Interview: Sair Khan

Alya is becoming increasingly suspicious of Geoff's behaviour, but will she be able to rescue Yasmeen from his clutches? Sair Khan gives us an insight...

What are Alya’s thoughts about Geoff?

Alya has always had an uneasy feeling about Geoff before any of the real worrying issues started to happen, she just didn't click with him, thought he was quite smarmy, could tell that there was a veneer of falseness about him. She has always held him at arm's length and didn't quite trust him and felt he got his feet under the table too quickly with Yasmeen. They never hit it off especially because Alya and Yasmeen were so close and were the family unit, so for anyone to come in and break that up was going to be a real shock to the system for Alya, and that it was someone like Geoff that she really didn't like was a kick in the teeth.

Alya and Geoff - Coronation Street - ITV

What was Alya's reaction to Geoff being behind the bad reviews?

When it came to the reviews Geoff found a really easy way to undermine and control Alya and to knock her confidence. That is her achilles heel. He couldn't manipulate her in the same way as he has done Yasmeen but he can change his tactics and do it in this way with the bad reviews. His MO is chipping away at people’s confidence and finding their weak point and just going for that, Alya’s identity is to be a good business person and this is a deeply personal attack on her. It is even more worrying because he doesn’t seem to care about the business, it isn't about the business and the effect it has on their livelihood it is about being domineering and getting his own way and undermining her.

How does she feel when she realises that there is money going missing from the account and then he says he wants to move to Cypress with Yasmeen?

Alya is not privy to personal conversations between Yasmeen and Geoff, she catches on to things much later. So for example the fact that Geoff has taken over the accounts and the money matters in their household comes as a massive surprise to Alya because Yasmeen used to be so independent and so in control of every aspect of that business and ran such a tight ship. Alya realises that she has relinquished some of this control and she doesn’t know if she has done it on purpose to share the workload, she does worry that it is Geoff forcing his way into  the business and trying to take control. When she is looking for clues that something is not right and doesn't know how to prove it she is trying to find a way of catching him out and looking for data that could help her. She finds that there have been various withdrawal from the company account so she takes it upon herself to find out where it has come from. 

How aware is she of the danger Yasmeen could be in?

There are a lot of unanswered questions and she can’t quite tie the whole picture together, there are bad reviews, there is missing money, Yasmeen isn't working as much or seeing her friends as much, now they want to move away and Eileen tells her about Yasmeen getting locked in the box. She is not privy to the whole picture, she is just getting snippets that are making her feel uneasy. She knew the chicken had died and Yasmeen was upset about it but she never for a moment thinks that he made her eat her own chicken. She isn't necessarily making the leap to thinking there is an abusive relationship going on. She just knows that something is not quite right. 

Alya and Yasmeen - Coronation Street - ITV

Does she act on this feeling of unease?

She does acknowledge that her Gran has become quite isolated, she doesn't want to jump the gun too much with regards to what she is accusing Geoff of, she certainly couldn't have done that in the first instance. It has gone from her having a dislike of him and being her Gran’s annoying boyfriend to her putting the pieces together and realising her gran has become isolated from her social and family circles and has lost control of her own life and that is the thing that worries Alya. The point where Geoff wants to take her to Cypress she knows she can’t let that happen because if she lets her leave Geoff is going to have more control over her.

Why does she go to the police?

Alya confiding in Toyah is really helpful at this stage because she just has a feeling something is not right and she doesn't have any experience of domestic abuse issues. In telling her friend who does have experience of it through her job she realises that there is something she can do. She can’t go to the police and say that she doesn't like her Gran’s boyfriend, but because she has seen a worrying pattern of behaviour Toyah tells her there is information that she can request to see if she can prove he has a history of abuse in any form.

Alya and Toyah at the police station - Coronation Street - ITV

What research have you undertaken to play this storyline?

Even through playing the story scene by scene I have felt a sense of hopelessness about what my character can do, you would think you could reason with the victim, guide them and point out what is going on. But families in these situations are constantly met with rebuttals and denials, it makes you appreciate how sensitive this issue is and how manipulated people can be, and they don't even realise what is happening. I have spoken to families affected by coercive control and I really felt that gut instinct of what is right and wrong came through but also the helplessness of trying to deal with that. 

Is she scared for herself?

She is not scared about her own safety but she needs to be careful not to do something which puts Yasmeen in more danger. At the point where Goeff wants to move to Cypress Alya is so scared and worried. She fears that Yasmeen is going to be even more isolated and once he gets her out of the country it will be even harder to free her from his control. She just thinks she has to take the situation into her own hands. She feels she has tried the softly softly tactic but she now believes  she has to do the right thing and swoop in and be the hero and look after Yasmeen. That backfires quite dramatically with potential dangerous consequences for Yasmeen because she is so under Geoff’s spell that something like this could do a lot of damage.