Bethany Platt’s manipulation at the hands of sinister boyfriend Nathan Curtis has become one of Coronation Street’s most controversial storylines. Tackling the topic of sexual exploitation of vulnerable teenagers, the soap has been uncomfortable to watch at times as Bethany falls for the seemingly-suave older man, not realising his sinister agenda.
Actress Lucy Fallon, who plays Bethany, reveals that her character is well and truly under Nathan’s spell – but an incident in next week’s episodes could wake her up to what’s really going on…
“Bethany is really happy with Nathan and sees it as a normal relationship. He treats her like a grown up even though she’s still really a child, playing on how she wants to appear older than she is.
“But when she sees a picture on Mel’s laptop of her kissing Nathan, Bethany is annoyed and upset. She thought Mel was just a friend of Nathan’s who he worked with and that nothing romantic had ever happened between them. Bethany confronts Nathan and is very angry, but he reacts by switching it back on her and saying her reaction is really childlike.
“He’s quite cruel and says ‘did you expect me to be a virgin when we met?’ He turns it on her and tries to make her feel like a little girl. Bethany storms off because she doesn’t want him to think of her as a child.”
Before Corrie fans start cheering that the scales have fallen from Bethany’s doe eyes, Fallon reveals it’s not that simple: “She tries to get advice from her mum but Sarah doesn’t say too much.
“I think she’s hoping her daughter will make the decision to call it off herself so she doesn’t push it, but Bethany later overhears Sarah telling Gary she’s glad she’s not with that creep anymore which just makes Bethany defensive of Nathan again and determined to get back with him. It really annoys her. Sarah’s pretended to be cool about Nathan but she’s obviously not, and that plays into Bethany’s hands.”
With rumours that Bethany will soon end up engaged to Nathan, it appears the impressionable teen will be reeled in again by creepy Mr Curtis before long. There’s clearly a long way to go in this storyline, and Fallon points out that before next week’s wobble, Bethany doesn’t suspect anything untoward about Nathan’s behaviour.
“He’s extremely charming and gives her so much attention that he’s brainwashed her. She did go to one of his parties where it was practically all men and she wondered where are all the girls were, but Mel explained it away by saying that Nathan has a lot of male mates and Bethany accepted that, and didn’t think anything more of it.”
Even Sarah confiding her own terrifying experience of meeting an older man online when she was a teenager didn’t make Bethany see her situation any differently.
“That shocked Bethany and she was upset to learn her mum had been through something so awful, but as far as Bethany’s concerned Nathan is nothing like that, she’s convinced he really cares about her and the age gap isn’t an issue.”
Fallon applauds Coronation Street for the hard-hitting storyline, but admits she’s found it challenging. “It’s really disturbing and some of the scenes are difficult to play, but I am enjoying it. I think it’s a really important story to tell, especially pre-watershed, because that is when young girls like Bethany who may be affected are going to be watching.
“Yes it will be hard to watch at times, but if it wasn’t then we wouldn’t be doing it right. The storyline really has to go to dark places if it’s going to have an impact.
“We’ve worked closely with Greater Manchester Police and the NSPCC for research: I met a girl through the NSPCC who survived this type of abuse herself who told me her story. What she went through was horrific, and listening to her was upsetting. But she was so brave sharing her experiences with us that it has spurred me on to do the best I possibly can with this storyline.”