ITV Emmerdale’s Billy star on cancer fears for 3 young children amid heartbreaking storyline

For most actors, having a baby on set is a delight – they bring an element of surprise to scenes and no one can deny their cuteness. But for father-of-three Jay Kontzle, who plays Emmerdale’s Billy Fletcher, having children on set then going home to his own has been difficult at times – especially with the nature of his storyline, as Billy’s baby is diagnosed with leukaemia.

“It was difficult when we got the storyline because I’d just had another baby in real life,” says Jay, who welcomed a son, Xiao, in November 2022 with his wife, Mimi. “Now I’m worried about my own child and watching him grow – I don’t want something like this happening.

“It happens with everyone, especially as a parent, you become a lot more concerned. That’s why these stories are pivotal in shows, they make you think about it more and become more aware.

“At times this story does grate on me because I’m stressed about my own kids and making sure I’m spending enough time with them, because nothing’s certain, you don’t know what’s around the corner. I get home and it’s full on – one of my children doesn’t sleep at all. It’s more peaceful coming to work!”

Jay and his wife, Mimi, welcomed a son in November 2022
Jay and his wife, Mimi, welcomed a son in November 2022

Billy and his wife Dawn (played by Olivia Bromley) welcomed a son, Evan, last December. But their baby bliss is about to end as Evan is diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, throwing the family into chaos. Billy and Dawn take Evan to get checked out after an incident at home – but the baby’s diagnosis comes as a shock to everyone.

“Basically, Evan has a fall and they take him to hospital and he gets brought home,” Olivia explains. “But then Billy and Dawn notice more bruises, which is unexpected. When they go back to hospital, initially their worry is that as a couple they deal with social services a lot. But actually it turns out Evan has leukaemia and bruising is one of the symptoms.”

Billy and Dawn are left fearing for their son as they realise there are gruelling treatments ahead. And Olivia reveals viewers are about to see another side to the couple.

“What’s quite draining to film is the relationship between Dawn and Billy, which is very strained,” explains Olivia. “They’ve always been a massive support for each other – but what has felt heavy is they are pulling apart and really going for each other. So that’s a difficult element.

Billy and Dawn are devastated when Evan is diagnosed with leukaemia
Billy and Dawn are devastated when Evan is diagnosed with leukaemia

“The last block has been really intense,” Olivia continues. “There’s lots of hospital scenes, and we’re trying to put ourselves in that headspace for a long period of time. Also, we’re working with a real baby who we love and is amazing. But that’s impactful, seeing him in hospital – and I’m sure it is for his parents, too. It brings it home.”

Jay and Olivia work with three children on set, Mabel Addison (who plays Clemmie Reed), Noah Ryan Aspinall (Lucas Taylor), and the newest addition is Malachi McKenzie (Evan). “He’s a really good baby,” says Jay. “He cries on cue sometimes, it’s perfect. The only thing is that we rehearse with a doll, so when we start a take we’ll bring the baby in and he completely changes the delivery.”

“He’s very unpredictable,” adds Olivia. “And that can be quite stressful.”

“I’ll have him in a carrier, and I’ll have to wait until he stops moving to deliver another line,” adds Jay. “It’s like an improv class.”

Olivia teases relationship trouble for Billy in upcoming episodes
Olivia teases relationship trouble for Billy in upcoming episodes

As with most hard-hitting stories on the soaps, Jay and Olivia worked with a charity to ensure they tell the story accurately. The pair met with parents of recently diagnosed children to understand the impact of leukaemia on the whole family.

“We worked with Leukaemia Care,” says Olivia. “We had this amazing conversation with parents whose children have been diagnosed recently. They were really open and generous with their own experience and the impact that it has had.

Billy and Dawn tied the knot in early 2022
Billy and Dawn tied the knot in early 2022

“How this story plays out is that Billy and Dawn’s life is just going on, they have other things to deal with, and this comes as a curveball – it impacts their relationship and their family life. So we spoke to parents and families about how that split-second diagnosis changes everything and you have to deal with it.”

“Everything does change,” agrees Jay. “And we have to respect that people are going through this. They’ll have ups and downs, and we’ll try to portray that as realistically as possible.”

View news Source: https://www.ok.co.uk/tv/itv-emmerdales-billy-star-cancer-32635442

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