Entertainment & Arts

Coronation Street praised for child grooming storyline

Nathan and Bethany in Coronation Street Image copyright ITV
Image caption Chris Harper and Lucy Fallon play Nathan and Bethany

Charities have praised ITV soap Coronation Street for its current storyline about child grooming.

Wednesday night's episode saw Nathan Curtis imply he would soon be making his much younger girlfriend Bethany Platt available to his friends for sex.

Ofcom confirmed it had received one complaint about the storyline.

But children's charity Barnardo's praised the soap for "shining a light on this serious but little discussed issue".

Nathan and Bethany: The story so far

Image copyright ITV

Viewers have been watching the relationship between 35-year-old Nathan and 17-year-old Bethany develop over recent weeks.

Nathan has bought her alcohol and gifts including a mobile phone and Bethany has introduced him to her mother and partner, who were shocked to discover their age gap.

On Wednesday, Nathan was seen taking Bethany to a party at his flat where he introduced her to his male friends.

One of them said he would "like to see a bit more" of Bethany but Nathan replied: "I told you mate, it's not the right time."

Nathan tells his friend he would be "the first to know" when Bethany was "ready".

Image copyright ITV
Image caption Nathan has been seen buying Bethany gifts and alcohol

A spokesman for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) told the BBC: "Soaps play an important part in highlighting abuse and in giving victims the courage to speak out.

"We hope it will raise awareness of the signs of grooming and encourage more victims to come forward and seek help."

The NSPCC has been working with Coronation Street producers on the storyline and had put the show's writers in touch with a survivor of child grooming.

"We are very grateful to the bravery of Lucie, a victim of child sexual exploitation, who shared her experiences with the writers and actors involved as part of their research for this sensitive storyline," the spokesman said.

Image copyright ITV
Image caption Barnardo's praised Coronation Street for its portrayal of the issue

After Wednesday evening's episode aired, some viewers took to social media to express their discomfort about the scenes.

Laura tweeted: "That storyline with the blonde on Coronation Street is grim. No need for that before 8pm on a weekday."

Beth said the storyline "literally makes me feel sick," while Lauren added the scenes made her "uncomfortable".

Javed Khan, chief executive of Barnardo's, acknowledged some viewers would be uneasy but said it would raise awareness about the issue.

"This storyline makes for difficult watching but it's important as many people as possible are aware of the signs of grooming, so we can prevent this abuse happening," he said.

Image copyright ITV
Image caption Lucy Fallon, who plays Bethany, said the scenes had been "uncomfortable to film"

"Like Bethany's character, the young victims of this crime mistakenly think these child sex abusers care for them because they're often showered with presents and attention."

Coronation Street producer Kate Oates told the BBC: "Bethany's story has been crafted over many months, to create an awareness for viewers about the dangers of grooming.

"Bethany's story is a challenging watch, but we hope it will encourage open discussion amongst friends and families about self-esteem, confidence and most importantly, safety."

Last month, Fallon told Lorraine Kelly the scenes had been "uncomfortable" to film.

But, she added: "It's so important for it to be on, especially at this time, because we're targeting young viewers watching before watershed - it's so important to target those people."

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