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

Monday 29 April 2024

Chris Harper interview: Evil Nathan returns to Coronation Street

Welcome back, how does it feel to be back in Weatherfield?

I’m delighted to be back, it’s a massive storyline that became very important to me the first time around, so it’s really good to be continuing Bethany’s story. 

Were you surprised to get the call and was it something you instantly wanted to do?

I certainly didn’t expect the call because I didn’t think Nathan would be let out of prison, but unfortunately he has and I knew that people like Nathan do tend to go back to the place where they carried out their crimes. So once the call came it all made sense. I checked with some contacts at S.H.E.UK and Voicing CSA, as well as the teams at both Barnado’s and the NSPCC, to check in with them about whether they thought it was a useful representation and they were thrilled that the representation through Bethany’s story is continuing. We’re going to see her living life as a survivor and we’re going to see Nathan’s continued impact on her.

How important is it to you to reprise this role?

It was really important as it had such a big effect on me the first time round. Iain and Verity were brilliant at including me and my input into the story and what was going to happen. It’s a fascinating rollercoaster combination of stories that Nathan’s entering into but I think it’s really good that we took on tips from the Maggie Oliver Foundation and other groups about the sort of behaviour that we’d see from him. It’s been really interesting to revisit Nathan and take on board how his life has changed.

Tell us a bit about the charities you support?

The NSPCC and Barnado’s are well known for their national and grassroots work, and there’s so much great information on their websites that I’d guide anyone to. I’ve also continued to work with Voicing CSA, who are a small charity based in the Midlands, and S.H.E.UK, my relationship with them is newer but they won a big award last year. So I’m hearing very much from the front line from people who are dealing with adult survivors about how important the Corrie storyline is to them. The fact that this is happening in peoples living rooms and affects so many families and there are so many millions of families who watch Coronation Street makes it so important.   

Nathan was a pretty unsavoury character last time we saw him, has prison reformed him?

I really don’t think prison has reformed him in the slightest, in some ways I think he’s even more clever and more manipulative. He’s hardened, he’s aware that he can take a kicking and he’s aware of the advantages of getting other people into trouble so he plays people off against the law. He’s hardened, he’s trickier, he’s starting again so the stakes are higher for him because he knows if he makes one mistake he’ll be back inside. He’s furious at having got caught rather than being repentant. 

So do you think he still frequents the same world, and could be on the lookout for new opportunities to exploit?

He’s always on the lookout for more opportunities to exploit, he’s very proud of his ability to adapt and his ability to prod and poke at people. Give him half an inch and he’ll take a mile. He will spot weaknesses in people and capitalise on them for his own ends. I think if anything he’s got even better at that. 

How does he feel coming face to face with Bethany, he could have moved anywhere when he came out of prison, do you think this meeting is something he wanted?

He hasn’t gone out and looked for her but I think he knows it’s inevitable, it’s a small world and they’re going to come across each other. He knows the power is with him, he knows that she’s more frightened of him than he needs to be of her. He’ll go searching for a bit of power and when they do meet he finds that because it’s a horrible situation that Bethany finds herself in. 

Bethany’s changed, she’s grown up, she’s more confident, does it surprise him when she comes on the attack and how does he handle it?

I think he tries to stamp his authority and it doesn’t work as well as it did and that catches him off guard momentarily. She's definitely grown up, she’s been through a lot but she’s been lucky enough to be supported by family and friends and there’s a strength she can find in that, so even when she’s faced with the snake she can stand up to it a bit. He’s not used to that, so not being able to push her over anymore means he’ll move on pretty quickly. But I imagine he’ll spend a lot of time loitering and making his presence felt.

Bethany’s quick to accuse him of Lauren’s murder, do you think he could have something to do with it?

All the signs are there, the similarities in Lauren’s behaviour before she disappeared, her vulnerability, all really ring bells with what Bethany went through. It wasn’t so long ago that Bethany was at a petrol station on a motorway about to be smuggled over to Europe so we know that Nathan’s ruthless and things could have been even worse for Bethany. I think if you watch that slippery slope you recognize the behaviour, you recognise the situation she was in and it could definitely be Nathan who’s been involved in one way or another. 

If the police start asking questions do you think Nathan will have the answers, is he a bit more wary of the police this time round or does he still think he’s above the law?

I think he feels if he doesn’t make a mistake he won’t get caught again. He still feels like he’s above the law, that he can out think it and out work it. He thinks on his feet and he believes his charm is irrepressible. He’s deluded but he thinks he’s safe as long as he stays clever.  

Are you enjoying working with Lucy again and seeing lots of familiar faces?

Very much so, it’s amazing how many people are still part of the Corrie team and it's lovely to come back and see how everyone’s changed or not changed. The fact that Lucy’s a mum now and I’m a dad now is really lovely too. 

Is Nathan a hard character to play or do you relish taking him on?

If I get it right on set the crew laugh and shudder at him at the same time because he’s so vile and that’s really good fun. If I’m horrible enough, he really is repugnant so I do like the challenge of playing that side of him. My rule with Verity and Iain was that we didn’t want him in any way to be forgiven, he’s not a prodigal son, he’s still manipulative and unkind but the writers really give him some witty lines and he has an ability to bounce things back at people in a way that I don’t think many other characters have licence to. There is a joy in playing that, the devil definitely gets the best tunes. 

What else have you been working on while you’ve been away?

I’m delighted to say that I’m Geoffrey in Call the Midwife, Trixie’s lovely brother who is a ray of sunshine and one of life’s fixers and good people so he’s an absolute joy to play. If they say the devil gets the best tunes then Geoffrey gets the witches lines so I really love playing him. I’m in the Christmas special this year, so we’ll be seeing Geoffrey again. 

Glenda Young
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