Is there an arsonist loose on Coronation Street? It certainly looks that way when Peter Barlow (Chris Gascoyne) sees the boat he’s been renovating go up in flames one night with his son Simon (Alex Bain) trapped on board.
On Wednesday 13 February the studly sailor’s burgeoning romance with feisty single mum Abi Franklin (Sally Carman) is all at sea when he announces he’s accepted a sailing trip around a Greek island leaving in a few weeks’ time but is taking Si instead of his new squeeze. Not only that, but he publicly tells Simon that Abi means nothing to him!
Lashing out at Peter and going on the lash to drown her sorrows, Abi seethes while excited Simon shows pals Aadi and Asha Alahan round the vessel named Lost Buoy, currently dry-docked on the cobbles next to Underworld. Disaster strikes after the twins leave when a lamp is knocked over and the wick ignites, setting the boat on fire.
A crowd gathers and Peter panics to realise Simon is in danger, and by Friday 15 February the beleaguered Barlow dad is pointing the finger at Abi for arson. But when Cathy Matthews gives her an alibi and Peter learns factory CCTV footage that has been deleted, he accuses old flame Carla Connor for being the fire starter – but who is really responsible? Chris Gascoyne teases an explosive week on the cobbles…
Is Peter just stringing Abi along? No, he has got feelings for her. He enjoys her company and she’s attractive. She likes him, he wasn’t planning it, they’re both in a particular place in their lives and are enjoying each other’s company. He’s not using her for anything.
Does Peter see a kindred spirit in Abi as she often turns to drink when distressed? There’s a certain protection he feels towards her because he has been in that place himself and can see Abi’s vulnerability, and the hurt it causes. He does want to protect her from that, but he’s not there to save her.
Is Abi right when she accuses Carla of stringing Peter along? It’s very complicated between Peter and Carla, it’s been going on for almost 12 years now. They can’t live with each other and they can’t live without each other! Sometimes Peter lets the relationship go and thinks he can move on and Carla won’t let him, and vice versa, or sometimes they have a bit of input in each other’s relationships which puts a spanner in the works and brings it all to a halt. Peter seems to be fine with Abi, he’s doing up his boat and plans to leave. But then Carla becomes involved in Peter’s life again, and therefore he automatically falls towards her.
Do you think there will always be something between Peter and Carla? I do, until one of them leaves or gets married. They are not good for each other but they will at some point be together. I don’t know how they are ever going to have an easy relationship! It’s unfinished business and unless they move to the other end of the world, and just carried on living without each other, they could get back together. But the spark is always there while they are still living on the street.
How does Peter react when he sees the boat on fire and realises Simon is inside? He’s terrified and is desperate to get him out. Peter can hear Simon screaming and shouting for him so he knows he is alive and he risks his own life to save his son, as any parent would. The possibility of losing his son makes him start to think about how the fire started. Everything is treated with a higher intensity.
Would it be good for Peter to get away from Weatherfield? Yes. He is living for this dream while he is doing the boat up, but it’s almost like the dream is better than the reality…