Eva Price has been left feeling awash with guilt after learning about Aidan Connor’s suicide in Coronation Street. Here, Catherine Tyldesley reveals all about co-star Shayne Ward’s departure and why the tears she cried were absolutely genuine:
So, Cath, how did you feel when you first heard about storyline? I am 100 per cent behind this storyline and I understand why the programme wanted to do it with Aidan. Aidan is so loved and it appears everything is going well for him and on the surface he’s happy. I believe this is what happens and it can be very hard to spot the signs someone is struggling to the extent that they are considering suicide. I feel it’s important to highlight in this way because I really don’t think it’s talked about enough at all. Men don’t talk as much as they should and this shows in the figures of the number of men who tragically have taken their own life.
Aidan and Shayne are men that people can identify with. If the storyline can encourage someone to speak out and talk about how they’re feeling as a result of watching then surely that’s a good thing?
Obviously I knew it meant the end of Shayne’s time with Coronation Street and I was very sad that he was going to be leaving, but when you get to my age everyone in some way has been affected by suicide. There are several people that I know who’ve been lost to suicide and I think most people have had some experience of the tragedy of someone taking their own life.
Can soaps play a part in getting these messages across? Soap is the perfect way to get this issue out there to ensure it’s talked about. How often do you access information unless you’re in the doctors or a community centre? But seeing something on television is more accessible and you only need to see the increase in men coming forward as a result of David’s rape storyline to see the difference we can make. If we can use Coronation Street as a platform to highlight this issue then that is amazing.
How did you feel about Shayne leaving the show? We clicked from day one, and we’ve just been inseparable ever since, so personally I’m gutted that we’re no longer working together. But I understand completely why this has happened. Whenever we had down time we just had a giggle. He’s like my brother and he’s such a team player, and no one has a bad word to say about him. He’s such a gentleman and he looks after everyone – cast and crew. He is a genuine soul and I do feel lost without him.
What happens when Aidan comes round to see Eva at the cottage? Eva doesn’t know why Aidan has come to the house. She’s previously told him about the baby and had hoped he would want to make it work, but his reaction was such that she backtracked and said it wasn’t his child. Deep down he knew she was telling the truth, but he couldn’t deal with it. Unbeknownst to her, he’s struggling so much mentally that he just can’t cope with the news. Wrongly, he thinks that everyone is better off without him, including his child.
When he comes to the cottage he knows – having seen the baby and witnessed Toyah’s reaction – that it’s his. She’s shocked when he arrives, but hope starts to build within her and she believes he has come to see her because he wants to try and make a go of their relationship. She tells him that she loves him and he says he loves her. By the time he leaves her mind is racing and she is convinced he wants her back. She thinks she s going to have to tell Toyah she wants the baby back. It’s her dream come true and when she finds the engagement ring that he’s left behind. it seals it for her.
She has no idea what his real plan is and by the time she returns to the Street the next day she’s too late and is devastated by what he has done.
They are very emotional scenes. What were they like to film? The scenes asked for Eva to cry, but I didn’t have to try. I replayed all the scenes we’d ever played together in my head – all the wedding scenes, the lovely moments between Eva and Aidan – and the tears just flowed. I enjoyed working with Shayne so much and I had all those memories to draw on. The way the journey has been structured is compelling and I didn’t have to try and dig for those emotions, because they were already there. The scripts are beautifully written and it wasn’t difficult to feel the emotion that Eva was feeling.
That said, they were incredibly tough to film, because it felt very real. Shayne’s final scenes on his last day of filming were just the two of us out on location at the cottage and it was very emotional. We were both wiped out afterwards.
How did you and Shayne plan the scenes? We talked a lot about the storyline and how it would play out. We’ve worked so closely together for such a long time and know each other’s characters inside out and we knew instinctively how we wanted to play it. Whenever we had spare time we rehearsed because we wanted to put everything we had into those scenes.
Will Eva blame herself moving forward? She believes she’s responsible, but she’s not to blame of course. However, she’s riddled with guilt. The reaction of Eva and the Connors is so important in this story. We’ve been grieving and crying in pretty much every scene, and your body thinks that it is real.
Eva’s life is full of secrets and she’s feeling terribly guilty. It is eating away at her because she’s given away Aidan’s baby and now she doesn’t have either of them. She keeps thinking back to what they had together.
Is this one of the best storyline you have been involved in? Yes 100 per cent and it’s definitely the most important storyline we could be telling. This narrative began a year ago and to be working on such an important story before I leave Coronation Street is a privilege and an honour.
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news