How far will someone go when they are desperate for a baby?

That is what River City fans are just about to find out find as Shieldinch favourite Ellie McLean takes her quest to become a mother to the next level this week. 

"I don’t think there is a lot of empathy for her situation," said actress Leah MacRae who plays Ellie.

"I understand that because her behaviour is despicable. It's really shocking and it's so wrong what she is doing.

"But at the same time, I am always going to have empathy for the character because I know where it has come from."

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Glasgow Times:

In the two episodes of the BBC soap set to air this week, River City viewers will watch in horror as Ellie's surrogacy obsession reaches new levels as she manipulates her niece Ruby played by Zindzi Hudson into doing a home insemination. 

To make matters worse, Ellie will try to keep her sister Caitlin played by Gayle Telfer Stevens out of the picture knowing that she won't approve of this surrogacy route. 

And in the explosive episodes, there will be hints of the lengths that Ellie will go to get what she wants including stopping any future chance her niece Ruby has of a career as a hairdresser.

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Glasgow Times:

"She is absolutely taking advantage of her niece’s good nature and that is the only wrong that she is doing but she can't really see that, she is not in her right mind," explained the 38-year-old actress.

She continued: "She is not herself, she is the opposite of herself. It is like she just needs somebody to grow a child for her because she is so desperate for that to happen."

The surrogacy storyline has come after a long road of heartache for the normally bubbly Ellie as Leah explained, "The first kind of major thing that happened to her was that she suffered a miscarriage a few years back which was hugely upsetting and crushed her whole world.

"On the back of that she was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries, and she decided that she didn’t want to try to have another baby because she was frightened it was going to happen again.

"We had this horrendous thing happen in her family when her wee niece was being groomed and it ended up the groomer was murdered. Ellie didn’t really do anything but she was there and she tried to help cover it up, and she was all consumed by anxiety and fear.

"And then as a repercussion of that, she ended up losing everything she kept telling lies to her partner. She was deceitful. It was all to protect her family but she basically lost her home, her partner, her little child that she was adopting."

She continued: "She lost everything and this inheritance money came from bad Uncle John who was another horrible person in her life who abused their mum and Caitlin was the product of the abuse. Caitlin didn’t want to take the inheritance money so Ellie decided she was going to take it.

"Ellie always wanted a baby. She put it to the back of her mind and this is where this absolute crusade started of... I will get a child, I'm gonna pay, I will pay to do surrogacy."

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Glasgow Times:

The episodes carry a lot of emotions and deal with a subject matter that many families have experienced which is something Leah is only too aware of.

"So many people are affected by it," Leah said.

She added: "I know people who have been through it. Women and men are affected by it, families.

"It’s a huge huge deal, and it's all-consuming and life-changing for people.

"I just always want to try and make it truthful for people, believable and do the best I can with the scripts I am given by production."

Glasgow Times:

And playing the bad girl is something that Leah has done exceptionally well, especially with the reaction she has been getting from the audience.

"They are not positive just now," she said with a smile.

She added: "If people are annoyed at Ellie then that means I have done my job properly.

"I would finish a scene and go, 'aww Ellie, what are you doing?'

"If people are feeling annoyed and upset by it and are shocked by her behaviour even sometimes are a bit fed up with her then I think that’s how you feel in life with somebody who is behaving like that.

"That means I have done my job."

Glasgow Times:

When she is not playing Ellie, Leah is best known for treading the boards and creating some laughs in the theatre.

Some of her past credits include My Big Fat Fabulous Diary and 51 Shades of Maggie, and this summer she will debut Leah MacRae Weighs In at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

She said: "It's called weighs in because it's about the image-conscious industry that I work in

"Also, weighs in on the topics of life and about people weighing in on you sometimes."

She added: "The whole thing about my show is to bring audiences in, entertain them and have them leave feeling like they have lost a stone's worth of worries."

Watch River City tonight on BBC Scotland at 10pm and Wednesday at 10pm or BBC One Tuesday at 7pm and Thursday at 7pm. 

Leah MacRae Weighs In runs at the Gilded Balloon at The Museum from August 20 to 28 at 8pm. Leah MacRae Live will run at the Eastwood Theatre on June 24 at 7.30pm. 

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