Published on 31 August 2022

Insights offered to soap storyline scriptwriters on the realities of living with type 1 diabetes.

Viewers of long-running ITV soap Coronation Street may recently have seen the issue of diabetes-related eating disorders portrayed as part of a storyline involving the character, Summer.

Summer Spellman, played by Harriet Bibby, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last year and in recent episodes has been depicted as struggling with a complicated relationship between managing her condition and her eating.

The 16-year-old character’s issues were exacerbated during a busy period they were preparing to sit their exams.

People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day and closely manage their blood glucose levels.

Recognising the importance of accurately representing the issues faced of people living with type 1 diabetes, expert help was sought by show producers.

DRWF Event Coordinator Lee Calladine, who has type 1 diabetes, was enlisted to review scripts and provide input on what the implications of the plot lines suggested could mean in reality for people living with the condition.

Lee said: “It's been a pleasure working with the creative team at ITV to help provide insight into the many challenges living with and managing type 1 diabetes presents on a daily basis. It's rare to see prominent characters in film and TV who have type 1 diabetes, so it's great that Summer's storyline is bringing the condition to the attention of a large mainstream audience on this much-loved national show.

Coronation Street is playing an important role in raising public awareness of how serious type 1 diabetes is and how important education, peer and healthcare support and good self-management are in managing it to maintain good mental and physical health and live life to the full. 

“So far, I've helped the script writing and fact checking team at ITV with the wording, facts, and scripts for about 12 episodes. I look forward to seeing them come to life on screen and helping with more episodes in the future.”

Coronation Street character Summer Spellman.

Statement from Story Producers at Coronation Street: “By working closely with the research team here at Coronation Street, we have been able to shine a light on type 1 diabetes, a common but often underrepresented condition. Summer's struggles from diagnosis to finally learning how to manage her diabetes has been a huge part of Coronation Street over the past year, and it is a familiar story to many in the real world.

“The team at Coronation Street are grateful to our charity partners including DRWF for their expertise in depicting diabetes as they helped us shape Summer's journey, giving the audience an insight into the challenges the condition can create, along with the help that's available to manage type 1 diabetes. Continuing drama is a unique vehicle that enables us to tell dramatic stories and raise awareness of issues that many people face on a day-to-day basis.” 

Sarah Tutton, DRWF Chief Executive, said: “General awareness around diabetes has grown significantly in past years. However, there is still a lack of understanding of how a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes impacts daily life, in comparison to type 2, for many people.

“Having the support of a charity that works in this area enables us to ensure that the information imparted through story lines is accurate and challenges any pre or misconceptions about the reality of living with a long-term condition.

“It is a conversation starter and a great way to ensure that there is onward referral to a recognised organisation that can provide appropriate support to members of the public.”

Picture: Summer Spellman, played by Harriet Bibby has been learning to manage her recently diagnosed type 1 diabetes, with some advice from DRWF

Read more
Parliamentary inquiry on type 1 diabetes and eating disorders
Read the DRWF diabetes information leaflet A healthy diet and diabetes
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Read DRWF diabetes information leaflets here
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