Coronation Street is to explore the devastating effects of historic child sexual abuse within a family.
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 is struggling having him around.
Unbeknownst to Gemma and Bernie, Paul was sexually abused as a young teenager by Kel and the innocent boy was groomed into believing he and Kel were in a consensual relationship.
However, when Paul’s partner Billy Mayhew discovers his secret he points out to Paul that he was a young child and was in fact being sexually abused by Kel.
The heartbreaking story will explore Paul’s struggle to come to terms with what happened to him and his ultimate fight for justice. 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. 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.”
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.”
Duncan Craig from Survivors Manchester said: “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.“Peter (Ash) 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!”
Six of the most-loved Strictly contestants from previous series are returning to the dance floor for an all-star Christmas extravaganza special, coming to BBC One on Christmas Day.
This year the ladies set to sprinkle some Christmas magic on the dancefloor are Chizzy Akudolu, Debbie McGee and Gemma Atkinson.
Chizzy says: “I am so excited to be coming back to Strictly this year, and being able to get back on the dancefloor once again! I’m still the biggest fan of Strictly so it’s wonderful to be back with old friends, in front of and behind the camera, and hopefully some new ones for Christmas. Bring on the sparkle, and maybe an odd 10 – it is Christmas after all…!”
Debbie says: “I thought all my dreams came true two years ago when I was asked to do the series, but to be one of the rare people to be invited back to do the Christmas Special is the icing on the cake. I can’t wait to be back dancing with my Strictly family”.
Gemma says: “I had the absolute best time on Strictly and it completely changed my life so I am absolutely overjoyed to be returning to the dancefloor this Christmas with a new challenge, and of course to be back with the gang!”
The gentlemen set to rock the dancefloor are Joe Sugg, Mark Wright, and Richard Arnold.
Joe says: “I’m really excited to have a go on the strictly ballroom floor again this Christmas. Strictly feels like a home away from home for me so I will be giving it my best shot and ending the year on a high.”
Mark says: “It’s been a while since I was on the dancefloor but I’m very much looking to forward to dusting off the dance shoes for Christmas! I can’t wait to be back – let’s get going!”
Richard says: “I can’t wait to get back out on the dance floor and throw shapes beneath the glitter ball once again. I just can’t promise you’ll recognise them or that they’ll be in any particular order. What I can promise is that one of us will be a professional.”
Each of the six couples will perform a Christmas inspired routine in a bid to be crowned Christmas champions 2019.
Hosted by Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman, the show wouldn’t be complete without the festive foursome on the judging panel: Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, Bruno Tonioli and Head Judge Shirley Ballas.
The judges will be on hand to score each couple and spread some cheerful joy, yet it will be down to the studio audience to vote for which dancing duo will win the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special 2019 and lift the famous Silver Star trophy.
The professional dancers and pairings will be revealed in due course.
Sadly, due to the injury sustained last week, Will Bayley is leaving Strictly Come Dancing.
Executive Producer Sarah James said: “We are so sad that Will is unable to continue on the show. He is an incredible and talented person who has brought us some unforgettable moments this series – in particular his powerful and moving Couple’s Choice routine. He will be greatly missed and we wish him a speedy recovery.”
Will Bayley said: “I’m gutted my Strictly journey has had to come to an end. I’ve loved being part of the show, and am so grateful for the phenomenal support we have received. I want to say a special thank you to Janette for believing in me and giving me the confidence to believe in myself. The things we achieved, from our Couple’s Choice dance through to the lifts in our Salsa, will stay with me forever. I’ve had the time of my life.”
Janette Manrara said: “Absolutely devastated that Will and I will not be able to continue dancing. We made some incredible memories that I will never forget, and I am pleased to have shared them with such an inspirational person, whom I can now call a friend for life.”
Will and Janette will be on It Takes Two tonight from 6.30pm on BBC Two.