If doubt existed about the impact of David’s male rape storyline on Coronation Street, then you only have to ask actor Jack P Shepherd about the reaction he himself has had:
“I saw a group of lads in Manchester’s Northern Quarter the other day. They’d obviously been on the beer, so when I heard one of them say, ‘no way, it’s David Platt’, I was getting ready for him to take the piss.
“But then he shouted across the road, ‘Don’t suffer in silence! You need to tell someone! Go to the police!’ He was deadly serious. I told him that I would and he shouted back, ‘I love you!’ I enjoyed that, it was actually really heartening.”
And the perfect antidote, I’m guessing, to concern (in the press, at least) that Coronation Street has gone too far in showing such emotive subject matter before the watershed? Does the Corrie star think that the soap has become too bleak?
“No, I don’t think it’s too dark,” he says. “It’s something that’s happening to real people. And OK, there might be documentaries in which these things are addressed. But not everyone is going to watch them. So it’s good to show it in a drama like Coronation Street.”
Shepherd’s performance has earned him a place on the Best Actor longlist for this year’s British Soap Awards alongside co-stars Connor McIntyre [Pat Phelan] and Shayne Ward [Aidan Connor]. So what does he make of his chances when it comes to taking home the trophy?
“Well, there’s tough competition from Connor and Shayne – all three of us have got big stories at the minute. And the actors from the other shows are good too. I wouldn’t begrudge any of them winning,” he adds diplomatically. I wonder, though, how much store he sets by awards having now been a mainstay on Coronation Street for the last 18 years?
“Awards are nice, aren’t they? We have a door to a balcony at home that’s always slamming shut, so it could be a really fancy door stop. But joking apart, it would be good to win!”
David’s prospects, though, aren’t currently looking so bright: his struggle to speak out about what happened has led to him breaking up with girlfriend Shona, while his rapist currently remains at large.
Fans may be willing David to voice to his desperation, but should he do so, there’s no guarantee that the predatory Josh will be sent to prison.
Recent crime statistics revealed that only one in every 14 rapes reported in England and Wales ends in a conviction, so does Shepherd think that Corrie should reflect reality and keep Josh on the Street? Or does David deserve catharsis and to see his attacker incarcerated?
“It’s a tricky one – Corrie has always been morally correct and the bad guy always gets caught. But that isn’t always the case in real life. At the moment, David’s actions are letting Josh remain free, but you’ll have to wait and see whether the law will.
“David has left it so long to say something that this might have an impact on whether a prosecution is possible. Plus he got rid of the clothes he was wearing.
“What I can say is that the story does continue right through the summer and we will show the effects on both David and those around him once they do find out. Shona will be particularly determined to get justice.”
This latest drama is, of course, the latest in a lengthy list of traumas to have affected David down the years. The character seems to have lurched from crisis to catastrophe for as long as anyone can remember, experiencing everything from the death of his wife Kylie to car crashes and kidnappings.
Does Shepherd ever think that too much happens to someone as young as David? “Well, I wouldn’t have stayed if all I was having to do was turn up at the pub and order a pint! But, in my head, he’s a victim of all the things that have happened to him in the past. It’s all led to the place where he is today.”
And, after nearly two decades on screen, is there a wish list of things he’d still like to do? “Yes, I wish I could stay clear of the Rovers. It’s a nightmare to film in there because it takes ages. Too many cast members. So I’d never want David to run the pub,” he jokes. “What I would like is a comedy storyline with Dev. Just something funny. Maybe David working the night shift in the corner shop.”
As for the future of his own career, it seems that Shepherd has no intention of saying goodbye to life in Weatherfield: “I’ve been lucky in that I’ve always had the big stories. And being here is fun: you come in, have a laugh with your mates, do a bit of acting and then go home. I’m always smiling.”
You can watch a 60-second rundown of all next week’s drama on Coronation Street below. Beneath that, there’s our Week in Weatherfield review show
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