Coronation Street’s boss Iain MacLeod has confirmed rumours that the soap’s Christmas Day episode will be destroyed by a mass shooting as unhinged Derek Milligan launches an armed siege in the middle of the Winter Wonderland on what should be the most festive day of the year. But, who will die?
As Derek seeks revenge on Gary Windass (Mikey North) when their power struggle reaches new heights, he ends up snapping and, wielding a shotgun, he leaves everyone traumatised as he opens fire among the fairground. And Iain has confirmed that there will be at least one casualty in the catastrophe.
Speaking out about Corrie’s Christmas, he told Metro.co.uk: ‘Christmas Day this year is big, exciting and a bit bonkers – in my long time working in soap we’ve done warm and cosy Christmases and slightly crazy ones and I thought, let’s go with something big and cataclysmic.
‘There’s a ton of high octane action stuff but when we were designing the episode, we were conscious that there’s a certain expectation of a Corrie Christmas – a certain, feel, warmth and humour to it. It’s one of those episodes where you sit there on the edge of your seat – it’s so exciting and tense. Most importantly, it’s the culmination of a lot of really big stories. Obviously Robert and Michelle’s story is coming to a climax with lots of twists and turns. Gary’s story has been rumbling since the factory roof and this provides a huge turning point for him.’
He continued: ‘It’s an antique gun so I will leave it to your imagination how that makes its way to the Street. I’m aware that the presence of firearms on the Street is a controversial one – it isn’t a decision we took lightly but I just felt there was an interesting side avenue to what Gary had been doing that hadn’t been explored yet.
‘Doing something involving firearms would provide a realistic and truthful pay off to the story about loan sharking and the pressures of poverty and the mental collapse that can cause. It felt motivated and exciting. We wanted to subvert people’s expectations about what they might expect from a Corrie Christmas. While there’s bags of warmth and family nonsense, there’s also that edge of the seat final reel.’
Continuing to address the risk of backlash when it comes to airing scenes of violence, he mused: ‘There is a view that Coronation Street should embrace firearms at its peril – there is of course the infamous scene where Ernie Bishop was shot dead with a shotgun so it’s not like this is the first time we’ve done something like this. Coronation Street and Britain equally has to be cautious about how it portrays violence and not just be seen to be sensationalising it I guess.
‘You always sit down when there is a threat of deadly force and think about if it’s what you want to do but ultimately we thought it was an exciting and right as an evolution of Gary’s story. It felt motivated and exciting rather than gratuitous and unhelpful. Will there be a death? Yes. On other soaps a Christmas Day death is relatively commonplace but less so on Coronation Street but again, anything like that is a tough decision. Killing any character is tough – I am always conscious of the actor and human being who plays that part. You do think long and hard about it.
‘Ultimately actors understand that you want to tell the most exciting storyline. The story justified the outcome.’
Iain also revealed some other huge storylines to come, telling us what’s in store for 2020.
He teased: ‘There’s a classic disappointment as the countdown reaches zero at new year – as is always the way. It will be the end of the first chapter of Kevin and Abi’s rom com but the beginning of the next chapter. Beyond new year, we have the final exciting chapter of the Tyrone, Fiz and Jade story.
‘The events of Christmas Day precipitate a really serious story for David and Shona. I sat and realised the other day that David has never really cheated on any of his partners before and I will hasten to add, he’s not going to this time really – but their relationship will be sorely tested for the whole of next year. We have got a very special episode which will be taking place in the first two to three months next year – sorry to be a tease.
He added: ‘There’s the interesting next chapter in the Daniel and Bethany story which is about Daniel’s grief. Soaps can struggle to tell a realistic grief timeline – there comes a point where viewers find it dark and downbeat but I think we’ve found a clever way to realistically play out the next chapter of that. In one of their heads it’s a romance but in the others it’s a lot more complicated. It’s a really interesting grief story where it’s not just about Daniel sitting alone in his flat, feeling lonely. It will ultimately form part of Lucy Fallon’s exit story.
‘Gary and Maria’s relationship continues apace – as they try and figure out how they can get over the events of Christmas, something really huge happens which forces them to pee or get off the pot. There’s an awful lot going on. There’s also Michael reconnecting with the young daughter he never thought he’d see again – trying to get on with your ex and the need to co-parent is complex and heartwarming.’
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