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Sophie Webster (née Lauren Webster) is a fictional character in the UK television ITV soap opera, Coronation Streetmarker. She is currently portrayed by actress Brooke Vincent, after previously being portrayed by both Ashleigh Middleton and Emma Woodward. The character appeared first onscreen during the episode airing on 4 November 1994.

Creation

Background

The character of Sophie was created as a sister for Rosie, the character was originally named Lauren and was born in 1994 to parents Kevin Webster and Sally Webster. However Rosie kept calling the baby "Sophie" after her doll. Kevin and Sally (who had also warmed to the name Sophie far more than Lauren) were persuaded to legally change her name. Although for the first five years of her life, Sophie’s parents were very much in love, her dad Kevin’s affair changed everything. With Sally struggling to bring up her girls on her own, she made bad relationship decisions - most notably when she went out with psychotic Greg Kelly who kidnapped Sophie. Later Kevin and Sally remarried and her family got back together. However, soon thereafter Sophie overheard her parents arguing about Sally' with her boss, Ian Davenport, whose daughter Gemma was friends with Rosie. She feared they would get a divorce but this never happened.

Casting

Ashleigh Middleton played Sophie from her birth up until March 1997 when Emma Woodward who was just three years old at the time took over the role. In 2004 Emma quit the role of Sophie to concentrate on her school work. The show's bosses ran auditions upon the announcement which resulted in her being replaced with Brooke Vincent a patron of the Manchester Kids charity. In an interview Brooke revealed that her role in Coronation Street is just part of her life, stating she doesn't see it as a job because she sees it as fun. She also works a Saturday job and attends school but manages to fit all three into her schedule. “I have a normal life and the Corrie stuff is my bonus life,” As the character grew older Coronation street bosses were impressed by Brooke's performance as Sophie and decided to give her more storylines and in order to do so they cast some classmates for her.They were cast in December.Coronation Street told the Daily Star that: "Brooke is an amazing actress and the introduction of two characters her own age will give the writers free rein to come up with some fantastic plots for her."

Development

Personality

ITV publicity describes Sophie as a girl who is determined to live her life her own way after being neglected by her parents in favour of elder sister Rosie. Also stating that even after her hardships she went through growing up she has turned out pretty well-adjusted with a good sense of humour. What's on TV magazine describes her as not being as bright as her sister Rosie, but always gets her own way as she is the apple of her father's eye. Fellow actor Craig Gazey describes the character as very gobby and a perfect match for his character Graeme Proctor.. It has been rumoured that Sophie will become Coronations Street's first regular lesbian character when she dumps her boyfriend Ben in search of a girlfriend.

Relationships

Sophie, who is only in her middle teens at the moment, hasn't had a serious relationship or a real boyfriend until Ben. Originally, her main friend who is currently still a resident on the street was Chesney Battersby-Brown, though she spends most time onscreen with her parents and sister Rosie with whom she has a rocky relationship.

In late 2008 Coronation Street producers cast two young actors as Sophie's schoolmates - Ben Richardson and Sian. Ben is the captain of the school swimming team, with Sian her best friend. The three will form a new group of teenagers along with Ryan Connor.

Sophie is due to start dating Sian in late 2009. This would be the first time Coronation Street has ever had a lesbian character. The show, which introduced transgendered Hayley Cropper (Julie Hesmondhaugh) back in 1998 and is set in the city of Manchester, has had several male gay characters. Soap bosses have been on the lookout for a lesbian character since 2004. In response to the revelation that former character Violet Wilson was originally intended to be the first lesbian character in the show, an ITV insider told the News of the World on July 2008: "Executives want to create a soap which is representative of society in 2008 and they are acutely aware they need more gay characters. They went on: "It does seem ridiculous it (lesbianism) has never been explored on Corrie but that's all about to change." In early 2009 it became apparent that the latter comment saying 'that's all about to change' was said because of the plans to transform the character of Sophie into the first lesbian character.

Storylines

Early Stories

Sophie's major storylines started when there were problems when she was due to start secondary school. Sophie had gone in on her first day but was sent home because she wasn't on the school's registers. When Sally found out, she was furious. It turned out that Sally had failed to fill in the application forms properly. At that time, she was unsure if Sophie would attend Oakhill, like Rosie. For weeks, Sophie had to stay at home as the headteacher of the school would not let her in. Sally looked at other schools in the area but the only one she had any chance of joining had a bad reputation. The head of Weatherfield High had given Sophie's place to his daughter, Jessica. When Sally was dropping Rosie off at Oakhill, she saw the Head of Weatherfield High taking his daughter for her first day. Sally spoke to him and threatened to tell the local newspaper, which got Sophie a place at Weatherfield High.

Sophie became friends with Nicolette Seddon, unaware that they were related. When Sally found out, she was furious as Nicolette was so rude. She and Sophie started smoking and one night when Rosie and Craig were babysitting, Sophie sneaked out after being told not to leave the house. When Sally found Sophie had gone missing, she was frantic. Sophie was later found and broke off her friendship with Nicolette.

In the summer 2006, Sophie and Chesney started hanging out with Chesney's friend Cameron McIntyre. The trio started took DVDs from Chesney's stepdad Les. The films had an 18 certificate, so Sally was annoyed when she found them watching one in her living room. Cameron then stole cigarettes, and Sophie took one. Sally later found them in the alley behind the houses and smelt tobacco. The finger of blame was pointed at Chesney, as Cameron and Sophie had passed the cigarettes to him. Later on, Sophie stole money from Sally, who suspected Chesney, as it was what his family was known for. Sophie felt guilty and told her shocked parents everything. Later that year, Sophie and Chesney found an old diary in the attic of number five. It belonged to the late Ivy Brennan, and Sophie started convincing people that she was psychic; Vera Duckworth even paid her to do a reading. When Rosie found out, she told David Platt who said it was his step-gran's diary. Sophie gave it to David, who was shocked to discover that his mum had almost had an abortion, which Ivy recorded in her diary. David confronted his mum about it on Christmas Day. On Valentine's Day 2007, she got her mum to write a valentine's card, which Sally assumed was for Chesney (Sophie purposefully saying nothing to the contrary); however, she posted it through Norris Cole's door. Norris recognised Sally's writing from a cheque she wrote him and was convinced that Sally had a crush on him. The truth was soon revealed, and Sophie was made to apologise.

Sophie vented her anger on Fiz Brown's motor scooter after finding out Fiz was dating her drama teacher, John Stape, whom Sophie has a crush on. Her sister Rosie Webster soon had an affair with John, and when this was announced, trouble emerged, as John was Rosie's teacher. Kevin attacked John on the street and was later arrested. This heightened the differences between her and Rosie, and they got into a fight. Tension relaxed when Kevin was released from prison.

False Pregnancy & Religion

In September 2008, Rosie mysteriously disappeared, three weeks later Kevin received a postcard saying 'Sophie's next.' Sophie later revealed she had sent the postcards as she was tired of all the attention Rosie was getting. Even though Sophie and Rosie declared a truce, the division between them still lingers, as Rosie is her mum's daughter and Sophie is very much her dad's.

In January 2009, Kevin found a pregnancy testing kit box in the bin. Thinking it was Sally's, he asked her but she denied it so they suspected that it belonged to Rosie, thinking she was pregnant, but she denied it too. It was then when Sophie revealed it was her and later revealed that she made the pregnancy up in a bid for attention. She revealed everything to Sally after she pressed her about going to the doctor.

The character later became part of a new group of teenagers along with fellow Coronation Street resident Ryan Connor and two new characters Ben Richardson and Sian. On 16 February 2009, Sophie revealed to a stunned Sally and Kevin, and a happy Ben, that she was adopting Christian values, and that she would be wearing a purity necklace.

During the storyline, which saw the character's views change on life by turning to religion and taking a vow of chastity, Vincent praised the soap's producers for using the new plot to challenge stereotypes about religious people. She went on to state: "It's different, isn't it? We all have a stereotypical view of a Christian, but Lucien Laviscount, who plays Sophie's boyfriend Ben, is quite hot, and you don't really think of religious people like that, so maybe it'll make religion cool. Going on to say "It shows you don't have to be a geek or be all 'religion, religion, religion' to be a Christian." ITV series editor Louise Sutton commented on the storyline stating that: "The decision amongst teenagers to declare themselves chaste until marriage is hugely popular in the States. But it is also becoming more widespread in the UK." It was also noted that the storyline showed stark contrast to her sister Rosie and her sexual behaviour.

Reception

Brooke was nominated for Best Dramatic Performance From A Young Actor Or Actress award for her portrayal of Sophie at The British Soap awards 2008, she was put forward by the panel but lost out to Jamie Borthwick. Grace Dent of The Guardian described Sophie's early rebellion phase as the best storyline of Coronation Street in 2005 and even said that she was 'chaving it up' with her friend Nicolette. She also said of the character "She has transformed virtually overnight from a small, cheeky scamp into a Kappa-tracksuited, crop-topped, top-knotted, gum-chomping gobby nightmare."

In popular culture

In scenes shown in 2005, Sophie referred to herself as a chav, a slang term in the United Kingdom for a person whose lifestyle, branded casual clothing, speech and/or mannerisms are perceived to be common, proletarian and vulgar. Due to this affiliation, the character is named and quoted in the 2006 book The Chav Guide to Life by Lee Bok.

References

External links



Coronation Street gets its first lesbian character as Sophie Webster finds a girlfriend


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