Nick Tilsley is to end up in hospital after David (Jack P Shepherd) engineers a car crash that leaves him seriously ill.
“He’s in a coma, its pretty bad,” explains Ben Price, who plays Nick. “He’s got a brain injury and needs surgery. No one knows if he’s going to live or die. In fact, they’re pretty certain he’s going to die, or if he lives it will be with huge complications. I think whatever happens he will never be the same – mentally, emotionally or physically.”
For the last month, viewers have seen David pursue a secret vendetta against his brother as retribution for Nick sleeping with Kylie (Paula Lane) at Christmas. But in the run-up to the crash, confessions are made and truths admitted as David and Nick journey to pick up some furniture in a van.
The trouble is that the trip ends in disaster when David’s rage leads him to unfasten Nick’s seatbelt and grab the wheel. The resulting crash finds the van careering into the path of an oncoming lorry, the impact from which leaves Nick fighting for his life.
But actor Price feels that the tables could well be turned in the relationship between the two siblings should Nick make it through this ordeal:
“We could see Nick turning into something resembling his dad. Under the veneer, there’s an edge and David has gone too far this time. I think Nick could look exactly the same, appear exactly the same to most people. But underneath there would be an obsession with trying to ruin David’s life like he’s ruined his. It wouldn’t surprise me if Nick didn’t try and go after Kylie to get him back where it really hurt.”
Of course, the fallout from this deceit being admitted is sure to affect other people in the family. What, for instance, of Leanne? If she were to find out the truth, would Nick being at death’s door make a difference?
“I’m not sure it would be enough. She is a right old feisty one. I can’t see her sticking around with Nick if this all comes out. I think initially she would tell him where to go.”
And will the Platt/Tilsley family be able survive? “Yes, of course. They could survive a nuclear attack,” says Price. “That’s the thing with the Platts – it’s fine for them to be at war, but if you attacked them, they would all turn around and fight back.”
In the immediate future, there’s Nick’s health crisis to contend with. By the end of next week, doctors are revealing that the swelling on his brain doesn’t look good, while the police arrive to question David about the circumstances of the crash. For Ben Price, this means having to look suitably ill – all of which calls for shaved head, scar and serious-looking injury make-up:
“I’ve had my head shaved for roles before so I just thought, ‘bring it on’,” says the actor. “I think the injuries help with playing the part. It’s much easier for an audience and the actor. Having this haircut, the big scars means that half the job is done for you.
“I’ve been playing the character for nearly four years now, so it’s really nice to mix him up and change him again. It’s a real gift that producer Stuart Blackburn has given me. As long as I play Nick, I can always play that little bit of him which has been affected by this. Because even if he comes through this, he’s going to be different. He’ll be affected by his injuries but also by what has happened.”