Coronation Streets Cherylee Houston makes soap return from home in discrimination storyline
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Coronation Street star Cherylee Houston is set to make her return to the cobbles with a storyline about disability discrimination during the pandemic that was filmed from her own home.
Izzy Armstrong actor Cherylee, 46, has been absent from screens as she has been shielding in real-life since last March because of her own health conditions and wanted to show what others in the same position were going through with the new storyline.
The character usually works in knicker factory Underworld, but has been unable to come into work because of the coronavirus pandemic and bosses Carla and Sarah will attempt to set her up with working from home in the new plot.
But Carla will become frustrated as Izzy struggles to keep up with the workload from home and threatens to sack her if she won't come back into the factory – a discriminatory situation that reflects real life for many disabled people since shielding guidance changed in March this year.
Cherylee is working from home in real life, too, as the scenes were shot at her actual home and her partner Toby Hadoke even cameos as her neighbour.
Talking about her welcome return to the ITV soap, Cherylee said: “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."
She continued: “There’s 14.1 million people in the UK, that’s 1 in 5 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.
“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).”
Coronation Street producer Iain MacLeod added: “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.”
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