Coronation Street’s Michelle has gone through the worst experience of her life this week, giving birth to stillborn son Ruairi.
And Kym Marsh, who plays her, has warned that it will be a long time before viewers of the soap will see the Michelle they recognise, as she comes to terms with her tragic loss.
The soap star told Machester Evening News: “I think in the coming weeks you’re going to see a different Michelle, because she is quite broken at the moment, and so you’re probably not going to see much of the old Michelle.
“You’re going to see someone that many people don’t recognise and that is actually something that I had.
“Nobody recognised me when I had gone through all of that.
“She is broken, she is completely broken and so for a good few weeks, you’re going to see quite a broken Michelle.
“You might start to see glimmers of her in the future storylines but not for a very long time.
“Her flicky eyeliner might be gone for some time.”
Kym and co-star Simon Gregson – who plays on-screen husband Steve – have been roundly applauded for their performance this week, which have left many viewers in tears.
Mum-to-be Michelle realised something was wrong with their unborn child during Monday night’s episode as she celebrated his imminent arrival at a joint baby shower in the Rovers with Leanne.
As the barmaid was rushed to hospital, she shared her worst fears with her fellow pregnant friend.
“What if something has happened to him, I don’t think I’ve felt him move,” she told her.
Worried dad-to-be Steve then arrived.
At first it appeared everything was okay, as the couple was told their baby had a strong heartbeat.
But during Wednesday’s traumatic episode they faced the terrible news they would lose their unborn son.
As Michelle went into labour, the doctor warned her: “I’m afraid that prior to 24 weeks it’s the hospital’s policy not to intervene if he doesn’t breathe.”
Michelle was just a few days shy of that 24 weeks.
“He’s just an innocent baby, we must have done something wrong,” she cried. “I’m a rubbish mum, I was meant to take care of him.”
Steve was frantic that his wife was forced to deliver their baby with the sound of newborns crying around her.
Michelle then gave birth to her life-less child.
Devastated Michelle and Steve decided to name the baby boy, just 23 weeks, Ruairi.
Viewers were moved to share their sadness on Twitter.
Fans were full of praise for Kym Marsh’s performance in particular.
It’s an especially difficult storyline for Kym to portray as the actress lost her own child in similarly tragic circumstances.
She and then-partner, fellow soap actor Jamie Lomas, lost their baby son, Archie, at almost 22 weeks in 2009.
Kym explained that she “thought long and hard” before agreeing to this devastating plot.
“It is obviously a cause very close to my heart having lost my beautiful Archie at 21 weeks and five days,” she revealed.
“I discussed it with my family and friends, all of whom were very supportive.
“In the end I felt it was an important story to tell in order to raise awareness of something which affects thousands of women every year.
“Losing a child is something that never leaves you so to revisit those feelings as Michelle has been challenging.
“Coronation Street ensured that I had a counsellor on set at all times to go to after filming the scenes but for me the best tonic after a hugely emotional day was to go home to my kids and be reminded of how lucky I am to have them.”
Fans of the soap were shocked to discover than Simon and his wife Emma were also too personally familiar with the trauma of losing a baby – they have suffered 11 miscarriages.
Soap boss Kate Oates said of the hard-hitting story: “The subject of miscarriage will always be sensitive.
“But telling this story with Simon and Kym at the centre would always have an extra poignancy.”