The net is closing in on Gary Windass (Mikey North) in Coronation Street as his murder of loan shark Rick Neelan is in danger of being exposed, thanks to arch-enemy Adam Barlow (Sam Robertson) digging for dirt, and oblivious neighbour Bernie Winter (Jane Hazlegrove) literally – albeit unwittingly – digging up damning evidence.
Bernie found Rick’s watch, bearing an inscription from him to ex-wife Laura, during a dig for buried treasure in the woods where the baddie lies in a shallow grave. Unbeknown to Gary she’s pocketed the incriminating item, which sets off a chain of events that leads to a dramatic accident next week endangering the wicked Mr Windass and ex-fiancee Sarah Barlow (Tina O’Brien).
Speaking to RadioTimes.com about the exciting escalation of the long-running plot, North revealed some elements of the storyline had to be altered due to the timing of the UK lockdown, which forced Corrie to scrap a proposed location shoot and necessitated scripts being frantically rewritten.
“The stunt involving Gary and Sarah was meant to take us back to the woods where Rick is buried,” explained the actor. “It changed quite a lot from what we had planned just before lockdown, hopefully it has not lost any of the effect.
“We brought a flavour of the original idea back to the street where we could film it. The scripts were really good and it felt great shooting it, so hopefully we got to the same ending.”
Presumably, Bernie and Brian Packham’s metal detecting escapades were also meant to take place at the scene of the crime, but with all location filming banned as part of strict new guidelines in place to ensure production is COVID-safe, scenes were re-jigged to refer to events as having happened off-screen.
Within the restrictions, cast and crew who had been on three-month hiatus were plunged into creating what is being billed as soap’s first post-pandemic stunt anywhere in the world.
“We are having to shoot things quite differently and there is more camera trickery to make us look like we are closer than we are,” says North. “The crew are fantastic and the scripts have been edited in a way we can film it. Trying to keep the distance is not easy and makes certain scenes pretty tricky, but it’s just nice to be back and having the opportunity to work again.
“We are so fortunate to be on a soap as there are so many actors who would love to be working right now.”
While bolshy Bernie doesn’t yet realise the significance of her find, someone else is lurking on the sidelines that could also bring Gary down – Rick’s gobby wife Laura, who gifted the aforementioned watch to her estranged other half.
She’s already suspicious about Rick’s vanishing act and has clashed with Gary over his association with her ex, could she be the one to discover the truth about bring Mr Windass to justice? “I would love Laura to be the one who finds him out and bribe the hell out of him to keep her quiet,” says Kel Allen, who plays her. “She’d want cash to buy herself some new party clothes!
“Laura comes from such a seedy background she wouldn’t want to involve the police so she wouldn’t shop him. I think she’d use Gary to get every scrap of money she could but keep him on her side, largely so he could fund her lifestyle. He would most definitely get a taste of his own medicine and she reckons she could eat Gary for breakfast, as she was married to Rick for years.
“It’s been nice to see a strong feisty woman standing her ground and give him what for, although Laura doesn’t fully realise how dangerous Gary is just yet…”
With Adam watching his every move, and Sarah about to confront her old flame about whether he killed roguish Rick, could it turn out to be Laura or Bernie who brings about Gary’s downfall in the end?
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