Coronation Street’s Paul Foreman diagnosed with fatal motor neurone disease in heartbreaking storyline as character’s exit is confirmed
Coronation Street’s Paul Foreman is set to be diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) in upcoming heartbreaking scenes.
The character, played by Peter Ash, has been suffering with health issues with his hand in recent weeks after accidentally being knocked over by a drugged Carla Connor.
And while he was signed off with work with what was believed to be muscle and nerve damage, it turns out that Paul’s condition is far worse, with the builder set to be given the fatal diagnosis.
In Thursday’s installment of the ITV soap, Paul visits a specialist about his injuries after suffering with balance, mobility and dexterity issues, with Coronation Street later revealing that the character will be told in early April that he likely has MND – with the condition being confirmed later that month.
With the life shortening illness established, it means that Paul will eventually leave the soap as he loses his fight with the fatal condition.
Devastating: Coronation Street’s Paul Foreman is set to be diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) in upcoming heartbreaking scenes
Shock: While he was signed off with work with what was believed to be muscle and nerve damage, it turns out that Paul’s condition is far worse, with the builder set to be given the fatal diagnosis
The NHS describes motor neurone disease as: ‘An uncommon condition that affects the brain and nerves. It causes weakness that gets worse over time.’
The weakness is caused by the deterioration of motor neurons, upper motor neurons that travel from the brain down the spinal cord, and lower motor neurons that spread out to the face, throat and limbs.
There is no cure for MND and the disease is fatal, however the disease progresses at different speeds in patients.
People with MND are expected to live two to five years after the symptoms first manifest, although 10 per cent of sufferers live at least 10 years.
Coronation Street is working closely with the MND Association on the hard-hitting storyline which will explore the challenges faced by Paul in the coming weeks and months, and how it affects his friends and family.
Paul initially decides to hide his diagnosis from those closest to him including from his partner Billy (Daniel Brocklebank) and sister Gemma (Dolly-Rose Campbell), however, he confides in flat mate Dee Dee Bailey (Channique Sterling-Brown).
The storyline will go on to follow the progression of the disease as Paul tries to cope with his illness alone before he eventually breaks the news to his loved ones.
Speaking of Paul’s diagnosis, actor Peter Ash, 38, stated: ‘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.
Accident: The character, played by Peter Ash, has been suffering with health issues with his hand in recent weeks after accidentally being knocked over by a drugged Carla Connor
Bad news: Coronation Street has revealed that the character will be told in early April that he likely has MND – with the condition being confirmed later that month
Tragic: With the life shortening illness established, it means that Paul will eventually leave the soap as he loses his fight with the fatal condition
‘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.’
He continued: ‘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.’
Meanwhile, Corrie’s producer Iain Macleod said of the plot: ‘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.
Denial: Speaking of Paul’s diagnosis, actor Peter Ash, 38, stated: ‘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’
Secret: Paul initially decides to hide his diagnosis from those closest to him including from his partner Billy (Daniel Brocklebank) and sister Gemma (Dolly-Rose Campbell), however, he confides in flat mate Dee Dee Bailey (Channique Sterling-Brown)
‘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.
WHAT IS MOTOR NEURONE DISEASE?
Motor neurone disease is caused when nerves in the brain and spinal cord — which are needed to walk, speak and breathe — stop working properly.
As the condition progresses, sufferers find that all of these actions become more difficult or impossible.
It is not clear what causes the condition and there is currently no single test or cure.
But it is thought to be linked to the build-up of proteins in the brain that clump together and cause problems with moving, breathing and thinking.
Symptoms of the condition begin gradually over weeks and months, usually on one side of the body before worsening.
These include a weakened grip, dragging of the left leg and slurred speech.
Around 5,000 people have MND in the UK at any one time.
Sufferers live for three to five years, on average, after they are diagnosed. But some may live for up to 10 years.
‘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.’
While MND Association Director of External Affairs Chris James added: ‘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.’
Meanwhile, in an interview with MailOnline and other press about the upcoming plot, Peter opened up about how he felt being given the intense storyline, knowing it will seal his fate on the ITV soap.
He said: ‘I was called into the producer’s office late last year. It was a shock. I suppose it’s always a bit scary when you get called into the producer’s office!
‘Iain MacLeod said that they had a big storyline for me and it should be a great thing to do, but unfortunately, it would mean an eventual exit.
‘I had mixed feelings, obviously. I’ll be sad to leave the show – it’s been such an amazing job and I’ve met fantastic people.
‘But also, I’m quite happy to be involved in such a powerful storyline that hopefully will bring awareness to MND. It’s also going to be quite a progression of Paul’s illness.’
The soap star went on to admit he ‘massively’ felt a huge responsibility to deliver the storyline correctly out of respect to those who are going through the same thing as Paul.
He said: ‘When you’re playing a character with an illness or a condition, there’s so much responsibility to get it right and not to cheapen it. We want to represent it properly.
‘We’re acting it, but there are people watching who are living with it. It’s very important to get it right, be spot on with it and portray it sensitively.’
‘I had mixed feelings’: ‘Iain MacLeod said that they had a big storyline for me and it should be a great thing to do, but unfortunately, it would mean an eventual exit’
On Paul’s reaction to the diagnosis, he said of his character: ‘When Paul is told that they’ll be testing for MND, he doesn’t really know what that is. He has to ask a few questions. The consultant explains that Paul is experiencing symptoms which could be MND. From that point, Paul just goes into shock.
‘Paul is not looking positively on it at all. He thinks that he’s got it, even though he hasn’t been told that for definite yet. As far as Paul is concerned, this is what it is – it makes sense based on the symptoms he’s experiencing. Once it sinks in, it turns his whole world upside-down.’
For more information please visit www.mndassociation.org. MND Connect is available Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, and 7pm to 10.30pm. Calls are free.T el: 0808 802 6262
The MND Connect helpline offers information and support on all aspects of MND and can signpost to other organisations when required.
Coronation Street airs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 8pm on ITV1 and ITVX.
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