This article includes discussion around terminal illness and assisted suicide that some readers may find upsetting.


Peter Ash has opened up about his Coronation Street character Paul Foreman's secret plan, as he comes to terms with his eventual death from motor neurone disease.

Paul recently confided in Todd Grimshaw (Gareth Pierce) that he wants to go ahead with an assisted dying plan, rather than letting his illness control how he passes away.

Todd was stunned, but was forced to agree not to tell Paul's partner Billy Mayhew (Daniel Brocklebank).

Speaking to and other press, Ash explains that the death of Paul's friend Shelly (Natalie Amber) was the catalyst for his big decision.

"Through Shelly, he found someone who totally understands his situation. Meeting Shelly, they got on so well, I think Paul felt he could tell her anything.

"Losing Shelly, it was a big shock for Paul. Also, it's kind of looking at Paul's future," says the actor.

"Shelly is just Paul a bit further down the MND journey, so I think it was a wake up call, I guess, for him to make the most of what he's got left, and to plan what exactly he wants to do.

"So, yeah, Shelly dying obviously brings it all back for Paul, and Paul's determined to end things on his own terms - and [she] didn't get to do that.

"Paul really, really wants to do that before he can't speak any more, or do the little things. Knowing that Shelly was alone at the end, Paul just wants it to be on his terms."

Asked how Paul handles the weight of this secret, Ash reveals: "He will have the guilt of, again, hiding something from Billy, but the reasons for that [are that] he knows how Billy would react to that.

"Obviously, they have talked about it when it was brought up earlier, and then it was kind of quashed when they then decided to get married."

While we won't know how long Paul can keep this from Billy, the couple will say 'I do' next week. The star tells us that it made a refreshing change to film a happy event in between the more heartbreaking scenes.

"As you're aware, we've had so many scenes of things being just devastating and so sad, and kind of hopeless, really. So the filming of the wedding was a breath of fresh air," he smiles.

"It was so nice and a lovely day; great people, all day working with [them]. We had a great time, it was great fun, [and a] real nice change to do such a joyous occasion, to film such a joyous thing amidst all the sadness."

One recent moment earned a big reaction from viewers, as Paul persuaded Billy to go skinny-dipping with him!

"The stuff at the lake, the skinny-dipping, again, that was a great, fun day. The water was great, got a bit cold towards the end! [We were] shivering a bit towards the end," he laughs.

Discussing the feedback from those scenes, Ash goes on to show his appreciation for the overall response for Paul's story.

"The response was amazing. I mean, the response since the beginning from people has just been overwhelming, honestly. The way people have responded to Paul's story has been something really special.

"We're all very happy and thank everyone for the positive feedback."

Coronation Street airs Paul's wedding to Billy on Monday 2nd October at 8pm on ITV.

For information and support on all aspects of motor neurone disease, visit the MND Association's website or call the charity on 0808 802 6262.

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