Coronation Street‘s coercive control storyline reached a dramatic peak as abused wife Yasmeen Metcalfe (Shelley King) lashed out at husband Geoff Metcalfe (Ian Bartholomew) as months of psychological torment took their toll and she slit her horrid husband’s throat in a shocking attack – is he dead?
Friday 1st May’s cliffhanger to the episode devoted entirely to the hard-hitting plot has left viewers wondering if Geoff survived being hit over the head with a wine bottle then stabbed with a shard of broken glass.
“Yasmeen is not even thinking at this stage,” said King, speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com. “She has not eaten for three days and is so hungry and confused by this time. Plus she is suffering from chlamydia which she caught from Geoff from him cheating on her. Her perception is skewed.
“From the way we shot it, the knife Geoff was holding to cut some bread became the main focus in her eyeline. She’s not even thinking, she’s like a rat in a corner – she reacts and it happens. Then remorse, confusion and shock follows.”
The climax came after another vicious verbal tirade from Geoff to his terrified wife, who has endured increasingly controlling behaviour by her other half that has seen her self-confidence crumble, relationships with friends and family destroyed and her every move watched and criticised.
While Corrie flagged up the showdown in advance for fans who may have found this latest development even more harrowing then what’s come before, King defended the soap for pushing the boundaries as it tackles the topic.
“I think you have to make it harrowing, and it is almost anodyne in comparison to some of the stories from real people we have heard from our research. But we go out at 7.30pm in the evening and have to consider that.
“The way our director Di Patrick shot it made it so visceral, with different camera and audio effects that got in Yasmeen’s head. If it had been shot normally I don’t think you’d get that impact.”
King did concede, however, she found the final sequence in the episode difficult, beginning with an excruciating moment where Geoff forces Yasmeen to undress in front of him. “I did feel very vulnerable, having to take one’s clothes off in a full studio at the age of nearly 65. There are so many people roaming around it’s hard to concentrate.
“But our director cleared everyone out and made it a closed set, which she continued to do for those potent scenes. That entire final sequence took almost two days to film because of all the different shots and lenses used, we had to stop and start and shoot things several times to get the coverage. It was intense to stay in the moment and I got a bit tetchy, but that’s to be expected as it demands so much discipline.
“Ian and I have a great relationship and usually joke after difficult scenes that are quite exposing, but not this time. We just couldn’t. The stuff you have to draw on within yourself is sometimes draining and dark. But it was a real team effort, everyone was quiet, it was a wonderful group of people and it took us all to make it.”
King believes the fragility that has come to the fore has always been within her alter ego, despite her being a shadow of the strong, strident matriarch who arrived in Weatherfield back in 2014 – scratch beneath her tough surface and there’s a vulnerable woman harbouring a lifetime of insecurity and guilt that Geoff has exploited.
“Guilt is her default setting,” she said. “She blames herself for all the men in her life leaving, not telling Zeedan his wife was secretly gay and letting him get hurt – despite appearing strong she is complex and very lonely. I learnt from the research with Women’s Aid that those who seem strong are hiding a vulnerability, and perpetrators of abuse find those people.
“She tolerated a lot from her first husband Sharif, her parents disagreed with the marriage and abandoned her then it ended, she lost her only son in the most awful way, there are vulnerabilities there. Intricacies about her history may be explored with this storyline. Then she met Geoff, this man who suddenly made her feel fantastic and who everyone loves…”
As the action picks up on Monday 4th May, Yasmeen dials 999 and tells the operator she’s killed her husband, sparking a flurry of activity at the house as police and paramedics descend.
Whether Geoff is dead and what the repercussions will be for Yasmeen will unfold as the story ramps up in the coming weeks, and as gossip spreads about the incident Mrs Metcalfe faces serious charges – but will it be for murder?
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