What about yer, Steven! Yes, Coronation Street fans – big Jim McDonald is out of the big house and back in Weatherfield this evening as actor Charles Lawson makes a temporary return to the ITV soap. Scenes to be shown tonight see Jim surprise Steve when he puts in an impromptu appearance at his stag party. But neither Steve (nor Peter for that matter) are pleased to see him – cue ructions as Steve storms out, while Peter makes a lunge for the Corrie returnee. But what is the root cause of this animosity? Here’s a handy reminder on their past clashes:
As long-time viewers will no doubt recall, Jim was last seen in prison in 2014 where he’d earned the nickname of “the Landlord” thanks to his ability to source and then illegally sell alcohol to his fellow prisoners. This particular story saw him meet up with inmate Peter Barlow and offer him booze despite knowing that he was alcoholic. But Peter’s liqueur supply came at a price when he was tasked with getting Steve and Liz to visit Jim in jail.
Pretty soon, Liz did indeed reach out to Jim, only to tell him that she and Steve wanted to sever ties with him, his reckless actions during the bank robbery that landed him in prison having been the last straw for her and the rest of the McDonalds. But this, of course, was just the start of the story…
When Jim then went on to save Peter’s life after he found him passed out on the illicit hooch, Steve thought his dad must be a changed man, little knowing that Jim was the one who had given Peter with the drink in the first place. But following the father-son reconciliation, Peter revealed to Tracy that Jim was in charge of the alcohol supply behind bars. And Tracy wasted no time in telling Steve!
Following this, Steve decided that enough was enough and refused to pay any more visits to his dad. As an act of retribution, Jim then had Peter set upon and beaten up in his cell. Knowing how bad things now were for the beleaguered Mr Barlow, Deirdre pleaded with Liz to have a word with Jim. But when Liz reaches out to her ex-husband, he tells her that he’ll only lay off Peter should she continue to visit him.
Liz complied, but was later left shocked when Jim reveals that he’s about to be transferred to an open prison, which will allow him to be closer to his nearest and dearest. Feeling used, an outraged Liz told Steve that they’d been played by Jim, who mist have known all along about his upcoming transfer. What followed was a seemingly final showdown that saw Steve accuse Jim of using duplicitous and violent means to get access to his family.
Steve then told the prison authorities that Jim had secret access to a mobile phone, that he’d used to blackmail Liz, thus ruining his dad’s chances of being moved to an open prison. As Jim was restrained by the guards, he was last seen being carted off while swearing revenge…
The character of Jim hasn’t been seen on screen since that time, though Steve did receive a phone call from his dad in October 2016, after which he revealed that Jim was suffering from the hereditary muscle-wasting illness myotonic dystrophy. But after getting himself tested, it was revealed that Steve himself hadn’t inherited the disease.