She may have just picked up her fifth British Soap Award for Sexiest Female but Michelle Keegan thinks that there’ll be a reassessment once viewers witness Tina McIntyre give birth.
“Sexiest female? Viewers will change their mind once they see these scenes. Definitely!”
In next week’s episodes, the surrogate mum goes into labour on the same day as the newly refurbished Rovers reopens. The baby isn’t due for another two months, but this isn’t the only bit of bad timing: there’s also the problem of Izzy (Cherylee Houston) having just found out about the pass that Gary (Mikey North) made at Tina:
“Gary thinks that Tina’s going to tell someone that he came on to her, so he asks her to meet him in the backyard of the Rovers so he can have a word,” explains Keegan. “Izzy’s suspicious so she follows them and overhears Tina saying something about his ‘dirty little secret’. So Izzy confronts Gary and Tina basically blurts out the truth because she’s had enough. And that’s how Izzy finds out.”
And at what point does Tina go into labour? “Looking back, she’s probably been in labour all day, certainly since the start of the Rovers opening. But it’s a slow labour and she doesn’t know what it is. She probably thinks it’s Braxton Hicks or just a bit of pain, so she just tries to forget about it and carry on with her work. It’s not until all this kicks off that the pains suddenly worsen and she goes into labour behind the bar.”
Pretty soon, Tina is being rushed to hospital, where Tommy (Chris Fountain) is at her side as she gives birth. So how did the actress prepare for the delivery scenes?
“You have to just go with your instincts on the day. Obviously, because it’s a soap, it has to be dramatised a little bit. But I just went with how I thought Tina would do it. She’d be emotional because the baby is two months premature. And she’d be frightened as well because normally she’s very much in control of situations.”
And once the baby has been delivered there are fresh pressures to contend with – for a start, the newborn boy has to be put in an incubator and then there are the concerning fissures in Gary and Izzy’s relationship.
“Yes, she does start to wonder about why she went through it all,” admits Keegan. “The reason she got involved in the beginning was because they seemed like a really loving couple, who were rock solid and who had everything apart from a baby. So now that they’re on the rocks, she questions why she went along with it in the first place, especially as it’s what caused her and Tommy to split up. She gave Tommy up to have this child for Gary and Izzy.”
So if Izzy and Gary don’t stop rowing, might Tina refuse to hand over the baby? “Yeah, I think she’d want the baby to go to a happy home and if they can’t offer him that, then maybe she’d reconsider.”
But could she cope with the rows that would dome if she decided to keep the child? “Tina’s been through a lot of tough times in her life and come out stronger. Once she makes a decision she’ll stand by it whatever the consequences and I think she can put up with a few rows if she thinks she’s doing the right thing. If Tina feels it’s the right decision to make then she’ll stand by it and fight for the baby.”