Maria and Marcus (Charlie Condou) have spent a great deal of time together recently, and Audrey (Sue Nicholls) feels compelled to step in when she realises that her employee is becoming a little too fixated on the openly gay midwife.
Although Maria dismisses Audrey's concerns, she immediately feels awkward around Marcus as she privately accepts that her boss could be right. Knowing that she has no chance with Marcus, will Maria take a step back from him?
Digital Spy recently chatted to Samia Ghadie, who plays Maria, to hear her take on the story and more.
Maria's new storyline with Marcus is a surprising one! What was your initial reaction to it?
"Exactly that, really - surprise! Obviously you never really know what to expect at Corrie because anything can happen, but I never expected that she would fall for a gay guy!"
How would you describe the feelings Maria is having for Marcus? How serious are they?
"It's a tough one to describe, because Marcus is so good with Maria's son Liam and they've almost got a domestic relationship, because he's always helping her out and they've got such a close friendship. They genuinely just really get on.
"I don't think Maria realises that her feelings could be stronger than that until Audrey points it out. I don't really know where it's going or what's coming up, so it's hard to say how serious her feelings are at the moment. But I do know that Maria is completely freaked out when Audrey points it out!"
Is Maria feeling a physical attraction to Marcus?
"I think it's more him and his relationship with her and Liam that she's attracted to. Obviously Liam's dad isn't around and Marcus is the next best thing. Marcus loves Liam like Maria does - almost like his own - because he really wants a family. I think it's that family unit that Maria craves and that's what Marcus is providing for her."
Is it also because Maria is feeling lonely?
"No, I don't think she is feeling lonely - I think she's just getting on with things. She hasn't been out with anybody since Chris, so I think she's just having fun, getting on with it and spending time with her friends. She's got a good job, she's got Liam, and she's got good friends around her.
"So I don't think it's loneliness, I think it's more that Marcus thinks she's lonely and is encouraging her to go out, but the dates that he's setting her up on have just been disastrous so they're spending time together instead!"
Does Maria appreciate Audrey's advice?
"I think she's just totally taken aback. She says, 'Oh my God, no, I don't have feelings for him - he's my mate!' She doesn't understand why Audrey thinks that, but I guess it's quite obvious why she does, because Maria just talks about Marcus all the time and seems slightly amazed by him!"
Maria and Marcus have had scenes together for a while, so did you always know Maria would end up having a crush on him?
"We were told roughly the way it would go, so we sort of expected it would turn into something. It's been lovely working with Charlie - it's been brilliant."
Where would you like the story to go next?
"Well, I think ultimately Marcus is gay so it's going to end in tears for one or both of them eventually! I just hope they still have their friendship at the end of it. But I really don't know what's going to happen."
We've seen you on Corrie for 12 years now. Does it feel like that long?
"No, it doesn't - I'm 30 in July so it's quite scary, really! I was 17 when I joined so it just feels like my life is going really quickly! When I first joined, I was on a three-month contract. I thought I'd do my three months and then I'd be off. I was a jobbing actress when I joined and was really pleased to have a job for three months.
"I never imagined I'd still be here now, but I'm still really enjoying it. I think the show is going from strength to strength and it's got a brilliant mix of comedy and drama at the moment. For once, I'm involved in the lighter-hearted stuff, so that's nice!"
After so long on the show, do any particular moments or storylines stand out?
"I'd definitely say the period when Maria was with Liam. We had the Liam, Carla, Tony love triangle and it was a period of two years with this massive storyline, kicking off with her getting together with Liam and eventually resulting in Tony's demise. That was a really good time for me, because it was just constantly challenging, I was really busy and the storyline was fab - it had loads of twists and turns."
Maria worked at Underworld for a short time last year, but now she's back at the salon. Do you have a preference between the two?
"I think the salon is definitely where Maria's roots are - excuse the pun! She's also tried The Rovers as she was a barmaid there for a while a good few years ago. At Underworld, I think she's got quite bad memories due to Liam and Tony, and then obviously everything with Frank. I think the salon is where Maria is best!"
Would you like Maria to work her way up at the salon?
"Well, I think it's absolutely Maria's dream to own the salon. She did try a while ago and then Audrey decided not to sell, so I think Maria's waiting in the wings for when Audrey wants to retire. But I think she might have a battle on her hands with David if that happens!"
You mentioned Frank - a lot of our readers were surprised Maria wasn't a suspect for his murder earlier this year!
"I was as well, to be fair! I think I was just a bit quiet then - I had a bit of time off. I think Maria was just keeping her head down at that point - she was busy with Liam!"
We also often see quite a few comments from people who'd love to see Maria and Tyrone get back together…
"A lot of people say that, yeah! She could save him from Kirsty, couldn't she? I really love working with Alan Halsall, who plays Tyrone, because he's like a brother in real life. I've known him forever so it's always good working with him, and I do love Maria and Tyrone scenes."
Would you like Maria to find the right man and settle down eventually, or would that be too boring to play?
"I think for Maria, it would be lovely to see her settled with somebody, but obviously it's more interesting for me to play when things go wrong.
"At the same time, though, I'm quite glad I've not had to cry for a while! I went through a phase of about two years where I was constantly in tears. I was even listening to really depressing music to make myself cry on set! So it's nice at the moment to wear nice clothes and make-up and not have to cry all the time."
> 'Coronation Street' star Samia Ghadie signs new contract
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