Coronation Street star Ryan Prescott says he felt a “great responsibility” to open up dialogue about acid-attack survivors through a storyline on the long-running ITV soap.
The actor said that his experience in using prosthetics during preparation for the show was “nothing” compared to real-life victims of attacks, who he had spoken to while researching the role.
A previous episode of Coronation Street saw Prescott’s character, Ryan Connor, sustain serious injuries at the hands of Justin Rutherford, played by Andrew Still.
Wednesday’s episode will see Ryan find the courage to face his fears and see the scars caused by the incident for the first time.
“I wanted to do this storyline because I thought it was a great responsibility to be able to open up a dialogue about acid attack survivors,” Prescott said.
“I realised how much more prevalent acid violence is than what I originally thought. I knew that the prosthetics was always going to be part of it and that was one of the positives to it.”
“Through my research for the storyline, I had spoken to numerous people who have survived acid attacks who have real facial injuries and it’s really nothing compared to what some people have gone through in real life.”
“I had always thought of the prosthetics as an edge of that reality and now wearing the prosthetics make me reflect on the reasons why I am doing this storyline,” he said.
“The prosthetics remind me that I want to further the dialogue of what people are actually going through in real life.”
Gillian Walsh, head of hair and makeup and SFX at Coronation Street, said she felt it had been the “right time” to explore the acid attack storyline.
Ms Walsh said the burns prosthetics had been the biggest challenge, “from a technical point of view and from an audience perspective” that her team had ever undertaken, and hailed Jones as “an absolute genius”.
“(Anne) was amazing, I think she might even be a fan of the show,” Ms Walsh said.
“She was really engaged and I was able to show her pictures of some of the work that we created with the prosthetics that hadn’t been on screen yet, she seemed really impressed.
“It was a real honour and a privilege to meet her.”
To assist with the storyline, ITV also sought consultation from Paul Blakemore, charge nurse from the regional burns unit at Pinderfields hospital, in Wakefield.
Mr Blakemore said it was “really very good” for Coronation Street to highlight the issue of acid attacks in the show.
“An acid attack is a horrible thing and we hear about them infrequently but it’s not like someone breaks an arm and once it heals you can’t tell.
“Once you’ve been a survivor of an acid attack and an assault like this, it’s with you for life and the psychological impact is massive.
“For Coronation Street to highlight this is really very good.”
Episodes following the attack on Ryan will air on Wednesday April 19 and Friday April 21 on ITV1 and ITVX.