Sunday 24 September 2017

Coronation Street's Chris Harper says soap's child grooming plot is 'vital'

By Sherna Noah

The actor said the soap was raising the public’s awareness about child grooming.

Coronation Street actor Chris Harper has disagreed with viewers who say it is “wrong” for the family programme to include the child grooming storyline involving his character.

Since Chris’s Nathan Curtis joined the ITV soap in December, viewers have seen him work his way into the affections of 16-year-old Bethany Platt, played by 21-year-old actress Lucy Fallon.

It is becoming apparent that Nathan is leading a major grooming ring, with Bethany lined up as his next victim.

And Chris, 39, who is now an ambassador for sexual abuse charity Voicing CSA, said he believes the soap is vital in raising the public’s awareness around child grooming.

He said: “I think the brilliant thing about the way that Corrie are doing it is they are just hinting at enough.

“When you start looking at actually how these operators work, it goes post-watershed. You don’t need to see what they do but in terms of drugs, in terms of the way their webs work, it’s not suitable.

“But actually, just bringing it up, raising the conversation, I think is vital.

“I just hope it doesn’t ruin anyone’s tea.”

The actor spoke of undertaking the “harrowing” research for the role of Nathan, which caused him to “burst into tears” after he met with a child grooming survivor who now campaigns for children’s charity the NSPCC.

He said: “I was just talking to their head of press and just promptly burst into tears because it just got too much, what some of these poor people have been through.

“So some of the research has been quite harrowing. But the storyline, where it’s going now, is quite hard to act as well. There is some real horrible stuff.”

And he said he feels protective of Lucy in their scenes together, especially as the storyline darkens.

“I don’t think it’s a secret that it was her first on-camera kiss that we had in that car and I’m not sure what she was expecting,” he said.

“But she said to me after how relieved she was. It was very platonic, chaste, it wasn’t what Nathan’s probably capable of. We’ve got to keep that to the imagination.

“This story must not be titillating, it really mustn’t. So, actually, what we do, we really do look after each other on set.”

He said he had been warned about actors on soaps being attacked in supermarkets with “frozen chickens and stuff” but that he has found, on the whole, that viewers have been understanding.

Chris said: “People have been really, really nice and they really appreciate that it’s an actor playing a role in a story that’s much bigger.

“I’ve been really moved by some of the people who come up and say hello.”

Find out more about Voicing CSA at https://voicingcsa.uk/

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