The coercive control storyline in Coronation Street is one of 2020’s most talked-about soap plots, and the plight of Yasmeen Metcalfe (Shelley King) enduring abuse from husband Geoff Metcalfe (Ian Bartholomew) has brought the topic into even sharper focus during the UK lockdown.
Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com, King described her involvement in the harrowing story as one of the most rewarding moments in a career spanning more than 40 years.
“Being part of this and the contribution it might make to peoples’ lives has honestly been wonderful,” she said. “Our partners at Women’s Aid, who Corrie have worked with throughout, say there has been a huge reaction. They have been overwhelmed with comments about how realistic it’s been, and the feedback from survivors who have been through this kind of abuse has been positive.
“The fact it has ended up going out during the lockdown makes it even more prescient. Someone said living with an abuser means you’re always walking on eggshells, but in lockdown it’s like walking on shards of glass.”
King, along with fellow cast mates Bartholomew, Sally Dynevor and Sair Khan, has taken part in a specially-produced short film for a Women’s Aid campaign. In the clip, the actors deliver an emotional message of support to victims of domestic violence during the current lockdown, and set out where and how they can access help.
In the first five days of the coronavirus lockdown, charity Refuge reported that calls to the National Domestic Abuse helpline increased by 25 per cent, as those trapped with abusive partners found themselves with nowhere to turn.
Corrie producer Iain MacLeod, in another RadioTimes.com exclusive, revealed the plot, that climaxed with fragile fragile Yasmeen lashing out at Geoff believing he was about to attack her, has been the subject of enormous scrutiny behind the scenes.
“It’s been refined month by month in conjunction with our charity and research partners, including Women’s Aid. We’ve known pretty much from the start the attack in Friday’s episode would be one of the major peaks.
“We’ve agonised over the advancement of how Geoff’s behaviour evolved. It has been discussed in more detail than other story I’ve worked on, just to make sure we get the nuance right.”
King continues: “The ultimate message that should be taken from the story is that you can’t do this alone – get help. Talk to someone about what you’re going through. There is help out there. that’s why the programme gives out information on phone lines and websites you can visit.
“Domestic abuse of every kind is indiscriminate: it doesn’t matter what community, religion or nation you belong to. That propensity for abuse is there and is usually fuelled by weakness or fear.”