There’s a new bad boy in Weatherfield, as Coronation Street introduces local schoolboy Mason Radcliffe (Luca Toolan) as part a bullying storyline set to air over the Autumn.
The Year 11 Weatherfield High student will take impressionable student Dylan Wilson (Liam McCheyne) under his wing in the coming weeks, and together they will begin to target 14-year-old Liam Connor (Charlie Wrenshall) as the victim of their torment.
As the story progresses, there will be wide-reaching effects as Dylan’s father Sean (Antony Cotton), Liam’s mum Maria (Samia Longchambon) and Liam’s stepdad Gary (Mikey North), quarrel over who is to blame for the altercations between the boys.
Viewers have actually seen a glimpse of the character already, in Monday night’s episode, where Mason was seen waiting at the bus stop with both Liam and Dylan. After he seemingly had a jokeful tussle with Liam, Mason watched as Hope Dobbs (Isabella Flanagan) passed, leading her to ask Mason what he was looking at.
19-year-old Manchester actor Luca Toolan is thrilled to have joined the Corrie family in his first television job:
“I feel very lucky because I’ve had Liam with me and he’s been like an older brother to me, even though he’s actually younger than me,” Luca reveals. “He’s such a nice dude and he’s really walked me through everything, showed me where the teas are and the cups and what have you, and he’s made it a lot easier”
“If I was going in on a storyline by myself, I feel like it’d be a lot more daunting, but everybody’s so nice. I didn’t know what to expect, but everybody’s genuinely lovely.”
Although he was given an idea of the sort of character he would be playing when auditioning, it was Luca’s young co-stars who actually brought him up to speed.
“Obviously I had a little bit of insight into the character from the self-tape but all I really knew was that he is a bad guy. I found out about the extent of the storyline on my first day through Liam and Charlie as they were given a lowdown as to what’s happening.”
“They told me it was going to get dark,” Luca added. “It’s exciting to be here but there’s also more pressure and responsibility to do this storyline justice.”
The prospect of playing such a character could be intimidating to many young actors, but Luca is relishing the opportunity thanks to the support of his fellow cast.
“It’s fun, It is. I think because I’m so close with Liam and Charlie, it’s a lot easier. if I wasn’t really close with them and I didn’t spend as much time with them, I’d probably find it more difficult but because we have that bond and trust each other so much, it’s a lot easier.”
“My favourite film is The Joker, so I like looking at characters that are damaged. One thing I really want to do with a character is show the vulnerable side. So there’s a lot of room and a very high ceiling for the exploration of the character.”
So what advice if any would Luca give to Mason?
“Go to therapy, mate! He’s a very angry and disturbed soul. People are like that for reasons. Hopefully in the future, we might be able to explore a little bit more of why he’s become the way he’s become. But the advice I would give to him is go to therapy and get the help that he needs.”
This week marked a return to our screens for Dylan who, whilst still in residence at No. 11 Coronation Street, hasn’t been seen in episodes since February.
“It was a long wait, but it was worth the wait,” 16-year-old Liam McCheyne admits. “It’s been great to be back. Antony had always been in touch while I was off so when it was rumoured that Dylan was going to come back, Antony called to let us know.”
The storyline looks to be something of a departure from the mild-mannered teen we’re used to, so what would drive Dylan to team up with Mason and turn against Liam?
“I think because of what happened in London, he wants to fit in with the cool kids and be like them,” Liam explains. “He doesn’t want to be what he was in London – it’s a total change to who he previously was. It’s almost like a new start for him and he can have a bit of freedom so I think that would make him very easily influenced.”
Asked if Dylan realises how much of a danger Mason’s influence could be, Liam acknowledges that the teen is being very naive in looking up to the older boy.
“I think Sean realises how dangerous Mason’s influence is but Dylan ignores him quite a lot. Mason isn’t a true friend to Dylan, but as I’ve said he’s very easily influenced so I don’t think he realises what he’s getting himself into.”
But does Liam believe that Dylan simply wants to fit in, or could fear play a part in Dylan’s new ‘friendship’?
“I think there’s an element of both especially when we start hearing of what Mason has done and we don’t actually know what else he’s capable of doing. Ultimately, we’re not going to go against him. So I do think it’s a balance of both wanting to fit in and being scared of him. “