If there’s one soap storyline that got everyone talking in 2018, it was Aidan Connor’s suicide in Coronation Street.
And that’s saying a lot in a year that has seen the nation’s favourite soaps tackle some hard hitting issues – including male rape, sexual consent and historical abuse – in amongst the usual servings of murder and affairs.
Aidan’s story, played out so beautifully by Shayne Ward, touched the hearts of Corrie viewers because it was presented to us in the rawest way possible.
There were no huge, screaming signs that the character was contemplating ending his own life. There was no shock moment where he did it. There wasn’t a sensational scene that showed the discovery of Aidan’s body.
It was written and was played out with such huge yet subtle emotion that everyone who saw those episodes was moved by them.
And the response was phenomenal, ED! readers had nothing but praise for the actors and writers.
There was reportedly a surge in men calling suicide helplines and Shayne himself spoke out about the Aidan Connor effect, telling The Sun: “A lot of people who are considering attempting suicide have got in touch to say, ‘I’m calling somebody now. I was attempting it and you’ve helped me.’ The response has been truly overwhelming.”
Yet the groundbreaking storyline has been left off the long-list for this year’s National Television Awards and we can’t get our heads around why.
We don’t need to tell you how much of an important subject this was to tackle, but to just hammer some facts home again – suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK.
Some 84 men a week die by suicide in our country. That equates to one every two hours.
This story got people talking about something that had been – up until this year – so ridiculously taboo, and the importance of that can never be exaggerated.
If Aidan’s story saved even one man’s life by getting him to talk about his thoughts and feelings, a job well done.
Shayne spoke out about the snub in a (now-deleted) tweet where he told his followers how hurt he felt by it being overlooked. And we are feeling that with him.
It wasn’t just Aidan’s suicide that was delivered so perfectly either, Corrie managed to absolutely nail the aftermath and the ripples Aidan’s death sent round the community.
Shayne mentioned his on-screen dad Richard Hawley’s performance as grieving Johnny Connor in his tweet – and rightly so. Richard played out Johnny’s agony and devastation at losing his only son with such gritty realism that it was sometimes hard to remember that we were watching a soap.
Cath Tyldesley as Aidan’s devastated ex Eva Price was also breathtaking. The performances given by these actors felt so raw and personal that sometimes it felt uncomfortable to watch, like we were seeing other people’s private pain. And that is quite a remarkable feat.
And let’s talk about Shayne for a moment. When he started his role as Aidan he was best known for winning the X Factor back in 2005, he wasn’t known for being an actor.
Coupled with that the snobbiness that is often put on soap actors and the odds were really stacked against him to pull off something like this.
But he did it. And he did it absolutely brilliantly. Shayne said that this was the one he worked hard for and it was achingly clear in the scenes leading up to Aidan’s death that he really had pulled out all the stops to get it right.
His performance was beautifully subtle and heartbreaking, particularly his final scene in his flat where Aidan’s emotional pain was palpable through the screen.
Shayne apologised today for his tweet being misconstrued by some people as his ego talking but it was obvious enough that he cares passionately about a very important social issue and hoped to raise further awareness for it.
— Shayne Ward (@shayneTward) October 17, 2018
It’s no wonder he felt hurt for the snub from the National Television Awards, the storyline and what Corrie achieved with it should absolutely have been given some recognition.
Shayne, you and every single person who worked on that storyline are winners in our eyes.
Do you agree this was a mistake on the part of the NTAs? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix and let us know what you think.