In the first part of our Coronation Street winter preview, show producer Iain MacLeod gives us the lowdown on Carla and Peter, a tough choice for Daisy, and the return of some familiar faces…
Is this the end for Peter and Carla?
The departure of actor Chris Gascoyne has been known for the past few months, but with on-screen wife Alison King remaining on the show, it wasn’t looking good for Peter and Carla Barlow. Whilst his part in the demise of Stephen Reid had caused many to believe that his fate was sealed, with Peter facing murder charges, the police dropped the case last week after coming to the conclusion that he had sufficient reason to believe Jenny’s life was in danger at the time he hit Stephen with his car.
That has come as little comfort to Peter though, as he’s battled his own demons whilst trying to justify his actions, and this is what will ultimately lead to his departure in some heartbreaking Christmas episodes, as Iain explains…
What we wanted to do with Peter was try and play the reality of a man who’s got demons, with a history of alcoholism and depressive episodes. His reaction to what he did to Stephen, the kind of battle within himself to get straight in his own mind whether what he did was justified, and how much of it was actually informed by his anger over what Stephen had done to Carla. Was there an element of revenge to that? Obviously that’s puts him on the rack, emotionally speaking. We were very clear when we started this chapter of the story that we didn’t want him to fall off the wagon again. So you won’t see that. We thought it was important that he, as a transplant recipient didn’t drink again because we were worried about the messaging around that.
But that doesn’t mean that he won’t profoundly struggle psychologically with his demons, and that that will essentially start to impact on his level of happiness in Coronation Street. There’s a few explosive Peter Barlow style outbursts that start to bring to Carla’s attention the idea that he’s really, really not okay. And they find themselves at this enormous fork in the road where they love each other, but perhaps the happiness is no longer reliant on each other. They start to wonder if they’d be happier somewhere else. It all builds up to a really surprising Christmas Day episode.
On Boxing Day, there’s a huge two hander, they’re more or less that the only two cast in the episode. That is a kind of greatest hits compilation for those that have been big fans of Peter and Carla from the start. It picks over every single detail of who they are, what they’ve been through as a couple, what they want for their futures and what happiness looks like for them. As we know, this is building towards an exit for Peter, which is really brilliant and bittersweet and feels like Corrie at its very best.
We often think of Peter and Carla as the kind of Burton and Taylor of the cobbles, and we wanted to have this grand scale, highly emotional, nuanced, very realistic ending, which is, I think, what the writers achieved. It’s filming right now and I cannot wait to see the result. Experience tells me it will be better than the scripts because the actors and the directors normally elevate the material. But if it’s even half as good as the script, it’s going to be a really stunning Christmas episode for us as they’re brilliantly loved characters, brilliant actors, and it’s the culmination of a decade long love story. I think the viewers are going to really love it.
The arrival of Bobby, Carla’s nephew
We reported last week on the casting of Jack Carroll as Carla’s nephew Bobby. Iain reveals more on the character and what we can expect as we move into next year…
It was basically born of a desire to not let Carla tread water for too long. So just to the point where this kind of world ending decision is made in Boxing Day’s episode, and she thinks “Well, what on earth does the rest of my life look like? I’ve decided happiness looks like this for me…” suddenly we land this huge human hand grenade in the middle of it all, and Jack Carroll’s character, Bobby, turns up.
He’s Rob Donovan’s son that Carla didn’t know existed, and here he is suddenly causing all kinds of troubles for Carla with immediate effect. What we wanted from the character, and from Jack Carroll, was a kind of gobby little troublemaker with a heart of gold. I spoke to Jack about the part before he accepted the casting and he was just going down a mental checklist of everything I was saying and going “Yeah that’s me, tick, that’s also me…” So I think there’s a really brilliant synergy between the performer and the character, and he’s going to be a massive ball of energy for us and loads of fun. He’ll tip Carla’s life upside down in lots of very interesting ways.
As a slightly more long-range tease, Bobby will surprisingly end up in the centre of what is probably our biggest story next year as well, which I can’t say too much about at the moment. At the start he’s this kind of lovable, sarcastic sort of classic Corrie feckless male. And then he abruptly finds himself in the middle of this huge, huge story next year. I’m really excited about this role in the next 12 months and beyond.
Daniel, Daisy, Ryan and the return of Bethany
Daisy’s (Charlotte Jordan) affair with Ryan (Ryan Prescott) is also set to blow up in the near future, as Daisy’s fiance Daniel (Rob Mallard) puts all the pieces together. Further complications will ensue in the form of returning character Bethany (Lucy Fallon). Iain gives us the lowdown…
I love this love triangle, and I think I veer week to week from being team Daniel and Daisy to being team Ryan and Daisy. And I think that’s really unusual. Normally in shows like ours, when you have an affair, you end up having to make one person behave very badly in order to motivate their partner cheating. This has been so organic from the start. I entirely understand Daisy’s feelings for Daniel and where they come from, but I also understand the depth of feelings she’s got for Ryan having survived this terrible ordeal. And I honestly don’t know who I’m rooting for, in a really good way, I’ve got very divided loyalties.
Suffice to say, Daisy’s feelings for Ryan can’t go undiscovered by Daniel forever. So he does start to cotton on to what’s going on between these two, and the kind of betrayals that they’ve committed behind his back. There’s lots of really tense sequences where Daniel starts to put the pieces together. We see a slight revisiting of some of Daniel’s darkness, though not quite to the extent of him pushing anyone down the stairs this time.
What we do know about Daniel is that, when pushed into an emotional corner, there’s a switch that goes and he is capable of doing some fairly underhand, classically dark things. So we’ll see flashes of that as the story unfolds and some excellent soapy manipulations on his part to try and distance Ryan from Daisy as quickly as possible.
But in the end, it all comes crashing down. There’s some fantastic scenes concerning the the end of that relationship, some big dilemmas for Daisy in terms of if not Daniel, then is Ryan the right choice? Would that be purely because he’s now the default setting, or is that really what I want? And obviously Ryan in the middle of that, being quite a vulnerable guy at this time, stands to get his heart trampled on if he’s not careful.
And it’s in the middle of this really volatile cocktail that Bethany arrives, who’s obviously got lots of history with Daniel, and it very much sharpens Daisy’s focus in terms of how she feels about him.
It’s a really brilliant classic soap story. We were, without duplicating anything, attempting to go with something that had the same kind of level of emotional heft as some of the classic affairs of yore, such as Deirdre and Mike.
It’s a love triangle for the ages I suppose, which is going to run deep into next year as all these unresolved feelings are kind of buried. But, like all good buried feelings, they all come back to the surface with a bang or two across the following 12 months.
We’re all fantastically excited to have to have Bethany back. She’s incredibly well-liked around the building and the viewers love her. She’s a slightly different proposition now from when we last saw her. There’s been a number of years that have elapsed, she’s grown up quite a lot and had the beginnings of a successful journalism career in London.
She’s instantly a foe for Daisy, but they’re both very evenly matched, Bethany’s much more a woman now. So it’s a heavyweight tussle between these two women. And as with Bobby, Bethany will also find herself in the centre of this huge story we’ve got spanning most of next year.
Charlie has been exceptional across this story from the beginnings of the stalking right up to now, and I think Ryan Prescott has been absolutely fantastic. At times it’s been so hard to watch because it doesn’t feel like you’re watching a performance, it feels like you’re watching a young man really going through this. And then you’ve got the often overlooked Rob Mallard, who’s just pitch perfect as Daniel, and I’m so excited to see him stay slightly to the dark side across the next chapter of this story.
Adam, Sarah and Damon
There’s another return to the cobbles in the form of Damon Hay (Ciaran Griffiths), whose affair with Sarah Barlow (Tina O’Brien) saw her fall pregnant with his baby and ended her marriage to Adam (Sam Robertson). Damon was last seen making a rushed exit from the street, when Adam told a criminal contact of Damon’s that he was planning on grassing him up to the police.
Sarah later lost the baby, with Damon never knowing that he was the father, and she and Adam are currently in the process of getting divorced. Iain explains what we can expect as we move into 2024…
Kicking off in almost the first moments of the New Year is revisiting the unfinished business between Adam, Sarah and Damon. Adam and Sarah are running along okay, they’re trying to amicably co-parent Harry as per their agreement when they split up, and then suddenly, wallop, Adam finds himself in this nightmarish situation all at the hands of Damon, who’s unexpectedly come back.
He was, as you may remember, run out of town by Adam, and in our minds has been somewhere away from Coronation Street plotting his revenge. And it arrives as a fairly blunt force in the first episode of the New Year. The story then becomes a kind of love triangle. We imagine Damon has been spending the intervening months pining for Sarah, I felt there was a really intense feeling between those two with a really natural connection.
So Damon he comes back with a two pronged plan. Firstly he wants to get his revenge on Adam, and secondly he wants Sarah back because he feels like she’s the one. And he will essentially have to contend with the fact that these two plans might not be compatible.
Can Damon have his revenge and also have Sarah? The answer might well be no, so which one is he going to choose? It’s a brilliant, exciting, high octane story. As it shakes down, Damon’s revenge may start to take a backseat to his feelings for Sarah.
But in case you thought it’d be smooth sailing from there, Adam can’t stand the idea that this guy is back and has designs on Sarah, who is at this point still his wife despite their going through a divorce. Adam decides in his mind that to protect Sarah, he might want rid of Damon.
So whilst Damon’s calming down, Adam’s going in the other direction, and we’ll see him pay a little visit to Damon’s half-brother Harvey (Will Mellor), who’s no fan of Damon’s either. They may form an unholy alliance, they have a shared problem in Damon and think they can help each other.
I should also point out that Sarah’s family are certainly no fan of her new love interest, Damon, given what we know of his back story. So there’s lots of really funny meet the parents type stuff where Sarah brings Damon to a family meal, and he has to sit there and try and play nice with Gail, Audrey and David. That gives us yet more of those brilliant Platt Family Summit kind of scenes that we all love. So yeah, there’s loads going on in that and it kicks off in an explosive way in the first episode of the year. The storyline is packed full of twists and turns and excitement.
Stay tuned for further gossip later this week, as we discover when the Rovers Return will reopen, which Weatherfield celeb will be returning, and who will have a storyline involving a dog and mint imperials…