THEY were a couple on screen and off, but Tina O’Brien’s split from Ryan Thomas was more painful than any soap writer could ever imagine.
The Coronation Street couple’s daughter, Scarlett, now 13, was less than a year old when Ryan called time on their relationship in 2009, with Tina later claiming that he broke her heart — despite her desperate pleas.
Tina O’Brien’s split from Ryan Thomas was more painful than any soap writer could ever imagine
Tina later claimed that Ryan broke her heart — despite her desperate pleas
Tina, 38, said: “He said he didn’t love me any more. Those were his words. He said he didn’t want the responsibility of a relationship with me. I was devastated.”
Tina admitted she begged Ryan, 37, to change his mind, but that instead he “refused” to “fix” their troubled romance.
The couple, who played lovebirds Sarah-Louise Platt and Jason Grimshaw on Corrie, had dated for six years but appeared to buckle under the pressure of having a real-life relationship in the glare of the spotlight.
And while the fiery pair have managed to temper their troubled relationship over the years, even moving on with new partners and having more kids, it seems their simmering tension hasn’t gone away.
It reared its ugly head once again last month, when Tina was accused of damaging her ex’s car with a baseball bat during a late-night bust-up.
Allegedly causing around £1,000 worth of damage, Tina is said to have smashed a wing mirror and damaged paintwork on Ryan’s beloved Range Rover after she partied at a pal’s house.
It’s a far cry from their idyllic meeting as teenagers at a Saturday drama club in Manchester back in 1997.
But it wasn’t until they were reunited on Corrie in 2000 that sparks began to fly.
The couple did not have the easiest of starts though as life imitated art. And so began their tumultuous romance.
On the ITV soap, Tina’s character Sarah-Louise split from boyfriend Todd Grimshaw, played by Bruno Langley, before hooking up with his on-screen brother Jason Grimshaw, played by Ryan. In real life, Tina began dating Ryan soon after her one-year romance with his pal Bruno ended in 2003.
Tina later said: “It was very, very hard because I liked him. We both tried to fight it. We must have really liked each other because we did it anyway, it was quite natural.
“It was five months later when I got together with Ryan and I was worried as he’s a friend of Bruno’s.
“But we worked hard to make sure there wasn’t any tension between the three of us.”
Against all odds their relationship blossomed as they worked on one of the nation’s best-loved soaps, with Tina claiming her love with Ryan was “for keeps”.
She added: “We’ll be together forever, fingers crossed. I can’t see myself with anyone else.”
But the couple’s romance quickly became fiery, with Tina admitting they had blazing rows behind closed doors.
She confessed: “When we first started going out we were always arguing. I have a really bad temper and we had big fall-outs.
“We had a massive row once at his place when he had the builders in. They must have thought I was mental because I was screaming at the top of my lungs at him, ‘Why don’t you eff off’.
It was very, very hard because I liked him. We both tried to fight it. We must have really liked each other because we did it anyway, it was quite natural. It was five months later when I got together with Ryan and I was worried as he’s a friend of Bruno’s.
Tina O’Brien on getting together with Ryan Thomas
“I don’t even know what we argued about. It was always over the smallest of things.
“We never split up but I did occasionally say, ‘That’s it, I’m never speaking to you again!’.”
Perhaps a sign of things to come, Tina’s character Sarah-Louise’s on-screen relationship with Jason crumbled in 2007 when he jilted her at the altar, with the story culminating in her leaving the soap.
And while Tina claimed Ryan had been supportive, she also hinted that the pair hadn’t always seen eye to eye of her decision to quit.
At the time, she said: “Ryan has been really good about me leaving. At first he wanted me to stay but he realises now that it will be good for me — and for both of us.
“I love working with him and I will miss it but it will make our relationship stronger.”
In 2008, Tina and Ryan had daughter Scarlett, but they called time on their relationship months before her first birthday.
Tina later claimed Ryan had talked her out of making a return to Corrie prior to their split — yet another sign they were not on the same page.
She said: “Maybe he knew he was going to end it and didn’t want the hassle of us working together.”
In 2011 Tina began dating business developer Adam Crofts and she fell pregnant three years later. Privately Ryan showed his support for Tina’s pregnancy, with the actress revealing: “I phoned him just before I told Scarlett and he said ‘I’m really happy for you all’.”
Tina and Adam welcomed their baby boy Beau in 2014, and they offered Ryan an olive branch, inviting him to spend Christmas with them and Scarlett.
The ceasefire even led to Ryan heaping praise on Adam. He said: “Adam is cool, he’s just a lovely guy. As a stepfather in Scarlett’s life, I’ve hit the jackpot. She adores him.”
Making what could have been a thinly-veiled dig at Ryan, Tina referenced the battles they’d fought over the years.
She said: “It’s taken a lot of years and a lot of biting my tongue. Seriously, though, it’s mainly down to Adam and Ryan.”
The following year she made her long-awaited return to Corrie. But it wasn’t long before Ryan put plenty of distance between them once again, opting to quit the show in 2016 and relocating to Australia, where he made a brief appearance in hit soap Neighbours.
Speaking that year, Tina said: “Everyone has moved on and is in a happy place. Ryan is really happy and we are happy, so there aren’t any issues.”
In 2017, Ryan met ex-Towie beauty Lucy Mecklenburgh, 30, while filming Bear Grylls’ Celebrity Island and he went on to win Celebrity Big Brother the following year.
I don’t even know what we argued about. It was always over the smallest of things. We never split up but I did occasionally say, ‘That’s it, I’m never speaking to you again!’.
Tina O’Brien on her relationship with Ryan Thomas
Just as everything finally seemed calm between the temperamental exes, Ryan appeared to make a dig at Tina on Instagram in April 2018, hinting at a parenting disagreement.
He uploaded a photo of Scarlett sitting in a beauty salon having her nail polish removed, writing alongside an angry-face emoji: “So mummy puts nail varnish on, daddy takes it off.”
Though the pair went on to make light of the situation, with Tina commenting at Ryan’s partner Lucy: “@lucymeck1 don’t worry, the three of us can go next time and get matching nails and tattoos.”
It seemed life was plain sailing for the exes, with Tina even inviting Ryan to her wedding on New Year’s Eve 2018. But he swerved her big day and soon afterwards announced his engagement to Lucy.
Their son Roman, two, was born in March 2020 and in November Ryan and Lucy revealed they were expecting their second child, posting on Instagram: “Here we go again.”
However, fans speculated that the couple had sparked a fresh rift with Tina, after she wrote a cryptic message on Instagram.
It read: “Don’t always trust what you see on social media. Even salt looks like sugar.” She later deleted the post and replaced it with the message: “Don’t waste your time with explanations. People will hear what they want to hear.”
Neither Tina nor Ryan have commented about their most recent row, but a source close to Ryan told The Sun: “Tina and Ryan barely speak nowadays and this seems to have snapped the fragile thread their relationship was hanging by.
“They managed to make their peace after splitting up.
“But recently that appears to have broken down, and it’s hard to see a way back.”
Tina admitted the pair had blazing rows behind closed doors
In 2011 Tina began dating business developer Adam Crofts
In 2017, Ryan met ex-Towie beauty Lucy Mecklenburgh