Coronation Street actor Chris Harper says he is glad that his role as sex abuser Nathan Curtis has “made an impact”.
Viewers have been gripped by the grooming storyline which saw Bethany Platt (Lucy Fallon) abused by her boyfriend Nathan and his friends in the ITV soap.
Harper told the Press Association: “It’s clearly made an impact. It’s been wonderful how many people have come up and talked to me… People who’ve had abuse in their life or their families’ lives.
“The role has opened my eyes to how much of it exists and how much great work there is to try to combat it.”
He said his alter-ego Nathan had “to reach a sticky end”.
“He’s going to have to go down. It’s not been written yet but we’re doing it with full responsibility and awareness,” the actor said of the storyline.
Harper was speaking after visiting Heathfield Nursery and Infant School, in Twickenham, to see the NSPCC’s Speak Out Stay Safe service in action.
It aims to educate children, through interactive assemblies, about the different forms of abuse and where to get help.
“It’s one of the reasons I’ve embraced the role,” the soap star said.
“I think what the NSPCC are doing to create an entire generation of kids, hopefully, who are able to spot key signals and stay safe and keep their friends safe, is really important. The whole crime revolves around secrecy and shame and keeping things under wraps.”
On-screen, he said that the “next turn of the story” would focus on Bethany.
“It’s so hard to discover, for Bethany, that someone she thinks she loves is being cruel. That’s going to be the next turn of the story, following Bethany’s strength and courage in discovering and then facing what’s happened to her.
“We’ll see him go to trial, that’s a really important thing to see.”
The actor, patron of Voicing CSA, a charity that helps abuse victims, said that the “storyline isn’t going to go away” because “Bethany’s life has been changed by what happened to her. The ramifications of abuse are life-lasting”.
He added: “The writers at Corrie… really care about Bethany and it isn’t an issue they’re just going to drop.”
More information on the Speak Out Stay Safe service can be found at www.nspcc.org.uk/schools