UK Soap Opera Coronation Street Tackles Gambling in New Story Line

The popular UK soap opera, Coronation Street, is addressing gambling addiction as part of a new story arch for one of its main characters.

The Granada Television series, which has been on the air since December 1960, is addressing growing concerns about gambling addiction in the UK. The show, set in Weatherfield, a fictional town based on the North West of England, has built a reputation for tackling social issues and concerns throughout its long history.

In episodes aired this month, Bistro owner Robert Preston heads to the casino in an attempt to settle a compensation case. The character, played by Tristan Gemmill, risks everything playing roulette as he seeks to raise £5,000. After several trips to the cash desk to re-stock his chips, Robert wins big on his last game and secures the funds to pay off his debt.

Yes. I think that is what the producers are trying to do… push it to the darker side. Tristan Gemmill, actor who plays Robert on Coronation Street

The story has sparked concerns about the kind of message it portrays to a UK audience that has seen gambling addiction on the increase. It is unusual for a character that has suffered from addiction in the past to be rewarded for risking everything on one last spin of a roulette wheel. UK soap operas tend not to fall on the wrong side of moral lessons.

Robert risks it all playing roulette at the casino in Coronation Street

Robert risks it all at the casino in Coronation Street. ©The Mirror

Experienced roulette fans watching the show would have found the scene quite amusing. For the big finale, Robert places a bet of £250 on red. When the win comes in, he is handed £5,000 – ten times the regular odds for bets on red or black on a standard roulette table.

Speaking to the This Morning TV show, Gemmill said: “He [the character, Robert Preston] is quite old school; he wants to sort out his problems himself.”

Earlier this month, The Times newspaper reported that gambling addicts are three times more likely to have suffered trauma in childhood. Psychologists at the University of Lincoln published the study which also found that one in ten gambling addicts had been physically abused.

The episode of Coronation Street featuring Robert’s roulette gambling scene originally aired on Friday 25th July 2017. The shows airs every week at 19:30 – 20:00 and 20:30 – 21:00 on Monday and Friday, and at 19:30 – 20:00 on Wednesday on ITV. It is filmed at MediaCity in Manchester.

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