Gritty sagas by Corrie blog editor Glenda Young, published by Headline. Click pic below!

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Ian Bartholomew interview: Geoff covers his tracks

How has Geoff been feeling since the attack, does he blame himself at all?

Well, he’s been feeling very sorry for himself, but to take any of the blame for what’s happened would be to admit he’s in the wrong, and he just doesn’t operate that way. He always sees himself as the victim because then he has no need to question his own motives or behaviour.

Is he worried that he has lost control of Yasmeen and what she might be saying about him?

Yes. But he feels safe in the knowledge that she’s not in a position where she can say much of anything to anybody at the moment, so his main concern is to keep control of the story as it spreads out into the wider community. The gospel according to Geoff. And most notably to make sure that Tim is kept in the dark about what’s happened. Tim is the only person, other than himself that he really cares about.

How did he feel when he realised Alya had changed the locks?

Furious. Although he wouldn’t show it. But he’s playing the victim again. Alya is becoming a constant irritation and he’s looking to find a way of keeping her quiet and stopping her from influencing other people. So he has to be on his mettle with her at all times to refute the accusations she levels at him.

We see him checking his video feed and then when he gets in the house he removes the CCTV, he must realise the fight would have been caught on there, does he know it will look bad for him or as he convinced himself he did nothing wrong?

He doesn’t want anything to contradict his side of the story. Any CCTV footage, incriminating or not, has to go. Then it’s his word against Yasmeens. And for months he’s been spreading the story that, “She’s not a well woman is she?”

Has he covered his tracks enough do you think?

He’d like to think so, but time will tell.

How does he feel when the information about the escort girls comes to light?

Publicly of course, he’s ashamed and contrite. However, privately I don’t think he has any shame or embarrassment about seeing escorts whatsoever. His feeling is he is a man who has needs, and the escorts take care of those needs for him.

Is Geoff’s public image important to him?

Totally. It’s what drives him. He has to be Mr Nice Guy; Jolly Geoff, the Life and Soul.

Does he have any sense that Sally is starting to have her doubts about him?

Over time, he learns that she is, so this causes a massive problem for him concerning Tim and the possibility that he might start to suspect that his Dad is not what he appears to be.

Iain MacLeod said that he feels in some ways Tim has been a victim of Geoff’s gaslighting all his life. Do you think Geoff has behaved like this before?

Undoubtedly. And the past has a way of catching up with you, especially in soap!

How did you research the character? 

We had a great deal of input from Women’s Aid and Independent Choices Greater Manchester, who have been heavily involved in the writing of the storyline, and we have met and spoken to many victims of coercive control.

But it wasn’t easy, because the problem I had understanding Geoff and trying to get under his skin was that it’s almost impossible to find a perpetrator of this type of abuse who is willing to talk about their controlling behaviour because they seem incapable of admitting it in the first place. So I had to listen to the survivors of their abuse to glean any clues I could find that would help. After a while I started to form a picture of all the behavioural and psychological traits that are commonly displayed by those who inexplicably feel compelled to seek total control over another human being. That aided me in interpreting the material the writers were coming up with.

Were you ever concerned about playing such a dislikeable character? How do your family feel about it?

Yes, of course. When, by way of the television, you’re invited into people’s homes several times a week, and then behave appallingly as Geoff does, you have to be prepared to be thoroughly disliked, and consequently put up with a bit of flak from the audience now and then. Happily I can say that as yet I haven’t been ‘handbagged’ or shouted at in the street, thank goodness but I’m aware of how much Geoff is hated. But I console myself by remembering that it’s not me they all hate, it’s Geoff. More importantly, I think about the positive implications of telling this story to a wider public.

As for my family, they understand that it’s what I do for a living. Over the years they’ve seen me play all sorts of characters, nasty and nice, but my 12 year old son doesn’t like watching someone who looks like Dad being horrible to his friend Shelley on the telly. And you know, that’s absolutely fine by me.

The response to the storyline has been amazing. You must be very proud?

You can’t help feeling proud when you learn how people are responding to this storyline. It’s been a tough and emotionally draining ride, but the thing that’s kept Shelley King who plays Yasmeen and myself going, is the responsibility we have as actors to tell the story of these two unhappy and lonely people, and to shine a light on the terrible and cowardly crime of coercive control. To be a part of the team of writers, story-liners, producers and actors addressing such an important issue in Coronation Street, a well-loved and hugely popular programme, is a privilege. Knowing that we are helping women and men who are affected by this kind of abuse in some way, and making our general audience  more aware of if at the same time, is reward enough in itself.

And finally I’d like to say that while it’s been hard to do, acting out this storyline on TV can’t get anywhere even slightly close to knowing what it’s like to be the victim in an abusive relationship of this nature in real life. When Shelley and I finish work at the end of the day, we can go home and leave it all behind us. Sadly, anybody living with an abusive partner can’t, because they’re in the midst of having to deal with it every single hour of every single day. We must all spare a thought for them, and offer help if, and when we can.
Glenda Young
Twitter: @Flaming_Nora
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