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!”
Casualty fans can expect to see a familiar face back on screen soon, as Jane Hazlegrove is set to reprise her role as Dixie for two episodes in Casualty’s new series this autumn.
Making an appearance as part of the HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service) team, Dixie arrives at a call out in the nick of time to assist the paramedic team with a young lad who has a life-threatening chest injury.
But it’s not just the patient who Dixie will have an impact on. Seeing an old colleague taking on a whole new challenge really leaves an impression on Iain and leads him to think about his own future.
Jane Hazlegrove says: “It was really great to see some familiar faces again and of course to hang out with Sir Michael Stevenson… despite the fact that his jokes haven’t got any better!”
Simon Harper, Executive Producer Casualty and Holby City, says: “It’s wonderful to have the brilliant Jane Hazlegrove back in the Casualty family fold. Dixie was and remains a massively popular character with the audience who miss her to this day, and she and Iain are clearly going to have a lot to catch up on after his tumultuous year.”
James Cracknell OBE, is a former rowing World Champion.
The 17th series of the NTA and Bafta award-winning entertainment show produced by BBC Studios will return in the autumn on BBC One putting the sparkle back into Saturday and Sunday nights.
James says: “I’m really looking forward to being a part of Strictly this year. Having spent so many years mucking around in a rowing boat with big men in tight lycra, it’s time I learned a new skill. I need to apologise to my kids in advance for the embarrassment.”
A former rowing World Champion and double Olympic Gold Medallist, James won Olympic Gold in both the 2000 Sydney Games alongside Steve Redgrave & Matthew Pinsent and the 2004 Athens Games.
Since retiring James has carried out dangerous and gruelling challenges including The Race Across the Atlantic, where he and Ben Fogle finished first, and the Yukon Arctic Ultra, cycling over 430 miles in the race across the frozen Alaskan countryside becoming the highest placed Briton ever finishing 12th.
In 2010, James attempted to cross America by cycling, running, rowing and swimming in record time. It was during this trip that James suffered a near fatal accident after being struck from behind by a truck while cycling through Arizona. After a difficult six-month recovery period, James went to the Canadian Yukon, completing The Coldest Race on Earth.
James is the BBC’s commentator for Rowing, and was heavily involved in the coverage for the Rio Olympics in 2016. He has more recently become the oldest ever Boat Race champion at 46 as part of Cambridge University’s crew as they rowed to victory at the 165th Boat Race. He has also just finished studying for his Masters in Philosophy from Cambridge University.