Coronation Street has this evening aired the shock death of Shelly Rossington (Natalie Amber), who had been befriended by Paul (Peter Ash) following his diagnosis with motor neurone disease.
Paul had first met Shelly at an MND support group back in July, and though initially confronted by the further progression of her own MND, the two became firm friends with Paul warming to her no-holds-barred attitude and positive outlook.
The past few weeks had seen Paul’s mum Bernie (Jane Hazlegrove) also become closer to Shelly, with Bernie helping Shelly out with a little money-making scheme she had going on.
Having been sacked from her zero-hours contract job at a department store call centre following her diagnosis, Shelly took out a credit card with the company and has been using it to buy laptops in bulk, which she has been selling on in order to finance her team of carers.
Paul was confused as to why she’d take out a card with Moorsteads after they screwed her over, whilst Bernie pointed out that she would eventually have to pay the money back, but Shelly had already thought of that. “By the time they realise I’ve racked up all this debt, I’ll be six feet under,” she explained. “Good luck trying to get it off me then!”
Far from judging her, Bernie thought that Shelly deserved a medal. Hearing that the neighbour who had helped Shelly take deliveries and sell the goods on has now moved away, Bernie offered to help Shelly out by offloading some stock through Big Garth (Victor McGuire) on the market—for a cut of the profits to help with Paul’s own care needs.
Tonight’s episode saw Paul uncover Bernie’s side-hustle when he walked in to find a load of deliveries addressed to Shelly in Bernie’s front room. Admitting her part in the scheme, Bernie gave Paul a tin of cash, the proceeds so far, to do with as he wished.
After talking it over with fiance Billy (Daniel Brocklebank), who made no judgement on the morality of keeping it, Paul decided to return it to Shelly and explain that Bernie’s involvement had to come to an end.
However, having so far refused to make use of his wheelchair, Paul’s journey to Shelly’s apartment went awry when he had a fall whilst walking along the canal. Forced to reluctantly call Todd (Gareth Pierce) for help, and with a vinyl record he’d bought for Shelly now smashed, Paul opted to return home.
Breaking down in tears as he told Billy what had happened, Paul admitted that he whilst he had never wanted to use the wheelchair, he knows the time has come.
His mood was lightened when Summer (Harriet Bibby) wheeled him over to the Rovers to debut his new look to find his friends didn’t bat an eyelid. Later that evening, having left a voicemail for Shelly earlier in the day to warn of his impending arrival, Paul tried to ring again to apologise for the no-show.
However, little did he realise that over at Shelly’s apartment, carer Jim (Jamie Cymbal) had not long discovered Shelly’s body in the bedroom. As he let the paramedics in, he explained that there was no pulse and believed she must have gone in her sleep.
Although the cause of death will not be revealed until next week, the last time we saw Shelly in Wednesday evening’s episode, she was suffering from a cold which caused her to have a nasty cough.
Next week, as Billy and Paul prepare for their stag do, Bernie is shocked when the police arrive on her doorstep, wishing to ask some questions regarding a potential fraud investigation involving Shelly. Hauled down to the station, Bernie simply states that she was helping a young MND sufferer by collecting a few parcels.
But when the police then bring Bernie up to date about the latest development, Bernie is forced to deliver the grave news to Paul…
How will Paul cope now that the only friend who understands what he’s going through is now gone?
Taking to Instagram earlier today, actor Natalie Amber spoke out about the importance of the storyline.
“Playing Shelly and being part of Paul’s MND storyline on @coronationstreet has really shown the power of storytelling in being able to connect with viewers and raise awareness of really important issues,” she said. “Over the last few months I have met so many different lovely people who have connected with this storyline, and sparked some really interesting conversations around MND.”
“One fan the other day after watching Corrie went on to iplayer to find the documentary #robburrow as she just released that Motor Neurone disease is what her neighbour has,” Natalie added. “Watching both Rob’s amazing documentary and Coronation st has given her the confidence to reach out to her neighbour and say hi.”