After 16 years in the role of Jason Grimshaw, actor Ryan Thomas is leaving Coronation Street in poignant scenes to be shown next week.
Beleaguered builder Jason will be manipulated into departing Weatherfield by scheming Pat Phelan, but why has the man who plays him decided to exit the cast?
Here, we speak to Ryan Thomas about his life on the Street, Jason’s goodbye and why he’s decided to down tools…
So, how is Jason feeling after hearing that Tony killed Callum? And what is it that makes him finally believe it’s true?
Jason’s very emotional about it and he sets about trying his hardest to find a reason why it wouldn’t be Tony who killed Callum. He shows a lot of aggression towards the Platts – he’s very suspicious about what everyone is saying. The only evidence he’s got that could actually clear Tony is his tool box, which Jason hides from the police.
But he finally gets to the point where he needs to know the truth. He hates seeing Sarah in such a mess mentally, so he says let’s put this to bed and find out the truth. He doesn’t know whether his dad did or didn’t kill Callum, but he’s hoping the tool box will put him in the clear. So when the police come back and say Tony’s forensics were found all over the murder weapon and on Callum’s body, they’re satisfied that that’s case solved, his dad killed Callum, and that’s really difficult for Jason to deal with.
How does he feel about the fact that everyone is taking it out on him?
He’s very territorial over his dad – he doesn’t want his name dragged through the mud, even when he’s dead. Jason’s still grieving and then everyone’s accusing his dad of killing Callum. It’s a real rocky road for Jason from here until he leaves.
Does he feel guilty for what his dad did?
Yes, he feels guilty because if he hadn’t gone in all guns blazing, playing the big man, provoking Callum, then none of this would have happened in the first place. Jason feels a lot of guilt.
What makes him decide to give his dad’s money to David?
He just doesn’t want the dirty money or to be associated with it. Callum’s left Sarah with his child and Jason feels responsible that there’s no one to provide for them. He wants to help Sarah and the Platts to deal with these two kids that are Callum’s, who are going to be brought up with nothing from their dad. Jason doesn’t care about the money, he’s lost his dad and he’s not into money, he just needs enough to get by.
What prompts his decision to leave the cobbles?
A lot of whispers in his ear from Phelan. Phelan proves to be the driving force behind Jason’s decision to move on to pastures new, to get away from all the pressure. He needs a change of scenery, to get away from things and take his mind off the business. He also feels as if someone’s after him because his dad killed Callum. The pressure is on for Jason and, with the help of Phelan, it all just gets a bit too much for Jason. With Phelan pointing him in the right direction, Jason decides it’s best that he goes.
Does he have any idea that Phelan has been plotting against him?
No, Jason only ever sees the good in Phelan. As far as Jason’s concerned, he’s a good bloke. Looking at it as an outsider all Jason sees is a fairly great guy, who’s been a shoulder to cry on, a real unit for him who’s been there to support him. Jason has no idea what he’s doing behind his back. As far as he can see, Phelan has been a real solid father figure in his life recently.
What made you decide the time was right to leave the cobbles? And what’s next for you?
I feel like it’s the right time for the character and it’s time for change for him and me. It’s a ‘what if?’ in life and it’s something I feel I need to tick off. I can’t live with the thought of not knowing what’s out there. For me, it’s about testing myself, getting creative, learning something new and playing a different character, which is something I’ve never done in 16 years. Even auditioning is exciting as the whole process is not something I’ve been involved in for many years. I’m going to move to London and see what happens.
What’s been the highlight of your time on Corrie?
Producing my beautiful daughter. If I hadn’t have been at Coronation Street I wouldn’t have had Scarlett and that’s the most important thing that this job has given me. Also, a career, security and a lifelong lesson.
Will you be taking any mementos?
I’ve got Jason’s first ever pair of work boots. I’ve had another two pairs of builders’ boots since that I’ll hang up somewhere.
What’s been your favourite storyline?
For me it’s about the alpha male characters that I’ve been lucky enough to work alongside, they’ve all played a massive part in building Jason’s character. It started with Charlie Dale [Dennis Stringer], then Bill Ward [Charlie Stubbs], Ian Puleston-Davies [Owen Armstrong], Terence Maynard [Tony Stewart] and now Connor McIntyre [Pat Phelan]. All great role models for me as an actor, who have played a massive part in my career. I don’t really like to single anyone out but I always wanted a father figure in the show and Terence filled those boots and then some.
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