Coronation Street star Shelley King spills the beans about Yasmeen’s abusive marriage
Is Yasmeen still confused about Geoff’s claims about her drinking?
We have all tried to persuade someone we love not to do something that may be bad for them even if it is something they want to do, so Yasmeen didn’t see it as an unreasonable request to stop drinking. Geoff also made her question herself when he said that she was happy not to drink for Sharif but not for him.
Does she maybe think he is being cautious as she believes his stories about his ex wife?
Yes, he tells her his ex was violent and he also plants the seed that Yasmeen could become violent if she keeps on drinking. At the very start of the relationship when he hadn’t made up his mind between Audrey and Yasmeen he also talked about the death of one of his wives. She knows that one ex wife was abusive and then the woman he loved died. She saw him as vulnerable and alone.
Despite Yasmeen being claustrophobic Geoff gets her to stand in for Emma but things don’t go to plan …
He gets her to stand in because he doesn’t want her to spend the day with Alya. On the spur of the moment he asks her to do the magic trick saying Emma is not available. He is determined to isolate her from her granddaughter. Yasmeen tells him she won’t be any good as she is not good in enclosed spaces but he is determined to stop her from going.
What happens at the party?
Yasmeen is in the box but her clothes get stuck so the trick doesn’t work, it all goes horribly wrong and everyone is laughing and taunting Geoff but it is all in good humour and initially when Yasmeen gets out of the box shocked as she is she is really happy because everyone is having a good time.
Does she realise that Geoff has not seen the funny side of it going wrong?
No she doesn’t because of course he is putting on his act of being someone who can take a joke and see the funny side. He presents himself very well and he laughs along and she genuinely thinks it could work in his favour.
What happens when they get back to the house?
Of course what she hasn’t accounted for is that his ego has been dented and he doesn’t like that he has been made to look stupid. When they are back at the house he sees that a video has been posted and he tells her that there is even someone in India making fun of him. He starts berating her and saying it is all her fault and pushing the phone up in her face very aggressively asking her how she would feel being filmed and made a fool of. He is displaying again that in moments of extremis he becomes uncontrolled and she has to calm him down. She feels it is because of something she has done wrong. She is scared because physically he is stronger and she feels threatened. Because of the continual way he has put her down and whittled away at her confidence she is prepared to accept that his behaviour is her fault. She is desperate to get it right.
Geoff doesn’t calm down, though, does he?
He tells her he has had some enquiries about his act and she can make amends by doing some rehearsals. Bit when she gets in the box he gets his keys and leaving her locked in the box, he heads out to the pub.
Does Yasmeen know he has locked her in deliberately?
She doesn’t know it was a deliberate act. She knows that he has gone but she doesn’t know he has locked it. She panics and starts beating the inside of the box because she’s claustrophobic. When he arrives back and acts shocked and says something must have jammed the lock, she thinks she has done it trying to get out. Immediately she thinks it is her doing something wrong again.
He then tells her he was in an abusive relationship to win her round
There is a moment when he thinks he might have gone too far and we see the need that he has to be loved and cared for and so he starts talking about the abusive relationship. He is trying to draw Yasmeen the mother and protector in but has he gone too far.
Geoff worries she might not return home after the coach trip, does he realise he might have gone too far this time?
We’ve seen her thinking about what happened and we don’t know what she is feeling but she is out with him and at the last minute decides to go on the coach trip. This is Geoff’s worst nightmare after what has just happened, the thought of her on that bus with people asking questions and he rings her often during the trip.
What was it that she saw in Geoff at the start?
Yasmeen’s life is about becoming a member of the community to settle down somewhere. She is like so many women of my age: she finds herself alone and she finds herself with a man who walked into her life and began to take care of her. He’s a charming man, he knows how to talk to women to make them feel good. He is polite. He chose Yasmeen because she is intelligent and she is alone like him. He was attracted to Audrey but Audrey has too many people around her that she is close to that might have stood in the way. Alya is all Yasmeen has and she is caught up in her own life. She was the clever choice for him, she is well off and he liked showing her off. They got on well, had similar interests and a sense of fun, he allowed her to have a drink again. They had a social life that she had not had before, she had a life away from the family.
You met a survivor of coercive control, has that helped you playing such a complex role?
It really made me appreciate the care that has been taken within Coronation Street to understand and let the time span play out properly, this has been going on for such a long time gradually drip feeding of these little things so you begin to understand how someone can find themself in this situation without realising. The lady I spoke to told me about her own experiences which weren’t unlike what is happening to Yasmeen. She was enthralled by this charming man and the necessity to make a marriage work. The feelings of abandonment had many similarities to Yasmeen’s own. We also are in regular touch with Women’s Aid and there is a similarity in the women who find themselves in this position, often the protagonist of cohersion will choose somebody who is stronger or appears to be stronger than themselves because they are in need of protection so there is a duality of dependency. But then they will try and take that strength away.
What reaction are you getting out and about?
Many people, mostly women, have come to me in the street or in supermarkets and said that they know someone or they are someone who has had this happen to them. They feel that what they have been watching allows them some sort of recognition and they don’t feel isolated and they want to speak to me about it. It gives them a point of reference and they can explain to people that is what is happening to them. Hopefully they don’t feel alone any more and know that other people are going through it and there are people you can talk to.
Do you feel a sense of responsibility?
Yes definitely. I like to explore things and art of any form is a way to challenge and inspire people, we can inform people and help them recognise or realise that these things happen, theatre and television should be challenging and should be controversial and the thing about Coronation Street is the sheer number of people it reaches. It is a show for everyday folk and it is accessible and it gets people talking. It is so valuable and I am so proud of what we are doing.