Tracy Barlow is to make startling admission to ex-husband Robert Preston when she confesses to causing the Victoria Court fire. Robert’s suspicions are to be aroused after he catches Tracy being uncharacteristically sympathetic towards her nemesis Carla.
With a drunken Carla still under the misapprehension that it was she who brought about the demise of Kal Nazir and Maddie Heath in the recent blaze, Tracy finally tells her that she should stop torturing herself.
The exchange is witnessed by Bistro chef Robert, who is left wondering why Tracy is behaving like this. “Robert can’t work out why Tracy is responding to Carla in this way,” says actor Tristan Gemmill. “So he grills her about her behaviour. But she becomes increasingly evasive and the penny suddenly drops for Robert that maybe she had something to do with the fire.”
So how does Robert get Tracy to own up? “He says that as long as she tells the truth, then he can support her. But there must be no more lies. Circumstances come to a head and Tracy is left with no choice but to tell Robert the truth. He forces her hand, really.”
And what does Tracy end up saying? “She says that she was in the flat and that she left a candle burning. The only bit where there’s a grey area is when he asks her why she went round there. Did she go round to harm Carla? Tracy says no, but the audience knows that Tracy clearly contemplated doing something bad.”
The confession takes place just as Carla’s behaviour is spiralling further out of control. Corrie fans have already seen her gambling almost her entire life savings away, but Carla’s mission of drunken self-destruction will intensify when she’s witnessed banging on the door to No 1 and begging Amy for forgiveness and assuring the young girl that she never meant to hurt her.
With Carla’s life in tatters, Robert insists that Tracy tell her the truth and end the misery. But does he worry about Tracy getting arrested and potentially being parted from Amy as a result?
“No, he doesn’t think beyond the fact that Carla is going through a whole bunch of pain that could be alleviated if Tracy told the truth. Beyond that, the consequences of prison and Amy maybe not having her mum around don’t initially occur to him,” says Gemmill. “His moral concern is for Carla’s wellbeing. He wants Tracy to tell Carla it wasn’t her fault so she can move on with her life. He’s not thinking much further ahead than that. He wants Tracy to end Carla’s suffering.”
With so much being exposed about Tracy’s true personality, Robert must surely be questioning his future with her? He may have resurfaced in Weatherfield with the aim of getting her back, but does he still love her after discovering just what she’s capable of?
“He thinks he really loves Tracy, but only time will tell whether the Tracy that he remembers and has refallen in love with is the true Tracy Barlow. Maybe in order for it to work she does have to change.”
And how does Gemmill feel about playing the man who has the potential to tame Toxic Tracy Barlow? “She’s got to meet her match sooner or later hasn’t she? Whether that’s Robert or not I don’t know. I think it’s an interesting road to go down, storywise. Tracy has chewed and spat out a lot of men, so personally I would love to be part of that storyline.”
You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of Coronation Street below.