It was the moment that we’ve all been waiting for in Monday (May 29)’s Coronation Street, when Gemma Winter (Dolly-Rose Campbell) and Chesney Brown (Sam Aston) finally tied the knot – and emotions were running high.
It was a classic soap wedding, complete with the most outrageously elaborate wedding dress ever. So wide it could barely fit down the aisle, Gemma’s bright orange tulle explosion of a frock, complete with fairy lights and seven metre long train, was a total showstopper.
True to Gemma’s larger-than-life personality, her wedding vows were a bit special too, as they were composed of song titles from the mix tapes that mum Bernie (Jane Hazlegrove) used to make when Gemma was little.
No soap wedding is complete without a fight and this one came courtesy of mother-of-the-bride Bernie getting irate when she discovered that Linda (Jacqueline Leonard) had paid for a lot of the wedding, including Chesney’s suit, the catering and the flowers. Their argument ended up in a cake fight.
If all this sounds like light-hearted fun, a lot of it was. But running through the whole episode was the knowledge that Gemma’s twin brother Paul (Peter Ash) was keeping a secret from her. He’s been diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) and knows he will most likely die within a few years at most.
Paul’s symptoms, which started with his hand, have started to cause him to drag his leg as he walks and for this reason he tried to avoid the wedding altogether. In the end, after Joseph (William Flanagan) told him how upset Gemma was that he wouldn’t be at the wedding, he decided to go.
In an incredibly moving scene Billy (Daniel Brocklebank) helped him to get ready for the event and shaved him. ‘I don’t know what I’d do without you,’ Paul told his partner and you could see the feeling was mutual.
Later Billy barely kept it together as he conducted the wedding, with Paul doing his best to mask his symptoms as he walked his sister down the aisle. Gemma looked a little concerned about him, but that was soon forgotten as she and Chesney made their vows and were married.
Paul was worried when he was told he was expected to make a speech, but he took to the microphone when the food fight kicked off in an effort to calm things down. His poignant speech started with him saying he couldn’t remember when he last felt so happy. He talked about his childhood when he and Gemma were separated for a lot of the time.
As he started to say they’d wasted so much time in the past he couldn’t continue, as the thought of how limited their remaining time together was hit him hard. He hurriedly left, his foot dragging as he went.
Gemma followed him and found him crying. She wouldn’t rest until he’d told her what was going on with him.
Unable to find any easier words to explain, he just blurted it out: ‘I’m dying. Okay? I’m dying,’ he sobbed.
Gemma’s jaw dropped as she tried to take in what he’d said, and behind her Bernie, who’d just walked in, looked the same.
Ruining Gemma’s wedding was the last thing Paul wanted to do and was a huge reason why he kept his diagnosis to himself for so long, but now the secret is out. How will Bernie and Gemma come to terms with the fact that they’re going to lose Paul?
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