Richard Hawley has praised Shayne Ward's "beautiful" 'Coronation Street' performance, describing it as "like an angel walking amongst our world".

Richard Hawley

Richard Hawley

The 63-year-old star's character Johnny Connor will be left heart-broken in tonight's (09.05.18) hour-long 'Corrie' special when he discovers his son Aidan Connor (Shayne) has taken his own life, and the former 'Family Affairs' actor was really impressed with the ex-'X Factor' winner's portrayal.

He said: "I think Shayne played the whole thing beautifully. What he managed to connect with was the disconnect you feel from other people when you're in that place.

"There's almost two performances going on. I looked at his performance and it's like an angel walking amongst our world almost.

"There's an interior and an exterior performance going on. That's exactly how it feels. That's exactly how it is.

"You put so much effort into your exterior, pretending it's OK, and inside we're crumbling."

Richard admitted the 'Corrie' cast and crew were determined to portray the hard-hitting plot - in which Aidan takes his own life after living with weeks of inner turmoil - "incredibly powerfully" due to their own personal experiences, including the suicide of a crew member a few years ago.

He said: "I've had experience of pretty much this exact same story a number of times.

"We had this experience with 'Coronation Street' as well. So everybody wanted to do this show incredibly powerfully and try to make a difference with it.

"So certainly in our performances we tried to honour our friends and family and everybody who is connected to the storyline."

While tonight's hour-long special will be tough to watch for some, Richard has called on people to take the "positive" out of the storyline, insisting the hard-hitting plot - which is aiming to raise awareness of male suicide, and has seen 'Corrie' team up with charities Samaritans and CALM - should be "starting a discussion".

Speaking on ITV's 'Lorraine', he added: "We've got tragedy, comedy, grotesque, and sometimes in your face campaigning going, 'This is a carrying call.'

"Let's enjoy it [the storyline]. It's powerful, there's a lot of positive stuff.

"I think it's been done incredibly well. This is starting a discussion. It's important how we take it on from here and how we build on it.

"I've seen tonight's episode. I didn't know if I wanted to watch them live or not."