Diabetes UK is thrilled to be working alongside ITV’s Coronation Street on a type 1 diabetes storyline, raising much-needed awareness of what it’s like to live with the condition.
The storyline follows 16-year-old Summer Spellman as she shows the symptoms of diabetes and then receives her diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. We then see how Summer adapts to living with the condition.
How has Diabetes UK supported Coronation Street?
Portraying diabetes accurately on screen is so important, and Diabetes UK has provided clinical support and guidance to the researchers and script writers at Coronation Street to help ensure the storyline is clinically accurate. We have reviewed scripts, provided advice on Summer’s experience, and facilitated conversations between Harriet Bibby who plays Summer, a Diabetes UK Clinical Advisor, and Natalie Balmain, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes aged 20.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is a complex autoimmune condition, which can be treated, but is not currently curable. Around 8% of the 4.9 million people in the UK who are living with diabetes have type 1. Type 1 diabetes can occur in both adults and children, and is managed using insulin injections, often in combination with counting the number of carbohydrates consumed.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of diabetes is vital, and we hope this storyline will raise much-needed awareness of how quickly the 4Ts of type 1 diabetes – feeling tired, thirsty, needing the toilet more often, and unexplained weight loss (thinner) – can come on. Living with a complex condition can be incredibly tough, and we hope the Coronation Street storyline will open up the conversation and tackle common misconceptions around type 1 diabetes.
Chris Askew, our Chief Executive, said:
We’re delighted to be working with ITV’s Coronation Street on this important type 1 diabetes storyline, which will put the spotlight on this serious, lifelong condition. Type 1 diabetes is often misunderstood, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to provide clinical advice and support to the Coronation Street team, in their depiction of Summer as she experiences a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.
It has been fantastic to work with the team at Coronation Street, to ensure that the storyline was approached with people living with type 1 diabetes and their families in mind.
With millions of viewers, this is a great opportunity to raise awareness of the reality for around 310,000 people in the UK who are living with type 1 diabetes. Better understanding of all types of diabetes is vital, and this is why we are committed to working with production companies and TV shows, to ensure that diabetes is portrayed authentically on screen.
Harriet Bibby, who plays Summer Spellman in Coronation Street, said:
Before playing Summer, I didn’t know a lot about type 1 diabetes, and it was so helpful to speak to Diabetes UK to understand more about the condition. It was amazing to talk to Natalie, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at a similar age to Summer and hear first-hand about her diagnosis. It will definitely help me as an actor to portray someone living with the condition.
I am very proud to be playing this role and everyone at Coronation Street hopes Summer’s story resonates with families with people living with diabetes. I hope it will help the general public understand a bit more of what it is like to live with the condition and learn the signs and symptoms of diabetes.
Natalie Balmain, age 35, from Manchester, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2007 aged 20, she said:
I know first-hand how a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes can turn your life upside down and leave you searching for answers; so I was delighted to hear how seriously Coronation Street are taking this storyline. It was really great to speak to Harriet about playing someone with type 1 diabetes in an accurate and dignified way.
As someone with type 1 diabetes and from Manchester myself, it is great to see my hometown soap reflect the reality of many young people across the UK. I look forward to watching how Summer’s journey will unfold after her news. I also hope this will raise awareness of what it’s like to live with type 1 diabetes and that people can learn the signs and symptoms of the condition.
Victoria Bradley-Smith, Researcher at Coronation Street, said:
It was really important to us that Summer’s diagnosis and experience of type 1 diabetes was authentic, and so it was great to have Diabetes UK’s support and guidance throughout this process. Diabetes affects millions of people around the world, so as a programme watched by millions, we wanted to get the portrayal of Summer’s condition right. It has been fascinating to learn more about type 1 diabetes and I hope our viewers enjoy watching.
If you or your child has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, or if you’ve been affected by anything you’ve seen on Coronation Street, we're here to support you. Please don’t hesitate to call our helpline on 0345 123 2399 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re in Scotland, call 0141 212 8710 or email email@example.com.
If you’re a writer or researcher, visit our Guide to Diabetes in TV and Fiction, or if you’re a journalist, make sure to visit our Guide to Reporting on Diabetes webpages. If you need help writing about diabetes, get in touch with our Press Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.