Coronation Street – one of the longest running and most beloved soaps in the UK – has generated quite a stir with its latest plot twist in which the evil newcomer Josh Tucker drugs and rapes series hero David Platt.
Watch the controversial scene below.
And while many viewers were outraged, it also caused a 1700% increase in calls from survivors of sexual assault seeking help from a local non-profit.
Survivors Manchester said calls had more than doubled while national charity Male Survivor reported a 1700% increase in calls.
“Phenomenal” handling of the issue had helped survivors speak out, it said.
Duncan Craig, founder and chairman of Survivors Manchester, said the characters’ portrayal of the issue had helped silent survivors to speak out and “to know there is hope and there is healing after such an abhorrent crime”.
He said he was asked to help with the storyline by executive producer Kate Oakes and was involved from the start – in script-writing, filming scenes and working with actors on the show.
Mr Craig, who has waived his right to anonymity, said he drew on his own personal experiences when advising Ryan Clayton, who plays Josh, and Jack P Shepherd, who plays David, and they had “absorbed every word I’d said”.
He said he was “blown away” when he saw the final scenes.
“It was so real – and reminds me of my own behaviour. It reminded me of the massive effort to keep the secret.”
Mr Craig said the storyline had helped men and boys watching at home speak out about male sexual abuse, demonstrated by the influx of calls to charities since Friday.
He added: “Coronation Street has always tackled dark stories and I’d invite Fern Britton and [veteran broadcaster] Michael Parkinson, who has also criticised the storyline, to see the work we do.”
A spokesman for Coronation Street said:
“Our reason for exploring this issue was to raise awareness and prompt conversation and to highlight of the help and support that is out there.
“We are delighted that the storyline has prompted people to come forward and seek help.”