Last night, viewers of Coronation Street saw Sunita Alahan (Shobna Gulati) trapped in the burning Rovers Return, while an unsuspecting Dev witnessed the blaze from out on the cobbles. But on Wednesday’s episode, Dev discovers that Sunita has been seriously injured as a result of being caught up in the inferno:
“Yes, he doesn’t realise until much later on,” reveals Jimmi Harkishin, who plays Dev. “He’s phoning her and phoning her to see where she is and he says to her on a voicemail message that he’s been an idiot before telling her he needs her. He says if it takes time for her to love him, then he’ll wait.”
Unfortunately, it’s at this moment that Sunita is stretchered out of the pub and into an ambulance, with Dev now having to suddenly face the fact that the mother of his children is seriously injured: “He finds out that she’s not well at all. He has to tell the kids and he just stays at the hospital every night to be with her. He gets up in the morning, gives the kids their breakfast and then goes to the hospital. He’s doing that day in and day out.”
But it isn’t long before keys to the Rovers are found in Sunita’s drawer with accusations soon following that she could have been the one who started the blaze. So what does Dev think of this theory?
“He can’t believe that Sunita would actually do something like this. There’s anger, regret, guilt, denial – all these things he’s going through. He knows Sunita better than anyone else, though. Yes, she’s been unfaithful to him, but she’s also the mother of his children and he will not believe that she is capable of arson. It’s as simple as that.”
Fans of the Street know that creepy Karl Munro (John Michie) is the true arsonist, but he will come to be treated as the hero of the hour after storming into the Rovers to rescue Stella (Michelle Collins). So who does Dev suspect to be responsible? “He doesn’t. It’s too early for him. There’s so much else going on for him and it just doesn’t really cross his mind. But what he does know is that it wasn’t Sunita. Yes, Sunita had the keys, but to him that means nothing. She worked at the Rovers, so she might have still had them from then.”
This storyline does, of course, mark the end of Shobna Gulati’s time on the Street, so how does Harkishin feel about her exit? “We’ve worked together for so long. She’s been my wife and mother to my children onscreen for a very long time. I’ll miss her.”
But does the manner of Sunita’s departure afford him the chance to draw on different facets of Dev’s personality? “Yes, I’m really enjoyed playing things that, as an actor, I’ve never really played before. I’ve never really played heartbreak before. You would never wish this story on anyone in real life but it’s given me a chance to explore different emotions. The script has been beautifully written. I hope I do justice to the writing.”
Coronation Street continues on Wednesday at 7.30pm on ITV.