THERE’S a dramatic autumn and winter ahead in Coronation Street.
I was at ITV Network Centre in London yesterday to talk to Jack P Shepherd (David Platt) and Helen Worth (Gail Platt).
On the morning after Corrie picked up four more awards, executive producer Kieran Roberts was also there to chat about future highlights.
In episodes to be screened on September 17 and 19, wild child David almost kills niece Bethany, aged seven, when he hides ecstasy tablets in her doll.
After finding them and taking one, the little girl starts to fit and is rushed unconscious to hospital where she begins a fight for life.
In scenes filmed at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, Bethany faces possible brain injury or even death.
Tearaway teen David is then arrested and warned by police that he could be charged with manslaughter.
Kieran said the story contained a drugs warning as a “by-product” of the main human drama involving the Platt family.
“We didn’t set out to do an issue-based story about the danger of drugs,” he told me.
“But we are conscious we have got responsibilities. We play to a huge audience.
“If we can send out a useful message, in this case that drugs can be very dangerous, then that is all well and good.
“Hopefully, some of our viewers will be struck by it, and, who knows, someone out there might just think twice.”
Leeds-born Jack, 19, said: “Don’t do drugs – I’ve always steered clear of them.”
And Lancashire-raised actress Helen, 56, who plays David’s screen mum, added: “If people watch and it makes them think, then it’s a good job done.”
Jack said his character’s descent from troubled teenager to something darker and dangerous could be traced back to serial killer Richard Hillman.
“He blames Gail for more or less everything – he blames her for letting Richard Hillman into the house.”
But the young star, who joined the cast seven years ago, said he had no plans to leave Weatherfield, despite David’s path towards evil.
The storyline heralds the start of a dramatic few months for the Street.
Actor Charles Lawson has already returned to filming for a short spell as jailbird Jim McDonald.
His arrival comes ahead of ex-wife Liz’s register office marriage to drummer Vernon, which is set to take place on New Year’s Eve.
Actor Bruno Langley is also due to return for a few weeks as gay Todd Grimshaw.
He comes back for brother Jason’s wedding to Sarah Platt.
There’ll be more drama from David at the time of his sister’s nuptials, to which he isn’t invited.
It all leads to the eventual departure of actress Tina O’Brien, who plays Sarah.
Carla Connor becomes involved with new character Tony Gordon, played by Gray O’Brien.
Fellow factory boss Liam is already heading into the arms of Maria.
But will Tony’s designs on Carla spark Liam’s own interest in his sister-in-law?
A new father and son team arrive at the bookmakers, while barmaid Violet will be joined by her sister Lauren.
Kieran also confirmed that actress Julie Hesmondhalgh, who plays Hayley, is taking an extended break from the soap.
Her character will leave to do voluntary service overseas.
And Liz Dawn’s emotional departure as Vera Duckworth is set to be screened early in the New Year.
There’s a story in today’s MEN with a feature to follow next week.
Update: The online version of the feature is here.
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