Coronation Street's Fiz and Tyrone fear for their sick daughter Hope
Tyrone and Fiz have been living a nightmare lately on Coronation Street with their treasured daughter Hope battling cancer.
"It's all their worst nightmares, all their worst fears rolled into one," says actor Alan Halsall, who plays Tyrone. "It's hard to imagine what that must do to them...
"I've fortunately never had to go through anything like it but it must be devastating."
Halsall and his wife, former Coro Street actress Lucy-Jo Hudson (who played Katy Harris), have one daughter, Sienna-Rae, who turns four in September. So this storyline is hitting close to home for Halsall.
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Despite trying to put on a brave facade for their family and friends, Fiz and Tyrone have been constantly fearful that five-year-old Hope will die – following the same path as their beloved Hayley Cropper, who also had cancer and later died.
The couple are well aware that every milestone Hope reaches could be her last.
So in a bid to create wonderful memories, Tyrone has gone all out to give Hope (and their other daughter Ruby) an extra special Christmas.
Tyrone wanted to take Hope to Lapland for Christmas but when they couldn't afford it, he decided to bring Lapland to Weatherfield.
"Tyrone wants to make whatever time he's got now (with Hope) ... as special as possible for the children," says Halsall. "He wants to give them the best Halloween, the best Bonfire Night and, of course, the best Christmas. Hope's face lights up when he mentions Lapland and he just can't say no. She's his little girl ... He wants to give them a fantastic Christmas."
Jennie McAlpine says her character, Fiz, is far more practical than Tyrone and would never agree to spending money they don't have.
"She'd be happy with a Christmas tree and a bit of fake snow," laughs McAlpine, "as long as they are all together on Christmas Day."
But, that said, Fiz loves the effort Tyrone has made for the girls.
"The Street looks absolutely incredible," says McAlpine. "He really has brought Lapland to Weatherfield or, rather, our amazing design team has. It is just so magical and it even felt colder on the street than anywhere else.
"There are Christmas trees, pantomime reindeer, Santa, elves, snow, giant presents, a carousel. It was like being in Lapland. The children involved in the scenes were very excited, but so were the adults."
However, Fiz is likely to be less impressed once she discovers the full extent of their money woes.
Although Tyrone is in financial strife, he has tried not to dwell on it.
"He's just so caught up in it and it's a lovely quality, that in his mind he just wants the best and thoughts about whether they can afford it go out the window," says Halsall. "They just don't come into it ... He thinks this is what she'll love."
But, after another setback, whether Hope will be out of hospital in time for Christmas is still up in the air. The best Christmas present Tyrone and Fiz could hope for is for Hope to win her cancer battle.
Although Hope is not Tyrone's biological child (her father was John Stape), Tyrone always tries to treat her exactly the same as Ruby (who is his child with Kirsty Soames).
"Tyrone very much sees himself as Hope's father," says Halsall. "There was a moment when Fiz mentioned it but I think she immediately regretted it. It was just the emotion and the fear flooding in making her say things that she didn't mean."
Tyrone and Fiz have always been an upbeat couple and they have tried to stay positive in a bid to protect their children.
"The fears are there for Tyrone and Fiz as Hope's parents," says Halsall. "But they are trying to mask those fears for the sake of their children. So it's a real mixture of emotions for them ... So I think they are fearing the worst but they're trying to keep positive on Hope's behalf so she doesn't realise the seriousness of what's going on."
Coronation Street, TVNZ 1, Thursday to Saturday.
- TV Guide