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Coronation Street writers in "heated disputes" over "very dark" grooming storyline

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Credits: ITV © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: ITV

Coronation Street writers have been locked in "heated disputes" over the upcoming grooming storyline.

Newcomer Chris Harper, who plays smooth talker Nathan Curtis, is about to tear apart the life of unsuspecting school girl Bethany Platt when he lures her to bed and sets about grooming her for sex parties with other perverts.

Speaking about the sensitive plot, scriptwriter Jan McVerry described it as "very dark" and said the writers have had many discussions over how it should be treated.

Credits: ITV © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: ITV She said: “I think it’s an important story to tell for young people, particularly those who may be lacking in self-confidence. “There are worries these unscrupulous b******s get in your lives and lure you away. It is a very dark subject.

"My own children are teenagers but others with very young children have asked ‘should we be going into this darker territory?’. We have had many discussions on how to tell the story.”

Meanwhile, Chris has said he is hoping his sinister storyline will help more terrified victims of paedophiles to come forward.

Credits: ITV © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: ITV The 39-year-old actor prepared for the role by meeting abuse survivors through the NSPCC. And the shattering impact their ­stories had on him has only increased his ­determination to play the pervert to perfection.

“Nothing can desensitise you to what ­survivors of sexual exploitation have gone through. It’s the most important storyline I’ve ever had,” Chris told The Sunday People.

“It’s massively important I get this right for them. We want to reach out to people to let them know help is out there, and to tell ­abusers they can’t get away with it.

“Half the problem is getting people to come forward. It’s been said that for every one ­person reporting abuse, another seven don’t.”

Credits: ITV © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: ITV Since his Street debut at Christmas, when he peeled unconscious 16-year-old Bethany (Lucy Fallon) from the cobbles after she’d downed diet pills, predator Nathan has slowly wormed his way into her affections.

And what has chilled viewers is that, unlike the Jimmy Savile or Gary Glitter dirty old man image, Nathan is young, good-looking and, on the surface, very well intentioned.

“The stereotype is of this older man with a sticky suit, bad hair and bad teeth,” Chris says. “But often the reality is very different. The perpetrators could be any age, any colour or class, and so can the people affected.

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