Coronation Street star Peter Ash teases soap’s first successful gay wedding between Paul and Billy
Coronation Street star Peter Ash has spoken about his character Paul Foreman’s upcoming marriage to Billy Mayhew, as the onscreen gay couple prepare set to mark a major first for the soap.
Despite introducing a range of LGBTQ+ characters over the years, the long-running ITV soap has never seen a queer couple successfully make it down the aisle. The most recent attempt was in 2019 when lesbian couple Rana (Bhavna Limbachia) and Kate (Faye Brookes) almost tied the knot before – in classic soap style – the former died on their wedding day.
In 2021, the showrunners announced that gay archdeacon Billy, played by Daniel Brocklebank, would be one half of the first gay couple to officially get married on the series. Two years on, and with the love triangle between him, Paul and Todd Grimshaw firmly in the past, that day is almost here.
In an episode due to air on ITV1 on Monday (2 October), the couple will celebrate their nuptials at Weatherfield’s famed location, Viaduct Bistro. Although there are no imminent threats of disaster on the way, viewers are already bracing for tragedy because Paul has been diagnosed with terminal Motor Neurone Disease.
In an interview with OK! magazine, Ash said: “The wedding is a beacon of bright light. Despite all the negative news that Paul’s had since the diagnosis, getting to marry Billy is just great, it’s perfect, it’s what he wants to do with the time he has left.”
Despite the happy occasion, Paul knows Billy is still downcast because he was hoping to get married in a church, given his religious devotion.
“[Paul] wants a church wedding mainly for Billy, because he’s devoted his life to the Church. So, it’s disappointing, especially when there can’t be any religious music.
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“Billy’s downplaying it, but Paul really is a bit upset he can’t have any of that at their wedding.”
Although the couple have many challenges ahead, Ash described filming the nuptials as a “breath of fresh air”, given the heavier scenes they have encountered in recent months.
“It was so nice and a lovely day. We had a great time. It was great fun. It was a really nice change to do such a joyous occasion amid all the sadness.”
Although builder Paul and Billy will be making Corrie history, the future is looking bleak as Paul works out how to tell Billy he wants to pursue assisted dying when his health condition worsens.
The soap’s LGBTQ+ characters have faced tough situations over the years. In 2010, gay couple Sean Tully (Antony Cotton) and Marcus Dent (Charlie Condou) were meant to get married but split up before their big day arrived. The following year, Sian Powers (Sacha Parkinson) jilted Sophie Webster (Brooke Vincent) at the altar.
Sophie’s luck didn’t change when, in 2015, she watched her lover Maddie (Amy James-Kelly) die following an explosion at the Builder’s Yard.
When the latest marriage between Paul and Billy was announced, out gay actor Brocklebank shared his joy at the news.
“From my perspective, I would love to be part of Corrie’s first male gay wedding… it would be lovely, as a gay man myself, to be part of the first gay wedding that actually happens,” he said at the time.
Coronation Street airs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 8pm on ITV1, except during the rugby World Cup.
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