(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog June 2017, reposted to this blog with permission.)
Richard Hawley, who plays Johnny Connor in Coronation Street, was interviewed on ITV's Lorraine this week about the Multiple Sclerosis storyline in the show.
He told Lorraine it was a great privilege to play out the MS storyline.
"All the resources have gone into it really. I knew it was going to be a story that's multifacited. It's not just about he exteriors, it's about the interiors that go on. It's a diagnosis he’s lived with for two decades."
The actor spent a lot of time with MS sufferer Richard Bones and his wife Jan, and revealed it was storylines like this that he joined Corrie for.
He said: "One of the first conversations I had with Richard was specifically about men being able to go to the doctors and ask for help. It's difficult with the story as its compressed. Johnny has gone into denial, done all the wrong things in some way, put all his happiness on hold and isolated himself. But when you get a diagnosis you go into denial. It's about accepting yourself I think."
Asked about how the storyline had affected him personally he said: “Yes, it has changed me, I take lessons from what I have learned. I feel really enriched by the whole experience. Once you are through the diagnosis you get on with your life and in someways it feels like life but slightly supercharged.
“There is an end for all of us and there is probably some illness and pain. As you get older various bits and bobs go wrong. My dad had Alzheimer's and dementia and there is something out there waiting for us all. But from speaking with the MS Society I have learned you should try to get on with building creatively and positively and try to be courageous. And I have tried to do a bit more and enjoy where I am and be engaged with life. We are in a time where life is about hope not fear, and caring for one another. MS is not a great thing but it helps people to treasure the preciousness of life and trying to keep going forward.”
Richard said that he first learned of the MS storyline for his character Johnny at the start of the year. Corrie producer Kate Oates told him that it is not an exit storyline. You can read more on that here.
You can find out more about MS about at www.mssociety.org.uk
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