So, Rob Donovan is Tina’s attacker, her fall from the balcony of the builder’s yard tonight paving the way for actress Michelle Keegan’s exit. In scenes just broadcast on ITV, Rob was seen confronting Tina over an affair with Peter and her intentions to go to the police about the dodgy goods being sold at Barlow’s Buys. However, their stand-off ended with Tina taking a dive onto the cobbles, sealing the fate of Keegan’s character who – despite now clinging on until next Monday – will never speak again.
It was a striking spectacle, but one undermined by Rob’s weak motive for wanting to do away with Tina. If he was so worried about going back to jail, then why not dump his stolen merchandise in the canal before the police came calling? If protecting Carla was at the forefront of his mind, then why not just expose Peter’s infidelity?
OK, so he’d agreed to keep Peter’s “dirty little secret” hushed up, but his reasons for doing so never really made much sense. Rob said he didn’t believe that his pregnant sister could handle the news, but this is Carla were talking about here. The woman has survived an arson attack at the factory, assault, alcoholism, even the death of two husbands. Would it really have come as such shock to find out that perennial p**s artist and serial cheater Peter was being unfaithful?
But the writers had to find a way of making Rob responsible for committing the crime. For a long while, he’s been a character in search of a storyline, but he’s also the most expendable of the four suspects. Soaps exist in a moral universe and villains are usually punished by either prison or by death. Carla is too strong a presence to be wasted behind bars and having Tracy be guilty would have smacked of repetition. We know that Chris Gascoyne is taking a break from the show, which means that Peter will most probably take the rap temporarily, presumably when Carla gets falsely accused.
But mark my words – Rob has to be exposed at some point. And when that day dawns, it’s surely the end of the line for him. No one can survive killing off someone as popular as Tina, even if she has tested the patience of loyal viewers in recent months. All of which brings us to the victim herself. I’ll miss the old Tina, the feisty one who stood up in court for Tyrone and wept when her dad died after he bungled his own fake demise. The Tina that we’ve seen since her affair with Peter began? The one who’s become uncharacteristically and almost gleefully malevolent? Well, not so much.
It’s always a problem when soap writers manipulate a character to suit the demands of a storyline and Tina’s obsession with Peter never convinced from the get-go. It was hard to believe that she would ever have deceived Carla, especially since Tina was once cruelly cheated on herself by window cleaner Graeme. It was also difficult to get on board with Tina becoming so enamoured with Peter in the first place – the pair had barely exchanged a nod or a smile for half a decade but were suddenly unable to keep their hands off each other. Where were the stolen glances? The illicit looks? Just a sense that they had anything in common!
A vague explanation was provided at one point: something about Tina being in search of a father figure and Peter’s addictive personality being similar to that of her late dad. But it wasn’t enough to explain all the dishonesty and recklessness. No, Tina’s hankering for Peter was just a device for stacking up the suspects. It was like the opening 20 minutes from every episode of Murder, She Wrote but stretched over four months.
Of course, Corrie can always relied upon when it comes to set-piece stunts and Tina’s fall certainly had a horrible sense of futility about it. At the very moment that Rob was putting a stop to Tina’s efforts to blab, Peter was ‘fessing up to Carla in the back room of the Rovers. But, when it comes down to it, one of the most high-profile Weatherfield heroines of recent years will die because of a batch of knock-off hairdryers. What a tragic way to go.
Coronation Street continues tomorrow at 9pm on ITV