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Beverley Callard struggled with depression storyline

ShowbizBy Sunday World
Beverley Callard struggled with depression storyline

'Coronation Street' star Beverley Callard struggled to watch her on-screen son battle depression.

The 58-year-old actress - who plays Liz McDonald on the ITV soap - has confessed she found it challenging to shoot scenes in which she dismissed her son Steve (played by Simon Gregson) when he told her about his depression as she suffered a mental breakdown sparked by the illness herself in 2008.

The mother of two said: "That was an enormous storyline in the show and Liz reacted in totally the wrong way. The worst way possible... but that is exactly how I'd expect Liz's character to respond because she would not have any empathy with that kind of thing at all.

"Simon was brilliant and the writing was brilliant. And the way Liz responded, the whole, 'Pull yourself together, get your chin up,' mentality is exactly how millions of people still respond to mental illness.

"When I was ill I had people say to me, 'But why are you depressed? You're lovely and slim, you've got a great job, you've got amazing children. Why have you got that?' And then you think to yourself, 'Why have I got this? Am I just making a fuss?' But none of that means anything when you are that ill."

What's more, the cast began shooting the difficult scenes just as Liz's friend of 25 years, the late actress Anne Kirkbride, who played Deirdre Barlow on the soap, was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Liz - who spent 12 weeks in hospital to help her recover - admitted Anne couldn't have been more supportive during her illness.

She told the Daily Mirror newspaper: "When I was really bad I withdrew from anyone and couldn't even speak.

"But when I'd made some improvement I remember Anne always saying to me, 'You WILL get better'."

Beverley added that losing her "work sister" Anne - who passed away earlier this year - has encouraged her to make "every day count".

She explained: "Once you have been that ill it is always a work in progress but I am just grateful for every day when I wake up and feel glad to be alive. There was a time I never thought that would happen again.

"I feel blessed that it has. I'm going to be make very day count and losing someone as special as Annie so suddenly really makes you realise that every single day we have with our family and friends is a gift and I don't want to waste a moment."