Cosy crimes and gritty sagas by Corrie Blog editor Glenda, published by Headline. Click pic below!

Wednesday 5 May 2021

Corrie Hate Crime! Interview with Corrie Producer Iain McCleod and The Sophie Lancaster Foundation

Tonight sees Coronation Street tackle a hideous hate crime when Nina and Seb are involved in a brutal and life-changing gang attack. In a storyline that's reputedly to last the remainder of the year, Corrie has worked with the Sophie Lancaster Foundation in researching and writing the story. The attack is primarily aimed at Nina Lucas’ goth persona mirroring the real-life attack and death of Sophie Lancaster, in Lancashire, in 2007.

As press day’s go, this one has a more serious and sombre air to it, but still, it’s always a pleasure to be invited to such prestigious online Corrie press events. Turning on my zoom (for some reason I opened it twice, so had double audio for a while) I joined Coronation Street online for this Hate Crime conference call in trepidation of how this storyline will pan out. 

Starting with the show’s Executive Producer Iain McCleod, and Sylvia Lancaster (Sophie’s Mum and foundation founder) we spoke about the preparation and research that goes into such a storyline such as this. 

Q - How did this storyline come about?

IM - A couple of years ago, the idea was floating around the writer's room and it felt like a story that needed to be told. It is something that sits very well within the soap genre and although we don't set out to change the world, we can be agenda-setting. I felt that the message of the story around tolerance and inclusion was incredibly pressing, more now than ever. We knew, even as far back as the introduction of Nina’s character, that this was the angle that the story was going to take

Q Was it important to have Nina's character embedded into the street, before producing this storyline? 

IM- Absolutely. I think when Nina’s character was introduced she was a bit unusually presented and maybe people saw that as a barrier to liking her. You may remember that when she first came in, we did play some casual intolerance in the cafe, we were quite keen that we would play the reality of people seeing her without knowing her, and then realising that in fact, she’s just like any other teenager. We took our time in peeling away the layers of the character and then introducing the relationship with Seb. It was clear then that this was the right time to move forward with the next chapter of this story 

Q Was it deliberate to attach that character to Roy. In the sense that Roy has had all sorts of waifs and strays in his life before, but Nina is family?

IM - We wanted to make it to someone connected to Roy, as his relationship with Hayley exposed him to prejudice and intolerance. We felt like he was someone with the right level of life experience to be a moral guardian to Nina through this romantic phase of the story and then the difficult phase that's to come. Nina is Roy’s one remaining family member -that we know of - so we used that as a good stepping-stone to tell this story 

Q- How important was it to work with Slyvia Lancaster in the development of this storyline? 

IM - Incredibly important and not least to ensure that we had some authenticity in Nina’s presentation that was right and in the fall-out that follows. We know the foundation does some amazing work and wants to change society's view of intolerance. It enabled us to not only tell a really good story, but to maybe change people’s preconceptions about the alternative culture, and how society deals with different cultures. It’s also important to look at how society prosecutes those kinds of crimes too. I hope what we put on screen does justice to the foundation. It's the human being that matters, not what they look like!

Sophie Lancaster (image via @sophie_charity)

Remembering this real-life heinous crime with such clarity, I was very honoured to listen to Sophie Lancaster’s Mum talk about Sophie, the work the charity does, and the fact she was a big Corrie fan too!

Q - How did you feel when you were first asked by Coronation Street to help with this storyline? 

SL - As you can imagine, getting the email from Coronation Street asking to work with them was a surprise. The experience has been very professional, very well looked after, and they have been very sensitive to the issues involved. We knew they would do it sensitively and do a good job

Q - You were also involved with the development of Nina’s character in the early days. How do you feel about how the character has progressed and the fan base she now has? 

SL - People have taken Nina to their hearts, looking behind the image and seeing the person - it's a massive part of the work that we do

Q - You used to watch Coronation Street with Sophie, and she had a favourite character. Can you tell us more about that? 

SL - It was years ago, they had a character called ‘Spider’ who was an eco-warrior type and I can see him as visibly as anything with a combat jacket and a beanie hat. Sophie loved him, everything he stood for, and who he represented

Q - How do you think Sophie would feel now, having the charity work with Coronation Street in her name?

SL- She would be astonished I think and very proud of that. 

Read all about Sophie's story via the Sophie Lancaster Foundation

Follow on Twitter @sophie_charity 

Still to come from our latest press day is our chat with the lovely Mollie Gallagher (Nina), Harry Visinoni (Seb Franklin) Sally Carman (Abi Franklin) and the finale being a rare interview with street icon David Neilson (Roy Cropper). The latter article is being written by fellow Corrie blogger @stewiedawson who I had a chat with yesterday, post-interview. Quite frankly, he delivered such eloquent enthusiasm over all things, Roy Cropper, that I had to pass the baton on - and I can't wait to read it. You're in for a right treat there! 


All original work on Coronation Street Blog is covered by a Creative Commons License

No comments:


You might also like...

Coronation Street Books for Fans