Brooke Vincent as Sophie Webster (2012)
|Coronation Street character|
|Portrayed by||Ashleigh Middleton
|First appearance||4 November 1994|
|Introduced by||Sue Pritchard|
|Out of Africa (2008)|
|Occupation||Student (until 2010)
Shop assistant (2010–)
Shelter worker (2011)
|Home||4 Coronation Street|
Sophie Lauren Webster is a fictional character in the British television soap opera Coronation Street. She is portrayed by actress Brooke Vincent, after previously being portrayed by both Ashleigh Middleton and Emma Woodward. The character first appeared onscreen during the episode airing on 4 November 1994. In 2010 she became the show's first lesbian character, having fallen for best friend Sian Powers (Sacha Parkinson).
'Lauren' is born in 1994 to parents Kevin (Michael Le Vell) and Sally Webster (Sally Dynevor). However, Rosie keeps calling the baby "Sophie" after her doll. Kevin and Sally were persuaded to give her Lauren as a middle name.
Although for the first three years of her life, Sophie’s parents are very much in love, Kevin’s affair with Natalie Horrocks (Denise Welch) changes everything. Kevin and Sally divorce and with Sally struggling to bring up her girls on her own, she makes bad relationship decisions - most notably when she goes out with psychotic Greg Kelly (Stephen Billington) who kidnaps Sophie. She goes through a string of men before her and Kevin reunite. In this period, Kevin also married Alison Webster. Kevin and Alison have a son, Jake, but he dies from an infection when he is a day old. Alison then throws herself under a lorry, after kidnapping Sarah Platt's new daughter, Bethany. In 2002, Kevin and Sally remarry and Sophie's family get back together. However, soon after Sophie overheard her parents arguing about Sally's affair with her boss, Ian Davenport (Philip Bretherton), whose daughter Gemma is friends with Rosie. She fears they will get a divorce but this never happens.
Sophie was born in November 1994. Sophie's major storylines start when there are problems when she is due to start secondary school. Sophie goes in on her first day but is sent home because she isn't on the school's registers. When Sally finds out, she is furious but Sally is responsible as she didn't fill in the application forms properly. At that time, she is unsure if Sophie would go to Oakhill like Rosie (Helen Flanagan). For weeks, Sophie has to stay at home as the headteacher of Weatherfield High will not let her in. Sally looks at other schools in the area but the only one she has any chance of joining has a bad reputation. The Head of Weatherfield High claims that his daughter, Jessica, attends Weatherfield High but Sally sees him taking his daughter in for her first day. Sally speaks to him and threatens to tell the local newspaper, which gets Sophie a place at Weatherfield High.
Sophie and Chesney Battersby-Brown (Sam Aston) start hanging out with Chesney's friend Cameron McIntyre (Ryan Cook), in 2006. The trio start borrowing adult DVDs from Chesney's stepdad Les (Bruce Jones), annoying Sally when she finds them watching one in her living room. Cameron then steals cigarettes and Sally catches them smoking in the alley behind the houses and blames Chesney as Cameron and Sophie gave him the cigarettes. Later on, Sophie steals money from Sally, who blames Chesney again, as his family are known for it. Sophie feels guilty and tells her shocked parents everything. Later that year, Sophie and Chesney find an old diary in the attic of Number Five that belonged to the late Ivy Brennan (Lynne Perrie), and Sophie convinces people that she is psychic; Vera Duckworth (Elizabeth Dawn) even pays her to do a reading. When Rosie finds out, she tells David Platt (Jack P. Shepherd) who says it is his step-gran's diary. Sophie gives it to David, who is shocked to discover that his mother was planning an abortion, which Ivy recorded in her diary. David confronts Gail (Helen Worth) about it on Christmas Day. On Valentine's Day 2007, Sophie gets her mother to write a Valentine's card, which Sally assumes was for Chesney (Sophie didn't disillusion her); however, she posts it through Norris Cole (Malcolm Hebden)'s door. Norris recognises Sally's writing from a cheque she wrote him and is convinced that Sally has a crush on him. The truth is soon revealed and Sophie is made to apologise.
In 2007, Sophie develops a crush on school teacher, John Stape. When she finds out that Fiz is dating John, she vandalises Fiz's motorbike. Sally starts having private lessons with John and also gets a crush on him. Fiz and Kevin start believing that they are having an affair, unaware that Rosie is having an affair with John, which is revealed on Christmas Day 2007. Kevin assaults John and is sent to prison for a few weeks, devastating Sophie and causing a fight between her and Rosie at school. In late 2008, John kidnaps Rosie and keeps her in his dead grandmother's attic for 5 weeks and makes her write postcards to her parents so they think that she has gone abroad. Sophie, sick of Rosie getting all the attention as she thinks Rosie is just doing it to get attention, sends postcards of her own saying 'Sophie's Next.', so that they will pay attention to her. She later admits to Sally and Kevin that she sent the postcard. After a while they begin to realise something is not right and that Rosie is probably in trouble. Fiz finds Rosie in the attic and when John comes up Rosie bashes him over the head and escapes. The Websters are finally reunited.
In January 2009, Kevin finds a pregnancy testing kit box in the bin. Not sure who it belongs to, he asks Sally and Rosie but they insist that it is not theirs, leaving Sophie as the one who could be pregnant. She then admits that she lied about being pregnant in a bid for attention after Sally starts talking about taking her to the doctor.
Sophie soon became part of a new group of teenagers, along with fellow Coronation Street resident Ryan Connor (Ben Thompson), in an effort by the soap to make her more of a standout character. They were joined by two characters, Ben Richardson and Sian Powers. On 16 February 2009, Sophie reveals to a stunned Sally and Kevin and a happy Ben that she is adopting Christian values. Sophie becomes a more prominent character in 2009, with storylines including her relationship with boyfriend Ben and the focus on her religion. Sophie and Ben split up in December 2009 due to Ben trying to kiss Ryan's mother, Michelle (Kym Marsh), shortly before Sophie is baptised.
In April 2010, Sian and Sophie share the soap's first lesbian tender passionate kiss, after a very emotional conversation between them. Sian now realises that Ryan made a pass at Sophie whom, she initially blamed for the kiss between them. Sian is extremely confused by Sophie kissing her, and returns to her mother's home in Southport, very upset. The next day, Sophie visits her in Southport and attempts to explain her feelings and the kiss was an emotional response resulting from their conversation. Sian coldly tells her that there will never be anything between them and they cannot even be friends anymore. Sophie returns to Weatherfield, emotionally devastated. Sian returns to the Street a few weeks later and sees Sophie on a date with a boy called Lee. She then confronts Sophie, admitting that she is now confused and although she is not attracted to girls, she is now attracted to Sophie; and she deeply missed not being with her. As Sian kisses her, Sophie responds and they decided to be together, "going out" as a secret couple.
Sian returns to Weatherfield for her exams. Sian and Sophie decide to go to the school prom together but Sian starts getting stomach pains and Sophie, thinking she is trying to get out of going to the prom, argues with Sian. Although they make up, Sian collapses in pain and Ryan saves her life by getting help and she is rushed to hospital with a ruptured appendix. Sophie thinks she's been stood up until Kevin tells her that Sian is in hospital. Sophie runs to her side but gets jealous when Ryan is there first and wonders what Sian was doing with her ex in the first place. Sophie gets annoyed when Sian visits Ryan as he saved her life but Sophie thinks she wants to get back with him. Sian reassures her she doesn't and they kiss but Ryan sees them. He eventually agrees not to tell anyone and the girls carry their relationship on in secret. Later, Sophie lies to Sally about going to Southport when she and Sian go to a festival instead. When Sally finds out, she grounds Sophie and forbids her from seeing or contacting Sian but they continue to meet in secret. On one occasion, when Claire Peacock (Julia Haworth) is babysitting Sunita Alahan's (Shobna Gulati) son, she is called away due to a family emergency and asks Sophie to look after the children. Whilst Sophie is out of the room, Aadi is pushed over by Simon Barlow (Alexander Bain) as they play and he bangs his head. Later that night, Sophie and Sian kiss, just as Claire gets home and sees them but pretends that she didn't see.
Sophie and Sian join a Church choir so that they can see each other more often and the choir performs for Roy (David Neilson) and Hayley's wedding. Before the Websters leave for the wedding, they are visited by Social Services, who are investigating Aadi's injury. The girls insist they are innocent and Sophie's parents defend her, leading to confrontation with Claire. On the train to the wedding, Sean Tully (Antony Cotton) tells Sophie he saw her twin at the Manchester Gay Pride event. Claire tells Sophie that she saw her kissing Sian but won't tell anyone but when Sally confronts her again, Claire tells her that she saw Sophie and Sian kissing. After the wedding, Sophie explains to Kevin that she loves Sian and they are dating and Kevin accepts their relationship. After Sally confronts Claire again, Kevin tells Sally that Claire was telling the truth and that Sophie is a lesbian. Sophie and Sian are in love and together as a couple. Meanwhile, as Sian is terrified of her father finding out, the girls plan to run away together. As Sophie packs her things, Rosie comes home and Sophie tells her that she loves Sian. Sophie is astonished to find that her sister is very supportive. Rosie gives her money and Sophie leaves, getting on a bus with Sian. Sally, now accepting but concerned, returns home to find Sophie has gone, and has left her a goodbye note. After Sophie and Sian squat in a student house in Sheffield for some time, it is clear that they cannot go on living penniless. Sophie is extremely homesick, and after one of the students living in the house makes a pass at her, she breaks down and confesses to Sian that she wants to go home. Rosie and Jason Grimshaw (Ryan Thomas) bring Sophie and Sian home, much to Kevin and Sally's relief.
In December 2010, Sophie is devastated to learn that Kevin is the father of Molly Dobbs's (Vicky Binns) baby son, Jack, following an affair they had the year before. When Sally angrily orders Kevin to leave, Rosie and Sophie stand by their mother and admits that she wants him to leave, but she wants him to stay for Christmas. Sian helps Sophie through the difficult time and supports her as much as she can. On New Year's Eve, Sophie and Sian lie to Sally saying that they are going to meet a girl from church but buy alcohol and get drunk to celebrate the New Year. When they get home, Sally sends them upstairs as they are drunk. Sophie tells Sian that she couldn't have made it though the last couple of months without her and Sian promises that they will be together forever. They sleep together for the first time and the next day, the pair persuade Sally to go for lunch with Rosie, while they go shopping. When they return home, both girls end up in bed together again and Sally catches them together. Angry, she says that she cannot trust the girls to behave and that they should not be sleeping together. In the ensuing argument, Sophie tells Sally that Sian is the only good thing she has, and that if she had maybe 'loved [Kevin] a bit more, he wouldn't have cheated'. Sally tells Sophie to leave so the girls go to Eileen Grimshaw (Sue Cleaver) house and tell Rosie, Jason, Sean Tully (Antony Cotton), and Eileen Grimshaw that Sally caught them in bed together. The girls stay as guests for a few days, to give Sally time to cool down.
In the months following, Sophie starts to spiral out of control, frequently skipping college and not doing her assignments. She tries to open up to Sally but is overlooked in favour of Jeff, her new boyfriend. As a result of all the arguments getting to her, on 11 February 2011, Sian goes on holiday to Tangiers with her mother and her boyfriend and returns on 7 March. Sian refuses to stay the night as she is moving back to her mum's, infuriating Sophie. Later, after suggesting they get a flat together, Sophie finds photos of Sian and a girl named Chloe and assumes that Sian is cheating, causing an argument. The next day, Sian returns and they argue again: it is revealed that Sian is 'sick of feeling like a mum than a girlfriend' and storms out, telling Sophie she can't do it anymore. Believing that their relationship is over, Sophie becomes depressed and starts drinking cider on the street, refusing Sunita's offers to talk. That night she ends up at the church she was rejected from previously, thinking that God hates her. Although the Pastor attempts to reason with her and ask her to come back to the choir, Sophie falls from the roof and is sent immediately to hospital. She escapes brain damage and reconciles with her family and Sian who begs Sophie to never leave her. However, the arguing does not stop for long as it is revealed Sunita told Kevin that Sophie was drunk but he left to take care of Jack; Sian finally blows up at Kevin and Sally for neglecting Sophie. Sophie is furious when Tommy Duckworth (Chris Fountain) tries to kiss Sian whilst giving her a driving lesson, but gets her revenge when Rosie asks him to fix a tap for her, and pretends to try it on with him. She tells him to get ready for her, and when he comes down looking for her in only his underwear, he is greeted by Sophie and Sian.
In October 2011, Sophie's friend Amber Kalirai (Nikki Patel) takes her to a lesbian bar and Amber winds her up, claiming that she was 'window-shopping'. Sophie tells Amber she wants to be with Sian and not to tell Sian where they went in case she gets the wrong idea. A few weeks later, Sian goes on holiday with her mum and Amber takes Sophie out again. Amber spikes Sophie's drink with vodka to help her loosen up and when a lad tries chatting Sophie up, Amber steps in and says she is her girlfriend before kissing her. Amber tells Sophie the kiss was only to make the lad go away but Sophie is confused about her feelings, telling Sunita that she liked it and didn't want it to end. Sunita tells Sophie the kiss didn't mean anything to Amber and to focus on her relationship with Sian. Feeling guilty and taking Sunita's advice, Sophie proposes to Sian when she comes home from holiday early. Sian accepts and Sophie tells Sally and Kevin they are engaged, but they tell Sophie they won't give her permission to marry.
A month later, Amber offers to go to the cinema with Sophie as Sian is too busy. Sophie is delighted until Amber's ex-boyfriend, Arj, arrives and goes with Amber to her flat. The next day, Amber rearranges her plans with Sophie but cancels again when Arj calls. Feeling jealous, Sophie storms out and Amber follows her, asking what is wrong. Sophie breaks down and admits to Amber she is in love with her but Amber tells her to grow up. The next day, Sunita advises Sophie to try and get over Amber and focus on Sian. Once again feeling guilty and listening to Sunita, Sophie asks Sian to talk to their parents again about getting married. They talk to Sally but she tells Sophie and Sian they are too young and they don't have her permission. Desperate to get married to make her feelings for Amber go away, Sophie tells Sian if they can't get married in Weatherfield, they should go to Gretna Green instead. They go to the coach station but Sally and Rosie arrive, and Sally tells Sophie she will let them get married in four weeks in Weatherfield as long as Kevin agrees too. Sophie and Sian are delighted but Sophie later bumps into Amber, who tells her she is only getting married to Sian to get over her. The wedding day soon approaches, and on the hen night, Amber tells Sophie not to marry Sian as she likes Sophie as a friend and doesn't want her making a mistake. She even tries to kiss her, but is stopped by Sunita, who then tells Kevin that Sophie is having doubts about getting married. However, on the wedding day, Sophie tells Kevin that she still wants to marry Sian. When they arrive at the church, Sian says her vows very well, but Sophie stumbles on hers. Kevin tells her that she doesn't have to do this and slips out that she told Sunita she wasn't ready. The whole church are confused and Sian begs to know what is going on, to which Sophie admits she can't do it. Sian flees the church in tears. She comes back home to pack her bags, but Sophie arrives home and insists that she loves Sian and nobody else, so Sian agrees that the wedding will go on. Sophie rings up Rosie and Jason as they need two witnesses for the wedding, but an unknowing Rosie brings Amber instead. Amber walks into the house and Sophie is furious and tells Rosie to get her to leave, Rosie asks what is going on, and Sophie admits she had a crush on Amber. She starts having a go at Amber and tells her she loves Sian and that she's not in love with Amber any more and their kiss was a mistake. Unfortunately, Sian overhears everything and tells Sophie that she hates her. Sian leaves her and Weatherfield for good, leaving Sophie breaking down on the cobbles hysterically, shouting to Sian that she loves her.
Following her painful split from Sian, Sophie is left feeling bitterly depressed. She decides to resign from her job at the corner shop and declares Amber as an enemy. She also disowns Kevin for his part in the events of the fateful wedding day and refuses to speak to him. Despite his being very apologetic, Sophie continues to rebuff Kevin. Soon, Sally begins dating her boss Frank Foster (Andrew Lancel). Despite Sophie's initial reservations (since Frank wasn't really much liked by many after being accused of raping his former flame Carla Connor), she starts accepting him, telling her mum she just wants her to be happy. However, Sally finds out that Frank has been cheating on her, and he hints to Sally that he did rape Carla after all. A few days later he is found dead in the factory, with Sally and Kevin being two of the five suspects for his murder.
Around this time it appears Sophie has forgiven Kevin, despite there being no obvious scene where she forgives him. When Rosie leaves to further her career in modelling in London, there is no tension between the two, and when Sophie finds out about Frank cheating on Sally, she rings Kevin up straight away. After Sally was hospitalised after falling down the stairs when she discovered Frank's mother, Anne (Gwen Taylor), killed him, Kevin and Sophie have a heart-to-heart conversation at Sally's bedside while she is in a coma. There, Sophie admits to Kevin that he was right in that she was rushing to get married to Sian when in fact, she really wasn't ready to commit, and that she accepts that she paid the price in losing Sian forever for not listening to Kevin's advice. She tells him she shouldn't have blamed him but really should be thanking him. Both apologise to one another, thus formally ending the brief bitter feud between them. At the end of the show, the viewers see Sally open her eyes and smile, revealing that she heard the conversation between Kevin and Sophie. While cleaning out Steve McDonald (Simon Gregson)'s house for Kevin and baby Jack to move in, Sophie's old friend Ryan Connor (Sol Heras) returns and the pair talk about what happened while Ryan was away. While talking out the back, a match that Ryan throw out sets fire to Steve's curtains and as they try to put out the fire Ryan's mother Michelle (Kym Marsh) walks in and takes Ryan home. Sophie discovers that Ryan has been put out of university for drug-use, and he wasn't on summer leave as he'd told them.
In late October Sophie goes on a night out with Ryan. Ryan is upset after finding out Tracy Barlow (Kate Ford) was only in a relationship with him to annoy his mum Michelle and to split her up with Tracy's ex-husband, Steve. Ryan gets drunk and high on cocaine and starts playing chicken in a road of busy cars. Sophie finally persuades him to come home however as he is crossing the road a car comes, Sophie pushes him out of the way but gets knocked over by the car. Sally and Kevin were both distraught when they find out that Ryan was involved in the accident, but Sophie defends his actions and makes them promise not to say anything to the police.
Creation and development
The character of Sophie was created as a sister for Rosie (Helen Flanagan), and was born Lauren in 1994 to parents Kevin (Michael Le Vell) and Sally Webster (Sally Dynevor). However, Rosie keeps calling the baby "Sophie" after her doll. Kevin and Sally were persuaded to give her Lauren as a middle name . Although for the first five years of her life, Sophie’s parents are very much in love, Kevin’s affair with Natalie Horrocks (Denise Welch) changes everything. With Sally struggling to bring up her girls on her own, she makes bad relationship decisions - most notably when she goes out with psychotic Greg Kelly (Stephen Billington) who kidnaps Sophie. Later Kevin and Sally remarry and her family get back together. However, soon thereafter Sophie overheard her parents arguing about Sally's affair with her boss, Ian Davenport (Philip Bretherton), whose daughter Gemma is friends with Rosie. She fears they will get a divorce but this never happens.
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."
Personality and characterisation
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, with a face like a 1970s male glam rock singer and a perfect match for his character Graeme Proctor (Craig Gazey).
In 2009 Sophie reveals to a stunned Sally and Kevin, and a happy Ben Richardson (Lucien Laviscount), that she is adopting Christian values, and that she would be wearing a purity necklace. During the storyline which saw Sophie'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.
Sophie's character became the focus of a lesbian storyline in 2010. This would be the first time Coronation Street has ever had a lesbian character. Producers had been on the lookout for a lesbian character since 2004. In response to the revelation that former character Violet Wilson (Jenny Platt) was originally intended to be the first lesbian character in the show, an ITV insider told the News of the World in 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 show's first lesbian character.
Vincent 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. At the 2008 Inside Soap Awards, Vincent was nominated in the category "Best Young Actor". 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." The columnist gave further praise to the character in October 2008 stating that "Sophie is becoming one of the stars of the show right now. She's so lovable and backchatty. Sophie's role has always been as the invisible Webster. She's incredibly wise and loyal but no one listens to a word she ever says, aside from Rita (Sullivan)."
The Sophie and Sian romantic lesbian storyline has intrigued the viewing audience of Coronation Street. In a poll taken by Inside Soap in autumn 2010. These two girls came top of the poll with, 44% of the polls respondents, wanted Sophie Webster and Sian Powers married next year (2011) in a (white) wedding storyline. In April 2010, Sian's and Sophie's lesbian storyline received positive feedback from the After Ellen website, detailing news, reviews & commentary on lesbian and bisexual women in entertainment and the media. Praising the way the sensitive storyline was handled they stated, 'so far the storyline has been written positively and without titillation and the actresses have played the characters with conviction. Actress Brooke Vincent’s sorrow over Sian’s initial rejection was particularly touching. Sources tell us that their relationship will be a long-term commitment by the programme, which already has a long term gay male and long-term transgendered male-to-female character.'.
In popular culture
In scenes shown in 2005, Sophie referred to herself as a chav, a slang term in England (see Charver for Northern England or ned for Scotland) 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.
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