Richard Hawley gave Shayne Ward an African thumb piano as a leaving present when he departed 'Coronation Street'.

Richard Hawley

Richard Hawley

The 62-year-old actor also has one of the wooden musical instruments and is keen to duet with the former 'X Factor' winner - who has 18-month-old daughter Willow with ex-'Hollyoaks' actress Sophie Austin - on their thumb pianos at some point.

Richard - who plays Johnny Connor in the ITV soap - said: "The thumb piano, yes I did give him one. I've got one and I hope one day we can duet together on them but mainly I got it because he's going to be singing to Willow.

"So I thought I'd get him one so he can sing his stories to Willow at night and it'll be lovely."

Richard plays the dad of Shayne's late character Aidan Connor - who took his own life last month - and the former 'Family Affairs' actor admits his first thought when he was handed such a hard-hitting storyline, which has seen Johnny break down following Aidan's suicide, was that he wouldn't be able to take on the plot.

He said: "My first response is, 'I don't think I can do that.' Almost always I go into a place of fear.

"When I saw it you think the intention of this story is to make a difference in the real world. To jump through the TV screens and for people to recognise it as something that is actually going on."

Richard hasn't been back home to Brighton "for months" because he has been filming in Manchester, but is grateful to be on the ITV soap because it has given him and his co-stars an "enormous voice" to highlight big issues, such as male suicide.

Speaking on 'Good Morning Britain', he added: "I actually live in Brighton but I'm up here all week and I've been up here for months, I haven't been home for months, but I live near the studio. I walk to the studio, do the work, go home. There's more learning every night. It's been a very intense period, so there's not much time to be a celebrity.

"And I'm not very good at being a celebrity anyway. But it ['Corrie'] has given me and others an enormous voice, in this case, to continue campaigning after this story moves on."