(This post was originally posted by Ruth Owen on the Coronation Street Blog in November 2014.)
Sean Tully has been unlucky
in love to say the least, but there will soon be a new man on the scene. The
new man is a man of the cloth, a man of God - in short he’s a vicar.
I was privileged to meet
Antony Cotton at Media City as he talked about his new storyline. Sean hasn’t
had a meaty story for some time, but it really is his turn now.
Asked why Sean is unlucky in
love, Antony gave quite an amazing answer. Sean came into Coronation Street,
just as Raquel, played by Sarah Lancashire, left. It is Antony’s theory that
the writers carried on writing for Raquel, who they seemed to think had
metamorphosised into Sean. Never having written for an openly gay man, they
basically wrote Sean as Raquel. So, it stands to reason that Sean is always
unlucky in love because Raquel was.
Antony knew that he had to hit
the ground running when he first appeared on screen. He said that at first, he
would have been happy with three months, but then decided that he had to get
himself, as an actor, noticed so that he could extend his time on the cobbles.
So, 13 years later – well, something went right.
Antony pointed out that Sean
has not really had a story for a year now, other than being at The Rovers, the
factory and at the Grimshaw’s. As long as he’s there present in the show, he’s
happy though. Antony enjoys very much living with the Grimshaw’s and working
with Sue Cleaver, Eileen, Bruno Langley, Todd and Ryan Thomas, Jason. He says
that the writers have the ‘family voice’ exactly right as they do with the
the older brother they never wanted,’ laughed Antony but actually he is like
their older brother and they have simply forgotten that they are not related.
In the Grimshaw household Sean was originally a lodger but is now most
definitely part of the family. He is Eileen’s rock and someone she could not
Sean is more than that too.
Sean, uniquely, amongst the cast has no enemies in Weatherfield. He is its
moral voice and compass. If Sean says it’s wrong, then it’s wrong.
Who then is the new man in
Sean’s life? Well, Underworld has
planned an outing, but gradually everyone drops out except for Sean and Sinead.
Sinead is a strange dancer, apparently, but she does manage to get Billy, who
is leading his congregation the next day, and Sean, talking. The actor who
plays Billy is in the show initially for 6 months. It could be more, but Antony
doesn’t know what the writers have in store for Sean and Billy. What Antony does
know is that Billy is a very hardworking vicar because his work is a vocation
rather than just a job. Billy is also a modernizer, which may well cause
conflict with the more traditional members of the congregation.
Interestingly, Antony says
that he never watches himself playing Sean. He fast forwards to avoid himself,
though he does enjoy watching the rest of the cast.
Asked if there were any
downsides to playing Sean, Antony spoke of the vile abuse he receives on social
media. He wasn’t specific about the insults but did say that they consisted of
the vilest, nastiest insults that anyone could possibly throw at someone. It is
then most admirable, under such provocation, that Antony has never once
retaliated – in fact he makes a point of never ‘slagging anyone else off.’
On the plus side, and because
he is in the show, Antony has several achievements to his name. He is an
ambassador for the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. He has met the queen,
he has been twice to Number 10, under 2 governments, and his mum, Edna, is very
pleased by this.
Antony has also done
considerable work for LGBT support. Sean has never apologized on the cobbles
for who he is and nor has Antony, the character reflecting the person and the
person reflecting the character.
Antony’s mum, as mentioned,
is called Edna and that is what Antony has called her all his life. His mum
would have loved him to call her mum, but it wasn’t to be.
There is a gentle, but solid
self confidence in Antony Cotton, which seems to have been with him for some
time. As a five-year old, just starting school, he said to the teacher, ‘I have
come here to learn how to read and write, no to colour in.’
Asked if he would like to
stay in the show until he’s as old as Norris and Rita, there was a definite
yes. He envisages himself and Fiz as the future Norris and Rita. Though of
course, Sean would be a much more likeable person.
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