We’re seeing a different side to Coronation Street’s Chesney Brown of late – the chirpy kebab shop worker, loyal mate and all-round nice guy of the cobbles we’ve watched grow up from Fiz’s cute kid brother has had a pretty rough time of it.
Caught in the crossfire of Robert Preston’s dangerous drug-fuelled feud with arch-enemy Rich Collis, Chesney was stabbed during a heated showdown in the Bistro and ended up in hospital.
But while the physical wounds are healing, the psychological scars still run deep and have been the cause of a series of panic attacks for Mr Brown. They’ve got so bad he’s cared to even leave the house.
Sam Aston, who has played young Ches since he was just 10 years old, discusses the darker side to his usually sunny Street alter ego and how his issues put nieces Hope and Ruby in danger next week…
Why has Chesney found it so hard to confide in his loved ones about his panic attacks following the stabbing?
He’s a bloke and lot of guys are more secretive about health issues and their emotions, even with the people closest to them. And he is embarrassed by it, and questioning why he is getting like this.
How do Sinead and Fiz work out Chesney has a problem?
Fiz and Sinead definitely know that something isn’t right because he keeps making excuses so doesn’t have to leave the house. Chesney’s sister and his girlfriend are the people that know him best, and they just work it out together.
He’s looking after Hope and Ruby when they try to leave the house, what happens?
The first time Chesney looks outside he has this overwhelming feeling building up. The kids are just being kids but it’s all getting on top of him. He can’t face the outside world because, he is worried that something bad will happen to him.
Fiz and Sinead try to confront him, how does that go?
Chesney shrugs it off and to prove to them he’s okay, he chucks himself in at the deep end and says he will take Ruby and Hope out later. Afterwards he wonders what he’s signed himself up for…
Chesney has another panic attack on the bus and has to get off, when does he realise he’s left the kids behind?
He doesn’t realise. He has a panic attack where he just has to stop the bus and get out of the situation. The doors won’t open so he is kicking and banging them, then when he does get out he sprints off, he doesn’t even know where he is going. It’s not until it all starts coming back to him that he realises about Hope and Ruby. In the midst of the attack he’s not aware of much at all.
Tyrone eventually finds him at the allotment, what kind of state is he in?
Very fragile, he’s severely embarrassed and feels terrible about what’s happened. Family and being a good parent are so important to Chesney, and he has left his nieces on the bus where anything could have happened. Tyrone tries to comfort him and tell him to get on with it, but he doesn’t think he can.
What sort of research did you do for this storyline?
I had a lot of help. I tried to read and learn as much as I could about people who go through this in real life, speaking to directors and cast mates who have friends who have experienced panic attacks. I also spoke to Mikey North about when Gary had the post traumatic stress syndrome storyline and he was really helpful.
Could this bring Chesney and Sinead back together?
Yes, but for how long, I don’t know. They do love each other and Sinead feels like she needs to be there for him right now, but when the dust settles? It’s hard to say. I don’t know if she is the right girl for him long term.
Are you enjoying the chance to do something different with the character?
Yes it has been really challenging but in a good way. I’ve found it invigorating, especially as I’ve never done a story like this in my 14 years of being here. I’m enjoying it.