Just before the country went into lockdown for the first time, like the rest of us Hollyoaks actress Lucy-Jo Hudson and partner of three years Lewis Devine were totally unaware of what was about to unfold.
Besides, they had more on their minds last year. In February, Lucy, 38, had given birth to their son, Carter. They were in a blissful bubble, introducing Carter, now 15 months, to seven-year-old sister Sienna – from her marriage to former Corrie co-star Alan Halsall – and the family. With lockdown all that came to an abrupt halt. Lucy and Lewis reveal all to OK! VIPs about their hard year and the positives they've taken out of it for our gorgeous at-home shoot.
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“I can’t complain because we’ve been so lucky compared to a lot of people. But it was sad that our families missed out on seeing some of those firsts, like Carter smiling and taking his first steps,” Lucy-Jo says when we chat to her after our shoot at their Lancashire home.
“But we got time to bond as a family – and Lew was so fantastic. We were sharing everything, including the night feeds.”
Both Lucy-Jo and Lewis were badly hit by Covid-19. The virus left them bedridden, while 32-year-old Lewis was coughing up blood. “We did get the ambulance out at that point, but they told us he was OK and it wasn’t severe,” says Lucy-Jo, now back on the soap as Donna-Marie Quinn.
Here, they talk about their family life and reflect on the highs and lows of the past 12 months…
Hi guys! Did you enjoy our shoot?
Lucy: We absolutely loved it. We’ve not had much quality time for each other since Carter was born and the shoot felt like a date. We were all dressed up – though we had nowhere to go! Carter loved it, too. He didn’t want to go to sleep because he was desperate to be around everybody. For a baby who has been in lockdown his whole life he’s the most sociable kid.
Lewis: Lucy took him into Next just after lockdown and she sent me this hilarious video of him walking up to all the shop mannequins, saying, “Hiya! Hiya!”
So you don’t think the lockdowns have affected him too much?
Lucy: I don’t think it has. Some of my friends have babies who are very clingy, but we are so lucky. Carter is like Roadrunner, he’s always off somewhere!
Lewis: Despite the fact that he has been brought up during the pandemic, he is fantastic. That was our worry, really, that when we came out of this he might be a bit scared. But he’s been amazing.
Lucy: I went to a lot of playgroups with Sienna and she had friends from them. So did I. But I missed out on all of that with Carter, although it hasn’t had a massive impact on him.
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Is there anything you’ve been really grateful for in the last year?
Lewis: I’m so grateful I got to be with Lucy in hospital when she gave birth. When it went into full-on lockdown partners weren’t allowed in, so we were fortunate I could be with her for the whole experience. Saying that, I nearly missed the birth as the nurse sent me out to get her bag at the last minute.
Lucy: I started screaming, “Lew, the baby’s coming!”
Were any of your families unable to meet Carter before lockdown?
Lucy: Yes, because my family are mostly in Wales and Leeds, and not everyone could get the time off to come over. So a lot of the family didn’t meet him until he was about six months old. When we went into tiers last year, they could only see him from afar and that was hard. Lew’s mum was sitting in our garden, watching him and unable to cuddle him, trying not to cry.
Does Sienna love being a big sister?
Lucy: She does. She thinks she’s mummy number two.
Lewis: She’s always telling us what to do.
Lucy: She’s like, “Mummy, don’t do that.” She’s amazing, honestly. She’s seven now, but quite a grown-up seven. I don’t know if girls are a little bit more independent and older than their years anyway, but she’s quite mature. And because of the lockdowns Sienna has had that time to bond with Carter. She does the feeds and even changes him.
Lewis: She does change him, but she doesn’t like doing the poos!
Would you like more children?
Lucy: Well we wouldn’t rule it out completely. But right now Carter’s sleeping through, so we’re enjoying catching up on sleep again. We’re enjoying giving all our time to Sienna and Carter.
Lewis: We’re looking forward to creating memories with the kids, as we haven’t been able to do that for the past 18 months.
Have the two of you discussed getting married?
Lucy: Sienna is always asking, “When are you going to marry Lew, Mummy?” I think she really wants us to [get married], bless her, and of course so do I. But we’ve done everything a little bit backwards, moving in together and having a baby. So it’s definitely on the cards.
Lewis: I’m sure we will in the near future.
Did you have any arguments when you were stressed during the lockdowns?
Lucy: We bicker when we’re tired.
Lewis: It’s never a full-blown row though.
Lucy: And it is genuinely down to tiredness. Like everybody, we’ve had our ups and downs and, of course, we’ve had a baby. So we’ve done amazingly well to come out the other side even stronger.
And you both contracted Covid-19…
Lucy: We had it in January, although Lew was worse than I was.
Lewis: I had it for about two weeks and then I spent a week recovering from it.
Lucy: I think it took longer for us to get over it because we had Carter. Our families desperately wanted to help, but they couldn’t. Family, friends and neighbours would drop off Lucozade and food and milk, but it was so tough. You have this new baby who wants to be cuddled and fed and you’re up at night with them while feeling awful. So we were tag-teaming.
I’d have a couple of hours’ sleep and Lew would look after Carter, then we’d swap. But Carter was amazing. For the first couple of days he was in our bedroom playing – and he never usually does that. He’s normally on the go. I thought maybe he sensed that we weren’t right.
How scared were you?
Lucy: I was shocked at how badly we suffered from it. Lew had it first, then the next day I woke up with it. I was struggling to breathe and couldn’t lift my head off the pillow. It was like extreme flu symptoms. Then my sense of taste and smell went, we both had pain in our eyes and Lew was coughing up blood. We did get the ambulance out at that point, but they told us he was OK and it wasn’t severe. It felt severe to us, but it wasn’t to the medics.
Lewis: I was just looking for sympathy really!
Lucy: The medics had seen some horrific sights and some people were suffering so badly, so it put it into perspective for us. We just had to ride it out and even though it wasn’t nice, we knew we’d come out the other side.
Have you had any long-lasting effects from it?
Lucy: I’ve noticed my breathing still isn’t right. I’ve found that I get more out of breath than normal when running up the stairs. But perhaps I’m just unfit because we lived on Pot Noodles and Lucozade for a few weeks!
Lewis: The problem was that when we felt better, we were still living on Pot Noodles!
How has your work been affected by it all?
Lucy: I think we’ve been very fortunate. My dad’s a retired financial adviser and he’s always taught me how to take care of my pennies.
Lewis: My drama school [The Devine Theatre Company] went online and that was really testing. Financially, we have been lucky, but for about four months I got a job doing deliveries for Amazon, just because it was nearly Christmas and we wanted some extra money.
Lucy: It’s not cheap when you have kids. And because we were in lockdown we wanted to give more to the people that we couldn’t see.
Lewis: I’ve got friends in the industry who’ve done exactly the same.
Lucy: Lew has been on stage all his life, so to take a delivery job… It’s not something he’s ever done, but it showed he was willing to do anything to look after us as a family.
Lucy, what’s it like being back on Hollyoaks?
Lucy: Oh, it’s been amazing. I wondered whether it was too early to leave Carter and I was nervous because I’d been away from work for so long. But it was like riding a bike. I have an amazing balance too. Lew looks after the kids during the day and I’ve only been in a few days a week so far. I’m always back home to put the kids to bed – or even earlier – and the set is only 40 minutes away.
You played Katy Harris in Corrie until her death in 2005. Do you miss the show?
Lucy: Well that was 20 years ago now and I’ve been lucky enough to do loads of other jobs in between that and Hollyoaks, where I am now. I love the variety my work brings. When you have kids you don’t get chance to watch TV. It’s always about them, so we’ve always got Mr Tumble on for Carter or Masha And The Bear for Sienna.
You took part in Dance Dance Dance in 2017. Are we going to see you on Strictly Come Dancing at some point?
Lucy: I’d love to do it one year.
What would be your ultimate acting role?
Lucy: Well, I love Suranne Jones, who I worked with years ago, and Katherine Kelly and Sheridan Smith. They have all gone on to do amazing stuff. So I’d like to go back and do some dramas at some point.
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