How is Carla going to cope when she's haunted by Rana's death? We chatted to Alison King to find out all about her up coming storyline.
Following the factory collapse Carla’s relationship with her family is very strained, how tense are things as they plan to visit Aidan’s grave on his birthday?
It’s really awkward because she would have liked to go on any other normal day, but emotions are so high within the family - she feels like she can’t. Peter puts pressure on her to go and she feels like he’s set her up because it’s so uncomfortable when she gets there. It’s all part of her growing paranoia but she can’t understand why he’d make her do something with the people who hate her. She wants to remember Aidan, and Michelle does try to be nice to her and invite her back to the pub, but it’s hideously awkward.
How weighed down is Carla by her guilt?
Her guilt is all consuming, especially when she’s with Kate because it took Carla so long to come out and admit the truth about the roof. And, because Peter convinced her not to tell people what she knew, it’s made things doubly worse. I think when Carla found out that Rana had died, a little bit of her broke and it was a large tipping point in Carla’s life.
Does Carla believe she is to blame for Rana’s death?
Yes absolutely, she knew the roof needed replacing and she didn’t have the work done. It starts off as all consuming guilt, the paranoia doesn’t start until after she receives the message from Rana.
When Carla receives an online message, supposedly from Rana, how does she react to this?
I think she believes that they’re all in on it, that Rana must be alive and they’re playing some sort of cruel trick on her. After the initial shock of the message, I think Carla does then believe that Rana is alive and it’s really confusing for her. She can’t work out why somebody would do that and why Rana would hide, but she believes it due to the paranoia. She’s already broken from what people have been saying about her and her frame of mind since the accident.
How do we see Carla’s mental health deteriorate?
Through her paranoia, she’s all consumed by the feeling that she’s on her own in this. Even though Peter is trying to help her, she’s not taking it in the right way, he seems to be pushing her too hard and the break in her brain after Rana’s death is her tipping point. She’s gone into a state of paranoia which spikes and then calms down. The first signs of her episodes are that she just isn’t being herself and she tries to hide that from Peter, going along with what he says and saying ‘I know I’m being silly’. But, then she becomes more secretive, writing down what’s going on in her brain. As her paranoia grows she feels she has to get away from people because she thinks they’re out to get her. She eventually shows that to Peter after initially hiding it from him and he realises the depth of her illness.
Peter realises she needs help and takes her to the medical centre, but what happens there?
It’s too serious by that point, Carla just wants to get away for everyone, it’s gone beyond the point where she can sit down and talk about it. She needs to talk to a doctor but she’s not ready for that, she thinks everybody is in on it, that they want to make her suffer, to put her in prison. It’s not even the thought of prison that she’s running away from it’s what’s going on in her head and the thought that she just needs to get away from them all and be on her own.
This is a very challenging storyline, how difficult has it been to play?
It’s been the toughest yet for me, the rape storyline was emotionally tough but this has been a real challenge every day being in different sorts of mania from 7.30 in the morning. It’s pretty all consuming getting to that place of mania, using shallow breathing, working your body and mind into a frantic state, it’s been really tough. It must be doubly tough going through this in real life as people do and I’m really grateful for the help we’ve had from Mind and a lady who’s suffered from psychosis herself. She talked to me about the physical symptoms that Carla might be suffering from and how she would be feeling at different times, her exhaustion, her paranoia, her potential thoughts of self harm. I’ve tried to take this with me into scenes because often what’s portrayed on TV is so wrong. People suffering from paranoia are more inclined to hurt themselves more than anyone else.
What organisations have you/the research team been working with on this storyline?
We’ve worked closely with Mind during the research stage and with the scripts and they’ve been really helpful. I met with a lady who’s suffered from psychosis herself and she was really helpful and so brave to talk to me. The directors on set have also been amazing, helping me with the timeline of where Carla’s been in previous episodes as we film out of order and letting me try and show Carla’s mental health in my way own way through the spikes in her behaviour. I want it to be as real as possible, so we can get the information over about what people go through and so we can get it talked about and the audience can see that this can happen to anybody.