Nick actor quit Corrie for family then returned after drastic backstage changes

After nearly drowning in a horrifying quicksand ordeal, Nick Tilsley left the cobbles in June 2017.

Coronation Street star Ben Pearce, who joined the cast in late 2009 as the third actor to play Gail Platt’s eldest son, decided to leave the cobbles for entirely “personal” reasons.

Rather than going off to explore new opportunities like most departing cast members, Ben explained it had been “the most significant part” of his career but he wanted to spend more time with his loved ones.

“The decision to leave is purely personal – I want to be able to spend more time with my family,” he explained.

“I have been supported by a terrific cast and crew and have had the most glorious storylines and for that I am most grateful.”

Luckily for Ben, Corrie bosses decided that Nick would not be killed off in that quicksand because he was back just a year later amid major changes backstage.

Nick Tilsley nearly died after being sucked into deep quicksand
Nick Tilsley nearly died after being sucked into deep quicksand

Ben went back down south with his fashion stylist wife Alexandra and their two kids – daughter Paloma and son Maximilian.

During his time away, Ben got a chance to do the school run, make his kids’ packed lunches and write and direct his film Hope Dies Last.

“My kids were getting to a place where I hadn’t been there and I needed to just say to my wife and my kids: ‘I’m home, I’m here’,” he told The Daily Star.

“I only left to go back to my kids. I was more than happy at Corrie. I just could not get the balance right between being away from my family and working.

“It was never about me going off and doing other things, it was only ever about me going home and doing the school run and making sandwiches.

“So I took them to school and made packed lunches and became a dad and didn’t think about acting or Nick Tilsley or the Street.

“I was a stay-at-home dad. I did some writing, I did my film stuff, which was great, but I just took my kids to school. It’s pretty unglamorous, it’s just life.”

Ben had the chance to spend more time with wife Alexandra
Ben had the chance to spend more time with wife Alexandra

However, in a surprise move that few saw coming, Ben was back on the cobbles a year after his emotional exit.

Ben explained that former Corrie boss Kate Oates secured the actor’s return by giving him more flexible hours.

Pushing filming for his scenes into a shorter period of time meant Ben had a better work/life balance and was able to travel back to see his family for more of the weekend.

“We met twice for a very long lunch and we talked for a long time. They worked out a way that I can get a balance and once they said that then that was fine,” he revealed.

“I now have a different way of working. I get a longer weekend – they make sure I can get home on a Friday. They crush my work into busy days rather than it elongating over time.

“And they are aware that I have to find that balance now. It’s a really different working week and I couldn’t be happier to be back.”

Ben Price is the third actor to play Nick Tilsley
Ben Price is the third actor to play Nick Tilsley

In the soap, Nick returned to be with his own true love – Leanne – but faced a fierce backlash from his family.

While Nick was gone, his brother David was drugged and raped by evil Josh, while niece Bethany was groomed and abused by sick Nathan’s sex ring.

Ben’s character has been at the centre of some massive storyline since his return, including discovering he has a long lost child and the death of his step son, Oliver.

Leanne and Steve’s son, who Nick once believed was his own, was diagnosed with with an incurable form of mitochondrial disease and sadly passed away.

The heartbreaking storyline often left Ben with actual tears because of his own kids – and he struggled to turn it off at the end of the day.

“I’ve got kids, it’s hard. It’s important but I’d be lying if I don’t go home at night sometimes and read the next bunch of scripts or the next scenes and have a little cry,” he told The Mirror.

Nick is back on the cobbles tonight
Nick is back on the cobbles tonight – and discovers his son is in grave danger

“You feel it, you’ve got to, you’re paid to feel it, but I can’t quite ever turn it off.

“We’ve been dealing with the Lily Foundation, who are going through this in real life, and it’s an important story to tell so you do feel a responsibility as an actor.”

After a few weeks away, Nick is back on the cobbles tonight after discovering his son Sam is in grave danger.

Nick had been in the safety of his witness protection compound with Leanne and Simon, who have received death threats from evil gangster Harvey and his cronies while they prepare to testify against him in court.

But now Nick’s family have been dragged into the mess as Harvey’s aunt Sharon arranged for the schoolboy to be taken away in the back of a van.

Will Nick be able to save his son before it’s too late?

*Coronation Street airs tonight on ITV at 7.30pm and 8.30pm

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