Hateful husband Geoff Metcalfe deserves a roasting for being so fowl to his vulnerable wife.
The Coronation Street villain ramped up his campaign to control Yasmeen by killing her pet chicken and serving it to her for dinner.
A hospital DJ and magician, he is trying to break Yasmeen by convincing her she is an alcoholic. He obsessively checks her movements and her cleaning and tries to drive wedges between her and her friends.
Friday night’s dinner is his worst act so far.
But Metcalfe is not finished. As one of the Street’s most hated characters he is in such company as Richard Hillman, Pat Phelan and Alan Bradley.
His abuse plot has already led to some viewers boycotting the show and nearly 150 complaining to TV watchdog Ofcom.
Such reactions should be sweet reward for an actor. But Ian Bartholomew, who plays Metcalfe, said it can bring problems from people unable to distinguish him from his character.
He said: “A coach driver at my children’s school stopped me the other day and said, ‘It’s a good job my wife isn’t driving this bus. She’d have run you over.’
“Being disliked comes with the territory. I don’t mind if people hate him. I think they should, as long as they’re not hating Ian. They know that I’m not like that.”
Ian said it had been challenging playing someone so irredeemably vile and unpleasant.
“He’s now becoming not just manipulative but mean and nasty and intentionally so. Killing her chicken is a turning point, because he starts to enjoy his cruelty in some twisted, perverse way.
“I’m finding it hard and there are uncomfortable scenes, such as when he pushed his phone into Yasmeen’s face to film her. I have to put Geoff in a box and open it when I need it.”
Ian, 65, who lives in Cheshire with his theatre director wife Loveday Ingram and a daughter, aged 15, and a son, 12, said men from his generation have been fighting hundreds of years of social conditioning dictating that men are the breadwinners and at the centre of the family.
Playing Metcalfe turns that on its head with Ian saying: “I indulge my chauvinistic, misogynistic, misanthropic self to play the part.”
In some of the most shocking scenes he locked her in his magician’s box and left the house.
The gradual abuse has eroded Yasmeen’s confidence and has prompted viewers’ complaints but Ian insists the harrowing scenes are necessary to help tackle real life abuse. Coercive control, illegal in England and Wales since 2015, means humiliating, intimidating, isolating and scaring victims.
Ian said: “If this storyline gives just one viewer the opportunity to recognise they’re in that sort of relationship and do something about it, then we’ve done a good job.”
Ian has looked at his own behaviour in light of the plot.
He said: “It’s made me think – I do that, I can be sharp. I don’t take it anything like as far as Geoff does but I know that I can be quite controlling and quite dismissive of other people.
“It has made me change my behaviour at home. I like to think I’m less judgmental now.”
Since Yasmeen, played by Shelley King, was put in a box Ian’s kids can no longer watch their dad on Corrie.
And playing manipulative Metcalfe has been a baptism of fire for jobbing actor Ian, whose former lower key roles over 40 years include parts in shows such as Marcella, Endeavour, South Riding and Rumpole of the Bailey.
He said: “I’ve played a lot of very affable characters, or police officers, or petty criminals. Nothing could have prepared me for this.”
Luckily Ian is insulated from some of the cutting remarks about Metcalfe because he drives to work and is not on any social media.
He joined Corrie in 2018 having previously lost out on the role of bookie Harry Mason to Bad Girls’ star Jack Ellis.
He’d believed he was too young to play Metcalfe, described as a “sprightly man, early 80s”. Ian was told Metcalfe might turn dark but had no idea of the impending story.
He said: “For six months he was this rather pompous, bumbling buffoon who liked to be everyone’s best mate.
“I was trying to do it knowing something was going to happen, though I didn’t know what.”
The plot has prompted several women to approach him and tell him about their personal experiences.
He said: “Quite a few of them have been women at work. They’ve said to me, ‘I was in a relationship like this and this is how it made me feel.’”
Ian is slowly coming to terms with playing public enemy No1.
He joked: “The fan mail has completely dried up and I do find myself sitting alone in the canteen quite a lot.”
Yasmeen’s torment is set to continue for quite some time.
Ian added: “I love the show and I feel proud that the subject of coercive control has been addressed.”
- If you are worried your partner or that of a friend or family member is controlling and abusive, go to womensaid.org.uk
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