Coronation Street star Dan Brocklebank has revealed that there is some fun in the future for Paul and Billy – despite Paul’s devastating diagnosis.
Dan shared his thoughts about what’s next for the cute couple – and we were relieved to hear that it’s not all doom and gloom, even though Paul’s been diagnosed with motor neurone disease.
“I think it’s going to be a really lovely blend,” he says. “There will be some really nice moments with Billy and Paul really ticking things off their bucket list of adventures together. They’re trying to find their happiness wherever they can. Billy is very aware that their time together is coming to an end.”
Living for today
And Dan says we could all learn from Billy and Paul’s reaction. “They’re trying to live every moment, as we all should really,” he says. “We all forget our time is finite. We need to celebrate all of these moments because none of us knows what’s round the corner.”
He admits that there will be some tough times ahead for the newly reunited couple.
“There are some difficulties along the way but it’s not all going to be doom and gloom and woe is us,” says Dan. “Because even in the bleakest of moments there is humour to be had.”
Billy found out the truth about Paul’s MND out of the blue, when he went to court to support his boyfriend. He was shocked when the judge mentioned the diagnosis.
“Billy was hit with the news that not only has Paul been stealing cars but his sentence has been reduced because of the MND,” explains Dan. “It’s a massive shock.”
And he says he’s found it hard to play such a sad storyline. “It’s exhausting to be crying for 12 hours a day,” he told us. “It’s knackering and then you’ve got to come home and look at your lines for the next day which is another 12 hours of crying… So you look for the moments of lightness. And we have such a giggle at work anyway, it’s such a joyous place to work, sometimes I can’t believe I get paid for it!”
Because Paul’s condition is terminal, it means Peter Ash, who plays the former builder, will be leaving Coronation Street. Something Dan’s really sad about!
“Pete and I get on like a house on fire,” he reveals. “We enjoy working with each other very much. And obviously it’s not real, but knowing Pete’s time on the show is coming to an end is sad.”
And he’s not the only one finding it tricky.
“Jane (Hazelgrove, who plays Bernie) can’t keep her eyes dry,” says Dan. “She sees Pete limping onto the set and she’s welling up. We’re grieving Peter leaving, thankfully not dying, but the emotions are genuine.”
Wedding day blues
Of course, the first challenge for the couple is Gemma’s wedding. Paul’s adamant he’s not telling his twin the news about his health before her big day.
How does Billy feel about Paul’s decision?
“I’m not sure he supports it, but he understands it,” says Dan. “Paul wants Gemma’s day to be about the wedding, not about him being ill.”
And he says the sad knowledge that Paul is dying brings another dimension to the day.
“Seeing Paul walk Gemma down the aisle is hugely emotional,” says Dan. “It’s going to be one of those memories after Paul’s gone.”
He adds: “It’s a big secret for Billy to keep. He’s not very good at hiding anything at all, but he’s very aware he has to hold it together for Gemma and Paul, and it’s not his place to tell anyone.”
Coronation Street star Dan Brocklebank’s real-life sadness
Dan has real-life experience with MND because his own grandfather died from the condition and Dan has been fundraising for the MND Association for a long time.
But does that make it harder for him to play Billy’s own journey?
“It’s 21 years since my grandfather died but it’s bringing back memories,” he admits. “My mum said it’s going to be really hard to watch, watch you having to go through on screen what we’ve already been through. But in some respects it could be cathartic. It’s very strange this storyline has landed on my lap.”
Read more: Coronation Street who’s leaving in 2023?
Coronation Street usually airs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 8pm on ITV.
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