With more trials and tribulations ahead for Weatherfield's residents as we head into autumn and winter, Digital Spy recently caught up with Corrie's producer Phil Collinson for a chat about recent storylines and what's to come.
Read on to find out when Carla and Peter will return, why there's a shock arrival on the way for Anna, who's lined up for a Christmas wedding and much more!
Congratulations on such a big year for the show. Can we start by asking what you feel the highlights have been?
"I think it has been a wonderful year. We've had some great success with awards - it was great to win the National Television Award which was voted for by the public, and then also to get the BAFTA which was voted for by our peers. In the end, what matters most is how much the public is enjoying the show. That's been great for us too, because the ratings have been consistently high and the response that we've had from viewers has been fantastic.
"I'm really enjoying working on the show at the moment, as I think we've got a wonderful balance of stories. In particular, the Carla rape storyline and its aftermath worked out better than I had ever imagined. Ali King's performance, the storylining and the writing were all brilliant, so that's the one which really stood out for me."
As always, we asked for reader questions and a large number of them this year were about Peter and Carla. Are you committed to them as a couple, and do they have a long-term future together?
"Well, I think it's always difficult to confirm whether a couple will have a long-term future together in a soap, because the nature of the show means that you never quite know where you want to take characters beyond the next few months. Having said that, I love Peter and Carla together, and they'll be back on screen at Christmas with an explosive arrival back on the Street! They're certainly together for a little while."
The Peter and Carla pairing does seem to have a strong following online. Do you ever let fanbases affect your thinking when planning stories?
"I think I've said before that you can't make any show 'for the fans' in that way - we just have to trust our own instincts as a creative team, and make sure that we tell the best stories. So if that story is splitting a couple up and putting them with new people, then it has to be the case."
Viewers have always been keen to learn more about Carla's past. Does Rob's recent arrival pave the way for the show to delve deeper into her background?
"Rob's arrival definitely gives us access to things that have happened to Carla in the past and in her childhood. Obviously a few weeks ago we learned a bit more about Carla and her mum, with bits and pieces about their relationship.
"We've not had a chance to really explore the brother/sister relationship between Carla and Rob yet, as they only crossed for a handful of episodes. Once Carla is back, that will definitely be on the cards. That's the whole point of having Rob, really - they're going to be 'Cain and Mabel' almost! It's always interesting to see a brother and sister at war, and that's what we can expect a lot more of as we move into next year."
Rob seems like a nice guy so far, but given his stint in prison, could he have a darker side?
"Well, as Rob went to prison for trying to protect his mum, I think that makes him quite a nice bloke. But what we do know is that he is prepared to go a long way for the people that he cares for, and that family means a lot to him. So once we get Carla back, I'm really looking forward to exploring the dynamic between her and Rob.
"Rob is uncompromising and prison has shaped him as a person, but we've yet to see how that manifests itself. He's definitely ruthless, and he's prepared to go far to protect the people he loves."
In the past, there were a few references to Carla's brother 'Darren'. Was the character renamed, or is there another sibling out there?
"Rob is Darren - he's Robert Darren! Darren's his middle name! (Laughs) But Carla definitely doesn't have another brother."
We've seen a big reaction on the site to the Kirsty and Tyrone domestic abuse story. Can you give us any insight into where it's heading next?
"This is a long-running story for us. It's the joy of soaps that you can tell stories which go on for a long time, so we're telling a domestic abuse story which does go on for months and months, rather than just ending after a couple of months with someone's death.
"There's a long journey ahead for these characters. They are obviously going to have a baby together, and we are going to meet Kirsty's parents again - they're a big part of the story coming up. I just love the character of Kirsty - she's so complex and complicated. We've seen that she's wounded and damaged, and yet she can be malevolent. At the same time, she's also in love and wants to be a better person, but she's not getting the help she needs.
"Tyrone, on the other hand, is such a simple soul - he just wants to be loved and to have that family unit that he's desperately craved. All of those ingredients are making for a wonderful story, and there are no signs of it letting up well into the New Year. You'll see us exploring new chapters, such as what happens with the situation now that there's a baby in the house."
We've recently seen Ryan Connor return to the cobbles with a drug problem. Was there any truth in the tabloid rumours about Sophie also becoming a drug addict?
"No! Ryan's story is an ongoing one for us, but there are no plans for Sophie to become a drug addict."
How bad will Ryan's drug problems become for him and Michelle?
"I think we obviously have a duty to show the negative effects of drugs. It's every mother's fear to have a child developing a problem with drugs, so we are going to see Michelle have to make some tough decisions about her son.
"I'm really pleased with Sol, who's now playing the role of Ryan. He's burst onto the screen as a really strong character, and I think you'll see that there's a long way to go with his storyline."
With Steve and Michelle getting back together, could Tracy make life difficult for Michelle?
"Well, the joy of Tracy is that she's our villain - but she has an Achilles heel in the form of Steve. If Steve would only see how much easier his life would be living happily ever after with Tracy, I think he'd do them all a favour!
"Of course, Steve doesn't see that - and I love that dynamic between him and Tracy. As they have a daughter together, Steve can never really get away from his nemesis. She'll always be in his life and wield an influence over him - and the fact that she loves him drives her to behave in extreme ways.
"Steve is back with Michelle now, and that is just awful news for Tracy. I think Tracy is at her most watchable and brilliant when her back is against the wall, which is about to happen again as she's losing Steve to Michelle. She's not going to take that lying down…"
What can viewers expect from Sue Johnston's character Gloria when she joins the cobbles?
"Sue is brilliant. By the end of her first episode, I adored the character of Gloria - and I hope the audience is going to feel the same way when they see it. Gloria is super-critical, she's funny, uncompromising and she takes people on. She's in the best tradition of those strong, Northern matriarchs.
"I'm chuffed to bits that a national treasure like Sue is joining us. I think to have an actress of her calibre is an indication of how strong the programme is. She could go anywhere and do anything she wanted, but she's chosen Corrie."
It hasn't been plain sailing for Sunita and Karl. Will Sunita realise he isn't all he's cracked up to be?
"I think Sunita knows that already, but she's in love with him and that means she forgives him an awful lot. I think it's going to be a long time before that situation changes - if it ever does! Sunita has nailed her colours to the mast in terms of this man, so I think it's going to be really hard for her to admit that she's made a mistake. She'll try to make this relationship work for a long time."
Sunita's cheating got a lot of people talking - what was your take on that storyline?
"I think Sunita had a bit of a mid-life crisis. Men have them all the time in soap and in real life, so I think it was interesting to see a woman have one on screen. Rather than putting everyone else first, Sunita thought about her own life, and she felt that she was in a relationship she didn't want to be in anymore. She found something that was exciting to her and she moved on, which I found very watchable and interesting to explore."
Another recent tabloid rumour was that Lewis Archer could be killed off. Can you clear that one up for us?
"I read the story too that he'll die in a car accident, but it's definitely not true. We've got no plans to kill Lewis off."
Can Audrey trust Lewis?
"I think Audrey will always check her handbag, if I'm honest! She loves him, but I think the joy of that character is that you're waiting for his dark side to emerge. Every time he's tempted, you'd wonder if this was the one time that he'll slip back to his old ways."
We recently saw Sylvia leave the cobbles to visit Milton. Will she be back?
"Yes, she's coming back. Stephanie has been ill so she's taking some time out, but the plan is for her to hopefully return in the New Year after a successful recovery."
Will we see more of the Marcus and Maria storyline in the coming months?
"You will - it's another big story for us. Maria is in love with Marcus, and so far he's oblivious to that. But obviously he's going to become aware of it, and I think he'll have to ask some big questions about his sexuality.
"Marcus has identified himself as a gay man, but then again he does love Maria and he loves the idea of having a family of his own for the first time. I think that's going to be a really interesting story across the coming months."
You've recently announced the upcoming arrival of Lloyd's secret family - his old flame Mandy and grown-up daughter Jenna. What can viewers expect from the new characters?
"It's early days for them, but their arrival is quite traumatic because this is a family that Lloyd never knew he had. The rediscovery of a past love for Lloyd is our way into the story. It begins when Lloyd finds Mandy again - she's someone he had an affair with 20 years back, but he's never forgotten about her and he's always wondered about what happened to her.
"So Mandy and Lloyd do get together, and she is going to settle in Weatherfield with him. We'll have to wait and see what happens next, but the first few months for them centres around Lloyd's realisation, and then him forming a bond with his daughter after she initially rejects him. When Mandy and Lloyd do get together, we'll also explore what his daughter thinks about that."
We saw a big reaction to Brian and Julie's heartbreaking story earlier in the year. Would you explore their desire for a family further and perhaps have them consider adoption?
"I'm not keen to do another adoption storyline, as we've obviously got Faye Windass in the show, and that story is ongoing with another chapter on the way. We know that Faye's mother is dead, but there's a father out there somewhere and he's going to come along and challenge things for Anna.
"When it comes to Brian and Julie, we know that they can't have a family of their own now. I loved the story and how it may have surprised viewers. Brian is often seen as a buffoon, while Julie's an eccentrically dressed girl from the factory who's slightly old before her time - yet we threw a really heart-rending story at them.
"I think that's what Corrie does best - you may think you know what characters are there for and what their function is, but then they surprise you. I love Brian and Julie, and there'll definitely be more for them."
Is Nick and Leanne's reunion going to end in tears?
"Well, there's never really a happy ending in soap! There are definitely lots of twists and turns ahead in Nick and Leanne's story, but if I'm absolutely honest, I don't know where they're going to end up.
"There's a wedding at Christmas, but will it go ahead? I'm not sure whether it will or not! That will obviously coincide with Peter's return. I find the Peter, Carla, Nick and Leanne 'love square' really fascinating, and I love all four of those characters. So they'll feature in a big story for us over Christmas and into the New Year."
Kevin and Sally are still sharing screen time. Will you continue to explore the 'will they / won't they?' scenario with those two?
"If and when we put those two back together, we'd have to do so for a reason and with a story. I think we owe it to the characters to play this out.
"We've heard Sally say that she loves Kevin, and I think she always will. They've got two children together and were a couple for a long time. But I think she will find it very difficult to forgive him for what happened with Molly, so they'll be apart for the foreseeable future."
Are there any other significant new characters on the way?
"Apart from the ones already mentioned, no. We've got Gloria coming and I'm really looking forward to seeing the reaction to her. We've also got Lloyd's family, and Faye's dad - but there's no-one else. I think we've got a big, brilliant cast and we'll be concentrating on them for the foreseeable future."
With the show moving to Salford Quays next year, will that mean any changes or revamps for the sets?
"We're obviously building a brand new exterior set, but viewers won't notice any difference. The new set will be an exact replica of what we've got already - but it will just be a little bit bigger and wider, which will allow filming to be a bit easier as we'll have more room.
"We won't be blowing the street up to see it rebuilt or anything like that! I hope people will watch Corrie on a Friday, then turn it on the following Monday and they won't even notice the change."
Are there any plans for new businesses at the empty butchers shop and lap-dancing club? There were rumours of Brian and Julie opening up a fruit and veg shop for a while!
"There are no plans at the moment. I have no idea where talk of a fruit and veg shop came from!"
Would you ever integrate Doctor Carter more into the street and explore his rumoured dark side?
"I don't know what the rumoured dark side is, but I think Ollie's great and I'd love to see some more of him, if the right story comes up. We keep him really busy, though, with all of the illnesses and ailments that the characters have! I think it's really useful for us to have a doctor around, and we will see more of him."
After Rita and Dennis's big wedding, will we see more of those two and the older cast in general?
"Definitely. I think it was a real testament to the show that you can put Rita and Dennis right at the heart of the Jubilee episodes and it works.
"The older characters have always been important to Coronation Street, and as long as I'm here they will continue to be. Telling stories about those characters is a real priority. We definitely didn't get Rita and Dennis married just so they can sit and fester. Rita, Dennis, Norris and Emily are a big, functioning, beating part of the street. They'll feature very heavily."
Which stories are going to be your long-runners for the months ahead?
"Well, obviously the Carla, Peter, Nick and Leanne story is not over. Maria and Marcus will be a long-running story, and there's a long way to go with Tyrone's story too. Those are the stories that are going to keep us going well into the New Year. I do favour telling stories that run for months and months, because they're often the best ones and the spine of the show."
Last but not least, we've seen lots of praise for Kylie's scenes recently. Can you tease any future developments for her?
"I love Kylie and David - I think they are amazing. They've been a bit quiet lately, but that's been a deliberate thing as there's a big story coming up.
"Something is going to happen over Christmas to Kylie, and that's going to be huge and momentous. It's going to begin a story that will take us right the way through next year. It's potentially a dark secret that could blow the Platts apart.
"I can promise it's going to be an amazing Christmas on Coronation Street this year. There's going to be lots going on with the return of Peter and Carla, and the way that's a catalyst for lots of stories that are going to take us through 2013..."
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