Fans of Coronation Street are reeling from the shock death of Seb Franklin (Harry Visinoni), following the vicious hate crime attack him and girlfriend Nina Lucas (Mollie Gallagher) were subjected to.
The soap kept details of Seb’s demise under wraps until the character succumbed to his injuries, with mum Abi Franklin (Sally Carman) at his side. If viewers felt emotionally drained by the heartbreaking scenes, imagine how Carman herself felt…
“I felt the pressure because I wanted to get it right,” the actress tells RadioTimes.com and other press. “There are people going through these situations for real, and I want Abi to be a fully-rounded human being and not two-dimensional so she can be relatable.
“I’m very aware some viewers watching will have lost children, or someone close to them – which I never really have. I used everything that has ever broken my heart, regardless of what that is, to get an honest emotion. Hopefully it pays off and you can see there’s genuine feeling and it’s based on truth, not just acting.
“To have a storyline where you get to really go there emotionally is brilliant, it’s a really lovely thing to do which seems an odd thing to say, but I’ve actually enjoyed it.”
Seb’s tragic passing capped a dramatic week focusing on the unprovoked assault on him and Nina, based on the real life case of Sophie Lancaster who died in 2007, aged just 20, after being beaten simply because of the way she dressed.
Attracted to quirky Nina’s alternative goth image, Seb was happier than he’d ever been and his mum was thrilled he’d found love. However, Abi’s attitude towards Nina will shift in upcoming episodes when she starts to blame her for the senseless incident and accuses her of causing her son’s death.
“At first Abi was all for the relationship between Nina and Seb,” continues Carman. “She couldn’t care less what Nina looked like and could see she was a decent person and they had a true connection.
“When Seb dies, Abi is initially beside herself for Nina. Then she has to have a focus for her heartbreak so it becomes about who she holds responsible for what happened. Nina can’t remember, then a witness comes forward and says the couple were attacked because of how they look.
“Abi then fixates on that and thinks Nina’s appearance is the reason Seb died – because she dresses like some ‘Victorian’, drawing attention to herself and causing the death of her son. Abi loses herself temporarily in her grief and goes hellfire for Nina.”
Carman warns of challenging times ahead for her grieving character as she lays into a recovering Nina, who fans will also be sympathising with as she too was the victim of the mindless violence that ended Seb’s life.
“Part of you wants your character to be liked, but you can’t cheat or downplay certain things, you have to do it honestly. Abi is furious in her grief and completely gives it to Nina, both barrels. Mollie’s little face was just distraught but that’s what you want. I said sorry to her afterwards!”
The hard-hitting plot will dominate life on the cobbles over the next few months, and is one of the soap’s most visceral explorations of social intolerance it’s tackled in years. A major consequence of the story is the departure of Visinoni after five years as reformed delinquent Seb, and Franklin admits she’ll miss her on-screen son.
“It’s bittersweet because this was Harry’s first job and he loved it, but he’s ready to go and try new things. He’s out there self-taping for all kinds of stuff and having a great time. I’m really going to miss him.
“Because of the COVID protocols we’re working with I couldn’t get close to Harry to stroke his face or hold his hand in those final scenes as we normally would. I was concerned about that at first but it didn’t matter, as when you really concentrate you end up getting those feelings in place. It worked out.
“I actually did a monologue with Abi saying goodbye to Seb to a piece of gaffer tape stuck to a pillow!”