It’s the sex grooming storyline that has caused controversy among Corrie fans but actor Chris Harper – who plays the sleazy Nathan Curtis – says it is important that the soap tackle such a sensitive issue.
Over the past few weeks viewers have watched in horror as his character has slowly charmed the 16-year-old Bethany Platt into his life, secretly intent on selling her for sex to his mates.
And in spite of much criticism from viewers concerning the harrowing plot, Chris says that he and the producers have taken it very seriously and ensured that it has been written and presented sensitively.
In preparation for the plot, he said that he had met with grooming survivors to find out more about the experience they had gone through.
“I had an amazing time with a campaigner and survivor from the NSPCC,” he revealed.
“On the stairwell afterwards I was talking to their head of press and just promptly burst into tears on her because it just got too much what some of these poor people have been through.
He added: “Some of the research has been quite harrowing. The storyline and where it’s going now is quite hard to act as well, there’s some horrible stuff.”
Speaking in defence of the controversial storyline, Chris has said that he thinks it’s important for a soap like Corrie to raise such sensitive issues because this kind of abuse can happen to anyone, anywhere.
“Abuse is not limited to a class, race or religion,” he commented. “It happens across the board in school groups, football groups. It could be your uncle.”
Show insiders have hinted that there will be some shock plot twists coming up over the next few weeks.
However, Chris says he’s happy his character finally gets his comeuppance.
“I don’t want him to get away with what he’s doing,” he told the Daily Star. “I just couldn’t imagine a place for him in Coronation Street.”
“He’s got to go down for this”
“It would just be wrong, especially if like later on he got into a nice romance and everyone went ‘Yeah he used to be a real dodgy bloke but he’s nice now.’
“No, he’s got to go down for this.”
Without giving too much away, Chris has said that Nathan’s exit storyline will really help viewers who may identify with the story and show them that there is a way out.
“I think the message of the story, what we really want is to tell it right,” he explained. “Anyone watching it who fears for themselves or someone else will then know there’s somewhere to go.”
Over the next few episodes, viewers will see Nathan trying to isolate Bethany from her friends and family.
And it won’t be long before the manipulative groomer steps up his plan to pimp her out to his grotty gang of sex friends.
At one point Nathan fears Bethany’s friend Craig Tinker could compromise his wicked plans, and so tries go convince Bethany that he is actually obsessed with her and that it would be in her best interests to steer clear of him.
He then persuades her to stay over at his flat, which causes ructions with her uncle David and mum Sarah.
Nevertheless, she does sleep over and the next morning when she’s preparing brekkie for him, Nathan sneakily takes a picture of her and sends it to a sleazy mate who has one thing on his dirty mind.
When mum Sarah finds out her daughter spent the night with the older man and has started bunking off school she blows her top and drags her from the salon to tell her off.
Sarah will eventually confront Nathan, but he manages to turn on the charm and tell her he only wants the best for her daughter.
Viewers will be left wondering if Sarah will buy what he says or if she will put a stop to these saucy shenanigans once and for all.
When the storyline first began back in December, viewers complained in their droves about the icky plot, but TV watchdog Ofcom said that they were NOT going to pursue the complaints.
“We assessed complaints about this storyline,” a spokesperson for the regulator told Express.co.uk.
“We concluded the content was neither graphic nor violent, and took into account Coronation Street’s established role in covering challenging or distressing social issues.”