Trust oncologist works with Coronation Street on brain tumour storyline

A consultant clinical oncologist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust has been helping advise producers at Coronation Street on their latest storyline after it was revealed that soap icon Rita Tanner has a brain tumour.

Dr Matt Williams has been working closely with producers at ITV and the charity Brain Tumour Research to ensure that Rita’s storyline is portrayed as accurately as possible. Matt has been consulting on the storyline since the spring.

Rita’s diagnosis came following weeks showing an ailing Rita becoming increasingly confused and amidst widespread speculation that she may have dementia.

Dr Matt Williams, said: “I was asked by Brain Tumour Research and ITV to help provide some medical input into their storyline on Rita's brain tumour. It has been a fascinating experience, working with the script-writing team to try and reflect the realities of medical practice within the confines a busy TV series. We have been through multiple versions of the script, and my aim has always been to try and reflect the reality of a brain tumour diagnosis for patients and their carers.

“Our focus is on providing the best care we can, while also developing new treatments so that in future, patients will live longer and better. Here at Imperial we are the one of the best recruiting centres for brain tumour clinical trials nationally, and our work spans basic and clinical research. We have led several ground-breaking projects, ranging all the way from identifying specific tumour metabolic weaknesses and developing novel viruses to target brain tumours through to novel surgery technology and prize-winning studies of national practice.

“While I’m mindful Coronation Street is a TV series, not a brain tumour documentary - I hope we have managed to reflect some of the realities of being diagnosed with and treated for a brain tumour. I hope that we have managed to keep the story true to life, while raising public awareness of brain tumours.”

Actress Barbara Knox who plays Rita in the soap said: “When our producer Kate Oates talked to me about the brain tumour storyline for Rita, I was truly honoured to be tasked with taking on such an important story. I was immediately determined to ensure that we got every aspect of the portrayal of such a devastating illness correct. The work the team did with Brain Tumour Research has been invaluable. As an actress playing the role I am mindful that there are people going through this in real life and it is vital that we do their stories justice.”

Brain Tumour Research are also providing an advice line for anyone that may be affected by this storyline (01908 867200).