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Nancy Anne Hayton (previously Dean) is a fictional character played by Jessica Fox on the from the long-running British soap opera Hollyoaks on Channel 4. The character first appeared on 6 July 2005.

Since the character's inception she has been involved in many notable storylines such as a three-way open relationship, drug taking, domestic abuse and rape storyline. In the character's early stages, she was portrayed as a less conventional character compared to the rest of the Hollyoaks teenagers.

Character creation

Background

Nancy arrived as the younger sister of Becca, who came for a visit, initially only intended to feature in three episodes. After producers realised her potential, she was introduced as a main characters. On screen this played out seeing her later persuading her parents to let her stay in the village and live with Becca and her fiancé Jake Dean permanently. Unlike her sister, Nancy isn't afraid to have her opinion known, and warned brother-in-law Jake Dean not to mess Becca around or he would have her to deal with. Early friendships included Nicole Owen, Hannah Ashworth and Sarah Barnes.

Casting

Auditions were held for the small part of Nancy Hayton. Actress Jessica Fox secured the role. She was initially contracted for three episodes. On Fox's second day of filming, she was handed more scripts and asked to stay on longer and then again. Since that point she has remained with the show.

Character development

Personality and identity

The character of Nancy is unique compared to the rest of the characters in the soap opera. Nancy since inception has been portrayed less conventionally than others. Characterised by vibrant hair styles, an out-spoken nature, being independent and her belief in being different from others. Nancy's hair has dominated her many different appearances. She has had plenty of different hair colours. When asked about her character's 'crazy' hair styles Fox revealed that the ideas for the styles are a collaboration of her own ideas and the production team's: "I had a brown bob forever and I was sick to death of it, so when we came out of the Jake storyline last year, they wanted to change the image. They asked me if I wanted to dye it any colour, so I thought 'let's go red'. One of the character's small storylines reflected her views of being different when she set up a campaign "Strip Our Sixthform" so that the Sixth Form students at Hollyoaks High School didn't have to wear school uniforms like the rest of the school. Her friends supported her, and after Christmas her campaign was successful and the sixth form students didn't have to wear school uniforms. Of the character's dress sense the Hollyoaks wardrobe department said "Nancy Hayton has a unique distinctive look on Hollyoaks. She wears rich colours and vibrant patterns, which compliment her slim shape."

Although Nancy was different from the other Hollyoaks teenagers, there was a area of society the character wanted to be included in. The hippy scene that one time boyfriend Foz was from displayed all the tendencies Nancy aspired to gain. Fox spoke about this during an interview saying: "I think Nancy's character is very strong, she's opinionated, but if you take all that away she's still very young particularly then, at the time of the drug storyline she was 16 she still wanted desperately to fit in even though she told everyone she didn't. At that particular party she was at she was surrounded by all these people who were traveling, really into their music, they had the life style that Nancy wanted, and she just desperately wanted to fit in at the end of the day, and that's what happens she took LSD and it went horribly wrong.

In 2009 after the her character had gone through certain transformations, the actress spoke about these changes. Fox also revealed what separated her character apart from certain others in terms of what impact storylines have had on them: "I've been spoilt with the dramatic storylines and now they've given me some good comedic stuff. Nancy's gone full circle and she's had the chance to become a whole character, rather than just one who has no end of tragedy and no end of silly affairs." She also said that since her character has been through so much up until 2009 that her character no longer feels the need to desperately shock everyone because she has had to grow up and evolve.

Relationships

The character's relationships have helped transform her development and personality. Her relationship with former tattoo artist Foz saw her being clingy to him mainly because he was a hippy and free, which at the time represented everything Nancy stood for, although she chose not to leave with him in the end when he left to work in Goamarker. Whilst her relationship was onscreen, the character also became involved in a drugs storyline. Jessica Fox revealed how her character's longing to fit in with people like Foz who were different from the rest of society, ended up in her taking drugs to be different from others but the same as the hippy scene.During Nancy's relationship with Jake during the domestic abuse storyline Nancy's character was rapidly transformed. She went from out-spoken and self-sufficient into being needy and controlled. Actress Jessica Fox once stated in an interview that she and the production team were careful not to the character transform 'over night', stating: "We've tried really hard to make sure that Nancy didn't just snap back into her old self after the whole Jake incident last year. There's always a bit of darkness with her. That's something that really annoys me in soap, when something really dramatic happens to a character and they forget about it a couple of weeks later.", although the official Hollyoaks website described the character as vibrant and eccentric once more since her husband's detainment in the psychiatric hospital. After her relationships with Ravi and Kris played out onscreen, Fox said she felt it was out of character for Nancy to cheat on anyone., and that she felt her character felt so uncomfortable with her three-way relationship because she no longer wanted a shock element in her relationships and wanted a conventional relationship. Fox also said that the character of Russ Owen was her perfect match. Russ and Nancy later began the relationship although it didn't last long.

Storylines

The character's first major stoyline was her involvement in the SIDS that ran whilst they were babysitting Mandy Hutchinson and Tony Hutchinson's child,. Alongside Hannah Ashworth they discovered Grace dead and blamed themselves whilst not knowing her real cause of death.

Later storylines that Nancy was inolved had direct links with her onscreen sister Becca. The first being dealing with the fall out of his sister's affair with a school pupil whilst trying to keep her own relationship with Foz together, then the subsequent death of her sister, being left looking after nephew Charlie, taking her A-level examinations along side a small storyline which saw her constantly taking prescription medication to keep her awake. Nancy then trained to be a teacher like her sister.

Drug abuse

Alongside her early storylines the character featured in a storyline in which she took the drug LSD when she gave into peer pressure from those around her. The scenes showed her taking the drug to fit in with the crowd and impress then boyfriend Foz. Nancy had a bad reaction to the drug. She later ran into the woods and started hallucinating and became paranoid that everyone was talking about her, pointing at her and became terrfied. Jessica Fox appearing in adverts for Frank to help combat drug culture amongst teens while the storyline received praise from them, and Fox gave an interview about the stoyline and advice to stop teenagers making the same mistake as her character.

Domestic abuse plot

The beginning of a long-running storyline surfaced onscreen when Nancy and Jake entered a secret relationship. It was to become the start of a domestic abuse storyline that producer Bryan Kirkwood decided to run. The storyline also received acclaim for helping educate under-25s about the issues of abusive relationships and for portraying it on their national platform. Onscreen their relationship later became public knowledge amongst the characters. The plot began to take shape when Jake began attempting to control Nancy, most clearly when he locked her in the house, so she missed her exams. A week later Jake decided to dump Nancy without any real reason but later reconciled. At Charlie's naming ceremony Jake proposed to Nancy, who accepted. Jake later started deceiving Nancy about the whereabouts of her engagement ring.

The storyline later began to seemingly mirror her onscreen sister's previous storyline in which she had an affair with a pupil. When Nancy started tutoring Newt, Jake became convinced that Nancy would cheat on him with the youngster because of Becca's infidelity with a student. He made failed attempts to keep them apart. Realising he was unable to control Nancy, Jake then reported Nancy to the police with allegations that she was having an affair with Barry Newton; she was arrested and sacked from her teaching job. Jake later became paranoid that Nancy wasn't taking the allegations seriously, so he launched a verbal attack on her, branding her 'pathetic'. She cried and started blaming herself; Jake then turned the situation around and comforted her.

Nancy was later cleared of the charges and Jake began to drive a wedge between her and her friends. Jake began deleting messages from friends and Nancy later finds out and goes out with Hannah Ashworth and Sarah Barnes so they don't think they are being ignored. Hannah and Sarah tell Nancy what they think of Jake and his treatment towards her. Nancy then denies all and ostracises herself from them. Jake later put her phone into water so that she wouldn't be able to make up with them. She then needs her phone when Charlie falls ill; without the phone to call for an ambulance she ran into the middle of the street for help. Jake then blames Nancy for Charlie's condition. The storyline then branched and became more complex when the character of baby Charlie is diagnosed with leukaemia and needs a bone marrow transplant. This provided storyliners with a chance to release the true paternity of Charlie which had remained a secret from the surrounding characters. Onscreen Nancy discovers that Jake is not Charlie's biological father.

She then reluctantly agreed to a rushed wedding in a hospital chapel. Jake controlled all the arrangements, buying a wedding dress to replace one Nancy chose. Nancy became hysterical when Hannah and Sarah tried to persuade her not to go ahead with the wedding, and forbade them to attend. She ended up allowing Jake to remove earrings he thinks unsuitable. The storyline then took another dramatic turn and after the poorly attended reception she is subdued and has to be coaxed to dance. She then returned to her flat for sleep, but Jake grabbed Nancy and violently chucked her on the kitchen sink and attempted to rape her until Steph Dean walked in the flat. Nancy then regretted marrying Jake. After he launched a tirade of insults at her, she realised that it was Jake who lied to the police about Newt. Jake denied that he would have raped her and tearfully begged her to stay, but Nancy walked out on him.

The storyline later saw a number of plots playing out onscreen directly connected to the domestic abuse plot. The first one of these was a custody battle which saw Nancy unlikely enlist Justin Burton to help her to gain custody of Charlie Dean. She then revealed to Frankie Osborne and a pub full of people that Jake tried to rape her, with Steph Dean backing her up.

When actor Kevin Sacre quit the series his exit storyline would see him sectioned. This played out with Jake kidnapping Charlie and trying to kill him and himself by gassing his car. Nancy found them and saved Charlie but left Jake for dead. Jake came around minutes after and barged into Nancy's flat and violently attacked Nancy. Jake then tried to take Charlie but Nancy hit Jake over the head with a frying pan, knocking Jake unconscious. Later Jake was sectioned under the mental health act. Nancy then slept with Justin and kept it a secret thereafter.

Bisexual love triangle

In 2008 another big storyline for the character began to pan out onscreen. The conclusion of the storyline would become bisexual 'love triangle' and then two males and a female had ever entered a open threeway relationship together with each other, a first in a British soap opera. Jessica Fox was surprised of the storyline commenting that: "Bryan [Kirkwood] told me that we were going to do a storyline with Kris and Nancy, and I was pleased because I always thought Nancy and Kris would go well together. Then he went on to say that she'd be involved with Ravi at the same time. I was quite shocked to be honest! Nancy's never cheated on anyone in her life because that's not who she is. But Bryan said to me 'we're going to have a lot of fun with this and I want it to be like a Carry On with loads of door-shutting and times when you don't know who's going to get caught'. So that's what we went for in the end." She also revealed that Hollyoak's time slot resricted the characters having a threesome so the open three way relationship was introduced in its place.

Onscreen it began to play out when a bomb scare in the Loft, Ravi Roy saved Nancy and they then began their relationship. There relationship saw problems from the start as Nancy had to split time with Ravi and looking after her nephew. The couple split and reconciled a couple of times. Their relationship became under further strain when Nancy drunkenly slept with Kris. Feeling guilty she asked Ravi to move in with her.

Unbeknown to her, Kris and Ravi slept together and began an affair. Kris began playing them off against each other. In March 2009 Russ revealed to Nancy that Ravi had made a pass at him. When she went to confront him, she found him and Kris together in the Loft. It subsequently came out that Nancy had been seeing Kris too. Rather than split up, they decided to try having an open threeway relationship. Nancy ended this, and Kris broke up with Ravi to be with her, but she turned him down.

Later storylines

After Russ Owen saved Nancy from student Gaz Bennett after he locked her in a classroom the two began a relationship. As feuding began between Russ and Jacqui McQueen, Nancy was asked by Russ to run away with him and Max McQueen and start a new life. Nancy gives him an ultimatum, her or the baby, subsequently choosing to stay with Nancy. Russ later revealed he felt Nancy was a consolation prize. Nancy sought comfort in sleeping with Kris Fisher. Russ caught them in bed together. Unable to forgive Nancy, Russ kidnapped Max and left with him and Justin Burton.

In October 2009, already distraught after finding out the news of Sarah's death, Nancy finds out that Jake is being released from the home were he is staying, and is far from happy.Nancy went to see Jake she tells him she detests him and that she wants him to move far away he reveals he doesn't want to go either but has no where else to go.When Nancy bumps into Jake in drive and buy he tells her Hannah sent him letters.By this time Nancy had resumed her relationship with Kris who had threatened Jake on numerous occasions since his release.However Jakes return still put strain on Nancy's and Kris's relationship she would constantly picked argument and he told her she should be more concerned of Zoe being in prison for Sarah's murder however he decided to support her when he saw how affected she was by Jake being back in her life.

Nancy caught an accidental meeting between Jake and Charlie at MOBS resulting in her calling the police, Jake was arrested for breaking his bail terms but was released when it was explained the meeting was accidental.Nancys complaint however was still kept on record as the police thought it was risky having Charlie live with Jakes mum.To avoid him being put in care Frankie gave custody of Charlie to Nancy.

Reception

The character of Nancy has been hailed for her involvement in the domestic abuse storyline from a charity called Tender. The charity aims to educate under-25s about violence in relationships. A survey conducted by the group found that 96% of participants thought the scenes were effective in bringing the issue to viewers' attention. They went onto say that "As a national platform, Hollyoaks played a vital role in educating the public about the issue of abusive relationships." Jessica Fox was nominated for best actress at the 2007 British Soap Awards for her portrayal as the character, but lost out to Kate Ford.

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