Coronation Street: pervert copper Neil Clifton gets caught! Ben Cartwright interview

Craig and Bethany will bring the predatory PC down in next week's episodes

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Predatory PC Neil Clifton looks set to get his comeuppance in next week’s Coronation Street thanks to the combined efforts of Bethany and Craig. The upcoming drama sees Craig approach Neil and tell him that he’s requested to be assigned a new mentor. In response, Neil bundles Craig into his car, asserting that they need to have a chat, unaware that Craig has secretly activated the record button on his phone.

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Following the showdown, Craig tells Bethany that she should now phone the police to report his superior officer. And when DC Leigh calls round, Bethany finally summons the courage to reveal how Nathan cajoled her into having sex with Neil. As DC Leigh assures Bethany and Craig that Neil will now feel the full force of the law, it isn’t long before the perverted copper is being called in for a grilling. 

Here, actor Ben Cartwright reveals what’s in store as his character realises that the game is up…

How did you feel when you got the part? Did you have any reservations?
Being married with a young family, my initial concern was over my personal welfare. But I’m incredibly grateful that I did take the role because the response has been really positive from people that have recognised me for playing a character. They’ve appreciated how amazing the storyline has been, how brilliantly it has been handled, how convincing it has been and what an important story it is to bring to everyone’s attention. So, from initially having my own personal reservations, it has actually been the polar opposite.

Why is it important for soaps to tackle subjects like this one?
To bring it to people’s attention and it’s also changing people’s perception of who the perpetrators are. The casting of Chris Harper [Nathan] has been really good – a handsome chap that comes across as extremely charismatic but he also has an element about him that puts your feelers up that something is not quite right. It’s vital to show that it’s not just internet weirdos who hide behind a computer with their greasy hair and long fingernails and it’s important to show that the character of Bethany is not a fool – she’s not a gullible young girl, but this has happened to her when she is an intelligent, free-spirited teenager.

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When Neil bundles Craig into the car, how scared is he that Craig will blow the whole thing?
It’s becoming increasingly more evident to Neil that Craig is not going to let it go. For the character of Neil, because he is in a position of authority and he’s always on the front foot and  in control, it is unnerving that there is a feeling he gets from Craig of persistence and that his world could come tumbling down. So he’s definitely gone into panic mode at that point.

Do you think up until this point that Neil thought he would never get caught?
Neil compartmentalised things. He thinks, ‘This is my job, this is what I do, I am very good at it,’ and that he has a dark hobby on the side that’s no one’s business. Somehow along the line, he’s justified this to himself. Craig has talked about how great his mentor Neil is and that he loves working with him and that’s important to show. He probably is a very good policeman and the whole point of this storyline is that the characters are layered and believable.

How does Neil feel when he is called to see the Chief Inspector after Craig has told them everything?
That scene in particular, from a human point of view filming it, was horrible because I had to walk into a room and see six or seven people giving you daggers and shaking their heads and looking at you in disgust. It’s clear at that moment, for Neil it’s game over.

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How important do you think it is for Coronation Street to show justice being served?
I don’t think they have any other option really to show that these guys get their comeuppance. There is a duty of care in the decision making. Coronation Street have taken their time about it – this has been rumbling since Christmas time and that’s important because it shows the reality of slowly getting under someone’s skin, manipulating them and taking them away from friends and family.

What has it been like working at Coronation street?
It’s been great – there’s a really lovely, friendly atmosphere. Everyone across the board, from the legends that have been there for years to the crew, made a beeline to come and introduce themselves to me and make sure I was settled. It was so welcoming.

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And how was it working with Chris Harper and Lucy Fallon?
Brilliant, couldn’t have asked for anything more. I hit it off with Chris almost instantly as we’ve got mutual friends. Lucy is such a natural and wears her heart on her sleeve in the way she acts, which is instantly believable. They have both been amazing. On set, in between takes, I made sure Lucy and I got to know each other, that we had a laugh and a joke to make sure she was comfortable. We didn’t over-do certain scenes and I felt it was just as much my responsibility to make sure Lucy was cool with things as to make a believable performance.

You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of Coronation Street below.

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