Coronation Street star Ian Bartholomew tells us why Geoff and Yasmeen’s story is so important
Did you always know how dark and controlling his behaviour would become?
There was a moment of transition, I knew where it was going but I wasn’t sure how far it was going to go. All the early stuff was deliberately ambiguous as I wasn’t entirely sure how it was going to develop. Since then it has become clearer that his behaviour is becoming more and more unacceptable in a sociological sense and it is very interesting to play, it is difficult, he is not a moustache-twirling villain so with that comes challenges as he is the sort of villain who has very few if any redeeming features. I am shocked each week when I get my scripts and find out what he is going to do next.
Are you conscious of the responsibility that comes with playing this storyline?
Yes it does transcend drama and there is a weight of responsibility with it and actually I welcome that because we do so much that is ephemeral and is gone straight away but a lot of people watch this and if it helps one person get out of a similar situation then that is great.
What do you think is making Geoff act in this way?
I am interested to see down the line if we start to understand why he is like he is. I am keen to find out things from his past and what has brought him to the place he is today. I have my own ideas which help me to play him, I think it is to do with his upbringing. To play Geoff I have to have some sort of back story. There is a misogyny that is ingrained, he needs to be loved and he needs love. Because of his psychological make up there is a disconnect between what love is and being able to show it.
Does he love Yasmeen?
Oh yes he absolutely does, he has convinced himself that this is possibly his last chance, if he doesn’t get this right he wouldn’t know what to do, he can’t bear to be on his own, he can’t bear not to be loved. He loves the idea of being in love, he doesn’t know what it is or how to do it but he wants to love and be loved. Geoff is desperate to be loved.
His public face is a very different to the one behind closed doors
He is Mr Jokey in public. He is an entertainer, a magician, but he is different behind closed doors. That’s another really important part of telling this story: it is so isolating. People who experience this abuse live in such a small world because of that difference. In doing this story and taking it outside the closed doors and putting it out there then someone may recognise something that is happening to someone they know or even to themselves.
Do you think he has done this before?
We don’t know much about Geoff’s previous marriage but I am sure this is not the first time he has behaved like this in a relationship. If he admits it to himself or even gets anywhere close to admitting what he is doing his word will crumble and he is left in the place where he couldn’t bear to be which is lonely.
In last night’s episodes, Geoff ended up being injured. Will he use this incident to his advantage?
It plays into his hands because he now has a black eye so he starts to use that as another way of isolating her from her friends by starting to say she has a drink problem.
Yasmeen doesn’t have a problem with alcohol. Why does he say she does?
He does that to stop her having a life. Partly it’s revenge for the night when he made a big meal for Sally and Tim and he went to a lot of effort and she came back from being out with Cathy at the wine-tasting evening and she was a little bit drunk. He was furious about that and got into his head that it was a deliberate act of sabotage and destruction of his male pride and his effort. He sees these things and makes assumptions. He thinks the only way to stop her behaving like that and undermining him is to isolate her even further.
Cathy witnessed him shouting at Yasmeen. Is he worried about Cathy and Brian thinking bad of him?
The last thing he wants is Cathy questioning his behaviour; he wants everyone to think well of him. That’s why he puts the blame back on Yasmeen. It is self preservation and it goes back to the fact that he can’t not be liked or loved. If word got out that there is something not quite right going on and there is something wrong with their relationship then it reflects badly on him. He can’t countenance that. He has to be the hero, and as far as he is concerned he is saving her from herself and he believes his version of the truth, he has to otherwise the whole edifice crumbles and all those lies and that deceit comes out and he has failed.
Why is he taking Yasmeen’s money?
I don’t think he is after her money, it is about being in control of the situation so that she can’t do things without him, he gives her access to a small amount of money so he is in control of her spending.
What does he really think of Alya?
She is the one fly in the ointment, she is a threat to his dominance and his manhood in a way. She is the closest thing to Yasmeen and what he has been doing systematically is exorcising everything in Yas’s past. Alya is a still part of her life so he’s trying to drive a wedge between them so there is no one stopping him having total control.