Coronation Street: Ryan Thomas on Tony’s death, Jason’s grief – and how he feels about filming his final scenes

The actor reveals what he knows about Jason's exit storyline

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Poor Jason Grimshaw will be left reeling next week when he finds out that his dad Tony has suffered a fatal attack. Blaming himself for what’s happened, Jason will be seen lashing out at those around him, including such Street residents as Liz and Aidan. But when Phelan offers a shoulder to cry on, viewers will be left wondering whether he has an eye on Jason’s welfare…or his business! Here, Ryan Thomas reveals all about next week’s drama – and how he feels about his upcoming exit from the ITV soap…

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So, tell us about the moment when Jason finds out that Tony has died and the emotions that he goes through
Jason’s devastated – his mum tells him and it’s complete and utter shock and disbelief. It’s very upsetting for him. It is completely out of the blue – it isn’t like he has been ill and they have been expecting it. It comes as a real shock and the knock-on effect is huge.

Do we find out much about what happened to Tony in the lead up to his death?
Jason finds out that it was a heart attack. It was sudden. The upsetting thing for Jason is that he finds out that Tony was alone in the flat for three days – that’s tough for him to deal with. He was found by an old friend, so that really gets to Jason and he blames himself.

Had Jason stayed in contact with him much?
He has, but he’s been really busy recently and he hadn’t returned Tony’s calls. Tony had asked him to meet up for a beer soon and he hadn’t called him back, so that makes the guilt worse. Jason knows he hasn’t made enough effort recently.

And why does he later direct his anger towards Liz?
He needs someone to blame and Liz is that person. He’s a very angry man when it comes to Liz – there’s no one else for him to turn the blame on to. It’s very nasty and malicious – he decides she’s to blame because she drove him out of Weatherfield. If she hadn’t kicked him out he wouldn’t have left and would be here now. It’s very irrational and unfair. And it’s out of character for Jason, but so is his behaviour generally. He even calls her names and confronts her in the Rovers.

How did you feel doing a scene like that?
Confrontation of any type is interesting and Liz is a not a character that Jason works with very often. so it’s uncomfortable to start with. But once you start going through the scenes, it gets easier. Liz isn’t a character that would normally stand for that sort of behaviour, so I was surprised by her reaction because she just lets him do it and say those things. She takes it on the chin and feels Jason’s pain and lets herself be the punch bag. She is a mum, though, and she feels for him.

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Why do you think Jason uses violence to air his frustrations – for instance, getting into a fight with Aidan
This isn’t the Jason you normally see in Coronation Street. You see a side of him which is different – it’s great to play. He’s normally a lovable, likeable Jack the lad – the only reason he would confront someone usually is to fight for something he doesn’t feel is right. But he’s lashing out at everyone and anyone. Everyone is worried about Jason at the moment and everyone is treading on eggshells around him. 

Can we expect Jason to spiral out of control even more as he attempts to deal with his loss?
Everything I’ve seen is him getting angrier and angrier. He may find it hard to come back from this. Tony was an important person in Jason’s life – he loved his dad dearly and he’s missed him not being around. But at least he was on the end of a phone. When he got him back in his life he grabbed hold of it with both hands and he thought he would be back in Weatherfield eventually. So knowing that will never happen is really hard for him to accept.

Tell us about his friendship with Phelan – why can’t Jason see how vile he is?
Phelan has taken Tony’s role – he’s become a father figure to him and Jason needs someone like that in his life. As far as Jason is concerned, he’s got his best interests at heart. Phelan’s trying to look after his business and and get him more work. He has no reason to believe there is anything more of it. He would be the last person to believe Phelan is up to anything. Everything he’s doing is very positive for Jason. He has a got a lot of Tony about him, he knows a lot of people, he’s a bit of a ducker and diver and Jason is latching on to that.

Do you read your scripts wishing you could give Jason the heads up and warn him?
I don’t think Jason would believe it – the only person who seems to be suspicious of what Phelan is doing and what his motives are is Todd. He’s being very protective of his family but Jason is not really interested in what Todd is saying. Todd’s wary of Phelan but Jason doesn’t see it. No one has enough evidence, but it takes one to know one and Todd has a real sense that all’s not right.

Does Phelan use Tony’s death to his advantage to get his feet firmly under the Grimshaw table?
The cogs are turning – he knows what he wants. He knows there’s some money coming to Jason but underneath all the badness, I think Phelan does actually care about Jason. Yes, he’s manipulative and can be evil for selfish reasons, but he couldn’t be as warm as he is towards Jason if he didn’t have some feelings for him.

Do you think Jason will look to Phelan as a father figure now?
There’s no one else to take that role and he doesn’t ever listen to his mum.Jason is trying to hold it all together and trying to be strong. The person he shows his true feelings to is Phelan.

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How do you think you’ll feel when the time comes to film your last scenes?
I can’t even begin to think about it – I don’t think I can even answer that at the moment, I have no words for that one. I have no idea what my exit storyline is because I don’t tend to try and find that sort of stuff out.

Jason’s had the worst luck with the women in Weatherfield – which previous girlfriend do you think was the one for him?
There’s always something between him and Eva – he gets drunk and tries to make a move on her, but she knows he’s hurting. It’s a shame that things didn’t work out between them. But Jason thinks they’ve all been ‘the one’! When I think about it there was Becky and Sarah and Rosie –  he loved them all and they were the ones who broke his heart and left him. Once he falls in love he commits himself totally. They always turns their back on him.

And would you like him to find love before he goes?
No, if I’m being honest – there’s other stuff happening in his life. I think this time, if he met someone, he’d be the one to leave them. I don’t want him to have his heart broken again. He’s not prepared to commit – if he was to end up with someone, it wouldn’t be for love.

You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of Coronation Street below.

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