'Coronation Street' boss: Nina and Seb hate-crime attack highlights 'horrific intolerance'

David Brown
·3-min read
Nina Lucas and Seb Franklin are set to be attacked on Coronation Street. (ITV/Danielle Baguley)
Nina Lucas and Seb Franklin are to be attacked in coming episodes of Coronation Street. (ITV/Danielle Baguley)

Coronation Street producer Iain MacLeod has spoken about the soap’s hard-hitting hate-crime storyline, describing upcoming scenes as “heartbreaking, tragic and visceral”.

In episodes to be shown this Wednesday, Seb Franklin (Harry Visinoni) and Nina Lucas (Mollie Gallagher) are subjected to an unprovoked attack due to her alternative identity.

The assault bears similarities to a real-life 2007 crime that resulted in 20-year-old goth Sophie Lancaster dying from head injuries after she and her boyfriend Robert Maltby were set upon by a gang of thugs in a Lancashire park.

FROM ITV

STRICT EMBARGO - No Use Before 0001 Wednesday May 5th 2021

Coronation Street 

Wednesday 5th May 2021

Seb Franklin [HARRY VISINONI] in hospital with Abi Franklin [SALLY CARMAN]

Picture contact David.crook@itv.com 

This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above, or ITV plc. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on  www.itv.com/presscentre/itvpictures/terms
Seb Franklin (Harry Visinoni) lies injured in a storyline with shocking parallels with real life. (ITV)

Speaking to journalists about the work the ITV soap has been doing with the Sophie Lancaster Foundation ahead of broadcast, MacLeod said:

“It was apparent that the foundation has an agenda that we wanted to get behind, in terms of changing the way society deals with this kind of intolerance. 

"It enabled us to not only tell a good story, but hopefully change people’s perceptions about alternative cultures.”

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Sophie’s mother Sylvia, who set up the foundation to honour her daughter, expressed her hopes that the on-screen drama would help those suffering similar persecution in real life.

Sylvia Lancaster mother of Sophie Lancaster who was murdered because she dressed like a Goth, outside the Ministry of Justice in London after she met with Justice Secretary Jack Straw.
Sylvia Lancaster, mother of Sophie, outside the Ministry of Justice in London in 2007. (PA)

“We need people to report what’s happened to them,” the campaigner said. 

“If people don’t report, then there are no figures we can use as a lever to go forward. 

"There’s now a whole generation who don’t know Sophie’s story, so it’s really important that we get our message across.”

Sylvia also revealed that Sophie herself was a fan of Corrie, and that her favourite character was environmental campaigner Spider Nugent, who appeared between 1997 and 2003.

“Sophie absolutely adored Spider," Sylvia said. 

"He was an eco-warrior and she loved what he stood for. We used to say that when she was older, she’d bring someone like Spider home.”

FILE - This is an undated handout image  released by Lancashire Police of Sophie Lancaster. Police in the English city of Manchester say they will begin recording offences against members of alternative subcultures in the same way they do attacks based on race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity .The Greater Manchester force — the first in Britain to take the step — says
Sophie Lancaster in a handout photo shared by Lancashire police. (AP Photo/Lancashire Police/PA)

Asked what Sophie would make of Coronation Street now crafting a storyline her memory, Sylvia replied: “I think she’d be astonished and probably a bit giggly about it.”

Actor Mollie Gallagher, who plays Nina, also gave her reaction to the plotline she’d been asked to play. 

“It’s such an important story to tell, but I was nervous because I wanted to do it justice,” the star confessed. 

“I feel a huge responsibility because Sylvia has shared her story with us. So I did my research with Sylvia’s help to make sure the portrayal was accurate.”

The impact of the assault on Nina and Seb – which is set to involve many of the soap’s younger characters, including Corey Brent (Maximus Evans) and Kelly Neelan (Millie Gibson) – will be felt in Weatherfield for the rest of the year.

FROM ITV

STRICT EMBARGO - No Use Before Tuesday 27th April 2021

Coronation Street - Ep 10317

Wednesday 5th May 2021 - 1st Ep

A loved up Nina Lucas [MOLLIE GALLAGHER] and Seb Franklin [HARRY VISINONI] are walking along the canal when they come across the gang. When drunken Eli [LIAM SCHOLES] and Corey Brent [MAXIMUS EVANS] start making nasty jibes at Nina, Summer Spellman [HARRIET BIBBY] becomes uneasy and heads home. Egged on by Eli , Kelly Neelan [MILLIE GIBSON] slaps Nina across the face. As Seb and Nina hurry away, the gang gives chase and they find themselves subject to an unprovoked and vicious attack.

Picture contact David.crook@itv.com 

Photographer - Danielle Baguley

This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above, or ITV plc. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on  www.itv.com/presscentre/itvpictures/terms
Nina Lucas (Mollie Gallagher) and Seb Franklin (Harry Visinoni) are shown walking along the canal when they come across a gang. (ITV)

Discussing the aftermath and how it will affect life on the Street, MacLeod said: “It draws in lots of different families and, in the best tradition of Coronation Street storytelling, pits neighbour against neighbour and, in some cases, husband against spouse.

“At its core, we wanted it to be a story about the horrific intolerance that people can face purely on the basis of what they look like, or what music they might listen to or what subculture they might identify with.

“I hope it does cause people to sit back and think how they view people and perhaps make snap judgements based on essentially secondary characteristics. 

"It’s the human being that matters and not what they look like. And if we can get that message across, then I’ll be incredibly pleased.”

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