Coronation Street spoilers follow.
Coronation Street star Charlie de Melo has opened up about his character Imran Habeeb and Toyah Battersby's reaction to Kelly Neelan's arrested.
The pair are acting as foster parents to Kelly, though are shocked when police turn up to arrest her over her involvement in the horrific attack on Nina Lucas and Seb Franklin.
Opening up about Imran and Toyah's role in the storyline, Charlie explained that a divide opens up between the pair over how to handle the situation.
"Initially, they're kind of a united front, and they want to unquestioningly be there to support her and do whatever they can," he said. "But as details of the attack become more apparent, as more and more evidence gets dug up, and more and more testimony is heard, the seriousness of it starts to cause a kind of fracture between Imran and Toyah.
"Imran stands by the fact that they've made a promise to this girl that they would be there, they would care, they would support, regardless. Toyah's stance on it is a bit more self-protecting like, 'We may have signed up for those things, but we didn't sign up for this. To be supportive of a child is one thing, but to be supportive of a violent person goes beyond the call of duty that we've signed up to.'
"Imran's a little bit more unblinking. And despite his own reservations, it's a case of, well, this is what he agreed to do, this is what he has to do. He's a bit more rigid, and Toyah's a little bit more reticent about the whole thing, and that causes a little bit of a fracture between them."
Charlie admitted he expected their reactions to be the other way round, adding that it was "more interesting for the pair of us to be given different hats to wear".
"We both assumed, one, that this was going to be the case – this is the way the story was going to go – and we both had our assumptions about where our characters would fall, on which side of the line, so the fact that it was almost reversed in a way, we were able to challenge ourselves a little bit," he continued.
"We didn't just have a roadmap of how we were going to go about it written down already in our heads, we had to be a bit more introspective, and we had to think about things a little more, in order to justify the fact that we did go the other way with it."
As the story progresses, Imran goes to the police station with Kelly, Charlie recalling that "there were certain scenes and certain days where I felt like a dad giving advice, and other days it felt like a lawyer kind of berating a client".
However, mum Laura puts a "pipe bomb" in the situation when she barges in and "undoes a lot of the good work that [Imran and Toyah have] been able to do up until that point".
Charlie went on to express hope that Imran and Toyah remain central to the plot going forward, noting: "The groundwork that Corrie has laid for it is really interesting.
"The stuff that I'm reading, and the stuff that I'm seeing from the people who are involved and what they are doing now, they all have such an amazing range and are so talented, so I'm hoping that I'm involved in that.
"But the twists and turns can take us any which way with it, so whether I'm involved and in what capacity, I don't really know at this stage. But I certainly hope so because the stuff that they've set up in these early stages is really interesting to me."
As for whether Kelly could remain under their care, he added: "Well, the thing is, with Kelly, she's 15, so there's still potentially a few years where legally she could be under their care.
"And [actress] Millie [Gibson] is so unbelievably talented and cool that if that's how it stays for the time being, I'm happy with that, as I honestly think that Corrie have got themselves a little bit of gold dust with her. And again, if that means I'm tangentially involved with that development, that's cool with me!"
Coronation Street airs these scenes on Monday, May 10, Wednesday, May 12 and Friday, May 14 from 7.30pm on ITV.
Anyone who has witnessed or experienced a hate crime is urged to call the police on 101, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit the True Vision website. In an emergency, always dial 999.
Coronation Street has worked on the current storyline alongside The Sophie Lancaster Foundation, which was set up to challenge prejudices and intolerance towards people from alternative subcultures, and extend UK hate crime legislation, following the murder of Sophie Lancaster in 2007.
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