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Hannah Ashworth

Hannah Ashworth is a fictional character on the long-running British Channel 4 television soap opera Hollyoaks. She is played by actress Emma Rigby. At The British Soap Awards 2008 Emma Rigby won Best Actress award for her portrayal of Hannah Ashworth. In 2007, Hollyoaks decided to put Hannah at the centre of a controversial storyline in which she suffered from the eating disorders anorexia and bulimia. This storyline attracted much attention from the press and viewers.

The character also appears in the book Hollyoaks: Truth or Dare.

Character history

Once sunny and outgoing, tragedy has taken its toll on Hannah. She battled anorexia, a disease that will affect her for the rest of her life, and put up with the constant drama revolving around her family. Her eating disorder, being dumped by her boyfriend, and Grace Hutchinson's death nearly destroyed her and shattered her self-confidence, but with the love and support of her family she is recovering one day at a time.

Arrival

Hannah moved into the Hunter family's old home with her parents Neville and Suzanne, and brothers Rhys and Josh in the summer of 2005. Hannah's storylines were initially fairly light-hearted, playing pranks on her brother Josh and cousin Fletch by pretending to be the fabled 'Hollyoaks beast'. (Although Hannah at this time was supposed to be 16, actress Emma Rigby was herself only 15 and therefore subject to the UK child employment laws which limited her availability for filming).

Her first plot development of any real note came when Nancy and Hannah were babysitting Tony and Mandy Hutchinson's daughter Grace, during which time, she died due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Hannah was understandably traumatised by this experience and ran away in tears from Grace's funeral when she saw Grace being carried inside the church.

Relationship with John Paul McQueen

However, in time Hannah was able to get over Grace's death and move on with her life. After completing her GCSEs and starting sixth form, Hannah fell for her new class mate John Paul McQueen and their friends Sarah and Craig, who were also dating, tried to help set them up as a couple. Although at first the relationship appeared to be going well, John Paul was clearly uneasy and his hesitance made the relationship a struggle. When they eventually had sex, John Paul realized he didn't want a relationship and broke up with her. Hannah was unaware John Paul was actually struggling with his homosexuality, and was attempting to conceal it by pretending to be attracted to Sarah. This deception caused problems in Sarah's relationship with Craig and Hannah's friendship with Sarah.

It was not until February 2007 that Hannah found out that John Paul was gay after spotting him kissing Craig. Although she thought that they could get through it, she was proved wrong when John Paul admitted his sexuality, leaving her devastated. It took Hannah a long time to accept the fact that they were not going to get back together. She was friendly to him and tried to be near him whenever she could. She even pretended to be dating someone so he wouldn't think she was still hung up on him. During this period of hopefulness she attempted to sabotage John Paul's new relationship with Spike. However, breaking up with John Paul has left a much more serious mark on Hannah than a simple case of jealousy.

Suffering from Bulimia/Anorexia Nervosa

Hollyoaks decided to put Hannah at the centre of a controversial storyline which involved Hannah suffering from the eating disorders Anorexia/Bulimia. This storyline attracted much attention from the press and viewers.

During and after her difficult on-off relationship with John Paul, Hannah began binging and purging, her first time being on New Years Eve. When John Paul admitted he was gay, Hannah was convinced that she was the cause. Convinced that she had made John Paul gay and that she was undesirable because she was overweight, Hannah started binging and purging regularly. This quickly became a vicious cycle of behaviour, and had a terrible effect on her previously sweet and kind personality. After family meals Hannah made excuses to go to the bathroom and when in the bathroom, Hannah threw up her food. Hannah was seen binging and purging junk food such as chocolate and sweets and then making herself sick. Hannah had been binging and purging for 6 months but Hannah's bulimia was exacerbated with the emergence of Sarah's model friend Melissa Hurst.

Hannah's bulimia turned into anorexia and Melissa (who suffered from bulimia and was now anorexic) offered the confused Hannah some tips to lose weight discreetly in order to become a model. Melissa told Hannah that they both must exercise regularly and do 100 sit ups morning and night. Melissa contributed to Hannah's compulsive eating habits, even taking food away from Hannah so she was not 'tempted'. Melissa told Hannah that they would only be drinking water and eating very little. Hannah was also seen looking at herself in the mirror and seeing herself as being very fat in the mirror when actually she is very skinny. Whilst Hannah's family were on holiday, Gilly agreed to 'keep an eye on' Hannah to the annoyance of the increasingly paranoid girls. Gilly soon began to express concern over Hannah's diet and moodiness, suspecting that she was on drugs after overhearing Melissa give her laxative pills. He was confused when Hannah brought strange boys home and tried to protect her, much to Hannah's fury. When Hannah came back with a boy one night Gilly chucked the boy out of the house and Hannah reacted by viciously lashing out at Gilly and scratching him in the face. This made Gilly's cheek bleed and Hannah fled to her room and started crying.

John Paul and Sarah had also become suspicious of Hannah's weight loss and change in behaviour, believing mistakenly that she was on drugs after Sarah misinterpreted a private conversation between her and Melissa in the SU Bar. That same evening, Hannah fainted due to her anorexia, after feeling ill and dizzy. The day after Hannah passed out Hannah asked Melissa if she knew why she had collapsed but Hannah was reassured by Melissa's claims that she fainted because her body was merely adapting to the change. Hannah's mother also became increasingly concerned about Hannah, and her anxieties were fuelled by Sarah's claims that Melissa was a bad influence on Hannah and that she fears they were taking drugs to keep thin. Suzanne confronted Hannah about Sarah's accusations, but she denied everything and her mum agreed to give her the benefit of the doubt. Hannah, furious at Sarah marched round Sarah's house, confronted her and called her a jealous bitch. Hannah then slapped Sarah in the face and ran back home leaving Sarah confused. Hannah then turned on both Sarah and Gilly and was cruel to them.

When Melissa went round to Hannah's house Melissa proudly modelled the size zero dress in front of her which Melissa could now fit into. Hannah was proud of Melissa for reaching the size zero goal but was sad she could not fit into the dress herself. She was then reassured by Melissa that Hannah would one day be able to fit into the size zero dress and Melissa was even more pleased with Hannah when Hannah revealed that she had only had 300 calories in the space of a couple of days and that Hannah's body mass index was 16.4. As Hannah and Melissa carried on starving themselves Gilly got even more convinced that Hannah was on drugs Hannah got annoyed of Gilly's interference and threatened Gilly with a claim that he had raped her. Nonetheless, Gilly did express his concerns to Suzanne, who reacted by throwing Melissa out the house, after Melissa told her that she and Hannah had taken speed to try and cover up for their eating habits. Hannah's mood swings once again kicked in and she became horrible and vocally abusive towards her mother.

Hannah was distraught when she discovered that she performed badly in her A Levels. Distressed and angry and having heeded Melissa's comment that she should steer clear of her other friends who may 'discourage' her dieting, she turned on them and abused each of them vocally, leaving them shocked and confused at her irrational behaviour.

Turning her back on her old friends, Hannah began to fall further under Melissa's influence. As Hannah and Melissa went to the gym loads of times and jogged around the village for hours each morning. The situation came to a head when Rhys returned from France and decided to have a barbecue. When Melissa attempted to hit on Rhys and refused to let Hannah eat a burger, Rhys expelled Melissa from the barbecue, enraging Hannah, but she had more pressing problems to worry about when Melissa fell in to a coma in the street caused by her anorexia and was rushed to hospital. Deeply worried, Hannah tried desperately to find out what had happened to her and was shocked to be told she was in intensive care. With Suzanne still convinced Hannah was taking drugs, she tried to convince her mum her recent behaviour was because Gilly was sexually abusing her. Suzanne and Rhys believed her at first and Rhys punched Gilly and threw Gilly out the house while Hannah cruelly smirked at what she had done. Worried, Suzanne suggested Hannah go see Sarah. Instead, she went to see Melissa in hospital and was shocked to see her sickly thin and hooked up to a drip. When Hannah started applying make-up to Melissa's face, as Melissa was so weak she could not open her lip gloss. Melissa asked how she looked. 'Stunning' (Hannah). 'Thought so' (Melissa). There is a montage showing the machines, drips, Melissa's bones sticking out and Hannah's family looking for answers back at home. Hannah also told Melissa she was the best thing to ever happen to her. When Hannah returned home, she discovered Suzanne, Gilly and Rhys had searched her room and discovered the truth about her eating disorder. Upset, and in denial about her condition Hannah refused to listen to her mother and attempted to run away before collapsing in tears in her mother's arms.

After days of abuse from Rhys, being hounded by Suzanne and having her condition misunderstood by Neville, Hannah felt she needed to escape, and engineered a plot to escape the country with Melissa, in fear that if Melissa kept getting force-fed she will get fat. Breaking her friend out of hospital, the duo found a flaw in their plan and had to return to Hannah's home to retrieve her passport. Confronted by a confused Suzanne, Melissa collapses of a heart attack, led by lack of food and body abuse, and died shortly after. Hannah then cradled Melissa's lifeless body and began crying hysterically.

Events following Melissa's death

Hannah saw visions of Melissa, whilst mourning the loss of her friend, the vision convinced her that her family will use her death against her and force her to eat again. Hannah vowed not to allow that to happen. In another vision Hannah had a flashback of when Melissa was modelling the size zero dress and when Hannah struggled to zip it up the vision of Melissa zips it up for Hannah. Hannah and the vision of Melissa then had a discussion about old times. In an effort to help, Suzanne invited Sarah and Nancy over and told them about Hannah's condition. "Hannah's not ill, well she is ill but not with pneumonia like I told you... Hannah's anorexic." They talk to her and it results in Sarah badmouthing Melissa, causing Hannah to leave in distress. Sarah and Nancy find her again in the village, persuading her to talk to them again they get to the bottom of why she has the disease. It ends in another shouting match where Sarah says 'it's not the conditions that are the problem, you want a friend who'll tell you what you're doing is okay and I'm sorry I just can't'. In the end the pair hug and Hannah waves goodbye to the vision of Melissa.

However, she appears to still be reluctant to eat and has a long way to go in overcoming her anorexia. While Rhys did manage to patch up his relationship with Hannah, and convince her to join him for a meal in Il Gnosh, as soon as Rhys left Hannah to go to the shop, Hannah was sick in an alley. It is unclear whether Hannah made herself sick or if it was due to her anorexia.

Hannah continues to hide the seriousness of her illness from her family. As Melissa's funeral drew closer, Hannah became more and more depressed, despite Rhys and Sarah's support. In a further attempt to hide the truth from her mum, Hannah tried a new look and style, even asking for food, only to hide it when Suzanne's back was turned. It all became too much when Hannah was caught in the middle of an argument between Sarah and John Paul, during which Hannah starts having panic attacks. Both Suzanne and Sarah try to convince themselves it's a delayed reaction from her condition, after a search of her room initially finds no sign of hidden food. Later, after noticing the carpet has been pulled up, Suzanne discovers the rotting remains of food Hannah had been hiding under the floor boards.

After the discovery, Hannah locked herself in her room and refused to talk to her family, and when they offered her food she refused and asked them to leave her alone. When Hannah finally came downstairs for a glass of water Suzanne realised how sickly thin and ill Hannah was. So Suzanne decided to call the doctor to speak to Hannah but Hannah is cross her family has done this and refuses to listen. After many attempts to talk to Hannah by her family and the doctor Hannah continues not to co-operate so Suzanne has Hannah sectioned under the Mental Health Act and she's taken to hospital against her will. Hannah is held in an eating disorder unit but finally deemed fit for release on 16 November, 2 months after Hannah was sectioned in the eating disorder unit.

Road to recovery

Hannah came home from the hospital to surprise everyone with her mum. What they didn't know was that it was also Beth's birthday, and the other Ashworths were celebrating with a party. Hannah unfortunately comes home right in the middle of this party - to be confronted by the party food. Hannah still has problems but she is getting better. The Ashworths began family therapy and Hannah was forced to confront the problems which led to her decline.

The next day she goes out with Sarah and Nancy, whom she has not seen since she went into the Eating Disorder Unit. At the pub she catches the eye of Danny Valentine; after flirting they exchange phone numbers. Danny does not yet know about Hannah's problems and she narrowly avoids having to explain she cannot drink because of the medication she was on.

A sisterly bond formed between Hannah and Beth; Beth set her up with Danny Valentine. Hannah asked her to reconsider leaving the Ashworths and Beth moved into Hannah's room.

On a double date with Justin Burton and Katy Fox in the Dog, Hannah saw visions of Danny, Justin and Katy stuffing crisps down their throat - causing Hannah to run off, mortified. Justin had to tell Danny about Hannah's eating disorder. Danny appeared to be very sympathetic and they agreed to take things slowly, while Hannah found a new friend in Katy who herself knew an anorexic girl at school. Hannah was worried when a brick was thrown through the house window and nearly hit Beth. The Ashworth family then realised they were being stalked as Beth got a Christmas card from Noel who is now dead.

Following her illness, Hannah was finally able to start at HCC in the New Year. On 18 January 2008, Hannah went over to see Nancy following her call from The Dean. Jake was annoyed at Hannah for telling Nancy that she will be fine going back to college and that they should celebrate over The Dog. Jake said it was up to Nancy whether she went back. Hannah began thinking that Jake and Nancy's relationship might be controlled by Jake, and told Russ and John Paul, who both seemed to agree with her.

After, she had had some time to get her head together, Hannah asked Danny Valentine out again and the two went to 'Il Gnosh'. The date goes rather well, until Danny decides it would be romantic to eat spaghetti and meet in the middle, like in the Disney film Lady and the Tramp, and held a forkful of pasta in her face. This reminded Hannah of when Josh had tried to force feed her, she panicked and ran out of the restaurant crying. As if that wasn't enough, Danny's ex-fiancée Michelle turned up in the village and it emerged Danny had spun her a pack of lies about joining the army because he was too scared to break up with Michelle any other way. Danny and Hannah later got back together at Sarah Barnes's house party.

Relapse

After her dad disapproved of Danny and he dumped her Hannah had a small relapse. She bought food and laid it out on the bed, she later asked Rhys to sit with her to make sure she didn't do anything she'd regret later. She told Rhys she did the first thing that popped into her head which was to binge. Rhys stayed up the whole night with Hannah making sure she did not binge and throw up. The next day Beth invited Hannah out for a drink and they bumped into Danny in the Dog. After Justin left Danny on his own, he ventured over to Hannah and asked her to come outside so he could talk to her. When Hannah told him that she nearly purged the night before because he dumped her, Danny immediately regretted dumping her and he apologised and admitted that he wanted what was best for her. He asked Hannah's forgiveness and they made up. Hannah was a lot happier to be back with Danny.

Danny planned a romantic picnic with Hannah - which they enjoyed in the stockroom of Drive'N'Buy. Unfortunately her plans to take their relationship to the next level were thwarted by the arrival of Neville. When details of Rhys's relationship with Beth emerged, Hannah was initially strong and forward-looking but when Danny refused to sleep with her, she returned home and binged on food and cant stop until she is sick. Hannah became increasingly worried that she was slipping back into her old ways and her father's reassurances seemed to calm her. The next day, she split up with Danny because she felt that their relationship was not working. Danny shouted to her that he loved her and when she got home she realised she had made a mistake and ran back to Danny saying she loved him too. They both went back to her house and she explained that she had another relapse and it was because of Rhys and Beth's affair. They both went upstairs and she left her phone. She didn't know that her father was trying to phone her about Rhys' accident. However, she did soon find out when she saw all the missed calls and she was informed that Rhys was unconscious and Beth was dead. She then collapsed into Danny's arms in tears.

End of relationship with Danny

Mercedes McQueen bet Darren Osbourne he couldn't get Hannah into bed - and that if he succeeded, she would sleep with him as the prize. Darren plied Hannah with drink and walked her home, but she was so drunk things did not progress further. He did, however, take a photo of Hannah in a state of semi-undress but in an attack of conscience deleted it from his phone. Mercedes got Elliott to recover the photo which found its way to Danny.

A furious Danny swung for Darren, but feeling betrayed by Hannah he slept with Mercedes. Once word reached Hannah of his indiscretion she broke up with Danny, this time permanently. Since Hannah has regained control over her life, and seems to be coping relatively well. Hannah has recently announced she will be running for entertainment officer, which she eventually won as Elliot spoiled the vote in her favour.

Future Storylines

Emma Rigby has stated in an interview with Inside Soap that Hannah will become cosy with another Hollyoaks resident in the coming months, shedding some happiness into her life. Hannah has been rumoured to suffer from another relapse shortly, although this is yet to be confirmed.

External links

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