The repercussions of the blaze at the Rovers Return are set to spread next week when firefighter Paul (Tony Hirst) announces that he is going back to work. Eileen (Sue Cleaver) fears that this is a rash decision coming so soon after the death of Toni and arranges a meeting with Paul’s boss to discuss the premature return.
But Paul is outraged when he discovers what Eileen has done, especially when she admits that she doesn’t think she can handle him doing his job anymore. Since the fire, she’s been plagued by constant nightmares that he might die because of his occupation, but is Paul able to alter his outlook?
“I don’t think he’s prepared to compromise on this,” says Tony Hirst, who plays Paul. “He tells her that it’s in his blood, pure and simple. What he means is that it’s all he knows. Putting your life on the line for someone else and them doing the same does engender a bond and he can’t shake that off. He needs that bond. It’s his family, at the end of the day.”
The big question though is whether Eileen’s panic will end up driving wedge between them. “Her concerns are very genuine,” admits Hirst. “And they are made greater by what she has seen. She’s a strong woman who isn’t used to not having a grip on things. But it does mean he struggles to confide in her over his fears.”
So are Eileen and Paul destined for a split? “If they are ill-fated, it’s down to Eileen, really. I think Paul’s aim is always to be true. When he started seeing her, everyone suspected he had some ulterior motive but he honestly didn’t! He’s never been duplicitous and he’s always cared for her. It’s just whether Eileen’s capable of accepting that and trusting him.”