Carla Connor’s deteriorating mental health is the focus of a special edition of Coronation Street showing on Friday 31st May in which the struggling factory boss (Alison King) suffers a severe psychotic breakdown, with elements of the episode seen from the character’s point of view in an experimental break from the norm.
Convinced her negligence caused the factory roof collapse that killed Rana Habeeb in March, Carla has spiralled into despair and a state of extreme paranoia. The Underworld boss went missing for weeks and was eventually hospitalised, and in the special instalment which brings a blockbuster week of episodes showing nightly at 9pm events take another dramatic turn.
Gripped by her illness Carla ends up on the Victoria Street fire escape believing she is talking to a trio of deceased characters – tragic Rana, brother Aidan Connor, who took his own life in 2018, and best friend Hayley Cropper who succumbed to cancer in 2014. But what impact will the hallucinations have? And could there even be surprise cameos secretly planned from Bhavna Limbachia (Rana), Julie Hesmondhalgh (Hayley) and Shayne Ward (Aidan)?
As Carla’s delusions show the heartbreaking extent of her condition, can partner Peter Barlow (Chris Gascoyne) rescue her and ensure she gets the professional help she so desperately needs? And once the true culprit of the roof collapse is exposed on Wednesday 29th May, how long will it be before Carla realises she is not blame?
Alison King gives her take on what is sure to be regarded as a Corrie landmark…
What makes Carla stop taking her medication and trusting Peter?
She still believes everyone is against her, including her family and Roy, and they’re all in it together, trying to make her take the medication. Carla starts to think Peter is getting taken in, it’s not that she doesn’t trust him but more that she thinks he is being manipulated. She is convinced that the ‘others’ think she is evil.
How is her erratic behaviour affecting Peter?
He is exhausted and battling his own demons, and it’s heartbreaking Carla doesn’t register what he’s going through. She blames him for flooding the bathroom at one point when it was her fault, she is too busy trying to get the microchip out of her ear she thinks ‘they’ have implanted, her psychosis has got so bad.
What happens when Carla is interviewed by the police again?
They have more questions about the factory but Peter tries to get rid of them and says she’s too ill. When they see how bad she is, talking about Rana being alive, they realise she is not up to being interviewed. Johnny, Kate and Michelle later come to the flat and Carla is scared of them and what they will do to her. At that point she just needs to get away.
Where does she go?
She thinks she’s being watched so in her head she needs to keep running. Carla ends up in the park asking a stranger for help then spots what she thinks is Hayley in her red coat, the person she cared for the most and always got her back on the straight and narrow, so she follows her back to Victoria Street. Then she sees the woman walking up the fire escape and climbs up after her – she has an hallucination.
How did you prepare for filming such harrowing scenes?
It was hard as everything inside Carla’s head is terrifying. She thinks she is seeing Hayley, then Rana who she doesn’t know if she is alive or dead, and she also thinks she sees Aidan – to her it’s real.
I met a beautiful lady through the charity MIND who suffered from what Carla is going through, she told me during moments of extreme psychosis you are never not yourself, just the most terrified version of yourself. You are locked in, trapped, while spiking in these psychotic episodes – it is terrifying but you need to be free to go through it and this is what I’m trying to portray.
Was it important to research into Carla’s condition?
Meeting someone who’d been through it made all the difference. MIND were across every script which meant I had a through line to hold on to and keep it real, and the lady I met helped me with how Carla would speak, her physicality, her need for isolation and desire to hide away.
What happens with Carla can happen to anybody, she is just as likely to get it as anyone. As she’s been through a lot the brain is so fragile and has to snap at some point, and for Carla it needs to break to mind, to understand herself better.
Will her relationship with Peter be important in Carla’s recovery?
Yes, he has shown he will do anything for her and she can trust him. Peter has literally saved her through his perseverance and belief she is worth fighting for, so I think they will become more solid than ever.