Let’s be clear. Coronation street star Chris Fountain never raped anyone.
He merely sang a nasty song about it.
But at first glance, on a newsstand, garage forecourt or even a doormat, you may not think so.
It was such a comment, one along the lines of, “another one of dem Corrie lot’s bin done” which confirmed it. Mum and daughter in a queue in Sainsbury’s discussing how the “well fit” lad who plays gormless Tommy Duckworth in the soap has apparently joined the growing list of TV stars arrested of sex offences.
The problem was the use of the word “rap”, particularly in its alliterative form as “rape-rap”. True, he did sing a rap song that had rape in it.
But the ambiguity is self-made: rap being a longstanding tabloid short-form for a criminal conviction. The Sunday Mirror went with a p13 piece: Rape rap Corrie star is told: Grovel on TV. Yesterday, the Daily Mirror compounded it with a splash as the story moved on: Corrie star is axed for rape rap. The Sunday version, to add to the confusion, led with Top TV actor in teen sex quiz.
A P4-5 spread revealed that he remains for the moment anonymous. Other tabloids used the latest revelation to make reference to the pending cases against fellow Street stars Michael Le Vell and Bill Roache.
In isolation, mum and daughter apart, no-one who looked closely would be in any doubt that he was guilty of a discretion, not a crime. But online searches, particularly from the US, where the word has an entirely different meaning, will leave the poor lad forever labelled the rape-rap soap star.
Being written out of the series is one thing . . .