How would you describe Ed?
First and foremost, Ed is a great dad. I also like to think that Ed is everybody’s go to friend. He’s the kind of guy you meet in the pub or the cafe and have a chat with. He’s just a regular nice guy who has a positive involvement with everyone on the street, whether he’s fixing things for them or giving them advice – I think perhaps this could be down to an underlying penitence making up for his past mistakes.
Ed’s Gambling obviously isn’t something that will just go away with time. We are aware that previously, the Bailey’s lost everything including their family home due to gambling. Can you tell us a bit about Ed’s past?
The Bailey’s came to Coronation Street due to Ed bringing his whole family into crisis and almost lost everything due to his gambling addiction. Ed was doing very well before moving to the street, he was an accomplished builder, but not the hands on builder we now see – he was an Executive and spent most of his time in suits. When they moved to Corrie, they took everything that they had left and you can actually see that the furniture barely fits into their current house due to the size difference. This is a constant reminder to Ed that he used to be someone else, he was successful, and I don’t think that guilt will ever leave him. I feel this really emphasises the tragedy behind Ed getting sucked back into gambling because he truly thought he had conquered it.
Initially, Ed didn’t want to invest the shares into Newton and Ridley as it was gambling and Aggie would never approve. Does Ed take full accountability for resurfacing his gambling issue or deep down does he think Ronnie could be partly to blame?
I think at one point he does blame Ronnie. His brother had a chance to make a lot of money on the sly through insider trading and having information on the company’s buyout that he shouldn’t have. It was still a massive risk as if it didn’t go the way they expected it to then they would lose everything they have invested. Suddenly, Ed found himself in a position where he was praying for a win. All of those old feelings he had when he previously gambled were rushing back again. It was wrong for Ron to put Ed in that direction but Ed should have known better. Ed will never forgive himself for his relapse, although he may want to find someone else to blame initially, he will always take full accountability.
The Bailey’s have always had such a solid family structure, particularly Ed and Aggie, who have gotten each other through everything. Do you think if Aggie was around, that this could have saved Ed? Or was a relapse inevitable?
To be honest, it’s almost impossible to tell. When a gambler is really determined, they will find a way to do it. He fooled Aggie once, so with him falling off the wagon, he would probably be more deceitful if anything. It’s not out of an evil intention, it’s just out of absolute desperation, because he is doing something he doesn’t actually want to do, but he can’t help himself. So in that moment, a huge part of it for Ed is about protecting the people you love. I think he feels like he’s big and strong enough to deal with it himself, and that’s his delusion because in doing so, he isn’t protecting his family at all. And of course, once that bubble bursts, you realise that you’ve not just been lying to yourself, but everyone around you which is even more hurtful to your family.
We previously saw Ed’s gambling not only affect himself, but also Michael as during the investigation of Stephen’s stolen money, as Michael was found with a bag filled with Ed’s gambling money. Is it far from over after this realisation?
Absolutely, and the guilt is huge for Ed. But at the same time, unfortunately, the money succeeds in helping his son out which further adds to the justification that’s gone into the back of Ed’s head. Unfortunately everyone loves to win and it’s good news when you can pull something like that off, but you become delusional about what you’re actually capable of. There’s something I call The Superman Complex which is when the idea of losing just isn’t there and if you do lose, you just ignore it so you can move on to the next one. Michael is a big heartbreaker for Ed because Michael was the one who found out about Ed’s gambling the first time and stood by his dad, and in some instances took the blame for him just to keep the truth from his mother. So, in a way, Michael has damaged himself in his own integrity because of the love for his father. Ed now feels like he has been able to help Michael, which will further his addiction and give him a purpose to continue.
This week, Michael opens the letter addressed to Norris Cole about his credit card being frozen. Do you think Ed can talk his way out of this? Do you think he has almost become a professional liar being able to conceal the gambling addiction?
Yeah, a professional liar at this point is definitely the right term. But I think what really turns people’s heads is the charisma that someone can find to portray those lies, because to do so, you’ve got to be a great actor. I think with gamblers and most addicts, they are not aware of how brilliant an actor they are. Improvising on the spot isn’t something that most people can do easily, so if you are caught on the spot you can end up making different versions of stories before you’re forced to own up. Whereas addicts are great at covering all of their sources and can think a way round of everything. I guess it’s sink or swim, and that’s how they swim.
Ed seems to always get himself out of tricky situations at the last minute due to his gambling, do you think that makes it harder for him to stop? Because he is relying on his wins?
Unfortunately, the game of winning can’t carry on forever. There’s no real logic going on because of the excitement of gambling. It’s as if Ed is using 5% of his brain, the other 95% knows better but he still gives in to that small 5%. I’ve also learned through research and speaking with gamblers, that when things get really bad with losing, people will still achieve the same endorphin rush as winning, because it’s just down to the act, not the end result. It’s just the relief and endorphin rush you get from doing your routine of going into a betting shop, or however you choose to gamble.
What do you think it would take for Ed to realise that he needs help?
There’s one thing that will always save Ed and that’s the love of his family. He loves his family more than his love for gambling and that will always save him. Ed’s a father first, then a husband, then a builder then an addict last. The pain of what he’s done to his family is awful. When your loved ones discover they can’t trust you, and you’re capable of lying and leading them astray, that damage is worse than financial loss. With help and sensible discipline, you can get the financial loss back, but whether you can always get the people you betrayed back, well, that’s the hardest part.
How have you been preparing to portray Ed’s gambling addiction? Have you been working with any charities or doing your own research?
I’ve recently been in contact with GamCare, an independent UK charity, who are incredible, wonderful people and this was a real eye opener for me as I got to speak to two lived experienced managers. I want to get this storyline right and really do it justice, so it was great being able to chat to the team at GamCare and confirm a lot of my research to ensure I’m portraying it correctly. Over the years, I’ve been researching and talking to various people involved with gambling. I’ve also just sat in casinos and people watched where I have seen the ugly sides of it. In the bookies and casinos, you tend to see the same faces all the time where I guess this kind of fraternity develops. If you surround yourself with people who enjoy gambling, then you allow yourself to seek comfort in it. Charities like GamCare who encourage you to find a new fraternity, with a new language outside of gambling is absolutely vital.
What advice would you like to give Ed?
I would say to Ed to remember who he was and that he can get through this with the help and support of his friends and family. I wouldn’t insult him by reminding him about his past mistakes, but to remind him how strong he was to get back on the right track after everything that previously happened.
Coronation Street airs at 8pm on ITV1 every Monday, Wednesday and Friday