(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog January 2018, reposted to this blog with permission.)
How did you prepare for this storyline?
Coronation Street helped me meet an OCD sufferer called Richard and it was very emotional to hear everything he had been through and how it affects his day to day life. I asked him questions about how to portray his OCD because I wanted it to come across well and realistic on screen. It was really helpful to speak to Richard and he shared his story with me and I was able to relate it to Craig’s journey.
Tell us about Craig’s OCD.
Craig has ritual OCD. It started off on screen as Craig looking at his watch and only being able to leave on even numbers but now it has developed in to these rituals which we see Craig having to perform to leave the house. The charity I met and Richard both said that although cleanliness is OCD and it is disabling and it is awful, they would rather us go against the OCD stereotype. Some people watching will question why he is doing that but it is OCD, it’s the illness and people do have to live their lives like that.
What was the trigger for Craig’s OCD?
The starting point was that Craig saw the dead body of Lara on the railway tracks and he wasn’t prepared to see that, he only wanted to see her because he thought she was Bethany. Later that day there was the court case and it was Craig’s turn to speak in court but he got the time wrong when being questioned. So ever since then he has started by drawing twenty four hour clocks and developed an obsession with time. This then developed into an obsession with even numbers and now it has come to this ritual that he has to perform.
Does Craig realise how serious his OCD has become?
Craig feels like this is completely normal but when the routine gets broken or he has to start again the feeling is frustration because he feels, “Why can’t I do this? What is wrong with me?” He has to keep doing the ritual and doing the ritual until he can complete it.
How does Craig feel when Jess suggests that if he’s not careful he’ll become a corrupt officer like Neil?
Jess says to Craig that his is how Neil started off because he has bent the rules and that’s really hard for Craig because Neil raped his girlfriend and that’s not what Craig thinks he is doing at all. He thinks that Jess has gone too far and it throws him so he has to do the rituals because he feels like Neil is going to do something to Bethany or something bad is going to happen to Bethany again.
What happens when Craig realises he is late for his date with Bethany?
Craig is meant to be meeting Bethany later but everything just goes wrong, for example the phone is ringing and someone is buzzing him so the ritual goes wrong and he loses count. Everything is just going downhill then he realises he has missed the date with Bethany but he has to get back into his ritual because he just can’t stop doing it.
What's Craig’s reaction when Liam sees him performing his rituals?
Craig tries to brush it off by describing what he is doing and he would never say that to an adult but because it is Liam, Craig lets his guard slip. Craig tells Liam that when he is doing the rituals, he is keeping people safe. From that, we know what Craig means in his head but Liam took it as Craig is a superhero so Craig goes along with that he has magical powers.
How does Craig feel that someone now knows about his OCD?
It’s agreed that it is their secret but that is really hard for Craig because he has to agree to it. Craig should never have to be in that position with a young child because he is relying on him to keep quiet.
Does something change at that moment?
Craig slowly starts to gather with Liam that what he is doing is not normal but he thinks this is what he has got to do. The difficult thing for Craig is that the person he cares about most in the world is Bethany and he thinks that everything he is doing is keeping Bethany safe. He really does believe that.
How would Craig feel if other people found out?
It would concern him because he is trying hard to impress Bethany and be there for her. One of the things that Richard told me was that you know that something is wrong but you don’t know what so you hide it from everyone, even the people closest to you. I have tried to do that in my performance.
What do you hope this storyline will achieve?
I want to do it justice for people who suffer from OCD. I would like to help rid of the stigma of OCD and help people to understand and raise awareness. Hopefully anyone is watching it who recognises the symptoms that Craig has can speak to someone about it or be pointed in the right direction.
What was your reaction when you first read the scripts for this storyline?
I felt excitement because I was looking forward to taking this on and doing it justice and hopefully I will. Both my parents work in mental health so I have talked to them about it and I have also been given advice from Ian Puleston-Davies. I have just read some scripts that made me cry when I read them for the first time.
What’s it like working with Donnaleigh Bailey who plays Jess?
Donnaleigh is brilliant. It’s great to work with someone who was in my position - she was in Doctors when she was my age so she is full of advice and she is really fun to work with. She is very helpful and talks me through a lot of things like being in a soap at a young age.
Tvor @tvordlj on Twitter