Coronation Street star takes break to fight illness

Regular: Simon Gregson (Steve) will be a huge loss to the show
Regular: Simon Gregson (Steve) will be a huge loss to the show

Simon Gregson, who has played Steve McDonald on Coronation Street for over 25 years, is to take a break from the show to battle illness, according to reports.

Gregson, 40, has recently been at the heart of a very dramatic storyline where Steve battles depression and the demands of that plot have taken their toll.

“He put everything into it. It had a big impact on him because it helped to raise awareness of a condition which affects thousands of a condition which affects thousands of people,” a source is quoted as saying in The Sun.

“He’s decided to take a bit of time out and has the support of everyone on the show.”

There is no date for Gregson's return but he is expected to be off our screens for several months.

Gregson was one of the actors who opted out of the upcoming live episode and he was last on the cobbles two weeks ago, before rehearsals for the live show began

The actor is also expecting his third child with wife Emma.

In an interview last year Gregson revealed he himself fought depression in his early twenties and that was why he was determined to give his all to his character's battle with the illness.

Meanwhile, producer Stuart Blackburn's exit from the soap is said to have "boost morale" after he became unpopular with the cast and crew.

An insider shared: "This announcement will massively boost cast morale in the run-up to the live episode as Stuart was becoming unpopular with them, the writers and production.

"The announcement ahead of the live episode was timed to disguise the fact he's leaving when ratings are down and the show's in really bad shape."

Whilst a 'Coronation Street' source added to The Sun newspaper: "There's been discontent among the cast. Stuart's characters did not work and he seemed obsessed with big-name comebacks."