Coronation Street star Daniel Brocklebank, who plays Billy Mayhew, has revealed that he has turned to a former EastEnders actor to help him through a current storyline in which his screen daughter Summer Spellman has been diagnosed with type one diabetes.
Billy and partner Todd initially thought Summer was suffering from an eating disorder when she recently became weak and tired, and collapsed several times.
But hospital tests revealed she was diabetic, and Billy is now trying to make sure that the teenager keeps on top of her regular insulin injections, which are needed to keep her blood glucose levels under control.
Says Daniel, “It’s hard enough as it is, being a teenager and dealing with puberty, exams and all of that, and especially now with social media.
“So I think Billy’s very conscious that Summer has to be looked after in all departments, not just with her diabetes but with her mental health, too.
“One of my best mates is Jonny Labey, who used to be in EastEnders (as Ben Mitchell’s boyfriend, Paul Coker). We used to live together in London, and he was diagnosed at 15 as a type one diabetic.
“So it’s been really handy for me, having him on the phone, and asking ‘How did your parents deal with it?’ and ‘How did you feel?’ and to be able to use him as a point of reference to know what it was like.”
Summer’s diabetes diagnosis isn’t the only issue that’s set to be occupying Billy’s mind.
This week in Coronation Street, the vicar will be knocked for six when boyfriend Todd proposes.
Adds Daniel, “It’s very unexpected, and I don’t think Billy really knows what to say; he’s just a bit lost for words.
“I’m not sure that it’s because he doesn’t want to marry Todd, it’s just that he’s always said he wanted to get married in a church. He is a religious person - an Archdeacon now - and obviously the gays can’t get married in a church, still.
“But it does come out of the blue, and he says ‘We’ve only been back together five minutes.’ Todd’s only just come back into his and Summer’s lives, so to solidify that with marriage is a big step.
“I don’t think Billy takes that sort of commitment lightly, so he wants to make sure it’s the right one before giving an answer.”
Billy eventually agrees to take the plunge, only for Todd to then be confronted by Will, the teenager he recruited last year to help him split up Billy and Paul, who demands a large sum of cash for his silence.
How will Billy react when he inevitably discovers the tawdry lengths Todd went to, to win him back?
Coronation Street air dates have changed due to Euro 2020 football - see our TV Guide for listings. All of this week's episodes are available to stream on ITV Hub now.
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