Talk us through what happens when Alya and Zeedan start to look into Stu’s case.
When Stu went to prison for the murder of the young waitress, Stu was interviewed under duress during the 1980s. As Alya and Zeedan find out more about the guy who interrogated Stu, Detective Lennox, they find out that he did things like throw Stu on the floor and not give him any food during his police interview. Alya and Zeedan start investigating Detective Lennox who Stu feels fitted him up.
Why do you think that Alya has taken it upon herself to fight Stu’s corner? What is Stu and Alya’s relationship like?
Alya is a driving force for justice and she wants things to be right and fair so when she starts to believe Stu, she strongly believes that what happened to him is not right. If Alya had any doubts, she wouldn’t be fighting for Stu. Stu thinks Alya is great and I think Sair Khan, who plays Alya, is great.
What is going through Stu’s mind when he sees Yasmeen waiting for him at the prison gates when he is released?
Stu is not expecting to see Yasmeen when he is released from prison because he really didn’t think that Yasmeen would believe him at all. When he leaves the prison, he feels desolate and full of self pity. He feels like he has nowhere to go and he feels like he was finally getting somewhere in life and now that is over. When he sees Yasmeen in the car, he is shocked. It is unbelievable for him to think that she is there for him.
What does it mean to Stu that he now has the backing of the Nazirs?
The big thing for Stu is that they believe in him. Yasmeen is Stu’s hero because she is there for him yet again. Yasmeen has promised to help Stu but she realises that she can’t be with Stu romantically right now and that is upsetting for Stu but he understands it completely. She really stands her ground against certain residents in the street and tells Stu that he can move into No.6. Stu thinks that Yasmeen is such a great person because she is always there for him in the end, which is lovely.
Stu had hoped that his secret would never come to light on the street, do you think that he realistically thought he could hide his past forever or do you think he knew it was always going to come out eventually?
Stu was fearful that it was going to come out and, with hindsight, he should have told everyone earlier. But Stu was nervous because, what if Yasmeen didn’t believe that he was innocent? He was scared of losing Yasmeen. I do believe that Stu would have told Yasmeen abou this past eventually because he wouldn’t have been able to live with the fear that someone, somewhere, would say something. I think Stu was planning to tell Yasmeen in a few months and that he was waiting for the right moment to be honest with her but unfortunately he didn’t get to pick the moment, his ex-wife Lucy did. She told everyone before he had the chance.
Do you think that Stu realised that visiting his daughter would be the catalyst for his past secret being exposed?
I don’t think he thought it through. Stu has never forgotten about his daughter but actually, his biggest fear was being rejected by her and the humiliation. But it’s funny to think that if Yasmeen hadn’t found out where Bridget was, Stu wouldn’t have gone round there and it was Stu visiting his daughter that kicked the whole thing off. It was the good deed by Yasmeen that turned out to be a horror show for Stu.
Stu did 27 years in prison and before coming to Weatherfield, it seems like he had done his time and he had put the past behind him. Why is it now important for him to clear his name and prove his innocence?
The main turning point for Stu is that the Nazirs are behind him and he finally has people who believe him, especially Alya who wants justice for Stu. But also, when Stu goes to visit his daughter Bridgit again, there is a beautiful moment when he finds out he is a grandad… he did not even know he had a granddaughter. He also now wants to fight to clear his name because he does not want his granddaughter to think that he is some kind of monster. Those are the two motivations that are pushing him to clear his name and it is very important to him. He wants his daughter and granddaughter to look at him as a decent man.
As Stu returns to the street, how do you think Stu will deal with the residents of Weatherfield judging him on his past?
It’s very hard for Stu. Luckily Kelly always comes to his aid and he is happy that Yasmeen comes to his defence, but you have to remember that Stu was in prison for the murder of a young girl who was only 20 years old so I think a lot of the neighbours are upset about that because some of them have daughters who are 18/19 years old. Dev is especially confrontational. The restaurant, Speed Daal, starts to do badly because of him, people start to cancel their bookings. Stu is really shaken by it because he knows these people, his neighbours, but they are turning on him without knowing the facts. He tries to tell them he is innocent but they don’t believe him and that is really hard for him.
Now that Yasmeen is on Stu’s side, do you think the audience will be rooting for Stu? And do you hope that they will be?
Once Alya, Yasmeen and Zeedan accept him and whole-heartdely believe him, I hope that the viewers will believe Stu too. I hope they do.
As Stu fights to prove he is innocent, what can you tell us about his journey for justice?
It is a heartbreaking storyline because there is no winner in this and there is a lot more to come, it’s not just a case of Stu fighting to clear his name… There are a lot of twists and turns and it is very hurtful and heartbreaking for all involved.
Coronation Street airs hour-long episodes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8pm on ITV.