Corrie stars Simon Gregson and Kym Marsh tell us why they’re so proud of their poignant storyline
Steve McDonald has been Coronation Street’s affable goofball for so long that actor Simon Gregson admits he had reservations when he first found out his character was set to develop depression.
“I first found out a few months ago,” recalls the 40-year-old. “Our producer called me to one side and let me know about it. My first thoughts were, ‘Hmm, have you chosen the right guy?’, because of the kind of comedy element and the silliness that Steve brings to the show.”
But it wasn’t long before Gregson realised it was a brilliant move.
“If it could happen to Steve, it could happen to anybody,” he says.
As audiences have seen, in recent weeks, Steve has been growing increasingly distant from his family and friends, and acting in an ever-more erratic manner, failing to show up for work and making rash decisions, including the purchase of a sports car and “a ridiculous Christmas” he’s set to lay on for his daughter Amy.
But, unlike viewers, his partner Michelle has no idea what’s going on.
“She thinks he’s an idiot, but he’s her idiot. That’s why she loves him, but she can’t understand why he’s changed so much,” explains actress Kym Marsh, who joined the soap as Michelle in 2006.
“She thinks he doesn’t love her any more.”
Things are set to come to a head for the couple when she suggests they get away for the weekend – Steve’s reluctant so Michelle gives him an ultimatum: tell her what’s going on, or it’s over.
Although his doctor’s diagnosed the depression, Steve remains in denial.
“Basically, he’s not telling anybody what he’s going through. He seems to be embarrassed, he won’t even admit it to himself, let alone to his nearest and dearest. He pushes Michelle away really,” explains Gregson. “It’s a big label to put on somebody, so his initial reaction is, ‘I’ve just got a lot of stress, a lot of things on my mind, but I’ll be fine’.”
It’s why Gregson and the Corrie team have no interest in showing Steve in a continuously morose mood.
“The thing with depression is it affects people in different ways,” says Gregson.
“There’s no set way to play this role. Some people can have it and their friends and family don’t know. We’re also aware there has to be peaks and troughs, good days and bad days.”
Marsh, who came to prominence in the band Hear’Say, has also spoken of her struggle with depression.
She adds: “I think it’s something a lot of people will be able to relate to, whether you’re the person going through the depression, or someone close to a person suffering. That’s the beauty of the story really, it’s touching on all subjects.”
Neither of the actors are sure how the storyline will play out, but Marsh believes Steve will eventually open up about what’s really going on.
“I think ultimately, that will be how they come back together,” continues Marsh. “Michelle can be feisty but she’s a very supportive character. I think once he tells her, she’ll absolutely be his rock.”
But in the meantime, both are enjoying getting to grips with a challenging storyline.
“At first we thought, ‘Wow, there have been so many years of silliness and enjoying ourselves, we’ve got to actually work now’, but after the first day or so, it was like, ‘I’m really getting into this’, so it’s nice to be back in the chair, so to speak,” says Gregson.
Marsh adds: “Primarily, Simon’s character’s going through this, but it has a knock-on effect on everybody and it’s been an honour to be involved in something so serious, and to be trusted with that.”
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