Nancy is delighted to finally have her baby son Oscar home for the first time since his premature birth in October. However, it's not long before she and husband Darren (Ashley Taylor Dawson) realise that the youngster isn't responding to sounds, which leads them back to the hospital to seek answers.
With Oscar understandably the focus of attention at the moment, Nancy's nephew Charlie starts to feel unwanted. As the situation comes to a head, Charlie runs away and ends up unconscious when he loses his footing out in the woods…
Digital Spy recently caught up with Jessica Fox, who plays Nancy, to hear more about the dramatic events in store.
How do you feel about being so busy on screen at Christmas and New Year?
"It's really exciting. I think everyone wants to be doing the Christmas material, because there's always something really dramatic going on at this time of year. I don't think I've had a Christmas storyline for a while and it's nice that this one is very family-orientated, so hopefully it will go down well with the viewers."
How have the fans responded to the other big storylines you've had this year?
"This year has been absolutely amazing, and I've enjoyed it so much. The material I've had has been wonderful and the response that I've had from viewers has been really overwhelming. People really seem to have supported Nancy and Darren through the build-up to the wedding, the miscarriage and then Oscar's premature birth.
"It's been a big old year. I think the fans want Nancy and Darren's relationship to work out, and for them to have a bit of happiness in the New Year."
The Christmas period starts off on a happy note for Nancy…
"It does, because it's amazing for her to finally have Oscar home. Throughout the time that Oscar has been in hospital, she hasn't really been able to concentrate on too much else, as I'm sure anyone who has a poorly baby in hospital would understand.
"Once Nancy has Oscar home, it seems that everything is coming together and is going to be perfect now. Nancy has got her husband, she's got her child, she's got Charlie and the rest of the family. For a moment it seems like everything is going to fall into place and be wonderful!"
When do the Osbornes realise that Oscar may have a hearing impairment?
"Well, Oscar is crying constantly, nobody is getting any sleep and tensions are running quite high. One day, Nancy has finally got Oscar off to sleep when Darren comes barging in and drops a vase on the floor right next to Oscar's crib, but he doesn't wake up. That's when Nancy and Darren suddenly think, 'Hang on a minute…'.
"When Oscar was born prematurely, Nancy and Darren were told that there could be difficulties with his development, and hearing was one of the things that was mentioned by the doctor. So automatically, alarm bells start going off."
Had they prepared themselves for this?
"I don't think so - their focus has been on getting Oscar home, and I don't think they've really thought beyond that. When this new issue arises, they're not really sure how to deal with it."
Darren has previously blamed Nancy for the premature birth, so does that issue crop up again?
"Yes, I think the problem of Oscar's premature birth is something that will continue to affect Nancy and Darren. It's not something that Darren can ever quite forgive Nancy for, and it's definitely not something that Nancy will ever forgive herself for.
"When problems like this do arise, all of those old feelings come up again and Darren doesn't know how to deal with it. Nancy desperately wants Darren to say that it's all going to be okay and they'll get through it, but he's not able to do that for her."
One of the sixth formers, Dylan, is a deaf character currently in the village. Could he become involved in the storyline if Oscar does turn out to be deaf?
"It all depends on what the outcome is when Nancy and Darren seek advice at the hospital over Oscar's hearing, but if the storyline does go further, I think it would be a very sweet friendship if Dylan was to come into the fold. Dylan is already friends with Esther, so maybe he could teach Nancy and Darren some sign language if they do find out that Oscar is deaf."
You're close friends with Rachel Shenton (Mitzeee), who does a lot of work with the deaf community. Have you spoken to her about the storyline?
"Yes, we've talked about it quite a lot. She's always teaching me little bits of sign language anyway and if the storyline does go ahead, I'll definitely be asking her for more advice! If it does turn out to be the case that Oscar is deaf, I also think it'd be nice for myself and Ashley to take some classes and actually learn sign language. That would be amazing."
Throughout this period, Charlie is feeling unwanted. Why is that?
"I think when a new baby comes into a family, some of the older children can sometimes feel a bit left out. With everything that's going on in the mad Osborne house, Charlie is almost bottom of the queue because everyone else is demanding so much attention.
"When Charlie does try to get some attention, unfortunately he faces the wrath of Nancy's temper, because she's at the end of her tether and exhausted with so many commitments. Nancy's outburst frightens Charlie and he ends up running away."
Do the Osbornes have any idea where Charlie might be?
"They're clueless to begin with. He leaves a heartbreaking note saying, 'I know you don't want me anymore'. They go rushing off to look for him, and you'll see that Callum Kane ends up having a theory on where he might be. They go looking in the woods for him, but you'll have to wait and see how it turns out…"
We've heard that Frankie is quick to blame Nancy for this situation. How does Nancy react?
"Nobody is harder on Nancy than Nancy herself. When someone like Frankie or Darren says, 'Yes, that is your fault', it makes Nancy feel so much worse, but she also bites back! She can't help herself - she's got a fiery temper and if you push Nancy far enough, she will turn on you. Frankie says that Nancy is a bad mother, but Nancy fires back very strongly.
"You'll see that Darren is actually quite supportive of Nancy in these arguments. It's nice that he's backing her up on this occasion."
As well as drama, Nancy and Darren do comedy really well. Will there be lighter material ahead in 2013?
"We've got a really exciting year coming up. I think and hope that there'll be a lovely mix of both comedy and drama. Sometimes you can have humour even in the most tragic of circumstances, which I think Hollyoaks is very good at. Hopefully that will come through in the New Year with the material that we're working on."
How would the Osbornes feel if they found out about Esther's bullying ordeal?
"I think they'd be absolutely devastated. All of them would feel as if they've let Esther down massively. The guilt will be very hard for them to bear."
Will Nancy's friendship with John Paul be revisited?
"Yes, we've filmed a couple of scenes together so far, which has been lovely. I think they'll have a friendship that will develop. John Paul doesn't really know anybody in the village yet, and I'm one of the few that's left over from when he was here before."
How will you be spending Christmas this year?
"It'll be a family Christmas, so I'll be spending a lot of time with my mum, my dad, my sister, my two grandmothers and all the cats! Hopefully I'll be spending a lot of it in my pyjamas, too!"
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