Darren and his wife Nancy are shocked in the coming days when they realise that their newborn son Oscar may be deaf, and they soon have even more on their minds when little Charlie starts to feel unwanted and runs away.
Yesterday, actress Jessica Fox gave us Nancy's take on the events in store, but Digital Spy also recently caught up with Ashley Taylor Dawson - who plays Darren - to hear the story from his character's point of view. Read on to find out what he had to say!
How do you feel about being so busy on screen at Christmas and New Year?
"It's exciting - every Christmas there's always a big storyline, so it's great to be involved in that this year. For Darren and Nancy, it's a very exciting time at first because they've got baby Oscar back home, but then a few questions start to arise about his hearing.
"There's a scene where they're putting him to bed, a vase smashes and Oscar doesn't wake up. Nancy and Darren are left wondering why and they realise that he could be deaf, as this can sometimes happen with premature babies."
Did you do any research for the storyline or did the writers take care of that side?
"Whenever you take on a storyline like this, you always do research and look into it. Also, I've had a child myself and I know from experience that when you have a baby, you're on edge from day one until they reach the age of 18!
"We've researched a lot of the issues that we've tackled this year, especially the premature birth. We spoke to real-life parents in the same position so that we could understand what they were going through."
What kind of feedback have you seen for Nancy and Darren's big storylines this year?
"The feedback has been amazing and I think we've touched on issues that people can really relate to. Especially the premature birth - I think when you have a baby and something goes wrong, it can just be the worst moment of your life because you're worrying every single day about whether your child is going to survive or not.
"The response has been incredible through Twitter and fanmail. We've heard from genuine people in the same situations who've told us that we're doing it justice. To hear from those people is really flattering and humbling."
How does Darren feel about Oscar possibly being deaf?
"At first, it's just pure confusion about it. Darren also has some scenes where he's singing to Oscar and he wakes up, so he gets it into his head that everything is fine after all.
"If they learn otherwise when they head to the hospital for Oscar's appointment, it's going to be a big knock and a new chapter for Nancy and Darren's lives, where they'll have to learn how to deal with this."
Darren previously blamed Nancy for the premature birth, so does he start getting annoyed with her again?
"Darren took that to such extremes the first time round, but in his heart of hearts, he does think that he was right to say that it was Nancy's fault. She'd been rushing round and causing stress when she'd already had a miscarriage, so Darren genuinely believes that to risk anything in that situation was ridiculous.
"But when Darren thought that he might actually lose his wife and told her that he wanted a divorce, that was the lowest of the low for him. He's definitely learned from that and he realises that they need to move forward as a family to get through these problems. This time around, he wouldn't dare go back to those arguments, it's more how they're going to deal with it."
What's your take on Charlie feeling unwanted?
"I think it's just the fact that he's not getting the attention. This can happen with a lot of families when they have a child and a newborn baby in the house. It's very difficult for a young child to understand that some attention is going to be taken away from them.
"Due to the stress levels of a crying baby, the parents may not even realise that they're not giving the other child enough attention. I think there's a general atmosphere in the Osborne family at the moment where everyone feels really busy. There's so much going on that they're forgetting about Charlie."
Is Darren heavily involved in the search for Charlie when he runs away and ends up in the woods?
"Yeah, I think Darren keeps his head together better than anyone else on this one. He thinks that it's best not to stress and if they all just go out searching it'll be fine, but you'll have to wait and see whether they manage to find him."
How does Darren feel when Frankie blames Nancy for the situation?
"He's absolutely furious. With everything they've been through and the pressures they've been under, he can't believe that Frankie has got the audacity to speak to Nancy like that. Tension is brewing and it kicks off royally at one point!"
Is there any lighter material ahead for Darren and Nancy in 2013?
"I think with Darren and Nancy, the fun thing that we enjoy playing is the simple scenes. There's always a bit of comedy to be found in life itself, or even in an argument. The petty little squabbles can be serious from the inside, but I think for the viewers they can be quite witty and fun. I think it's good to bring light and shade, as otherwise it would be too depressing and dark."
With Rhys dead, would you like Darren to find a new best friend in the village?
"Yeah, it was not only Rhys but Riley as well - it was a double whammy! I think Darren could really do with a bit of male company - someone just to unwind with and talk to when he needs some help. He needs that, as Darren is not the best person to sort himself out."
Dodger's had a few scenes with Darren recently, so maybe he could take on that role?
"Yeah, I think Darren and Dodger have got very close. Darren is a bit too much of a joker for Dodger in some respects though, like when he was treating everything as a joke when Dodger was finding his dad. But then again, if Darren hadn't stuck at it, Dodger wouldn't have resolved that situation.
"I think those two characters have got a lot of respect for each other, but they're too cool to tell each other!"
A few weeks ago, Darren noticed Esther was feeling down but became distracted and didn't pursue it. How would he feel if he knew about the bullying?
"I think Darren has always got the right intentions and normally with these kind of problems, he'd go the wrong way about dealing with them. But with the young kids, he does have a fatherly role.
"There's a few times where Darren tries to help Esther and talk to her, but once again he's distracted by a phone call, or Nancy or the baby. He's always so close to maybe helping out, but he doesn't realise how serious things are with Esther. Her problems completely go under the radar with everyone because they're so busy with their own lives."
Ruby is being really horrible to Esther, but at the same time, she is grieving. Would the Osbornes sympathise with Ruby in that sense or be angry with her?
"I think the initial response would be pure anger. Ruby isn't a blood relative, but she's one of the family now and she's been with the Osbornes for quite a while. To turn against one of your own like that is despicable if you're an Osborne. I think the initial thought will be pure anger and Ruby would have a very hard time getting over it."
How are you spending Christmas this year?
"I'm just looking forward to being with my family and doing absolutely nothing for the first time ever! Normally I want to go out every night and have fun, but this year I just want to chill, see my friends and family, and that'll be enough for me!"
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