Coronation Street vicar Billy Mayhew will be praying to survive this Christmas after being kidnapped by a vengeful Peter Barlow. With Peter having now found out about Billy’s part in his sister Susan’s death, the stage is set for a tense confrontation that will see the panicked clergyman left teetering on a cliff edge while bound in Mr Barlow’s boot. Will Billy be meeting his maker? Here’s actor Daniel Brocklebank with all the gossip about the big Christmas Day episode:
How did you feel when you found out you’d be up against the Barlows?
Well, they are Corrie, aren’t they? To be suddenly involved in the history of that family is fantastic. Although I am slightly nervous as the family are so loved. I didn’t know if I was going to get lynched for what happened to Susan!
What was it like to film the scenes where Peter bundles Billy into the boot of a car?
Having never been bundled into the boot of a car myself before, it was surprisingly comfortable! It was much more physical than normal as we’re usually dialogue-led. For Billy to be in that situation brings out different aspects of the character and explores new emotions. I’ve come out feeling like I know him a lot better.
Does Billy think he could die at any point during the confrontation?
Because of what has led him up to that point, his head is in a bit of a whirlwind anyway so he’s not thinking clearly. I don’t think he knows what the hell is going on. Once that car is reversed up to the edge of the cliff, then in that moment he possibly thinks ‘this is it’ and starts praying. You would, though, wouldn’t you?
Did you feel claustrophobic?
No, because obviously you know you can get out. We filmed some of the boot stuff a few weeks before which was just an hour or two. It was very different as we had a big black tent over the boot, which stays open so it looks like the camera is in the boot with me. But there’s not enough room for me, the camera and the cameraman so obviously we have to cheat that. It was a lot of fun.
Was it challenging filming such dark scenes with Chris Gascoyne (Peter)?
We have had such a laugh working together. It’s not dark, I think it’s more dramatic and led by emotion. It’s certainly not anywhere near in terms of the darkness we have seen recently with Phelan and Andy’s story. It’s not going in that direction.
How will Billy cope as a single parent now Todd’s gone?
On vicar’s wages? It’s going to be quite tough! I think obviously kids require as much family around them as possible, and there is a lot of extended family. From my own experience, within the LGBT community your friends become your family as well, so it’s not just necessarily about parents or blood relatives, it’s about the wider circle you have. Billy’s got Eileen, Eva – there are extended branches there to help out.
Do you think Eileen will fight his corner if she finds out about his past?
I actually don’t know whether she does find out. Eileen’s pretty cool, she’s very level-headed and all the time Billy’s been associated with the Grimshaws she’s always been stoic.
Could all this make Billy question his faith?
I think Billy’s faith is unwavering. He has doubts in it here and there but I would hate to lose that about him. It’s been such a linchpin of the character for me that I don’t think he would lose it.
Finally, how would you sum up Billy’s Christmas?
He’s on a drip, so he’s probably had better! It’s not going to be his best one…