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Friday 24 March 2023

Peter Ash interview - Paul Foreman to be diagnosed with motor neurone disease

Since being hit by the Underworld van, Paul Foreman has been struggling with the mobility of his hand. As time progresses, Paul and his loved ones become increasingly more concerned. Eventually going to see a neurologist, Paul is told in April it is likely he is suffering from motor neurone disease (MND) - a fatal illness that affects the brain and spinal cord. Paul's diagnosis is confirmed later in the month. 

As Paul's world is turned upside down, we chatted to Peter Ash about how Paul copes with his diagnosis.

Since his accident Paul has been worried about how long he is taking to recover. But do you think he has ever worried it might be more serious than nerve damage?

At that point, it’s all about him just wanting to get back to work and get earning again. I don’t think he has any idea that it’s going to be something so serious. For the longest while, he just thinks it’s a trapped nerve  that was caused by the bike accident that he had on the street. But, yeah, it does turn out that the actual problems in his hand is actually nothing to do with that. 

What goes through his mind when the consultant tells him he may have MND. Does he know what that is?

He gets informed that they are going to be testing for MND. Paul doesn’t really know what that is, so has to ask a bit. The consultant explains these would be the symptoms if it is MND, and I think from that point, he just goes into shock, really. Also, in his own mind, Paul isn’t looking positive on it at all. He kind of thinks he’s got it, like, he’s not been told for definite yet, he’s been told they’re testing for it, but in Paul’s head, as far as he’s concerned, that’s what it is. I think it makes sense, then, where he’s like, “Actually, yeah, this isn’t just a normal injury, there’s something else going on.” When it sinks in a bit, it turns his whole world upside down. 

Why doesn’t he tell his loved ones about what the consultant has said?

He does say that he wants to be sure first before he tells anyone, which is understandable. But then also, he’s been worried so much lately about his money problems, he’s got his sister’s wedding coming up, which is going to be a big, stressful event. It feels like there’s too much going on in everyone’s life at the moment to unload that on them. He kind of bottles it up and keeps it in for the meantime. 

How long have you known about this storyline, and how did you feel when you find out Paul was to be diagnosed with an illness which ultimately will lead to his death and you leaving the show?

I think I was called into Iain’s office late last year. He said, “We’ve got this very big storyline for you, unfortunately, it does mean an eventual exit.” So I had mixed feelings, obviously. I mean, I’ll be sad to leave the show. It’s been such an amazing job, I’ve met fantastic people. But at the same time, I’m quite happy to be involved in such a powerful storyline that hopefully will bring awareness to MND, so a double-edged sword. 

What research have you done to prepare to Paul’s story?

The MND Association have been a great help to us. They’ve been giving us all the information we need. When I go through my scripts, and there’s a new symptom, I’ll check in with them. Everyone here has been great with that, with the help and support and research. 

Do you feel a responsibility playing someone with MND?

Yeah, massively. Especially when you’re playing a character with an illness or a condition, there’s so much responsibility to get it right, not to cheapen it, to represent it properly because we act it, but there are people watching it who are living with it. It is very important to get it right and be spot on with it and sensitive. 

How have you found playing the physical effects of MND?

So far, I’ve been eased into it because it just starts in Paul’s hand, but I’m very aware that as time goes on and as the symptoms progress, it will get a lot more technical. So I’m sure as the symptoms pile up, I’m going to speaking a lot more with the MND Association to make sure we get it all right. It’s quite a journey we’ll be going on. 

What do you hope we’ll achieve by exploring this?

Again, just hoping it brings awareness to the condition and the general public can see what people go through on a daily basis who live with this. Also, it’s about the loved ones of the person as well because it affects so much of their life and their families’ lives. It’s a tough thing to take on, obviously, just hoping that people can understand the condition more and bring awareness to it. 

Sophie Williams

Find me on Twitter @sophie_writer1

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


Anonymous said...

Yet another medical issue. More doom and gloom.

Anonymous said...

Jeanie (anon): HOw many people on the street are going to be diagnosed with a very rare life-ending illness? ALS is a horrible way to go--especially for someone as young as Paul. Not something I want to watch, just as I didn't watch Extremely Rare Disease #1 strike down Oliver.

Very lazy and unimaginative on the writers' part too--write Paul a story that makes him leave the street, or give him or someone else a dramatic story that is based in reality. Don't turn to all these very rare diseases and social media nightmares to get your drama!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous. This show is ceasing to be entertainment. It should be renamed as Coronation 'every issue under the sun' Street.

Anonymous said...

That's clearly why recently he has become a kind, thoughtful and generous character. In soaps no nasty person ever gets a terminal illness or similarly tragic storyline.

Louby said...

"Raising awareness" is okay when there's a point to it, for example if a character like Sinead gets cancer, it could encourage more people to get tested and hopefully lead to a reduction in the number of serious cases. But this, if you get a diagnosis then that's it sadly.

I really doubt their ability to portray this accurately. The whole thing, not just the illness itself but where he's going to live, things like that.

I've not been watching very much for the last couple of months anyway, and I've found that I don't miss it very much. I won't be going back to it any time soon. In my opinion, awareness is better raised by people who are actually going through this, like Rob Burrow, the late Doddie Weir and their families. My sister died of this horrific condition and I really don't want to see it in what should be (used to be?) an entertaining soap.

Sharon boothroyd said...

I wonder if Peter had a choice in this storyline? Could he have said, 'No, I'm not happy with this and I'd like to stay on the show?'
I don't know what the situation is behind the scenes but I reckon it must be pretty awful to be told you have an exit plot line, and that your steady secure work is coming to an end.
I've noticed that this is played down in the media interviews.
I only discovered many years later, after Brooky was off air, that some actors had been sacked.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous[21;38]Paul has always been a decent kind character who unfortunately is be axed hence the life ending disease as only nasty characters seem to stay on the Street.
I think it's sadly ironic that Paul's first dramatic storyline leads to his exit and yet Sarah stays on doing the same thing over and over again flirting and then sleeping with the latest single straight bloke on the Street[this time Damon].
Perhaps if Paul's last name was Platt,he would still be on the Street?


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