Hollyoaks star Ayden Callaghan and his fiancé Sarah Jane Honeywell have revealed why Ayden – who plays Joe Roscoe in the Channel 4 soap – asked to be written out of a storyline where his character loses a baby.
In the recent episodes, Jennifer Metcalfe’s character Mercedes McQueen is heartbroken when her and Joe’s son, Gabriel, is stillborn.
But Mercedes tells Joe he isn’t really Gabriel’s dad, and while in the hospital, she’s comforted by her brother instead.
In a blog post, Sarah Jane explained that the scenes were due to be filmed around the time she was expected to give birth.
The couple previously suffered a tragic miscarriage, meaning that the emotional storyline was a little bit too close to home – and the parallels with real life left Sarah Jane panicked.
“I had just started to feel ok about it all when we got a bombshell.
“Ayden was going to be involved in a storyline on the soap he works at, where he would be the father of a stillborn baby and it would be filming around the time I was due to give birth.
“I hadn’t even thought about the possibility of a stillbirth until then, but now it was firmly in my mind. I just thought, if something does go wrong at our real birth and he is acting that out, I just don’t know how either of us will get through that.
“I lost the plot. I couldn’t even look at baby things or clothes without having blackouts.
“I stopped putting on weight and on scans [the baby] had stopped growing. At this point I begged Ayden, was there any way he could not do that storyline. I knew I was being irrational but I couldn’t help it.
“He didn’t know if he would be sacked, blacklisted and he certainly knew that he would lose money – but he loved me and the baby he hadn’t even met so much that he put his whole career on the line for us.”
Even though she pointed out that it’s “unheard of” for an actor to ask to be written out of a scene, Hollyoaks execs were incredibly understanding, and the pair welcomed their healthy son Phoenix in late 2015.
Another thing Sarah Jane touched upon in her blog post is importance of soaps raising awareness of these issues – something we definitely agree with!
“It’s wonderful that soap operas cover the heartbreaking, barely talked about subject of stillbirth,” she wrote.
“If it’s done well it can help all of us deal with it.”