Coronation Street teen stars lift the lid on powerful hate crime storyline

Corrie is famous for its ­old-guard characters from Ken Barlow to Rita Tanner.

But there are now some new kids on the block taking centre stage in one of the soap’s most hard-hitting storylines to date.

Viewers were devastated when Seb (Harry Visinoni) and Nina (Mollie Gallagher) were attacked by a gang of teens because of her goth culture, which mirrored the horrific murder of Sophie Lancaster, 20, who was attacked with her boyfriend Robert Maltby in Bacup, Lancs, in 2007.

And it is the new Weatherfield Brat Pack of Kelly Neelan, Amy Barlow, Asha Alahan, Summer Spellman and Corey Brent who are all up to their neck in it.

The ITV soap Coronation Street has tackled the issue of hate crime when characters Nina Lucas and Seb Franklin are subjected to an unprovoked violent attack
The ITV soap Coronation Street has tackled the issue of hate crime when characters Nina Lucas and Seb Franklin are subjected to an unprovoked violent attack

So who are the actors who make up the Street’s teen dream team and how do they feel about taking over the cobbles? They tell us here.

Millie Gibson as Kelly Neelan

The 16-year-old daughter of loan shark Rick Neelan, who was killed by Gary Windass in 2019.

Millie is also just 16 and has already been involved in a revenge porn storyline. She has been acting since a young child and was spotted by an agent when in a show at Oldham Theatre workshop.

Millie Gibson as Kelly Neelan
Millie Gibson as Kelly Neelan

Millie said: “When I first got the call to say I had got the part it was surreal, and I thought it would be a ­
short-lived experience. Walking onto the Street for the first time It didn’t feel like I was actually there. It was like I was watching it through the TV.

“But I have been here two years now and being recognised is crazy.”

For research Millie watched the movie Murdered for Being Different, which is based on Sophie’s death.

She added: “I was just a blubbering mess. We knew we had to make this an amazing educational storyline.

“Because it is based on true stories of hate crime, bringing it to a soap it is critical to get it right.”

Maximus Evans as Corey Brent

Maximus joined Corrie as Corey, Asha Alahan’s crush, two years ago.

Since then the character has established himself as a true bad boy – encouraging Asha to send him naked pictures, trying to control her and get her to rebel against dad Dev.

The 18-year-old got his first acting role in a stage production of Billy Elliot the Musical at the Plaza Theatre, Stockport.

Maximus Evans as villainous Corey Brent
Maximus Evans as villainous Corey Brent

That gave him the acting bug and he carried on at Cheadle Hulme High School where he joined a drama workshop with Hollywood star Orlando Bloom and Shakespearean actor Paapa Essiedu.

He says: “I did Romeo’s monologue with Orlando which was a great experience. He and Paapa were really nice guys, really humble and down to earth.”

Of his character he says: “Corey has never been the nicest lad from his first appearance but I love working on his character.”

Corey’s gang’s attack on Nina and Seb will cause huge ramifications.

Tanisha Gorey as Asha Alahan

The longest-serving member of the Corrie brat pack, she joined the show in December 2009 as Dev and Sunita Alahan daughter.

Tanisha’s parents run a pub in Oldham and she had never taken an acting class before she first appeared aged six. She has tackled big storylines including issues such as skin-lightening, sexting and revenge porn.

Tanisha Gorey as Asha Alahan (centre) back in 2013
Tanisha Gorey as Asha Alahan (centre) back in 2013

Despite being in Corrie for 12 years, Tanisha, 18, admits she still worries about not getting it right.

She said: “I was six when they cast me and all they needed me to do was shout, ‘Bye mum’ and run up the stairs. When I got to 10 or 11 I was a bit worried whether or not I could do this thing.”

If ever she needs advice Tanisha turns to Jimmi Harkishan who plays Dev. She added: “He is like a father figure to me, he’s always been there. Everyone is so easy to work with.”

Harriet Bibby as Summer Spellman

Harriet was cast as 16-year-old Summer last year after Matilda Freeman decided to quit the role.

Harriet, 22, developed a love of acting at a young age when she used to put on shows for her mum and dad in the family front room in Wigan, Gtr Manchester.

She laughs: “My poor parents. What they had to put up with!”

Harriet Bibby as Summer Spellman
Harriet Bibby as Summer Spellman

She won a place at the National Youth Theatre summer school, was spotted by an agent, and got the role of Summer last year.

She still pinches herself when she walks on the famous cobbles. “It is surreal as I grew up watching it, my whole family watch it,” she says.

This will be Harriet’s biggest storyline since joining the show, and she is loving working closely with the rest of the young cast.

She adds: “I think it will make people think, ‘how would I have reacted in that situation? Would I have done what Asha did or what Kelly did?’

“It will make you think what is right or wrong in that situation.”

Elle Mulvaney as Amy Barlow

Elle joined the soap in 2010 as Amy, daughter of Tracy Barlow and Steve McDonald.

She was just four when she joined the Carol Godby Theatre workshop, which has also produced Corrie stars Sam Aston, who plays Chesney, and Helen Flanagan, who plays Rosie Webster.

Ella Mulvaney as Amy Barlow (left) in 2014
Ella Mulvaney as Amy Barlow (left) in 2014

The 18-year-old, who was born in Bury, Greater Manchester, has had massive storylines, including a teen pregnancy and won Best Young Actor at the British Soap Awards in 2017.

“It is such a privilege,” she says. “I have grown up on the show, you almost learn as you go. It almost doesn’t feel like a job – people say I’ve worked half my life but it is good fun.”

Amy has inherited her great-gran Blanche’s talent for acerbic one-liners. She laughs: “Some of the stuff that gets written is amazing. I am like, we are going to have fun with this one.”

But Corrie does hard-hitting drama as well as it does comedy. Elle adds: “There is a responsibility to get every storyline right, even more so with this. Everyone was so shocked.”

*Coronation Street continues on Friday at 7.30pm.

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