TV actor Ian Puleston-Davies – known for roles across many high-profile dramas – has recalled how Coronation Street co-stars supported him as he managed symptoms of OCD while filming the soap.
The Owen Windass star often catastrophises things such as stains, explaining that his mental health disorder can make him fear he is being poisoned.
‘My thoughts are mainly to do with contamination or fear of harm to myself or to others,’ he shared.
‘If I spot a stain, my unwanted thought will tell me it’s toxic and dangerous, that if I or my children touch it, something awful will happen.
‘I can often go back 10 or 20 times to examine the stain.’
Understandably, this means than TV sets can be a trigger, but a number of cast mates were conscious of Ian’s symptoms and would offer reassurance.
The Waterloo Road actor told The Mirror: ‘I remember Antony Cotton, who plays Sean, who would be behind the bar in the Rovers Return, was very good before a scene, saying, “I’ve checked the glasses, Ian. There are no chips.”
‘He was always very good at reassuring me there were no stains on any of the glasses before he served me a pint.
‘We had a lot of scenes on pretend building sites. If dust got in my eye I’d think I scratched my retina and Mikey North would look to check.’
Ian went on to say how he didn’t confront his OCD, which first manifested itself when he was seven, for years as no-one, including doctors, knew about it.
‘It was my very best secret,’ he said. ‘I wasn’t going to anyone about these “habits” I had. Not even my parents.’
The 65-year-old was eventually diagnosed at the age of 35.
Describing the condition as ‘seriously disabling’, Ian has previously, and candidly, discussed his OCD in a BBC documentary.
‘OCD can vary a great deal. It’s not all about washing hands. For me I can obsess about anything, from a stain on a piece of paper to the fear I’ll injure myself simply sitting down,’ he said.
‘Then I’m compelled to do some mental checks, or perform careful rituals to quell my anxiety.
‘There’s part of me that knows my fears are irrational, but that doesn’t help. Once I’ve got a thought in my head, I just keep over-thinking it.’
He added: ‘For years I couldn’t go to the cinema because I’d be obsessing about why a couple sitting behind me had decided to watch that film that night, why he chose that tie, what was in her handbag, where were they going to eat later, and so on and so on.
‘When you’ve got OCD, the thoughts get stuck and your mind can be a blur trying to analyse it all.
‘Over the years I’ve had help and learned to manage it, but it can still get very noisy in my head.’
It is estimated that 1-2% of the UK population suffers from OCD, although the figure is expected to be higher due to non-diagnoses.
Also a writer and director, Ian starred as hot-headed builder Owen in Corrie between 2010 and 2015.
Since then, he hasn’t stopped working, becoming a regular face in very high profile TV shows including Tin Star, Marcella, Pennyworth, The Bay and D.I. Ray.
Other credits include Silent Witness, Vera, A Confession, Viewpoint, The Teacher and Four Lives.
Despite this heavy schedule, he is very open to returning to the cobbles, saying it will be ‘great to be back with my mates.’
You can find out more on OCD, and get support, by visiting the website of the charity OCD-UK.
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