G7 speakers discuss hate crime on visit to Coronation Street set

The Speaker of the House of Commons has said people should “stand together” to call out hate as he joined other G7 speakers on the set of Coronation Street to discuss hate crime.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle welcomed his counterparts from across the world, including speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, to the set of the ITV soap in Trafford, Greater Manchester, as part of the G7 Speakers’ Conference.

The speakers have discussed issues surrounding security in parliament during the weekend’s summit, which has been held in Sir Lindsay’s home constituency of Chorley, in Lancashire.

G7 Speakers’ Conference
Nancy Pelosi meets the chairman of ITV, Sir Peter Bazalgette (Peter Byrne/PA)

On Sunday, delegates were invited to the set of Coronation Street to join writers, producers and cast members involved in an ongoing storyline about hate crime – which has seen the goth character Nina Lucas and her boyfriend Seb Franklin being set upon by a gang in an attack that left Seb with fatal injuries.

The storyline was based on the murder of Sophie Lancaster in Lancashire in 2007, and saw actress Mollie Gallagher, who plays Nina, win a National Television Award for serial drama performance for her role in the storyline.

Those attending the conference took part in a panel discussion about the power of television to influence democracy, along with Ms Gallagher and David Neilson, who plays Roy Cropper, before touring the set.

Sir Lindsay said programmes like Coronation Street can influence people’s lives across the world.

G7 Speakers’ Conference
Nancy Pelosi and Sir Lindsay Hoyle visit the Coronation Street set (Peter Byrne/PA)

Speaking to the PA news agency, he said: “So when we send out that message from this street, we know that others will learn from it and that’s why today has been so important and that’s why that storyline is so, so important.

“There is no way that hate should not be called out, we’ve got to stand firm, we’ve got to stand together and we’ve got to make sure that storylines like this do not happen.”

Sir Lindsay added: “People’s intolerance and lack of respect is not acceptable.

“What we’ve got to show is, we’re not all the same, we should be different, we should be able to accept other people’s looks, views.

“And that’s what worries me, hate is not what I want to see in this country.”

G7 Speakers’ Conference
Mollie Gallagher took part in a panel discussion (Peter Byrne/PA)

Sir Lindsay said it was an “absolute privilege” to visit the Coronation Street set to have a discussion about “real storylines that affect people” and introduce his fellow speakers to “the longest soap opera in history”.

He added: “And, hopefully, we’ll have a better country when we continue to call out hate.”

Iain MacLeod, producer of Coronation Street, said it was an “incredible honour” to host the G7 speakers.

He said: “It’s a massive, massive honour to have such esteemed personages in our studios discussing our show, discussing the role our show, and others like it, play in society and democracy.”

He added: “I think what our show does in terms of democracy is set the terrain, I think it encourages empathy.

G7 Speakers’ Conference
Nancy Pelosi and Sir Lindsay Hoyle with actors David Neilson and Mollie Gallagher (Peter Byrne/PA)

“It encourages people to look at people that aren’t like them and put themselves in their shoes.

And I think, hopefully, that encourages a more empathetic and a kinder dialogue, politically speaking.”

Sir Lindsay was joined by Ms Pelosi, president of the National Assembly of France Richard Ferrand, and president of the Italian Chamber of Deputies Roberto Fico.

The group drove down the famous cobbles in a cavalcade of cars before being met by Ms Gallagher, Mr Neilson, Mr MacLeod, Sir Peter Bazalgette, chairman of ITV, and writer Ian Kershaw.

After the panel discussion the delegates were given a tour down the cobbles, stopping to look at a memorial bench for the victims of the Manchester Arena terror attack and posing for photographs outside the Rovers Return Inn.