Edison Bailey (played by Trevor Michael Georges) is pushed too far by Don, the obnoxious new manager of the bistro on Coronation Street, whose racist slurs directed at both Ed and his son Michael light a tinder box under the usually affable builder.
“The remarks evokes memories from decades of abuse all stored away in the back of Ed’s head where he has tried to hide them along with emotional pain,” says Trevor Michael Georges.
In tonight’s Friday May 15th episode slippery owner Ray Crosby (Mark Frost) notifies Ed that he’s delegated the finishing of the restaurant to his new manager who is less than happy with the work and needs everything fixing before next week’s official opening. At first Don’s digs are more performance related but it doesn’t take long for him to show his true colours leaving Ed with a difficult choice to make.
“Ed spent his formative years in a country rife with racism,” explains Georges. “To flare up one racist back then would have set off every other racist in ear shot or a telephone call away. The arrival of one racist at the Bistro signifies to Ed that many others maybe nearby and that a quiet retreat is the best strategy.”
Michael (Ryan Russell) is confused when his dad shrugs it off at first but as things go from bad to worse Ed realises it’s time to fight fire with fire and lets rip at Don. The soap has teamed up with Baroness Doreen Lawrence for the verbal abuse storyline which also explores the generational difference of opinion regarding the line between banter and what are clearly racist comments.
“Ed has experienced racism many times but as times change so has his attitude,” says Georges. “In the Sixties when racism was everywhere you just accepted that was your lot for life. As society moved forward, Ed has re-evaluated his past and seen the scars inside him for what they are. The more he comes to terms with those scars the more his emotions rise to the surface. And then Don delivers the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
It’s not the only prejudice that The Bailey family is encountering on the street. A homophobic Weatherfield County fan has a go at James (Nathan Graham) outside The Rovers Return which almost comes to blows with Tim Metcalfe (Joe Duttine) who backs up the young footballer as he angrily responds. Again it gives Ed, whose relationship with his son has been damaged by his own prejudices, pause for thought.
Both are powerful storylines which Georges feels are particularly relevant now.
“People watch and take what they see to heart,” says the actor. “A few weeks ago I went into my children’s school to discuss issues one of my children was having regarding racist remarks made by one of their peers – more than forty years after I suffered the same at school.
“Society doesn’t change easily and recessions, wars, politics and terrorism can bring back the same ogres. You can seldom fix anything over night but you can keep trying to heal a recurring sickness and I think that’s the process we’re part of.”