Coronation Street is to explore the subject of living with motor neurone disease when Paul Foreman is diagnosed with the life shortening illness next month.
Viewers have recently seen Paul (Peter Ash) struggle to recover from injuries he sustained when he was involved in a road accident. He was advised that he had muscle and nerve damage and was signed off work.
As time goes on and Paul starts to notice other issues with balance, mobility and dexterity he is referred to a specialist tonight (Fri March 24th) and in early April he is given the devastating news that it is very likely he has MND. This diagnosis will be confirmed later in the month.
Paul keeps the diagnosis from his partner Billy (Daniel Brocklebank) and family, confiding only in his flatmate Dee Dee Bailey. This storyline will follow the progression of the disease as Paul initially deals with the illness alone and eventually has to break the news to his loved ones.
Coronation Street is working closely with the MND Association on this storyline which will explore the challenges faced by Paul and those around him in the coming months.
Peter Ash said: “Paul is completely blindsided by the diagnosis and he decides to keep it from his family and friends as he tries to come to terms with the news. I knew very little about MND before embarking on the storyline and I am hugely grateful to the MND Association for all their help and support. For any actor playing a role which examines a real life issue or condition there comes a huge sense of responsibility and we are aware that some people watching this storyline are experiencing it in reality, it is their life.
“Awareness and education are really important. I have learned so much even in the short time I have been involved in this storyline. We hope Paul’s journey can make people more aware of the symptoms and what it is like for someone to live with MND.”
Producer Iain Macleod said: “Motor Neurone Disease is something that many people might have heard of but perhaps don’t know a lot about, even given the recent cases of public figures talking about their experiences of living with the condition. A show like Coronation Street is uniquely placed to show the day-to-day reality of dealing with an illness that gradually and progressively erodes the physical attributes that you perhaps take for granted, changing forever the way you interact with the world around you.
“At first, Paul - who as a builder, relies entirely on his physicality for his livelihood - will massively go off the rails in a misplaced bid to ensure he isn’t a burden on his loved ones. But in the end, they will be the ones to put him back together emotionally. We are committed to portraying in a long-term, sensitive way the effects of this condition on Paul and his family and friends, not shying away from the sometimes painful reality of what his life will be like. We have been privileged to work with the Motor Neurone Disease Association - including talking to people who have the condition and their families - to ensure we do justice to people’s real-life experiences.”
MND Association Director of External Affairs Chris James said: “We are really grateful to the team at Coronation Street for choosing to tackle this difficult subject. Putting MND in front of millions of viewers every week will raise incredible awareness and help educate people who have never come across this disease – showing the day to day reality for those living with it and the impact on their families, friends and neighbours too.
“The Coronation Street team has been incredibly responsible when considering storylines, scenarios and scripts, spending a lot of time talking to us and members of the MND community to ensure the onscreen portrayal of MND is realistic, sympathetic and sensitive.”
Coronation Street continues Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights from 8pm on ITV1.