Maria Connor is to make a dramatic return to Coronation Street from Cyprus next week when she rocks up in Weatherfield with a new husband. But all is not what it seems: as Maria is soon explaining to a hacked-off Luke, Pablo’s (Shai Matheson) parents don’t know that he’s gay and she married him as a favour so that he can be with his British boyfriend.
Unable to comprehend the situation, Luke storms off, but will Maria’s efforts to win him back work? And how will dressing up in a lion costume help the situation? Here, actress Samia Ghadie reveals all about her Corrie comeback…
So how did you feel about returning to work and were you surprised about the storyline you were coming back to?
I was really excited and I came bounding in on my first day back. Yes, I was a little bit surprised but, to be fair, Maria has done loads of stupid stuff over the years, so nothing is too surprising. But it is up there, isn’t it? Coming back with a gay husband from Argentina.
How has she met Pablo?
She met him at the hair salon where she was working in Cyprus called Reservoir Bob’s. He was a regular in there and that’s how they struck up the friendship.
How does Luke react to the fact that she’s married?
He’s fuming, as you would be, to be fair. He comes in the restaurant to surprise her with a big bouquet of flowers and she’s there having lunch with Pablo. Obviously, at first, he doesn’t know that he’s gay either. He thinks she’s brought a boyfriend back from Cyprus. Then she introduces Pablo as her husband – so Luke’s a bit puzzled.
Is Pablo sticking around?
I’d love him to, he’s brilliant. Shai the guy who’s playing him is just amazing. He’s very funny. The whole reason that Maria has married him is because he’s in love with Ash, his boyfriend who we don’t meet, so he needs a Visa to get into this country. So what she’s done is illegal, but she’s done it out of the goodness of her heart so they can be together.
So what does she say to Luke ?
She just keeps telling him she can explain and then she doesn’t really. She can’t really justify why she’s done what she’s done.
Why did she keep it a secret?
Because she knew that he wouldn’t be too happy. I think alcohol also played a part. Reading between the lines, she was drunk when they got married, so she wasn’t really thinking straight.
What does she do to try and win Luke round? She gets dressed up, doesn’t she?
I think I must have upset one of the writers. I mean, seriously? A lion outfit? The lion outfit is because one of Audrey’s clients Debs is in the Weatherfield Amateur Dramatics, so Audrey has been telling her how to do her hair like a lion. So she brings the costume in. It’s basically just an excuse to get me in a lion outfit and make me look stupid. She’s trying to apologise to Luke and say, ‘I’ve made you look stupid by coming back with a gay husband, so I’m going to make myself look stupid’. That’s the thinking.
Did you have to film it out in the cold?
Yes but it was fine because it was like wearing a big comfy onesie. So I didn’t actually mind. I looked like an idiot but I didn’t mind it.
How are the other characters on Corrie reacting to Maria marrying this guy?
Audrey’s the most judgemental. She’s like Maria’s surrogate mum, so she’s really not happy about it and gets Maria to one side. Maria knows she’s done wrong. Kirk’s reaction’s quite funny. He says, ‘what is it with you and the gays?’ She’s had a gay boyfriend with Marcus, now she’s got a gay husband…
Is Maria thinking that Luke is the man for her even though she’s gone off and married Pablo?
I think so. But Maria is always thinking that the man she is with is the man for her, regardless of who she’s with. She always throws herself into it. She’s been with Luke for quite a while now. He knows Liam, so she’s broken down that barrier. So she’s probably quite serious about him.
And what is it that keeps you at Corrie?
I just love it, I genuinely love Corrie, the show and the people here. I know it’s cheesy but it is like a second family. Especially because a lot of us have grown up together and went to drama school together. There aren’t many jobs where you’re actually still working with your closest friends that you’ve had for 20 years. It’s a really special place.
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