Coro’s Jane tells

Why I hid from my fans

Woman’s Day (NZ) - - What a Week! - #

As Corona­tionStreet’s Leanne Bat­tersby, Jane Dan­son has seen it all. She’s been beaten up by her own child, be­come ad­dicted to drugs, had nu­mer­ous af­fairs and even turned to pros­ti­tu­tion.

All the while, Jane proved she was clearly born for life in Weather­field, be­com­ing as beloved as the le­gends that went be­fore her.

But now, as she cel­e­brates her 20th an­niver­sary on the TVNZ 1 soap, Jane re­veals a se­cret real-life strug­gle – her overnight fame made her ter­ri­fied to leave her house for a year. While her co-stars hit the clubs and par­ties, Jane locked her­self away, fear­ing pub­lic abuse for be­ing gobby neigh­bour from hell Leanne.

Even to­day, Jane, 38, ad­mits she can still get “over­whelmed” when she re­alises how fa­mous she is. But she has loved her time on the cob­bles so much, she could see her­self stay­ing for an­other two decades.

Jane says, “It’s re­ally weird think­ing it’s been 20 years. My con­tract was ini­tially for three months. I never ex­pected the Bat­ters­bys to be so big. In fact, a poll when we joined said 97% of view­ers wanted Coro to get rid of us!”

In April 1997, Jane, a for­mer child star, ar­rived at Manch­ester’s Granada Stu­dios as a fresh-faced 18-year-old. A huge Corona­tion

Street fan, she was in awe of Bar­bara Knox (who played Rita Tan­ner), Bill Roache (Ken Bar­low),

Anne Kirk­bride (Deirdre Bar­low) and the rest of the cast. But while she couldn’t wait to get to work each day, Jane strug­gled with in­stant fame.

“I couldn’t cope with it,” she confesses. “I had this amaz­ing job and by 19, my own lit­tle house. But I just sat in­side. I’d be scared of some­one throw­ing a drink in my face. Cop­ing with the at­ten­tion was ter­ri­fy­ing.

“So I just sort of stayed at home, ate bis­cuits and put on a stone [6.3kg]. It was good in one sense. You are young and earn­ing money – there are par­ties, drink and other things you might have got in­volved with. So my re­la­tion­ship with my bar­rel of bis­cuits was pretty OK re­ally!”

Turn­ing point

Jane started com­ing out of her shell when she met her hus­band, for­mer Em­merdale star Robert Beck, 46, at the 1999 Bri­tish Soap Awards. Eigh­teen years later, they have two sons, Harry, 10, and Sam, eight, and are one of show­biz’s most en­dur­ing mar­riages.

“He had been there and done it, and said it would be OK,” smiles Jane. “If I’m bru­tally hon­est, I still don’t like be­ing cen­tre of at­ten­tion. I just see my­self as a nor­mal person. I only joined Twit­ter as some­one else was pre­tend­ing to be me!”

She loves, how­ever, that Leanne “has al­ways had fight in her belly” and feels proud when fans say her tough sto­ry­lines have helped them.

In the lat­est, Leanne is strug­gling with teenage step­son Si­mon Bar­low (Alex Bain), who is phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally abus­ing her.

When the do­mes­tic vi­o­lence sto­ry­line was first pro­posed, Jane ad­mits she was con­cerned be­cause she be­lieved her char­ac­ter was so strong, she wouldn’t take ag­gres­sion from a child.

“But the way it’s been done is quite clever,” she in­sists. “Si­mon’s a child who’s been through so much with his dad, with the al­co­holism, and he’s lost so many peo­ple in his life. She’s been the one con­stant, so she’ll never give up on him. Leanne is liv­ing a bit of a night­mare at the minute and she doesn’t know what to do. She’s re­ally reached a low point.

“I would like to see her have some hap­pi­ness, but I think I have to ac­cept that she’s just not one of those char­ac­ters. At the heart of it, though, she’s still a Bat­tersby and she’s tough.”

Nom­i­nated for the Bri­tish Soap Awards in June, Jane feels es­pe­cially hon­oured to be up for a gong in her an­niver­sary year. She says she’s in­cred­i­bly lucky to have spent 20 years work­ing with Corona­tion Street le­gends.

“When I first heard Leanne was go­ing to be work­ing with Rita in The Kabin, I was like, ‘Oh, my God,’” smiles Jane. “I was de­ter­mined to show her that I wasn’t just some kid mess­ing about. And Bill is just awe­some. He never drops a line and he’s so kind.”

Leanne may be cur­rently sin­gle on Corona­tionStreet, but Jane found her real Prince Charm­ing in hus­band Rob, an ac­tor on UK se­ries HomeFires.

She says, “We deal with things to­gether. We have been through good times and some re­ally up­set­ting times. We wrote our own wed­ding vows, and one was to go off and do our own things, which is im­por­tant.”

While Jane says Corona­tion Street is her other “fam­ily”, she is al­ways aware Leanne can still be killed off.

“You can’t take any­thing for granted,” she tells. “In the back of my mind, I know Leanne could die at any point. I would be re­ally sad, but some­times, for the good of the show, things like that must hap­pen.

“The 18-year-old me wanted to con­quer the act­ing world. Now I re­alise I’ve con­quered the world I wanted to con­quer. I’ve got two great kids, a gor­geous hus­band and a fan­tas­tic job. You can’t ask for more. “Would I stay in Corona­tion

Street an­other 20 years? As long as view­ers want me, then why not?!”

Even though she has now “con­quered the world I wanted to con­quer”, the tal­ented star ad­mits, “I still don’t like be­ing cen­tre of at­ten­tion.”

A teenage Leanne runs off to wed Nick Til­s­ley num­ber one (Adam Rickitt). Sin­gle once more more, she’s dat­ing Jamie Bald­win (Ru­pert Hill) ... ... but then has a scan­dalous af­fair with his dad Danny (Bradley Walsh). Jane and her hubby Rob – with their boys Harry (left) and Sam – have been to­gether 18 years. Lean­neanne ex­pe­ri­ence ex­pe­ri­ences no end of trou­ble with Peter Bar­low (Chris Gas­coyne). Lovee with Nick Til­sle Til­s­ley two (Ben Price) fades af­ter a car crash leaves him with brain dam­age. MAR­RIED LOVED-UP DANGER­OUS BOOZ­ING MAR­RIED LOVE, THEN IN SE­CRET AGAIN LIAISON HUBBY & PARTED HEART­BREAK Happy with Kal Nazir (Jimi Mistry), who is killed in a fire min­utes af­ter propos­ing.

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