‘I felt so helpless’: ITV Corrie actress Rebecca Ryan on her co-star brother being diagnosed with testicular cancer


Coronation Street brother and sister duo Rebecca and Jack James Ryan shared their pride in each other as they joined the long-running soap last year.

Rebecca, who plays stalker Lydia Chambers in the soap, says she and her younger brother, who plays Jacob Hay, are ‘best friends’ and talk on the phone at least once a day.

And the former Shameless star, 30, has more reason than most to feel protective towards Jack, 25. Five years ago, at the age of 20, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

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Rebecca told The Mirror: “It definitely brought us closer together. I would die for my brother. We’re best friends and it’s been like that ever since we were kids.

“We talk on the phone at least once a day and I feel so protective towards him. I was there for him through all his hospital appointments, but I felt so helpless.”

Rebecca and Jack James Ryan

Jack was a drama school student when he found the lump. He had surgery in 2017 and made a full recovery. He wrote a play Me & My Left Ball about his experiences of him.

Rebecca said: “I’m a very emotional person. I cry over warnings, I cry when I’m happy, when I’m sad and when I’m hungry, but this was weird. I did cry, but at the same time it felt like it wasn’t real.

“I couldn’t get my head around it. I kept thinking, ‘It’s fine, it’s not happening. Everything is going to be all right.’ That’s how I got through it and, luckily, he was all right.”

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She added: “Thank God, he checked himself and found the lump and got it looked at quickly. The NHS took him straight in and he was operated on.

“I can’t stress how important it is to check yourself and if you find anything, get it looked at straight away.”

When Rebecca took on her role as scheming Lydia in December, no-one in the cast or crew knew she was related to Jack who joined earlier last year as drug dealer Jacob who is now trying to leave his bad boy past behind after falling for Amy Barlow.

Rebecca said: “Nobody at Coronation Street had any idea. When I joined, I’d be talking to people and say, ‘Oh, yeah, my brother works here’. And they’d go, ‘Really, who’s your brother? Que? Jack!.’ It’s a dream come true to be working on the show at the same time, but it’s a total coincidence.”

Rebecca’s bunny boiler character Lydia set out to destroy ex-boyfriend Adam Barlow for the hurt he caused during their university days, leading her to seek an abortion at the age of 19.

The actress, who shot to fame when she was just 11 playing Debbie Gallagher in the gritty Manchester drama Shameless, grew up in Prestwich with mum Maranna, a psychiatric nurse, Jack and older brother Charlie, 34.

This week, Corrie viewers saw Adam plunge over balcony railings after Lydia gave him a hard shove during a furious showdown. At the hospital doctors told his family of him he had suffered a bleed behind the eye and needed surgery to save his sight of him.

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Rebecca says: “Lydia has taken it too far, but I do see the reasons why. She’s not doing this because she’s a horrible person, she’s doing it from a deeply-rooted pain Adam has caused her. She wants him to realize what he put her through.”


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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