Coronation Street’s Cherylee Houston will film from her own home with real-life partner Toby – as she returns to soap after shielding for 18 months
Coronation Street star Cherylee Houston is set to film scenes at her own home alongside her real-life partner Toby Hadoke.
The 46-year-old actress had been unable to work on the soap as she’s shielding since March 2020 due to a rare connective tissue disorder, which makes her vulnerable to coronavirus.
Cherylee will now be back on screens after 18 months away as she will shoot scenes for the show about having a disability and working remotely.
New job: Coronation Street’s Cherylee Houston will film scenes from her own home with real-life partner Toby – as she returns to soap after 18 months shielding (pictured together in 2016)
Toby will play a neighbour of Cherylee’s character, factory worker Izzy Armstrong, who has been granted permission to work from home.
The plot line aims to highlight the plight faced by millions of disabled people amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Cherylee, who was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome when she was 23, said: ‘There’s 14.1 million people in the UK, that’s one in five of us. We are employees, carers, front line workers, volunteers and a key part of every community.
‘The pandemic has had an incredible impact on many disabled people due to social isolation, certain services being unavailable and a lack of understanding.’
Stayed home: The 46-year-old actress had been unable to work as she’s shielding since March 2020 due to a rare connective tissue disorder, which makes her vulnerable to Covid
She continued: ‘There’s currently 4.4 million disabled workers in the UK. We experience almost double the unemployment statistics compared to our non-disabled peers (mostly due to prejudice or lack of reasonable adjustments).
‘I have been unbelievably fortunate that my employers enabled me to continue shielding after the official shielding guidance ended in March.’
‘I’ve been so supported by ITV, but I’m aware that many of my disabled peers who were previously shielding haven’t had that safety and have been forced to make the decision to earn money to survive whilst facing the real fear of death or serious illness through COVID.’
Plot: Toby will play a neighbour of Cherylee’s character, factory worker Izzy Armstrong, who has been granted permission to work from home (pictured: Toby and Cherylee in 2016)
In the new plot line, Toby’s character Fergus is forced to step in when Underworld boss Carla Connor [Alison King] is left increasingly frustrated by the quality of Izzy’s work she is producing from home.
In upcoming scenes, the business boss is expecting to deliver Izzy an ultimatum to either catch up on her work, or she will be let go.
The show’s writers and producers have collaborated with Cherylee for months on the storyline.
Working from home: The story will highlight the plight of many disabled people working from home as Izzy is delivered an ultimatum to either catch up on her work, or she will be let go
In a report published earlier this month, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) listed findings in a survey carried out by workers with disabilities.
Their survey found that one in 13 had been the subject of bullying and/or harassment, were ignored or excluded, singled out for criticism or being monitored excessively at work.
One in eight believed that their disability had affected their chances of gaining promotion in the future.
While one in eight said they were concerned their disability had affected how their performance would be assessed by their manager.
Speaking about the new storyline, producer Iain MacLeod said: ‘We had to think outside the box in order to tell this story, devising new protocols and ways of scripting scenes that would allow Cherylee to film the scenes herself in her home.
‘It certainly helped that her partner Toby is a fabulous actor!
‘Despite all the technical challenges we had to overcome, this was a story that needed telling and I hope it will resonate with millions of people who have found themselves in a similar position to Izzy – and perhaps open the eyes of millions of others who had little awareness of the issues facing disabled people during COVID.’
New storyline: The show’s writers and producers have collaborated with Cherylee for months on the plot