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Tuesday 6 July 2021

Gareth Pierce interview: Todd stoops to new lows as Will returns

Todd Grimshaw has finally got everything he wants after getting engaged to Billy Mayhew. However, Todd's living on borrowed time as Will returns and threatens to destroy everything. We chatted to Gareth Pierce about how Todd tries to keep Will at bay, and what this means for Todd's future on the cobbles. 

We've seen Todd do some horrendous things since his return, but Gareth told us that Todd does have a bit of a guilty conscience. "We've tried where possible to give little glimpses of that. He's not enjoying the game, he's not in control of the game in quite the same way as maybe earlier on. I think there is some guilt there, but I also think that Todd is very good at putting that to one side and still being able to function and carry on.

"I've got to get down to the 'why' he's doing some of these things. There's a core of sadness to Todd. He's 35 now, he's heading towards the years where he needs to grow up a bit, and that scares him. In terms of finding a more sympathetic read of some of what he's doing, I think he was at his most settled and happiest when it was him, Billy, and Summer.

"That's what he wants to get back to, because he was able to almost let the mask slip and not have all that front going on, so that's what's motivating him. He really wants to get back to that safe, happy place, but he can't see what he's doing to get there is going so dark."

In an effort to prove his commitment, Todd made the grandest of gestures and proposed to Billy. While the end result is positive, the route to get there didn't go quite as Todd had hoped. "[Todd] still doesn't feel like he's got it over the line to being back together as a happy family, so in almost true Todd style, he thinks he has to do something big and fabulous. That plays out very differently in his head. [He thinks] it's going to be a movie proposal and a happy moment, because he is very much self-centered, and he's used to getting his way. He gets quite a shock."

In the background, Paul has been stewing for some months now, sure that Todd has been scheming behind the scenes. After the proposal, Todd receives a letter with a warning scrawled on it, and he assumes the sender to be Paul. "I think he's definitely underestimating Paul," Gareth said. 

"In the back of his head, he knows that Will is probably the only person that can really sink him, and he thinks he's out of the way. I think there's been so many incidents that Todd couldn't have had all this planned out. Occasionally, there's been opportunities that have arisen from the way Paul has reacted to things. Those have given him a sense that Paul's pretty oblivious and easy to manipulate. I really do think that Todd's underestimating Paul and doesn't really expect him to put anything together or unpick what Todd's achieved so far."

Todd believes he can handle Paul, but he is not prepared for the return of Will, the boy he paid to help manipulate Paul. Will starts to blackmail Todd, and Todd knows he has to do whatever it takes to get rid of him. "That jolts him. That's the only loose part of the jigsaw that could come back around. It's a definite threat.

"I think you see Todd almost at his worst in some of his interactions with Will, because he needs Will to be scared. He's absolutely petrified of what Will could do to him if he's not scared."

Keen to really get under Todd's skin, Will befriends Summer, another move that panics Todd. "When he starts to install himself on the inside of their family and domestic life, it is terrifying. Taking aside from how Todd might react to that, that sense of somebody invading your space, what you consider your safe place, it's going to be horrible. Certainly, we've tried to imbue those scenes with a real sense of stress and of Todd being rattled, which you don't necessarily see from Todd that often."

In the midst of his desperation, Todd resorts to stealing money from a customer at the funeral parlour. Seeing Todd hit an all time low, Gareth told us how important it is as an actor to fully commit to the character. "You have to really trust the writers on a show like Corrie with their long-standing characters. 

"If you back away from the ugliness of some of the character's actions, then that's your ego as an actor getting involved. You've got to trust and commit fully to showing a not very nice side of someone. It's uncomfortable sometimes for the audience, especially if they also then have a scene where they perhaps like that character. For me, that's the most interesting territory to play, and to watch."

When his first plan fails, Todd resorts to theft again, but this time it's a little bit closer to home, and Paul lands himself in the top suspect position. "It's an opportunity that presents itself again. Todd is clever and he'll manipulate as much as possible, but he's got this awful habit of landing on his feet. That's not anything that Todd's intended, but he's certainly not going to step in and go: 'It wasn't Paul.' It wasn't part of his plan, so he can slightly unburden that guilt because he's got plenty of other guilts to deal with."

Todd is a great example of a character who we love to hate, and lots of viewers are very much still on Team Todd. "It's really lovely and really heartening to see that the audience are split because I think that when I first arrived, we were contending slightly with getting people used to a new actor playing Todd, while also seeing Todd kind of at his worst. 

"You get those opportunities to make a more rounded character, and then I think audiences can go on that journey with you a bit more, and also that villainy. There is something sometimes enviable in watching a character that will say some of the things that you might think, but not always have the courage to say yourself. I think people like watching Todd do the devilry for them sometimes."

Todd is in for a rough few weeks as his secrets come dangerously close to being spilled, but might he actually feel better for the truth being revealed? "It's almost like that thing of a criminal wanting to be found out. It'll be awful, but there'll be some actual freedom in everything being potentially out there.

"It might make him re-examine himself because there's a self-awareness that's creeping in with Todd anyway, and he's certainly very self-centered, so maybe he can turn that around to being a bit more aware of some of those reason he is how he is.

"I'm really enjoying playing the undertaker stuff with Tony [Maudesley, who plays George]. I feel as though the absence of a father for Todd can definitely explain a lot of why he is the way he is, and so I like the sense of there being a slightly fatherly connection with George, and he does have the measure of Todd a bit more than Todd thinks, but with a kindness there."

However, fans of Todd's darker side can relax as Gareth assures us he isn't going to become all sweetness and light. "I don't think we're going to see Todd's moral compass completely reset. I think he's always going to be a bit of a player and a bit of a someone who's able to get what he wants out of a situation."

Todd's downfall has been long time in the making, and as it all comes to a head this summer, Gareth told us how people are still rooting for Todd and Billy to work as a couple. "I really hope we've done the brilliant scripts justice. It's really lovely that already we have some people conflicted in terms of rooting for the relationship because like Dan [Brocklebank, who plays Billy] and I were saying the other day, we've been doing it all from two metres. There's only so much eyebrow tension you can give in the sense of how you seduce a character, how you show that closeness without being able to have that tactility and that proximity. 

"It's really lovely to see that the audience really have gone on this journey with us, and so hopefully the payoff is greater as well because they're there with you."

As everything unravels for Todd, will he able to get Billy down the aisle, or will he lose everything for good?

Sophie Williams 

I'm on Twitter @sophie_writer1

All original work on Coronation Street Blog is covered by a Creative Commons License


Humpty Dumpty said...

I've said before the writers could take Todd down the AD(H)D route or imply he's somewhere on the spectrum. Inappropriate jokes, little empathy, intelligent. It may not be the way we remember old Todd, but Eileen might suddenly remark that Todd always had problems in school and that's why they moved to Coronation Street. I'm not sure this current storyline is working. Billy is a drip, Paul is too passive, Todd isn't charming enough. The one time we've seen Todd show his feelings was the conversation in the funeral parlour about Billy Platt. A scene between Sarah and Todd reminiscing about the old times might make him more of a real person.

Anonymous said...

Jeanie (anon): This Todd doesn't have the personal charm and charisma of Todd 1. You coud believe that Todd could charm the birds out of the trees; and he had a playfulness too that this Todd is lacking. Todd 2 is too serious, tries too hard, acts too sneaky and furtive. Even his constant jokes aren't funny in the way Todd I's were. His are more snide and bad-natured.

Billy has grown so tedious for sure; he used to be such an authentically good person, caring, kind, proactive to help others. Now he seems like such a prig--one more lecturing either Todd or Paul on their irresponsibility, a tiresome father figure, the next acting like a lustful out of control teenager himself. He's become so judgemental and sanctimonious.

Anonymous said...

Inappropriate jokes is not a sign of being on the spectrum

Sharon Boothroyd said...

I don't think I've taken to Todd 2.
He's a reasonably ok actor but to me, he lacks spark and charisma, which I know must be very difficult to portray. I couldn't do it!
Why did the Grimshaws move to Corrie, Humpy Dumpty? I can't remember.

Humpty Dumpty said...

@Sharon Boothroyd, a quick look at the internet says Eileen came for an interview at the chip shop. She got a taxi there and it was driven by Vik from Street Cars. I don't think we got a back story at the time or at least I can't remember it.

Anonymous said...

Bruno Langley is not coming back, so maybe it's time to stop comparing him to Gareth and just take Todd for how he is now. I do and it makes it easier to accept the change.

Jenni said...

What have they done to the wonderful character that was Todd Grimshaw, such a shame. Why recast the role if they were intending on completely changing everything about him, just bring in a new character without trying to live off the success of such a previously interesting, charming, lovable character.

I agree with other comments, the character of Todd was complex, but Bruno managed so easily to bring so much charm to the role, even at his most devious you could not help but love him. Todd originally always felt so soft and in need of a cuddle, this todd is sharp and angled, always smirking. It's hard not to compare when this is supposed to be the same character, he's just so awful now, there's no light or dark, far too many one liners that fall flat that even when the scene is supposed to be funny his comments are rude and unwelcome. In the space of a week he's told the man he "loves" that he should be good with needles as he used to be a junkie and that billy has a paunch!

I really liked the original Todd and Billy as a couple, Todd really settled down and they were so well matched. What we have now is the opposite of what the show managed to create in 2016. Disappointed in every one involved who thought the whole paying a child to pretend he was being abused storyline was remotely suitable after all their campaigning during the original storyline Paul had, to then show how easy it was for Todd to get a job there, so bad.

They need to tone this version on Todd down, but the spoilers coming out make it seem like things are going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better. It's also such a shame that because of this storyline Billy's character has been trashed in the process. I quite liked Billy, but he's a difficult watch now, he parents Paul and tbh he kind of parents Todd too. But also the character is written so inconsistently now, he broke up with Paul because of Will, yet last week was happy to pardon will and let him spend time with Summer, then berated Paul when Paul quite rightly highlighted the double standards.

Its all just been awful and I dont think i'm the only one who wants it all to end and the show move on from this tedious love triangle. Maybe if the show got New Todd away from Billy it might be possible to show a different side to this character. Also, once billy finds out what's been going on, he should keep his distance from both Todd and Paul for as long as possible before his character becomes past the point of being redeemed. As for Todd, the writers need to change their tactics with him, he is now being played by someone else, and you can't give the character the same material, tone down the one liners and make him see more human, stop with the ridiculous scheming storylines, it's all he's done since he's come back.

Louby said...

I agree that Bruno played Todd brilliantly, but totally disagree that Todd was ever loveable, apart from in the early days! He frequently stirred up trouble, including for his own family. I don't recall the details of all incidents but I do remember that he engineered that Maria would discover him and Marcus "in the act". Also, he was knowingly involved the Pat Phelan flats scam before he left. Something that I don't believe he has ever been questioned about?

I do feel for Gareth because it must always be difficult to fill someone else's shoes when you are portraying an established character. It didn't help that he was reintroduced with that ridiculous gangster storyline.

If I recall correctly, Todd knew the truth about Callum's murder. I wonder if this will ever be revisited, especially as Jason may return (if rumours are true, I hope so!)

Jack Duckworth said...

I find it hard to feel bad for Todd because he's being blackmailed by a child he groomed.


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