Billy Mayhew (Daniel Brocklebank) will make plans to resign as Coronation Street’s local vicar when his and Sean’s relationship hits the headlines.
The pair’s recent homophobic encounter with a B&B owner will make the front page of the Weatherfield Gazette, but the press attention ends up having serious knock-on effects.
“They’re both embarrassed, but for different reasons,” says actor Antony Cotton. “Sean has always had his head stuck in gossip magazines, but he doesn’t like the attention now that it’s happening to him. But Billy is mortified. Sean realises that Billy has to be quite discreet – and his vocation means that he shouldn’t really draw attention to himself.”
Billy will be left seriously worried for his career after the bishop – who has very conservative views on homosexuality – requests a meeting. But, in the heat of the moment, Billy will end up lying to the Bishop and assuring him that he and Billy have ended their relationship. But it’s this fib that actually results in Billy deciding to make a stand.
“Sean is very upset after Billy tells the Bishop that they’ve split up. He feels as though Billy has had to lie for Sean, which is something that he never wanted him to do. It’s a difficult situation for them,” says Cotton. “In the end, Billy says he is who he is and if someone doesn’t like it, then it’s tough.”
Declaring his love for Sean, Billy announces that he’s going to resign as vicar of St Mary’s. Sean’s deeply moved, but as Billy sets off to hand in his resignation, will Sean be able to stand by while Billy chooses between their relationship and the church?
“It makes him really sad that Billy feels it has to be one or the other. Sean usually leads with his emotions but, in this case, Sean’s head takes the lead and he tells Billy that he can’t do that and that he’d never ask him to do it either.
“Sean is very selfless, in this instance. He doesn’t want Billy to put him first, because Billy’s job and vocation is what makes Billy who he is.”
And if Billy was to leave the church, would that put pressure on their relationship? “Yes, as one door closes another door opens. So you can close one door and it would open another door to a whole host of other questions or problems. Sean has made the right decision to tell Billy that he mustn’t choose and he must stick with his job and deal with the consequences.”
For Cotton, the chance for Sean to find happiness, this being the character’s first meaningful relationship since his break-up from midwife Marcus Dent. So is the actor enjoying this current storyline?
“Yes, because it’s so unique hasn’t been done in Corrie before. It’s been handled in a classic Corrie way – a perfect balance of comedy and tragedy. And it’s created a discussion. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and terrific – from face to face in the supermarket to social media. I’ve had loads of tweets about it – it’s been a really nice response.”
You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of Coronation Street below.