Coronation Street is to air a storyline highlighting the “plight” faced by disabled workers during the pandemic, the makers of the programme have said.
The ITV soap will show Izzy Armstrong, who is played by Cherylee Houston, trying to work from home and “struggling to keep up with the workload”, a statement said.
She will be threatened with dismissal if she refuses to return to work in person.
The scenes were filmed at home by Houston, who has been shielding, and her partner Toby Hadoke, who will also play Izzy’s concerned neighbour Fergus.
Houston 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 added: “We are employees, carers, frontline 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.”
Coronation Street 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.”