ON MEETING LEANNE BATTERSBY
AND DISCOVERING JANE DANSON
by Norman Warwick
Jane Danson (left, born Jane Elizabeth Dawson, 8 November 1978) is an English actress. She is known for her portrayal of Leanne Battersby in the ITV soap opera, Coronation Street, between 1997 and 2000, and from 2004 onwards. Her other television credits include Children’s Ward (1995–1997), The Grand (1997) and The Bill (2002–2003). For her role on Coronation Street, Danson won the 2011 British Soap Award for Best Dramatic Performance.
At the age of 12, Danson made her television debut under the name Jane Dawson in the 1991 Alan Bleasdale series GBH playing the part of Eileen Critchley. From 1995 to 1997, Danson played the role of Paula in the ITV children’s television drama Children’s Ward. In 1996, she also appeared in Out of Tune, a British children’s sitcom which was shown on CBBC. She also made an appearance in the first episode of the BBC’s Hetty Wainthropp Investigates which was aired in January 1996.
In 1997, Danson landed parts in the ITV period drama series The Grand, in which she played the role of Monica Jones for seven episodes, and then in the top-rated ITV soap opera Coronation Street, playing teenager Leanne Battersby. The Battersby family were dubbed the “Neighbours From Hell” and made an immediate impact on the long-running show’s loyal audience. Danson left the show in 2000, not long after a harrowing storyline that saw her character become a drug addict. Danson’s next role was as Nurse Samantha Docherty in the drama series Always and Everyone (also known as A&E) from 2001 to 2002. She then later joined the cast of ITV police drama The Bill in 2002. Danson portrayed Gemma Osbourne, the first lesbian police officer in the show’s history. However, the role was short-lived and she left in 2003.
In 2004, Danson rejoined the cast of Coronation Street as Leanne. In early 2006, it was announced that Danson was pregnant and she left Coronation Street at the end of July for maternity leave. She returned to filming in January 2007, making her first appearance back on screen two months later. In January 2007, Danson appeared in the second series of Soapstar Superstar but was eliminated after the overnight vote on the second show. However, a subsequent investigation into malpractice on the part of ITV in viewer voting revealed that while Danson and Tupele Dorgu were both put forward for elimination at the end of the first episode, it had in fact been Verity Rushworth and Leon Lopez who scored lowest in the poll and should therefore have been the two options.
In 2019, Danson took part in the eleventh series of Dancing on Ice alongside professional partner Sylvain Longchambon. Following a skate-off against Melody Thornton and Ryan Sidebottom, Danson and Sidebottom were eliminated in Week 7.
Danson went to Radcliffe High School, Radcliffe near Bury in Greater Manchester. She began dating former Brookside actor Robert Beck in 1999 and the two married in December 2005. The couple met at the 1999 British Soap Awards. Danson said that she had a crush on Beck since she was 15. On their marriage, Danson said in 2018, “Rob’s absolutely my best friend in the world. We’ve only had about two rows in twenty years.” The couple have two sons together: Harry (born July 2006) and Sam (born February 2009). In December 2018, Danson told OK! that she had miscarried a third child, which she and Beck discovered at their three-month scan.
I have happy memories of conducting a live interview with Jane Danson (see our cover) in front of around 400 people at the 2015 Annual Rochdale Literary And Ideas Festival. We had never previously met and had been given no time to plan an interview but things seemed to go very well. She gave considered answers not only to my questions but also those that came in a final q & a session with the audience.
She spoke warmly of fellow cast-members, and gave insights into the character of Leane Battersby that showed the cause and effect some storylines had on the development of the character.
She shared information about her life off screen, saying how precious to her are her family. I was reminded of this when reading an article in The Echo, which reported in August that Coronation Street’s Leanne Battersby actress Jane Danson has paid a heartfelt tribute to her husband on his 54th birthday.
Some fans may be surprised to learn Jane is married to a soap star fans will all recognise. The 43-year-old is married to actor Robert Beck, who has appeared in a number of TV drama series.
Most recently, Robert played Fergus Collins in Hollyoaks, before his character ‘s reign of terror came to a grisly end last year. Fergus was struck over the back of the head with a Champagne bottle by Trish (Loose Women’s Denise Welch).
Robert also starred in Coronation Street from 2008 to 2009 as Jimmy Dockerson, a mechanic and henchman of Tony Gordon, sabotaging the clients of Kevin Webster. The actor has also appeared in Brookside, Emmerdale, Doctors and Waterloo Road.
The couple got hitched in 2005 after meeting at the first Soaps Awards in 1999. They have two children together.