Carla's mental health breakdown to be focus of special standalone Coronation Street
"It's a standalone episode that will be both mental heath focused and Carla focused," said Corrie boss Iain MacLeod
Coronation Street's Carla Connor (Alison King) looks set to be put through the emotional wringer next year after the shock collapse of the roof at Underworld results in the demise of a Weatherfield favourite. The factory boss's mental health will suffer in the wake of the disaster as it becomes apparent that someone has deliberately targeted her by causing the roof cave in.
"This will trigger a massive story for Carla because it impacts massively on her mental health," explained show boss Iain MacLeod. "She feels correctly that everybody is out to get her and she spirals off into a slightly delusional state."
MacLeod won plaudits back in 2016 when – during his time in charge at Corrie’s stablemate Emmerdale – he created a special episode that charted a day in the life of dementia sufferer Ashley Thomas. Now it seems that Carla’s story will be treated in a stylistically similar fashion.
"We're doing something a little bit stylised, like the Ashley story I did at Emmerdale, but it won't be quite as extreme as that. It's a standalone episode that will be both mental heath focused and Carla focused. It will also be the reveal to the audience of who is behind the factory roof collapsing. I'd hesitate to put a diagnosis on what it is affecting Carla, but the factory collapse has lots of unexpected offshoots into areas that give our amazing cast a chance to show off their acting chops."
Speaking about the tone of the episode, MacLeod added: "We're inside Carla's head, but I'm still unsure about how far we explore what's real and what's not real. Other soaps have gone right off the deep end of that to very good effect, but Corrie is a different beast and I think you mess with the parameters of Corrie's genre to your peril. We'll be careful with it. The touchstone for me was Gary Windass's PTSD meltdown around the time of the tram crash. It was more exaggerated things that were happening rather than hallucinatory."
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In the run-up to the factory disaster, a determined Carla will be seen ploughing all her energies into making the business a market leader, but this ends up having fatal consequences for her workforce: "It comes from a workaholism story for Carla. She makes the decision that her life's priority is her work. She wants to turn the factory into a world-beating business. But that leads to her making mistakes in both her personal and professional life. She ends up getting on the wrong side of a lot of people. And by the time of the collapse, many of them will wish her ill."
Dropping some hints about who is behind the crime, the Corrie head honcho commented: "The criminal element will be perpetrated by someone Carla already knows. It's a whodunnit without a murder at the centre of it all. It's gross negligence manslaughter. That doesn't sound as sexy, but it'll be every bit as intriguing. I hope we've plotted it quite cleverly, but whodunnits are such a headache. I'm sure someone on Twitter will spot a clanger!"
One certainty, though, is that not everyone will be making it through the week in one piece. On the topic of the shock demise, MacLeod said: "The scenes themselves are heartbreaking. The death is very well written and there won't be a dry in the house. But the bit I'm more interested in is the aftermath and the revealing of secrets. The factory collapse tips Carla's life into its lowest ever ebb. This is the biggest hole she's ever dug for herself."
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