Coronation Street have confirmed a harrowing historic sex abuse storyline for Gemma Winter’s twin brother Paul, who viewers will discover has been abused by his stepdad Kel.
Over the next few weeks, Kel will be reunited with Bernie and is brought back into their lives.
While Gemma and Bernie are happy to have him back, Paul is clearly unnerved and struggles with him being around again.
What Gemma and their mum don’t know is that Paul was sexually abused by Kel when he was a young teenager and groomed into believing that they were in a consensual relationship.
But Paul’s boyfriend Billy Mayhew later discovers what has happened to him and tries his best to help him see that he was being sexually abused.
Viewers will watch as Paul struggles to come to terms with what has happened to him and later fight for justice.
Bernie will also be left devastated after discovering that the abuse happened under her own roof and that she was completely oblivious to it.
Corrie are currently working closely with Survivors Manchester, who are offering advice on the storyline.
Producer Iain MacLeod said: “Gemma and Paul’s family background has always been fascinating to me – the inseparable bond of twins but with a huge fault-line down the middle, which we’ve hinted at but never explained.
“This story sensitively explores something that is tragically all too common in families in the real world and will highlight the way these painful events still reverberate many years later. It will, I hope, allow people who have survived similar abuse and perhaps suffered in silence to find their voice and speak up.
“It will also showcase the brilliant talents of Peter Ash, Dolly-Rose Campbell, Jane Hazlegrove and Corrie newcomer Joe Alessi in some incredibly challenging, powerful scenes. I am very proud of this story.”
Meanwhile Peter Ash, who plays Paul, said: “I have known about this storyline for some time so have had the opportunity to speak to Duncan Craig at Survivors Manchester in advance of filming which has been great.
“His experience was really similar to Paul’s so it was invaluable for me to be able to talk about all the conflicting emotions and not accepting or realising it was abuse until later on in life.”
“I have also spoken to Jack P Shepherd about how he found filming the male rape storyline and he told me about the increase in calls to Survivors Manchester off the back of it which is incredible. It’s an important storyline and I want to get it right.”
*Coronation Street airs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7.30pm and 8.30pm on ITV