Coronation Street star Chris Harper has promised that his evil character Nathan Curtis “will not be sticking around” as the show’s harrowing grooming case continues for Bethany Platt.
The controversial storyline reaches a new level of tension this week as both Nathan and Bethany are due to appear in court for the long-awaited trial.
It comes after Nathan was finally arrested for the sexual exploitation of his young girlfriend Bethany (Lucy Fallon) by forcing her to have sex with his friends in a series of sordid “parties”.
But while the outcome of the trial is still under wraps, and Nathan has been doing everything possible from behind bars to ensure that Bethany does not arrive to court, Harper said it will soon be the end of Weatherfield for his character.
Harper told ITV’s This Morning on Monday: “The whole story has been through Bethany’s eyes and will continue long after Nathan’s gone.
“We’re going to see how it affects her, but it has to be through her eyes. Nathan is not sticking around.
“It’s still nowhere near its ending, whether it gets to court or not is a big thing. From beginning to end it’s a long, long journey and it will affect Bethany for the rest of her life.”
The ITV soap has come under fire from viewers for broadcasting the dark plot pre-watershed, but Harper said it was crucial to start bringing awareness “into the living room”.
“By it’s nature, it’s a family issue and there are people of any age being abused,” he said.
“It’s not the weird creepy guy necessarily; it can be somebody you might trust, somebody you think you know or somebody who can leverage in some way the relationship with the family … it affects everybody.
“I think Corrie have been brilliant doing it in a pre-watershed way … it’s bringing the conversation into the living room.”
While Harper said that he has generally had positive feedback from “wonderful” Corrie fans, he confessed: “My singing teacher pulls me to one side and takes a deep breath before taking me into the room, because she finds it all a bit nervous.”
While filming the scenes, Harper and Fallon have both been involved with charities and support networks, such as Voicing CSA and Barnardo’s, that offer help to abuse victims.
Barnardo’s chief executive, Javed Khan, said: “Perpetrators of child sexual exploitation like Nathan Curtis use threats and intimidation to keep their victims silent.
“Just like Bethany in Coronation Street, victims show a great deal of bravery when they speak up about their abuse and disclose it to police.
“It takes even more courage, tenacity and emotional resilience to see that through the whole criminal justice process.
“That’s why it’s so vital for victims of child sexual abuse and exploitation to be offered one-to-one support from an independent practitioner who will support them through the whole process, from disclosure and police investigation, right through any court case and beyond.”
Coronation Street continues on ITV at 7.30pm on Monday.