MND comes to the Corrie cobbles
The MND Association has been supporting the team at ITV’s Coronation Street with the portrayal of a character diagnosed with motor neurone disease.
What's the matter with Paul Foreman from Coronation Street?
In March, viewers saw Paul Foreman starting to struggle with his grip. He began dropping glasses, was seen mis-throwing darts in the pub and was sent home from work after experiencing difficulty handling his tools. His symptoms were initially blamed on a car accident but he was eventually referred to a neurologist for tests.
Paul’s MND diagnosis
What is motor neurone disease?
Motor neurone disease (MND) affects the nerves known as motor neurones. These nerves are found in the brain and spinal cord and they help tell your muscles what to do. MND affects your movement and is a progressive disease. We have lots of information on what is MND and its symptoms in the About MND section of our website.
I am experiencing similar symptoms to Paul. Do I have MND?
There is information on our website about the early signs of MND. If you have any concerns at all, please speak to your GP in the first instance.
What they are showing on screen isn’t how it is for me. Why aren't they being factual?
Everyone's experience of MND is different with diagnosis and symptoms starting at different stages, in different orders and with different impacts. The team at Coronation Street are showing one person’s progression and one person's experience without suggesting that is what happens to everyone. And of course, Coronation Street is a drama and there has to be a certain amount of artistic license. From what we've seen so far we are confident that our community will recognise conversations, situations, challenges and solutions they themselves have faced. We are really grateful to the scriptwriters and production team at Coronation Street for the time and effort they have taken so far to get this right for the MND community.
If, like Paul, you have just been newly diagnosed with MND, we have information on our website which may help you understand more about the disease and help you to make informed decisions.
What other aspects of MND are they going to show on Coronation Street?
We aren't able – and wouldn't want – to share any spoilers! We are continuing to work with the Coronation Street team and are sharing information about the progression of the disease, the impact on the person and those close to them and the kind of challenges they may face. Of course, the decision about what is and isn’t shown is entirely up to them but we are confident they are taking their responsibility to portray MND on screen as accurately as possible.
Timeline of Paul’s storyline: Key episode dates
- 22 February: Paul starts to experience symptoms for the first time, including a shaking hand
- 22 March: Paul was referred to a neurologist for his symptoms
- 26 April: Paul received a diagnosis of MND
- 30 May: Paul tells his family about his diagnosis
- 21 June: Paul's mum Bernie has applied for the PIP benefit whilst he's on a mini-moon with Billy
- 23 June: Paul's legs give way whilst getting off a bus. Bernie continues to interfere
- 2 October: Paul and Billy get married
- 11 November: Paul is told he has 6-12 months to live
- 16 November: Paul uses I Will Always Be Me e-book to bank his voice (see below for more on this)
What is going to happen to Paul in Coronation Street?
The Coronation Street team are still scoping out storylines and scripts. They are continuing to work with us and we will share information as and when we can but of course don't want to spoil the viewing experience for fans.
More information about Paul Foreman
Paul Foreman is a builder who lives with his partner Billy Mayhew, although they’ve had a rocky, on-off relationship.
Paul is played by Peter Ash, and Billy is played by Daniel Brocklebank. Daniel is a long-standing Ambassador for the Association in tribute to his grandfather who died of MND 20 years ago.
Listen to the bonus podcast episode on Conversation Street which features Daniel Brocklebank, who plays Billy Mayhew and Chris James, from the MND Association. Daniel talks about his involvement in the current MND storyline alongside some of his highlights of his time on Coronation Street.
Your questions about the Coronation Street storyline, answered
What is 'I Will Always Be Me', the e-book mentioned in Wednesday's episode?
I Will Always Be Me is a revolutionary e-book created to improve the voice banking process for people with motor neurone disease (MND). It was developed by organisations involved in the MND Association’s NextGen Think Tank, which brings together global tech companies and people living with MND to design and develop new technologies. Read more about I Will Always Be Me
Has the actor Peter Ash got MND? Did they consider using an actor with MND?
No, Peter Ash, the actor who plays Paul, doesn't have MND. The Coronation Street team felt the storyline would work best by having a well-known and much-loved character diagnosed with MND to following the story from pre-diagnosis.
Why did they share the story in the media rather than doing a big reveal on screen?
The Coronation Street team have been incredibly aware of the sensitivities around this storyline and didn’t feel it was right to do a big reveal on screen. They preferred to launch the story more softly in the media before Paul’s MND diagnosis. This obviously gives people the option to not watch the programme if they feel they may be affected by it.
Has the Association helped shape the storyline?
Yes. Coronation Street approached us last Autumn, confidentially, to say they were considering introducing a character with MND. We talked to them at length about the disease, the symptoms, the options, how the story might progress etc.
Why hasn't the MND Association been mentioned on Coronation Street?
As a production company they aren’t allowed to give what is called 'undue prominence' to an organisation / charity / group / product etc. In the same way Coronation Street can’t have a product placement advert for Cadbury or McDonalds on the bus stop for example, they can’t mention the Association. We are however working with them to create opportunities running alongside the programme so, for instance, on social media, through interviews with the cast and through activity directly with us – on our podcast, in Thumb Print etc
What is the Association's take on having MND featured on prime-time television?
So many people in our community talk to us about how important awareness is and how much they want us to educate the public, so they don't have to explain themselves or the disease to people. Imagine having a terminal illness and then having to explain what it is repeatedly. It's heart-breaking. We are working hard to change that and the kind of awareness that will come from this storyline will help enormously.
Six million viewers will see a character living through an MND diagnosis and then progressing through the disease on screen. They will all gain a better understanding of what MND is, the impact on the person and, just as importantly, on those around them. People in the MND community often say it’s not a community that anyone would ever want to be part of but once you are, it is a community, offering support, love and time to each other. We will see the value of that community support as the character Paul’s loved ones and neighbours rally around him.
I'm not happy with how MND has been portrayed on Coronation Street
Coronation Street is fictional dramatic entertainment, and it is not intended to be a factual documentary. Much of what happens needs to be dramatic or unusual in order to be entertaining. We know there might be elements of Paul's MND diagnosis storyline that some people will not be comfortable with, but the Coronation Street team are taking their responsibility to the MND community very seriously and are continuing to work with us.
As part of our ongoing work with the team we are passing on to the programme makers any comments we receive about the episodes featuring MND.
We’d like to invite the actors involved to come to a branch and group / fundraising / volunteering event
Peter Ash and Daniel Brocklebank are keen to do as much as they can to support the MND community but of course this has to be balanced with their work and personal commitments. Our Head of VIP Liaison is working with the Coronation Street team, Peter and Daniel to maximise the support they are able to give us. Please email any requests to [email protected] in the first instance.