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Tuesday 23 April 2024

Peter Ash interview: Paul's dad Denny arrives on Coronation Street


So first of all, the week starts with Paul appearing on Amy's radio show. How does that all go for him?

Yes, that's quite an interesting one! Bernie initially sets it up because she thinks it'd be a good thing for Paul, to lift his spirits up. But then obviously, when he's doing the interview, he kind of gets a bit passionate and talks about the way people treat disabled people. On the way to the interview he had a problem with ordering a taxi, getting a taxi that's going to fit his wheelchair in, they send the wrong one, and then the taxi driver's a bit of an ass. So he's got that on his mind. That kind of comes out in the interview when he gets a little bit passionate, a bit heated, and he drops a swear on live radio. So he's a little bit worried he might have kind of got Amy in trouble!
Then his dad Denny rocks up.

I think through that interview is how Denny, Paul and Gemma's biological dad, gets wind of Paul through that, really. He does show up completely unexpectedly at the flat, which takes Paul by surprise. I think had it been a couple years ago, without the MND diagnosis, he probably would have told his dad to do one, basically. Because he wasn't a nice person at all. But I think Paul has a different outlook now because obviously he's dying, and I think he's just got a different way of looking at that. So he gives him a chance and he goes out for a drink with his dad. They kind of get on all right, because Denny's just treats him like a normal person…
Was his dad violent towards him in the past?

Yes, there's references to that. So he was definitely not a nice person at all. And in fact, I don't think he's changed that much! He leaves Paul alone for a bit, they're gonna watch a film and just hang out together. But then Denny goes out, and he shouldn't really leave him alone, but he leaves him alone too long. Paul has a bit of a coughing fit, which really kind of shakes up Denny when he does eventually come back to the flat.
Paul tries to call an ambulance but he's not able to.

Yeah, he's having a real problem breathing. From the day before, when he goes to the pub with Denny, he drinks a bit too much and he's a little bit sick that day, I think it's still on his lungs, and that's what causes the coughing fit the next day.
What does everyone else think about him being back? Because I don't think Billy is particularly impressed with him.

Oh, no, not at all. Well, at first, to be fair, he's not too bad. Because obviously he's all about forgiveness. And that's kind of where Paul's head is at the moment with his new kind of outlook on the short life he's got left. But Billy is really, really not impressed after he finds out that he's took me to the pub, he's got me pissed, he's taken my neck collar off, which helps support the weight of his head. And obviously Paul’s sick when we come back to the flat, so Billy's really not happy with him.
How about Bernie and Gemma? What do they think about him being back?

They're not impressed at all. I mean, I think Paul's probably the one that's the most positive about his return, at the start anyway. He's short of time, and he wants to smooth anything over he can before his time's up, really.

Paul’s symptoms have been getting progressively worse, how hard are you finding that physical side of things?

In some ways it is less difficult to play as Paul moves a lot less and I am in the chair a lot of the time. I also find that when I am in the chair my arm automatically goes into position, there is a certain amount of muscle memory when you do something so often. The voice has been something I have worked on a lot, I have to speak so that people can understand but show that Paul is having difficulty speaking. I also feel a responsibility to make sure the portrayal is accurate.

How do you wind down at the end of the day after filming those scenes?

I have always been really good at not taking the job home with me but I also remember that for me I am playing the role and for the people who are living with MND it is their life, they can’t get a break from it.

Glenda Young
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