Coronation Street confirms historic child sex abuse storyline for Gemma, Paul and Bernie

The ITV soap has been working alongside Survivors Manchester

Coronation Street has confirmed it’s set to tackle the horrifying subject of historic sexual abuse.

In a statement released today (August 8), the ITV soap announced it will explore the devastating effects of historic child sexual abuse within a family.

Gemma and Paul Corrie
Gemma Winter and her twin brother Paul (Credit: ITV)

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We’re told that Gemma Winter’s world is set to be “torn apart” when it is revealed that her twin brother Paul was sexually abused by their stepdad Kel.

In the coming weeks, Kel will come back into their lives when Gemma and Paul’s mum Bernie is reunited with her ex.

It soon becomes evident that whilst Gemma and Bernie welcome Kel back into the fold, Paul is unnerved by his return and struggles to be around him.

Bernie reunites with her ex-Kel (Credit: ITV)

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Unbeknownst to Gemma and Bernie, Kel sexually abused Paul when he was a young teenager and the innocent boy was groomed into believing he and Kel were in a consensual relationship.

When Paul’s partner Billy Mayhew discovers the secret, he tells Paul that he was a young child and was in fact sexually abused.

The heartbreaking story will explore Paul’s struggle to come to terms with what happened to him and his ultimate fight for justice.

Paul joined the ITV soap earlier this year (Credit: ITV)

As the story develops, Bernie will find it difficult to cope with the fact that she had no idea what was going on under her own roof.

Coronation Street producers and writers are working closely with Survivors Manchester who are advising on the story.

Producer Iain MacLeod said: “Gemma and Paul’s family background has always been fascinating to me – the inseparable bond of twins but with a huge fault-line down the middle, which we’ve hinted at but never explained.

“This story sensitively explores something that is tragically all too common in families in the real world and will highlight the way these painful events still reverberate many years later.”

Iain MacLeod
Iain MacLeod revealed the soap has been working closely with Survivors Manchester (Credit: ITV)

He continued: “It will, I hope, allow people who have survived similar abuse and perhaps suffered in silence to find their voice and speak up.

“It will also showcase the brilliant talents of Peter Ash, Dolly-Rose Campbell, Jane Hazlegrove and Corrie newcomer Joe Alessi in some incredibly challenging, powerful scenes. I am very proud of this story.”

Actor Peter Ash said: “I have known about this storyline for some time so have had the opportunity to speak to Duncan Craig at Survivors Manchester in advance of filming which has been great.

“His experience was really similar to Paul’s so it was invaluable for me to be able to talk about all the conflicting emotions and not accepting or realising it was abuse until later on in life. 

“I have also spoken to Jack P Shepherd about how he found filming the male rape storyline and he told me about the increase in calls to Survivors Manchester off the back of it which is incredible. It’s an important storyline and I want to get it right.”

Peter Ash plays Paul in Corrie
Peter Ash plays Paul in Corrie (Credit: ITV)

Duncan Craig from Survivors Manchester explained: “Following on from our work on the David Platt rape storyline, I am delighted that Coronation Street have once again asked us at Survivors Manchester to help them with this sensitive storyline.

“We learned so much together before and the effort made last time is allowing us to tackle the finer and complex details of Paul’s feelings and behaviour.

“This story is going to resonate with so many male survivors, I’m proud of Coronation Street for committing to making sure it’s right.”

He added: “Peter and I have been talking a lot about how Paul would be feeling and I have shared some of my own experiences of breaking my silence which Peter has handled with so much care.

“I know this story will be difficult but as a survivor I have to say it is vital if we are to understand male sexual violence and abuse. Well done Corrie for being brave enough to tell this true story.

“Once again, I’m proud to stand with Coronation Street in telling a difficult story as truthfully and as sensitively as possible.

“Their commitment to being authentic to real life issues is inspiring and I know first-hand the actual impact of these stories being told – our last piece of work together resulted in a 1700% increase in calls to the male survivor helpline.”

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