It’s been the big Coronation Street shock of 2017: Pat Phelan – unbeknownst to any of his neighbours – has been keeping Andy Carver captive in a basement for the last six months. But for how long can Phelan keep his secret? Next week’s episodes of Corrie will see a wound on Andy’s arm become infected. But instead of bringing medication, Phelan seems intent on digging a hole in the garden. And by ‘hole’, do we actually mean ‘grave’?
Here’s actor Connor McIntyre with all the latest on the Street’s tense abduction plotline:
How did you feel when you first found out that Phelan was keeping Andy captive?
Well, ‘how fantastic’, was my first thought. How great, because it had been left in the air . Is he dead, isn’t he dead? It’s a question that’s been raised on social media quite regularly. So, yeah, very excited.
Did you think it was in keeping with the character that he would have done that?
He doesn’t want to kill anybody. There’s a certain pathology required, isn’t there, to keep somebody locked up in a cellar? Now, it transpires that this is the only real relationship that Pat Phelan has got. This is the one person in the world that sees Pat Phelan in every shade and colour that he is. Everywhere else he goes, he has to wear a mask. With Andy, we get to see him for what he really is.
Were you pleased with the whole plan to keep it a secret?
All the subterfuge was great because it’s entirely in keeping with what we’re doing on screen. I’ve never seen security like that. It’s been great fun. Phelan is a great character to play but this is on another level.
Why didn’t Phelan just kill Andy?
It’s the next move isn’t it. Let’s get this straight, the further we go with this character, the more we realise that he’s suffering with narcissistic personality disorder. This is a guy whose relationships are all about power. He’s not a well man, so what’s the next step? We haven’t seen him kill yet, and we’ve seen him step back when Vinnie said, ‘I’ll sort Todd out’. So, I think there’s something more disturbing than that going on. In a warped way, he was thinking, ‘I won’t kill him, but I’ll take him away and maybe, like Michael, he’ll just expire and then my hands will be clean’. But, as it turns out, it didn’t happen that way.
There was a lot of reaction to the black eye, which we now know was connected to Andy – did you like the fact that all these clues were there and nobody realised?
It was absolutely brilliant! And of course the responses have been amazing because people go, ‘Have I missed an episode? Where did that come from?’
And I love the speculation about me having a black eye in real life, so they just had to incorporate it into filming. And then the random shopping bags from Freshcos that never turned up at Eileen’s? It was really clever stuff.
Do you think Nicola is the fly in the ointment for Phelan? Is she making him start to reconsider his actions?
I think the short answer to that is yes. It’s a very reflective experience isn’t it. Because there’s no doubt that he really cares about her, the same with Eileen. The difficulty comes when we step out of that place. The moments with Eileen – they’re true, he’s genuine and it’s real. But then, the focus turns and we get to see the other man.
And all of these things living side by side are complex. And I’ve got to say that the writers and storyliners have done a fantastic job at creating this layered character. Now we get to hear and see for the first time, Pat Phelan, out of the box and what he can be, which prepares the road for what is coming.
For six months, this has been a complete secret – but now the net seems to be closing as various people are starting to suspect him of something. Is this panic mode now for Phelan?
No doubt! I mean, can you imagine? Nicola knows about the house and that he’s up to something. Now she knows, it’s likely Eileen is going to know because they’re making up a tag team. And then some other things start to happen with Andy, so the pressure is starting to build.
And Phelan on the ropes is dangerous isn’t he?
Yes, absolutely! He’ll start thinking in very abstract terms now, and thinking ok, something has to be done. What do we do? We need to talk about Andy. He’ll be in a mirror with himself thinking, ‘what do we do, what are the options?.
Do you think he is capable of murder – after all, we will see him digging a grave next week?
I think that would be the nuclear option for him, I think he would do everything to avoid that. I mean, if he can slide round it, he will. But it’s bubbling to the surface, and the troubling thing I think is that it’s doing so with some regularity now, where it hasn’t been before. Six months has just been ticking on, and that relationship has gone on. But something needs to happen to resolve this.
If he steps over that line, then how can he still remain a father to Nicola?
He knows that’s the rubicon, and once he crosses it, there’s no going back. I think that they all become component parts of the situation. Ok he’s a bit bonkers too but nonetheless, there’s this strange, twisted morality. Go to church, then do terrible things. So there’s a tussle going on and he needs to resolve it. And then there are things that happen that really bring out the darker angels of his nature, because we see him trying to work out a bit of a compromise.
Do you think that if Phelan could turn back the clock, what he would really like now is a normal life, with Eileen, with Nicola, and to be accepted by the community?
I do, if he could turn back the clock. People ask me a lot, in fact – it’s the question I get asked the most: does he love Eileen? Some say he does, others say he’s just after a roof. It’s 50-50. But these scenes that are playing out now, you see the real relationship between him and Eileen. It’s quite complementary actually, because he’s the kind of character that gets things done, the kind of character that Eileen would love… except for the other dimensions.
So if Phelan could have his time again, he’d have called the ambulance for Michael?
Absolutely! And probably not even have done the scam. From coming back, meeting Jason, and Jason going and Phelan running the business for him – if he could have it like that and be legitimate, I think he would. And look at the way Pat is with Eileen – it’s become a respectful and loving thing. And yet he has to lie to her. So I think if he could take it back, he’d do so in a heartbeat.
You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of Coronation Street below