Coronation Street revisits a storyline from almost 30 years ago this week when Jim McDonald tells ex-wife Liz the life-changing news that their daughter Katie, who they believed died when she was just hours old after her premature birth, is actually still alive.
Jim, fresh out of jail and back on the cobbles as of last Friday, tells Liz on Monday 10 September there was a mix-up at the hospital and the real Katie is now a grown woman called Hannah who he has brought to Weatherfield to reconnect with her biological family. But exactly how long ago did the Katie plot take place, and what were the circumstances?
Liz and Jim were still together back in 1991 when she fell pregnant with their third child, twin sons Andy and Steve being teenagers at the time. But the baby girl came too early and was born after a traumatic labour for Liz on New Year’s Day, 1992.
Just 24 hours later, doctors told Liz and Jim the heartbreaking news the child, who they had named Katherine, was too weak to survive and she passed away. The storyline was widely praised at the time for being handled so sensitively, and many viewers still recall emotional moments such as Jim having to register his daughter’s birth and death at the same time and Liz losing her only picture of Katie in a burglary the following year (she got it back, thankfully).
The loss had a huge impact on the McDonald clan, and was arguably the beginning of the end for Liz and Jim’s volatile marriage which never fully recovered, collapsing just a few years later in a haze of violence, recriminations and several failed reconciliations. Steve has also lived with a lifetime of guilt as he blamed the stress of him being in trouble with the police at the time for causing Liz’s labour – it could even have been the starting point for his subsequent depression years later as he hit his 40s.
Katie’s death was a defining moment for Liz, and has never been forgotten by Corrie writers who have made several references to her over the years. Eldest Granddaughter Amy’s middle name is Katherine, after the auntie she never knew. Surprisingly this was Tracy’s idea, who made the uncharacteristically sweet gesture when Amy was born in 2004 as an acknowledgement of Liz’s support when Steve initially refused to have any involvement with their little girl.
In times of trouble, Liz has bravely revisited her painful past when reaching out to those going through similar upsetting situations – she memorably opened up to two of her ex-daughter-in-laws Becky and Michelle when they both endured miscarriages (in 2010 and 2017 respectively), offering advice on how she coped with her grief. Earlier this year, she shared the pain of losing a child with Johnny Connor in the aftermath of son Aidan’s suicide.
Now it seems Katie is back, aged 26 and calling herself Hannah, who supposedly tracked down Jim through army records upon learning of the medical mix-up that saw her taken to Australia and raised by parents who it turns out are not biologically related. On Wednesday 12 September, Liz is overcome with emotion when she meets Hannah, and on Friday 14 September Steve is suspicious upon being told his sister is still alive.
How will the McDonalds deal with their lives being turned upside down by this jaw-dropping development?