The bullying of Bethany Platt will intensify next week after nasty Lauren discovers that Sarah is currently receiving treatment in a psychiatric unit.
Harrowing scenes see Bethany victimised for having a “psycho” mum, while an upcoming plotline will also see the vulnerable teen hounded over weight issues.
As Bethany hits the gym in an attempt to stop the harassment, she’ll also find it impossible to confide her worries in a traumatised Sarah. So, from whom will she end up getting help? Actress Lucy Fallon tells us what’s in store for her character over the months ahead…
So, how does the bullying storyline progress?
In the next couple of weeks, Lauren makes Bethany believe that she actually wants to be her friend. In Roy’s Rolls, she convinces her that she’s going to help get Bethany a summer job. She overhears Alex asking Bethany how her mum’s been and then it kind of twigs that Bethany’s mum has gone a little bit psychotic. When they go outside, all Lauren’s friends are there and they’re all chanting “psycho” at Bethany. They get really nasty.
Did you do any research for the bullying storyline? Did you witness bullying at school?
I’ve never been subjected to bullying myself, but I do know what girls can be like. I went to high school, I was in quite a big group of girls. Although I’ve not been bullied I know that girls can be horrible to each other, especially at that age – 15 and 16. A relative was quite badly bullied. It’s all been sorted now, but I spoke to her about it.
Do you feel upset by some of these storylines?
They are quite harrowing scenes when someone can be that nasty and it is upsetting knowing that this kind of stuff does actually happen to girls and boys.
Do you think it’s interesting that it’s happening to a character like Bethany, who’s quite feisty and forthright? It shows how indiscriminate bullying can be…
Yes, I think it’s good to see Bethany’s vulnerable side. She’s not just this ballsy, feisty character – she’s a normal girl underneath it all and she does have feelings, and she’s been hurt by these girls. It shows how it can happen to anyone. Just because she’s feisty it doesn’t mean people aren’t going to pick on her.
Have you had viewers telling you about their own experiences?
Yes, I’ve had quite a lot of tweets from girls around the same age as Bethany saying that it helped them to talk to an adult about it, so that was really nice to see. And quite a lot of people on Instagram have made nice comments. That made me feel good – that I’ve done the bullying storyline justice and that people want to talk about it.
How far is the bullying storyline going to go on?
It’s a slow burner. It’s going to go on for months and months. We’re not just using it as a quick storyline and then moving onto something else – we’re looking well into the autumn. There’s not going to be a quick resolution.
Bethany can’t tell Sarah about it, can she?
She feels really isolated at the moment. Everything that’s happening with Sarah and Callum’s body, plus everything that happens with Kylie, it builds and builds. She confides in Kylie later on. I don’t know if she tells anyone else. She wants to talk to her mum, but with everything that’s going on she feels that she can’t.
Do you think there’s a lot of pressure on teenage girls to act in a certain way to avoid being bullied?
The thing that they’re trying to say to Bethany is that she’s fat. I think “fat virgin” is one of the texts that she gets from them. So she starts going to the gym. The whole skinny kind of thing, trying to keep up with make-up trends and fashion trends – I do think it’s hard for girls. Plus Bethany’s come to the school late so there’s the jealousy there. It’s a minefield.
Would you like her to make friends with Craig? He’s a nice guy…
Yeah, Craig would be a good friend for Bethany because he’s lovely and he’s lovely in real life. I really get on well with Colson, I’d like to have more scenes with him.
Have you ever experienced online bullying?
No, never to this kind of extreme. I’ve been called nasty things but I don’t really let it bother me. Obviously, some people do when it gets worse, especially if someone really takes something to heart. I don’t, I try not to let things that people say to me make a difference to me. I’ve never been subjected to bullying in the same way Bethany is.
What advice would you give to Bethany?
To tell an adult she trusts, or a friend. I think talking about it can help resolve it as can getting advice from other people.
How do you feel about Paula Lane leaving?
I’m really sad that she’s leaving because the dynamics really work – me, Tina, Paula, Jack and Helen, Ben – it really works. So it’s going to be very sad when she leaves but it’s good for her to do other things.
How would you like to see your character evolve?
Hopefully the bullying resolves. I’d like her to get a cool fashion job, I think she’d be good at that because some of the things she wears are quite odd
Anyone else on the street you’d like Bethany to have some scenes with?
Craig and maybe Tracy. Although I like that Bethany’s not so mean now, she’s quite nice, so maybe not Tracy as Tracy would probably make her mean again!
You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of Coronation Street below.
And visit our dedicated Coronation Street page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.