By Laura Denby
Coronation Street’s Nicky Wheatley made her first appearance back in June, meeting Daniel Osbourne (Rob Mallard) at a business function. In the months since, she has made quite an impact on the soap – proving that she is worthy of much more than ‘love interest’ status. It’s clear that there is room to explore the character, as Nicky grows more popular with fans by the week.
When Daniel saw her again, we discovered that the young woman has been making a living as a sex worker. However, the widower was actually paying for her company and a listening ear. Nicky became resistant as Daniel came to rely on her too much. But when the pair opened up to each other, a genuine friendship developed that soon led to a romantic connection.
As we continue to see the newcomer around the cobbles, there is definitely potential to make her a permanent fixture. Actress Kimberly Hart-Simpson has impressed Coronation Street viewers with her powerful performances, showing that she can deliver comedy, emotional drama and more.
We have already seen Nicky’s strength and confidence in action, as she did not hesitate to put smarmy Bistro owner Ray in his place with a fierce “belt up!” Moments like this signify that she shares the feisty qualities of the most memorable Weatherfield women – from Hilda Ogden to Carla Connor. Anyone who can match the resilience of these soap icons deserves more than a ‘shelf life’ storyline.
Coronation Street have made a point of showing Nicky’s vulnerability with her personal struggles, so it certainly looks as though they are setting her up for a future on the show. We have learnt that she is a single mother to daughter Maisie with limited options in providing for her family; leading her into a dangerous profession. She has also explained her hopes to pay off her debts and move away to work at her aunt’s B&B.
Scenes like this have shown that the soap is investing in Nicky as a character in her own right. This was further implied when the soap introduced her unwell mum Ellen (Eithne Browne) who confided in Daniel at the hospital after Nicky was brutally injured by a punter.
With her sharp tongue and bubbly nature, Nicky could fit in perfectly as a barmaid at the Rovers Return. It’s easy to imagine her dealing effortlessly with a rude customer or a catfight from behind the bar, making herself an asset for the pub. An unlikely friendship with the equally animated but less confrontational Emma Brooker (Alexandra Mardell) could therefore develop, which would surely be TV gold.
She may ruffle a few feathers if she mixes with the regulars – but it wouldn’t be soapland if we didn’t expect some drama. Ken Barlow (William Roache) will definitely have something to say about his son’s new relationship. Kirk Sutherland (Andrew Whyment) has already questioned them, after which Nicky had no trouble replying with the perfect blunt comeback.
But while she can stand up for herself, a warm-hearted side shines through in her concern for Daniel and his son Bertie. She should be able to win over the neighbours with her likeable presence and fighting spirit.
Most recently, the plot has crossed over with the slow-burn downfall of evil Geoff Metcalfe (Ian Bartholomew) as Daniel stole a large sum of cash the older man left behind at the solicitors’ office. He persuaded Nicky to use it to start her new life, and the pair said their goodbyes.
We know this wasn’t really the end, as she is due to reappear this week. There is speculation that Nicky could find herself more directly involved with Geoff, as it’s possible she encountered him as an escort. And while they haven’t been seen together on screen yet, she may be the catalyst for his retribution.
Whatever happens next, it can only be a good thing that Nicky’s story won’t end with the easy fix of Daniel’s gesture. I hope the soap will continue to show that she is more than capable of saving herself – rather than letting a man come to her rescue.
So let’s see Coronation Street’s latest addition given room to grow beyond other people’s storylines. With strong writing and a compelling actress leading the portrayal, Nicky could be destined for soap longevity as an established character.