my job.

"I feel very lucky to be in the tiny minority who feel happy to go into work."

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