Alan Halsall has been speaking of the response he’s had to the domestic violence storyline that has seen his character, Tyrone Dobbs, suffer physical abuse at the hands of partner Kirsty Soames.
Speaking at a preview screening of Tyrone and Kirsty’s wedding day (airing Monday 21 January at 7.30/8.30pm on ITV), the actor said: “For me, personally, I’ve never had a reaction like I’ve had to this storyline. I’ve been in the show now for quite a while and this story has definitely been my favourite to be a part of. I think it’s difficult at times for people to watch because it’s a serious issue, but this is something that happens a lot more than people think.
“This is my first year on Twitter, so you get immediate feedback from the fans, which has been fantastic. You come to realise how passionate the fans are about Coronation Street and, in particular, this story. I found out that, since the show took this story on, calls have gone up by 300 per cent at the charity that we work with [ManKind]. So it does affect people.”
When asked about how the abuse plotline has affected him personally and whether he carries Tyrone’s turmoil around once filming finishes, Halsall replied:
“My personal life is obviously very different, so I can leave it at work. I’ve not found that so much of an issue. The storyline was a challenge to get into because, obviously, I had no personal reference to start with. I’d never even spoken about this kind of subject before we got the story. So it was hard in that way. But no, I go home and leave all Tyrone’s angst over Kirsty at work.”
However, the actor did reveal that case-study research for his scenes proved to be something of an eye opener: “I had these questions in my mind: ‘Why didn’t they just leave?’ ‘Why didn’t they tell somebody?’ And I couldn’t get past that for a while. And then we met a chap who suffered quite serious domestic abuse. He helped me get through some of that. And I thought what Coronation Street did well was showing how Tyrone became isolated from his friends. That isolation was something that all the case studies showed. But it’s a subject that’s not really talked about. We had to get to it through the charities because there was nobody to speak to about such a taboo subject.”
Halsall also offered some insight into what happens during the filming of fight scenes that see Kirsty (Natalie Gumede) fly into severe rages and dole out kicks and punches: “It was quite brilliant to watch at times. Some of the earlier ‘hits’, if you like, came as a shock to myself and Tyrone. Natalie has to get herself into such a frenzy for Kirsty that when they shout ‘cut’ I run off and make a cup of tea and bring back a biscuit for Natalie and say, ‘there you go’. We calm it down for a couple of minutes. But it’s been a great story to tell from the beginning. And there’s more to come.”