Stella Price is to offer builder Owen Armstrong (Ian Puleston-Davies) a half share in the Rovers Return after her financial worries threaten to overwhelm her. In upcoming episodes, viewers will see Stella make a last-ditch attempt to save her beloved boozer when the insurance company and then Leanne (Jane Danson) let her down:
“The insurance company is refusing to pay out because they say that Sunita used keys to get into the pub to start the fire, meaning that the keys were not stored in a safe place,” says Michelle Collins, who plays Stella. “In the meantime, she has already had Owen doing the work and she owes him thousands.”
But when Stella turns to daughter Leanne for a lifeline, she receives a shock ultimatum: “Leanne is still not happy about Stella and Karl being back together and Karl being involved with the pub. Leanne says she will help, but only if Karl is not on the scene. Basically she is telling Stella to dump Karl in return for the money. But Stella will not be blackmailed and tells Leanne to stick her money. She’s blind to his faults now and doesn’t want to listen to anyone who tries to remind her of what he did to her. Since the fire she has blocked out the bad things he did in the past and tried to rewrite history a little.”
Realising she has no option, Stella breaks the news to Owen that she can’t pay him. In a fury, the volatile builder starts dismantling the pub fittings and threatening Karl. But later on, Stella makes a desperate bid to keep the peace by offering Owen half of the Rovers.
“She’s left with no choice because she doesn’t have the money,” says Collins. “If he doesn’t finish the refurbishment, she’s ruined. The only way forward is to go into partnership with Owen as at least she’ll still have a roof over her head and a chance of making a go of the business. It isn’t something she’s happy about, but if she is to stay living on the street, she has no choice. He could sue her for the money and she’ll face complete ruin.”
And how does Owen react to the offer? “He just wants his money but he also faces ruin, so he’s left with no choice either. It’s not an ideal situation. He decides he’s going to go with it, but then he finds them all celebrating Stella’s engagement at the Bistro and he’s furious because she’s told him she’s broke. The whole deal is thrown into doubt.”
So will Owen end up being Stella’s financial saviour? Or is he going to end up dragging her through the courts? Find out in next week’s episodes.