Creepy Karl Munro (John Michie) was tonight revealed to be the twisted firestarter at the Rovers Return. In this evening’s explosive double bill, Karl was seen dousing a rag with spirits before setting it ablaze in the pub cellar, only for his evil deed to be witnessed by a drunken Sunita Alahan (Shobna Gulati).
“What the hell are you doing?” asked Sunita, who had followed Karl into the Rovers after spying him sneaking down the back alleyway.
“It’s the only way,” replied Karl. “You know as much as anyone that I’m meant to be with Stella and that means getting rid of Jason.”
“How does this get rid of Jason?” continued Sunita.
“She loves this place and if she thinks Jason’s botched the electrics and caused the fire, then he’s finished. Me and Stella will pick up where we left off.”
Karl then proceeded to grapple with Sunita, with the deranged cabbie vowing that she wouldn’t be the one to interfere with his plans to discredit Jason Grimshaw (Ryan Thomas) and reunite with landlady Stella Price (Michelle Collins).
As the flames took hold, Sunita ended up falling to the bottom of the cellar steps, where she lay unconscious. In a blind panic, Karl then fled the scene, unaware that Stella was actually upstairs on the premises relaxing in the bath having left the Full Monty strip show at Nick’s Bistro that had attracted the attention of most of the Rovers regulars.
In the end it was Norris Cole (Malcolm Hebden) who raised the alarm after he and Emily (Eileen Derbyshire) saw flames licking at the pub’s windows. As a crowd gathered on the cobbles, Stella was seen at the top window trying to smash the glass with a table lamp.
His conscience getting the better of him, Karl ran into the burning building with the intention of saving Stella: “I’m coming for you, darling. Don’t worry,” he yelled as he stormed up the stairs. But as they both attempted to escape, it looked as though the flames had consumed the staircase.
Meanwhile, Dev (Jimmi Harkishin) and the rest of the neighbours remain ignorant of the fact that Sunita is inside the Rovers. Having regained consciousness, she was last seen desperately trying to navigate her way through a wall of fire in the main bar area before smoke overcame her as she sought sanctuary in the back room.
ITV recently announced the inferno will eventually claim two lives and that this storyline heralds the end of actress Shobna Gulati’s time on the soap. Coronation Street continues on Wednesday at 7.30pm.