Coronation Street revisits Michelle Connor’s all-but-forgotten baby swap storyline next week when her biological son Alex Neeson returns to Weatherfield, ten years after it emerged him and Ryan Connor were mistakenly swapped at birth.
There’s been barely any contact between mother and son since they both struggled to accept the bombshell and Michelle couldn’t see anyone other than Ryan, the boy she raised, as her son.
So it’s a big surprise for Ms Connor when she has to go to the medical centre to treat a cut on her hand and the trainee GP in attendance is none other than Alex, now calling himself Ali. However, once he’s bandaged up Michelle, Ali makes it clear he wants to keep their encounter purely practical and has no interest in reconnecting with his parent.
“Ali comes to Weatherfield on placement at the medical practice, but it wasn’t his choice to go there,” reveals James Burrows, who replaces Dario Coates in the role. “He’s there for professional reasons and it happens to be where his biological mother lives and he doesn’t want to be in Weatherfield. Well, that’s what he’s saying anyway!”
Prickly Ali proves a tough nut to crack as he puts the barriers up and rejects the idea of giving Michelle a chance, still stung by the revelation that brought them together in the first place. But Burrows teases there’s a lot we don’t know about the character’s intervening years that have made the medical student the enigmatic man he is today…
“He gives the impression that Wendy, the mum who brought him up, has turned away from him since the baby swap was uncovered, but maybe he’s telling a few pork pies. It seems he’s been very distant from both Wendy and Michelle, and I think he’s a bit troubled.”
Could he be hiding something from his mum and the residents of the street? It would certainly explain his standoffish behaviour, and with the character set to stick around in Weatherfield for a while expect Ali’s secrets to unravel slowly…
“He’s a little bit of a mystery,” admits Burrows, who viewers may recognise from his last year’s Kay Mellor drama Loves, Lies & Records. “I’m still working him out myself! He’s very different to other roles I’ve done – I’ve never played a doctor before. Usually I play bad boys, the murderer or drug dealer!”
You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of Coronation Street below.