Diabetes on TV: Soap Opera Characters

Diabetes on Television

Soap operas are renowned for their dramatic and often implausible story lines but occasionally they bring exposure to a real-life issue. For many of us, our weekly soap fix is a guilty pleasure, seeing the characters we both love and love-to-hate develop. Forget bizarre love triangles, gory deaths and jealous tiffs – soaps can actually bring much needed attention to medical conditions such as diabetes. There has been a good deal of talk in the media recently about a new Hollyoaks’ character played by Alfie Browne-Sykes who has Type 1 Diabetes. As Diabetes Life Insurance specialists and avid soap fans, Your Life Protected have been following this story closely. We also thought it was a good excuse to take a look at some other diabetes storylines and soap star diabetics past and present:

Characters with Diabetes on TV

Hollyoaks – Jason Roscoe

Nothing shakes up a soap opera like the arrival of a new family and this is likely to be case with the introduction of the Roscoe Family to Hollyoaks. One of the Roscoe boys, Jason, played by Alfie Browne-Sykes has Type 1 diabetes. It is clear that Jason’s Type 1 diabetes is significant to his character. His mum is always nagging him to take his insulin and eat healthily for starters. Jason’s Diabetes has already resulted in a major storyline too when he gets trapped in a car with his blood sugar levels dropping rapidly. In a recent interview with Diabetes UK, Browne-Sykes explained how much had gone into making the scenes accurate: “I had some kind of idea of the symptoms and how serious it was but not a lot else. Since joining Hollyoaks the research team has done a brilliant job of providing me with loads of information.” The director of the dramatic episode, Paul Reardon, has a son with Type 1 diabetes. This has clearly brought a realistic edge to the drama, with the director drawing upon his own experiences. It will be interesting to see how the family and Jason in particular develop within Hollyoaks.


Neighbours – Danni Stark

Everyone’s favourite Antipodean soap, Neighbours (start whistling theme tune now) has given us some treats over the years. Kylie and Jason’s romance, Harold and Madge, Doctor Karl Kennedy and his ill-fated rock career, Toadie and his wild-child antics – Neighbours has certainly provided much in the way of entertainment. It is not, however, always known for the believability of its storylines. Having said that, diabetic Danni Stark (played by Eliza Szonert) featured in several plausible diabetes storylines in the soap opera. Her life in Ramsay Street did not get off to a good start after she was seen injecting herself and mistaken for a drug addict. Despite this initial hiccup, Danni appeared to be managing the condition fairly well whilst keeping it as quiet as possible – something not always easy to do in the nosier than thou Melbourne suburbs. Danni had one memorable storyline when she went clubbing but left her diabetes bracelet behind. Later when she collapsed, the local police presumed she had just had too much hooch. Danni later joined a group for young diabetic people, raising awareness of such support networks Down Under.


Coronation Street – Katy Jane Harris (previously Nelson) 

There’s every chance that most existing medical conditions have had an airing in Coronation Street – it is the world’s longest-running TV soap after all. But Katy Jane Harris’s diabetic character in the Manchester soap opera was a memorable one. The Corrie character, portrayed by Lucy-Jo Hudson, discovered she was diabetic and very soon after ended up falling in love with the nurse who helped her inject her daily insulin shots. Katy and nurse Martin Platt became amorously involved despite a 20 year age gap. At Your Life Protected we haven’t heard of similar love stories happening in real life but who’s to say it can’t happen.

Corrie Fact: Eileen Grimshaw who plays factory worker Sue Cleaver is a real-life diabetic and has been an active campaigner for awareness for a number of years. Find out which other famous celebs have diabetes in our recent blog.


Emmerdale – Kerry Wyatt

Since her debut in July 2012, Kerry Wyatt’s Emmerdale antics have been big on drama and short on subtlety. The small rural community has been rocked by Kerry with her antics often the source of much gossip in the Woolpack. Despite being in the village for less than a year, she’s already fallen into a diabetic coma. It will be interesting to see how the Emmerdale writers develop Kerry’s character and bring further awareness to the Diabetes condition.  If you want to keep up to date with Diabetes news and for information on Diabetes Life Insurance then follow Your Life Protected on Twitter @yourlifeprotect.

Home and Away – Ruby Buckton

The portrayal of Ruby’s diabetes in Aussie soap Home and Away was fairly realistic. In the show, Ruby exhibited many of the easily recognisable diabetes symptoms including sweating and needing the toilet constantly, bucking the soap opera trend of no-one going to the toilet, ever. More dramatically, Ruby vomited on one-time love interest Xavier as well as experiencing momentary blackouts. It was when Ruby was found unconscious on her bed that she was diagnosed with diabetes. She was later hospitalised with low blood sugar after missing a meal. Unfortunately, her romantic life was even more turbulent than her diabetes condition.

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