Entertainment & Arts

Corrie actor's homeless storyline mirrors real life

Image copyright Andrew Boyce
Image caption Corrie star Antony Cotton has revealed the similarities between his character's storyline and an acquaintance's real-life experience

Coronation Street actor Antony Cotton has revealed his upcoming storyline about homelessness coincidentally mirrors a real-life experience.

In the ITV soap, he plays barman Sean Tully, who is set to lose his job at the Rovers Return which forces him to sleep in a tent.

Cotton has said he helped a homeless acquaintance in a similar predicament.

"At every point we've filmed it I've been able to say: 'My experience is this,'" he said.

The "spooky" experience happened earlier this year when the soap star was filming reality TV show Dancing On Ice.

The acquaintance had been forced to leave his family home and resorted to staying in a tent in a stairwell of a council block in Fleetwood, Lancashire.

Cotton said he paid for the man to stay in a hotel, before helping to find him housing through the homelessness charity, Barnabus.

Image copyright ITV
Image caption Cotton, pictured left with Alan Halsall, has played Corrie's Sean Tully since 2003

"I'd kept this secret (from the Corrie cast) because it was a private thing.

"I rang up and said: 'There's a really odd line about Sean, he's lying about this job'. They said: 'He's going to be homeless'. Our assistant producer said 'It's a community story about homelessness'.

"I said: 'Where's he actually going to live? Whose sofa is he on?' They said: 'He's not going to be on a sofa. He's going to be homeless, living in a tent.'

"If somebody had said that to me without me going through this I would have said 'That just does not happen'.

"Turns out it's true and very spookily it was the identical story. So much so that I had to go back to Barnabus and say: 'I don't want you to think I've come in here for some weird research and I've picked up this homeless person online'."

Cotton said his character Sean's pride leads to him sleeping rough as he is too embarrassed to tell the truth about his shift in fortune.

The scenes will be shown from next week.

Cotton also revealed that his uncle had been pretending to go to work five years after losing his job for a similar reason.

Image copyright Mark Robert Milan
Image caption Cotton hopes his storyline will change perceptions about homelessness

Cotton hopes that the three-month storyline will help to change wider perceptions about homeless people.

"What's been a real joy is sometimes, not necessarily this show or other shows, you do issue-based storylines and you can tell it's purely for the end to drive traffic to a website.

"Fact is sometimes stranger that fiction. For me there's a real truth in it. It's a character-based storyline, which we all know Coronation Street does better than anybody else.

"The one thing I hope people will take from it is it can happen to anyone."

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