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Saturday 10 April 2021

Melanie Hill interview: Cathy, the internet troll

What was going through Cathy’s head when she did the first post?

Cathy really wants to be part of the community and really feel that she is contributing and when Brian made the massive faux pas of mentioning the outstanding paper bill to Steve she really wanted to put it right. Someone suggested that she could help with raising some money that got thrown back in her face and then quite soon after that Tracy was making comments about Cathy’s clothes it was  a double whammy. She was upset and angry, we could all easily do it, go on line having had a few drinks and post what we think about someone, she doesn’t think of the consequences.

She is outspoken but generally a kind and compassionate person do you think she posted the comments without thinking about it?

Yes she does care about people this is not something you would expect her to do. She goes on an account which belongs to the Kabin and makes the comment, she hasn’t really thought about who would be seeing it, she was letting off steam.

Does she feel guilty about Brian getting caught up in the backlash?

Everyone assumed it was Brian and it was a very loving gesture by him offering to take the fall for Cathy and because she is scared of people’s reactions and it snowballed quite quickly she let him take the blame for her. That is the worst possible thing, it is lies on top of lies. 

What made her finally come clean to the neighbours that it was her not Brian who made the comments?

There was another spat with Tracy and this time in public. Tracy was having a go at Brian and Cathy couldn’t take any more of him getting vilified and she just decided it was time she owned up. She also feels so protective over her nephew, the fact that he had to leave and go to Scotland to escape from the trolls it is too much for her to bear. That is the worst part of it all for her.

How does she feel when she starts reading the vicious things being said about her?

She is terribly frightened by the comments and they also hacked into her email and found her contact details. It is just spiralling out of control. She is very aware of the pain that she caused by making the comment and now the knock on effect of what is happening to everyone around her. The funeral wreath is like the last straw, she was sure it was Tracy and when she finds out it is not Tracy and the police get involved and it becomes too much for her to deal with.

In the coming week it looks as though she might even be at risk of losing her job and a wreath is left outside the kebab shop, did she ever imagine it would come to this?

She would never imagine it would have come to this and that is the thing about this situation and the message that the storyline is sending, think twice before you post something nasty that might upset somebody. Think about the person reading that message, it isn’t only about the first comment that Cathy makes it is then about all the people wading in and making their own comments about Cathy.

Why do you think there is such a reaction against Cathy?

This story also shows the community spirit, the community bands together against Cathy in a way to protect their own and close ranks and that is what Coronation street is all about, the community. Unfortunately she suffers and finds herself ostracised by people, by the very community she so wants to be a part of.

Do you think that showing this happening to Cathy will highlight the issue?

It is a very current situation and it is important to highlight it because this bullying online is just horrific. It is because people are anonymous, they wouldn't say that to someone’s face but they can write it in a comment. It has got even worse in the pandemic because people can’t go out and everyone is online. Corrie is really good at getting conversations started in living rooms and if the viewers can see that Cathy could get caught up in something like this then anyone could and hopefully it might get people talking and thinking about what they post. 

Have you had any experience of people you know being trolled?

Sign Along with Us who were on BGT had an awful experience. I was supporting them on the show and they contacted me and other famous supporters asking for help as they were the victims of awful trolls. Christian had the most horrendous things said about him online. It was ironic that it was the week I was starting to film this and it really brought it home to me how important it was to get this message across. Social media has got so much power and it is scary.

Were you surprised when  you found our Cathy was going to be an internet troll?

I felt it was interesting to have it start with a character like Cathy, not one of the more obviously outspoken nasty characters. This shows just how easy it is to become a troll and hurt people’s feelings, by just not thinking about what you are doing. I am grateful that I have got this storyline to play out because it shows how becoming a troll can ruin your life, not just the people you are trolling. It makes it worse because it is her, she is not equipped to deal with it. 

How does she cope with what is happening?

She really isn’t coping. She goes into hiding and she is pushing the one person who is trying to help her away. Her state of mind has been affected by what is happening all around her, she doesn’t want anyone else to get hurt by what is happening to her. We haven’t really touched much on her hoarding for a while but it is good to show that we haven't forgotten. When she is affected by what is going on she does start to show signs that the hoarding and the worrying is coming back. She wants to create a cocoon for herself and she can’t bear going outside and facing up to things.

Things don’t look good for Cathy and Brian can they get through this? 

It has been good to see another side of Brian and Cathy not just the comedy, we see some really touching scenes between them which has been wonderful. I am sure people will be rooting for them to get through this and reunite.

What do you like about playing Cathy?

I love that be she has had a life, good and bad things have happened to her but she is fun and she is caring, she is not frightened to let herself go there is still a twinkle in her eye and hopefully she will get that back. It is a gift of a part and it is nice to have a different type of storyline to explore.

Once the death threats start coming what makes her decide to leave and go into hiding?

Trolling and online bullying is a huge problem and it isn’t just confined to younger people. Are you pleased that the issue is being raised on Corrie showing what the consequences can be?

Glenda Young
Twitter: @Flaming_Nora
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