Sean Tully hasn’t had an easy time of it when it comes to love. But as he meets Billy, a vicar from the local parish, it seems his luck might be about to change.
“We meet Billy on an outing for the Underworld girls,” Antony Cotton tells RadioTimes.com. “Sean spots him at the bar, but he presumes he’s meeting someone else. However, Sinead [played by Katie McGlynn] tells him to go over. Sean is interested in him, fancies him, and it’s reciprocated. They swap numbers.”
Billy’s profession quickly enters the conversation, with Sinead making it painfully awkward, Cotton notes. “Billy says he’s got church tomorrow. Then he says he’s leading the congregation. Sinead is like, ‘You’re a vicar?’ Then she says awkward, embarrassing things like, ‘Are you allowed to drink? Are you allowed to have a boyfriend?’ So Sean is mortified by all this. And she does very curious dancing, which made me laugh the whole day.”
But Sean does get a date, with the next thing they do being to grab a meal together at Nick’s Bistro. Billy also meets the girls in the pub, with Beth (Lisa George), who’s about to get married to Kirk (Andy Whyment), thinking he’s there for quite different reasons.
“She thinks he’s a stripper, so she’s telling him that he’s hot! Once he says that he is a real vicar not a stripper, Kate Ford [who plays Tracy] delivers where she says, ‘Oh so you’re a real vicar?’ But she says it in a, ‘oh, so you’re a real vicar’, and then they fancy him because he’s a vicar. So that is how the story will initially play out.”
There’s also a hilarious fancy dress scene during the wedding, with Sean in a Wham! era George Michael get-up (yes, including full mullet wig and very short shorts). He thinks he’s been stood up, but Billy eventually arrives dressed as none other than Andrew Ridgeley. “I have a tennis racquet that I insisted on using. It’s fluorescent pink and I carry it in every scene. Inexplicably. Then Billy turns up with his own tennis racquet.”
It seems like the beginning of a sweet romance, with Cotton suggesting the storyline could play out for up to a year. But surely Todd Grimshaw (played by Bruno Langley) is just waiting in the wings to work his mischievous magic? After all, he threw himself into the task of ruining any chance of a reconciliation between Sean and his ex-boyfriend Marcus Dent (Charlie Condou).
“I’m sure Todd will try and scupper something,” admits Cotton, adding, “If there’s going to be any sort of animosity, it will be from Todd. I think that will just come from how the writers see Daniel Brocklebank, who’s playing Billy. But I would imagine they’ll get some mileage out of winding up Billy with Todd. That’s what he did with Marcus, that’s what he did with Jason and with Tony. He’s just an obnoxious little twerp at the moment.”
Billy’s role at the church will also play a role in how far the relationship can go. “I think the way that they’re going to go is there’s going to be a choice made, between whether Billy chooses the church or love.
“He’s very serious about his job, but also has very modern ideas, which don’t necessarily resonate with his parishioners. So he’s got his work cut out. That’s the initial conflict in the relationship, but who knows?”
And at the end of the day, does Cotton really want Sean to find true love? “I do feel a bit torn. For me, from a personal point of view, it’s great that a 15 or 16 year old boy watching Coronation Street thinking about coming out to his parents can see a positive, fun person like Sean. Somebody who’s never apologised for who he is and never will.
“For me, it’s incredibly powerful for a young boy to see a gay character that makes no apologies, is accepted by everybody and is loved by everybody. So it would be special to see Sean in a happy, successful, ongoing relationship. From a drama point of view, it’s better that they have a row here and there. So who knows what comes from that? I’m genuinely torn, but I’m hoping that it’ll work. To a degree.”
You can watch a 60-second rundown of all next week’s drama on Coronation Street below: