Coronation Street star Charlie de Melo has spoken out about the decision to kill off his character, Imran Habeeb.
Viewers were left stunned by the shock death on Wednesday's episode, following a high-speed car crash that left him and his wife Toyah trapped in the wreckage.
Imran played hero after the crash. He pulled injured Toyah out of the car and got her to safety.
But in a shock twist Imran collapsed and died – and his demise is something which Charlie reveals didn’t just come as a shock to viewers.
He says: "Georgia Taylor [Toyah] and I had a meeting with the producer last year to be given a rundown of where the story was going.
"He was talking us through it and went, ‘then of course Imran dies’ – then starts moving on to other stuff. I was like ‘Wait! Stop! Can we rewind a little?’"
While it was Charlie’s decision to leave the soap, having informed producers last year, he did initially find Imran’s death a bit of a blow.
Charlie says: "Once the news settled in, I began to wonder if this was them salting the earth so I couldn’t come back because they disliked me so much. Do they not want anything to do with me anymore and this is their opportunity to see me out for good?
"However, I spoke to the producer a little later and he explained it all and why it wasn’t an easy decision, so that was good for my ego at least!
"In terms of Imran, I don’t know if there was any other option. He could just do the turn and walk to the back of a cab stuff, but that disregards all of this fight that he’s had for his son."
Charlie has been in Coronation Street since 2017. However, he reveals he nearly quit two years ago, having struggled to adjust to life on a soap and the role of Imran.
He says: "My first couple of years working there were trying – nothing to do with the job at all – and I did find it difficult. So, as I was heading towards the end of that second year, I’d kind of made the decision to move on.
“But that’s then that’s when Covid struck, and so the decision got taken out of my hands. It was the sensible choice to stay, plus my personal life got cleared up a little bit."
Ironically, it was the challenge of Covid filming that helped cement Charlie’s decision to hang on in with Imran.
He says: "We had to band together to keep this ship afloat and there was an element of the camaraderie that was so strong.
"I was being put in the middle of with the storyline with Ian Bartholomew and Shelley King (Geoff and Yasmeen). Then, subsequently working with Millie Gibson (Kelly) and having so much more to do with Georgia. It just meant that the subsequent two years since have just been such a joy."
Last year, Charlie finally made the decision to say goodbye to the Street.
He says: “I thought if I don’t close my eyes and step off into the void now, then I never will. I came to the realisation that I have no spouse, no car or mortgage or kids or any of these kinds of things that would otherwise necessitate the consistency of this job."
Charlie reveals he has kept part of the sharp-suited solicitor with him. He explains: "The costume department were short of space, and basically said you’ll be doing us a favour if you just take everything. I thought, 'I’m a team player I can do this for you!'"
And Charlie reckons he’ll get a lot of use out of Imran’s fancy threads.
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“I'm at that age now where everyone's getting married and having kids and all the rest of it, so it’s perfect."
He adds: "I actually haven't taken it off Imran’s wedding ring since I left. I now realise how people get so attached. I would think it would be an annoying hindrance. It’s only costume jewellery, but it's me now – it's mine!"
Coronation Street continues on weekdays on ITV.
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