In scenes airing on Wednesday night from 8pm on ITV, Ryan is supported by his aunt, Carla Barlow (Alison King). But the surgeon explains that his face isn’t healing as they hoped, and that he will need another skin graft; leading to a distressed Ryan fleeing from the hospital.
Carla and Daisy Midgeley (Charlotte Jordan) eventually find a distressed Ryan by the tram station. It remains to be seen whether he will find the strength to go ahead with the surgery; but there are powerful scenes ahead.
Prescott gives the subject matter his all, with a sensitive and heartbreaking performance. When he previously spoke about the storyline, it was clear just how important it is to him to honour real-life survivors.
Now, Prescott talks us through his alter ego’s mindset as his bandages are removed for the first time. “For Ryan, I don’t think he expects it to be as bad as it is. He has never seen major burns before so he doesn’t know what to expect and because he has been in bandages for so long he gets into a little comfortable zone with just wearing the bandages," he said.
"Once his facial injuries are revealed to him, it knocks it right out of him again.
"The initial glances are heartbreaking. The first time he sees his face, he is thinking, ‘I am never going to have love in my life again. I am going to be the one that people look at in the street.’
"In that moment, all those feelings he was trying to ignore come rushing to the surface and he realises that there is no way this is going to heal and he is going to look like his burns haven’t been there. It confirms to him that this is going to affect every aspect of the rest of his life, no matter what.”
Asked about his thoughts on Ryan’s journey and the use of prosthetics, he says: “I wanted to do this storyline because I thought it was a great responsibility to be able to open up a dialogue about acid attack survivors, especially after some research I realised how much more prevalent acid violence is than what I originally thought. I knew that the prosthetics [were] always going to be part of it and that was one of the positives to it.”
The ITV soap enlisted Emmy and Bafta award winning SFX artist Davy Jones for the task of creating Ryan’s prosthetics. Also on hand was Gillian Walsh, Head of Hair & Makeup and Special FX at Coronation Street; and fellow makeup prosthetic designer Beks Scott. Jones tells us how it feels to be involved in this storyline.
“We are always being asked to do crazy, strange things but as I am 62 years old now, it’s lovely to still get work from people who are your friends and still feel like you are current!" he says. "You stop feeling current at 62 years old, when you’ve been doing this job for 30 years!
“I remember when there used to be BBC, ITV and Channel 4 and I was scraping for work but now it’s a gluttony of work so we are able to weigh up what work we choose to do. It’s about what the jobs give you creatively and it’s got to feel right.”
Wearing the prosthetics is a big part of the process when getting into Ryan’s mindset, explains Prescott. “Through my research for the storyline, I had spoken to numerous people who have survived acid attacks who have real facial injuries and it’s really nothing compared to what some people have gone through in real life.
“I had always thought of the prosthetics as an edge of that reality and now wearing the prosthetics make me reflect on the reasons why I am doing this storyline.
"The prosthetics remind me that I want to further the dialogue of what people are actually going through in real life. For those scenes, it was really helpful and it didn’t take much to take me to that place that Ryan was in."
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