As Michael Le Vell hits the headlines yet again, and after spending a day in court during his trial, I take a nostalgic look back at his time on Coronation Street as Kevin Webster, and forward to what the coming year has in store for him…
Growing up in the 80’s, when we had only 4 channels on TV to choose from and plastic Jellybean shoes were supposedly cool, I have fond memories of sitting down with my Mum to watch Coronation Street of an evening.
Snuggled on the sofa we would debate the story line and we each had our favourite character – I was always torn between Bet Lynch and her amazing earrings and Kevin Webster, the friendly and *hunky mechanic. *I was 10 at the time, cut me some slack eh.
Around the same time, and unbeknown to me, Michael was becoming well known as a gay icon, allegedly receiving sacks of fan mail on a daily basis. This all came to an end with the departure of his infamous facial hair, although he still remained popular with the ladies and was a permanent feature of The Street.
Off screen Michael married his co-star, Janette Beverley in 1986, they went on to have two children and spent 25 years together before separating in 2011.
This was also the year things started to go wrong for Michael in a very public way, he faced allegations of 19 sexual offences and, although the Crown Prosecution Service later dropped the charges due to “insufficient evidence” the stress clearly took its toll.
Friends of Michael say that this was when he started to drink heavily, often “propping up the bar” in the local pub near his home in Hale, though he did remain a popular character on the much loved soap.
In 2013 the Director of Public Prosecutions reviewed the decision made previously in relation to the allegations and authorized Greater Manchester Police to charge Michael with all 19 offences once again.
ITV reacted by writing Kevin Webster out of the storyline with the promise of his return – once proceedings against Michael had finished.
Held at Manchester Crown Court, the case attracted media attention on a massive scale. Every day Michael arrived at the hearing to be greeted by numerous flashing cameras and eager press looking for an exclusive quote or statement.
Supported by friends he looked like a rabbit caught in headlights; it would be foolish to think that the stress of such a high profile case didn’t affect him in a big way, despite him being eventually found not guilty on all charges.
Leaving court on the day of the verdict, a relieved Michael said he was taking some time out – possibly somewhere abroad, and that he would be back on the cobbles soon, much to the delight of his many supporters.
After a break of six months Michael made his return as Kevin in an explosive storyline that saw him getting into fisticuffs with the neighbours as he arrived with his suitcase in hand. Then he was gone again…
Here is the infamous scene…:)
New scandal now surrounds Michael and his personal life, he’s admitted to using Cocaine during the trial, at what he says was his “lowest ebb” and Corrie bosses have given him just three months to turn his life around or risk being written out permanently.
As if this wasn’t enough for the shame-faced star, his ex-girlfriend, Blanca, has added her own fuel to the fire by alleging that Michael “enticed her into having sex with him and another man after he had drunk 12 pints and snorted Cocaine.”
Now, while I am not defending him in any way, I would question why this story has surfaced now, and if it is actually humanly possible to entice anyone to do anything after allegedly consuming so much alcohol then topping it off with some class A drugs?
At the end of the day Michael is a guy who is having a tough time and it would be nice to see him get the space and privacy he needs to get back on track.
Who hasn’t got drunk and made a bad decision or done something they really would rather people didn’t know. He was found innocent of any wrongdoing in a court of law and the rest is little more than tickle tackle.
I reckon the future for Michael is bright, although I’m not sure the same can be said for Kevin, after all, the Corrie scriptwriters are known for their bumpy storylines, who knows what they have in store for his return this time around.
There is speculation that Michael is currently in rehab although this has, so far, been unconfirmed. A friend of the star said: “Michael knows he has to sort his life out and is determined to do that. Coronation Street bosses have been incredibly supportive. They know Mike went through hell with his trial and that the stress has led to problems in his personal life, which have to be resolved. All anyone wants on the show is Mike back, in good health.”
Wherever Michael may be at the moment I hope that he is getting the support he so obviously needs and deserves. People are quick to remember the negatives and forget the positive – in my opinion he is not a bad person, as certain media sources would have you believe, more a good person that has made some bad decisions. Only time will tell if he can bounce back again but I really do believe he will.
Michael may have made mistakes and, in hindsight, that moustache was a bit too YMCA, even for the 80’s, but at the end of the day he’s a Manchester bloke that will be remembered long after the Rovers has served its last Hot Pot.
This article first appeared as an exclusive in the April edition of Within Magazine…
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