It seems like there’s no way out for Andy Carver. He’s been doing Pat Phelan’s dirty work for weeks now with the threat of an attempted murder charge hanging over his head. And next week in Coronation Street, the situation reaches fever pitch when Phelan presents him with his most awful task yet: burning down the garage.
Phelan’s feathers will be ruffled when he finds that Kevin has installed CCTV at the garage. At the beginning of the week he hangs around outside, desperate to get his mitts on the laptop containing footage of an incriminating conversation he's had with Todd, but Kevin quickly tells him to get lost.
Phelan is furious he can’t get hold of the laptop and orders Andy to burn down the garage, threatening to harm Steph if he doesn’t do as he’s told. Oliver Farnworth, the actor who plays Andy, explains why his character agrees to go along with the plan: “Initially he reacts with horror. He thinks it’s the lowest thing you can do. But he is in a very tricky position because essentially he could be done for attempted murder. Phelan uses him as a pawn in a bigger game to suit his own messed up agenda. Andy also fears that Phelan could embroil Steph in all of this and if anything happened to her, I don’t think he could live with himself.”
Later, at the bistro, Phelan spikes Kevin’s drink with vodka. The alcohol soon has the desired effect and Phelan assures Steph and Robert that he’ll escort Kevin home. Instead, he takes him to the old garage where he steals his keys and leaves him on the back seat of a customer’s car. He then passes the keys on to Andy, who lets himself into the new garage, preparing to do something dreadful.
In scenes to be broadcast on Monday 16 January, Andy seizes his opportunity and sets the garage on fire, rescuing the laptop before doing a runner. Farnworth describes the drama that ensues: “Andy is not a master criminal by any means so when he realises he's on camera, he panics and goes about things in a dangerous way. The scene where Andy gets trapped in the flames was very dramatic to film.”
Soon after, Brian spots the blaze and calls the fire brigade, telling everyone to stand well back. As Tyrone, Freddie, Luke and Kevin watch their livelihood go up in flames, Phelan can’t contain an evil grin.
Andy, meanwhile, makes it home and stashes the laptop in a cupboard. Farnworth gives an insight into how his character is feeling at this point: “There’s the initial adrenalin. He’s hoping this is the last thing he has to do. He feels he’s justified himself to Phelan but there is the crushing guilt and shame. He feels absolutely terrible for Kevin and the lads that work in the garage.”
Next, he puts his blackened, smoky clothes in the washing machine. Steph is shocked when she finds them and confronts Andy, who’s relieved to confess everything, from his attack on Phelan to the blackmail that has ensued ever since. “Selfishly, he actually really needs to confide in someone”, says Farnworth. “This is the first time he’s got it off his chest. His behaviour has been increasingly detached from reality and he’s not been a good partner to Steph. Any more of this and he will lose her - it’s make or break.”
Steph is horrified by the things he’s done but decides to stand by her man instead of reporting his crimes. She books a flight to Portugal and tells him that they’re leaving on Friday to go and stay with Katy. Luke is suspicious when they tell him and begins to wonder what exactly is behind this sudden move.
Farnworth explains why his character agrees to leave the cobbles behind: “His whole life in Weatherfield is Steph. Michael was like a father figure to him and obviously now he has gone. He’s constantly thinking ‘where will Phelan draw the line?’”
Later in the week, everything changes when Andy finds out from Tyrone that the missing laptop might contain CCTV images which would prove Kevin didn’t start the fire. He tells Steph he’ll meet her at the airport and begins combing through the footage.
Farnworth adds: “Andy realises that although the CCTV incriminates himself he might find something on there that incriminates Phelan”. He’s intrigued when he comes across footage of Phelan admitting to Todd that he’s responsible for the building scam.
When there’s a knock on the door Andy goes to open it. It’s Pat Phelan, and he catches a glimpse of himself on the laptop screen! He loses it, telling Andy that the whole point of burning down the garage was to destroy the laptop.
Andy whips out his phone and surreptitiously presses record, questioning him about the building scam and Michael’s death. Phelan guesses what’s up, though, and grabs the phone.
Andy’s desperate to escape and promises to get rid of the laptop. However, when Phelan laughs at photos of Michael on Andy’s phone he snaps. Unable to contain his rage, he whacks Phelan on the head with the laptop and tries to make a dash for it, but Phelan regains enough strength to fight back.
Steph, meanwhile, is waiting for Andy at the airport. She confides in Luke that she wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t turn up as their relationship has been going through a rough patch recently. Little does she know what’s causing his delay...
Phelan’s antics have been ramping up in recent times but what lies in store for the dodgy dealer? Farnworth has nothing but praise for Connor McIntyre (the actor who plays Phelan), saying: “He is amazing on screen; so sinister and brilliantly creepy but at the same time he can turn on that charm which is how a villain should be.”
Farnworth might be a fan but his character Andy certainly isn’t. Will he escape Phelan’s clutches and make it to the airport? Can he start a new life in Portugal with Steph? And who will come out on top as the fight between Andy and Phelan gets physical?
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