Coronation Street has turned into a war zone since Steve McDonald admitted to being the father of Leanne Battersby’s baby. Wife Michelle, heartbroken her husband kept the betrayal secret through their grief at losing their own son Ruairi, immediately demanded a divorce, while Leanne’s fiancé Nick is clashing with the philandering landlord over access to little Oliver.
This isn’t the first time Simon Gregson has seen his alter ego in a sticky situation, but now the stakes are higher than ever and Steve is determined to do right by his son. “It’s a typical Steve McDonald mess isn’t it?” sighs Gregson, “He always tries to do the right thing but does it in the wrong way. He admitted to being Olli’s father because he couldn’t keep quiet or live with the guilt any more, and now he’s having to deal with the fallout.”
Underpinning Michelle’s intense reaction was of course the fact Steve had said nothing throughout the McDonalds’ ordeal of Ruairi’s death, a result of early miscarriage. But Gregson points out Steve’s decision to come clean about Oli only occurred in the way it did because of the tragedy.
“If Ruairi had survived I think all his concentration and time would have gone into caring for him, maybe as Ruairi grew up he would have started to wonder about Oliver. It has all been accelerated by the fact he lost a baby and knew there was another baby that is also his – but perhaps Steve would have still spoken up eventually and wanted Ruairi to know he had a brother.”
In next week’s episodes, Steve steps up his efforts to be involved in his son’s life, causing more aggro with wannabe daddy Nick.
“Steve is confident Leanne will play ball when it comes to access, his only hurdle is Nick. He’s worried because Nick can be a loose cannon, so facing him head on could be risky.
“The thing is Steve doesn’t want to take over and be Oli’s full-time dad, he just wants his son to know who he is and that he’s there for him. Leanne is not against that as she can see it’s the right thing to do, it’s only Nick who is standing in the way.
“But Steve is determined to have access. He has lost one son, he doesn’t want to lose another.”
Next Friday, as Nick takes some time out to think things through by himself, he forgets about the appointment to register Oliver’s birth, so Leanne goes to the register office alone. When Steve gets wind of the situation he seizes a perfect opportunity to be a proper part of his little one’s life – racing to the register office, he begs Leanne to be named as Oli’s father on his birth certificate. Is that really a wise idea?
“This is important to Steve,” continues Gregson. “He isn’t thinking about the legal rights he just wants to do the right thing by his son. I do like Steve but if I was his mate I’d try and tell him to think about his actions and how they’re affecting other people. I don’t think he’s being selfish but he is going at this a bit all guns blazing.”
The consequences for Steve in this epic storyline are numerous, but for Gregson and co-star Kym Marsh it’s had a big impact on their working relationship – they’re now screaming at one another in practically every scene…
“It’s always great working with Kym whether Steve and Michelle are joking or rowing, but I prefer it when they aren’t falling out,” he admits. As to whether Steve can ever win Michelle back, amazingly Gregson thinks his character still believes there’s a chance for forgiveness – he’d be hard pressed to find anyone else in the country that shares his optimism.
“I think Steve is still living in hope that they are going to get back together. He is blissfully unaware of how serious it is. Because of the sort of relationship they have always had, he thinks this is another blip he can overcome and has not grasped the enormity of this betrayal. He still loves Michelle to bits.”