Christmas on the cobbles is fast approaching – and the community of Coronation Street could be set for one of the most dramatic festive seasons the soap has ever seen.
Emotional farewells, unexpected developments and twists will keep Corrie fans entertained this Yuletide. Some storylines are confirmed but there's also plenty of rumours flying around - let RadioTimes.com walk you through a Weatherfield winter wonderland with our Crimbo preview…
Gary tortures Derek
He's lied, cheated, tinkered with scaffolding and killed in cold blood, and life is set to take more twists for bad boy Gary this festive season. Old enemy Derek Milligan is on a mission to get revenge on loan shark Gaz, who he blames for ruining his life.
When drunken Derek blurts out that Gary is the real owner of Underworld, and that he’s used him as a smokescreen for his underhand entrepreneurism, the redhead sees red and on Monday 23rdDecember he holds him hostage. Convincing the locals he swooped in to help skint Derek, Gaz keeps his enemy tied to a chair and threatens him to keep his mouth shut – or else. Causing him to miss a flight for a make-or-break family holiday, Derek is left with nothing to lose. So when Gary lets the guy go on Christmas Eve he thinks he’s seen the last of him. He’s wrong…
Finding a loaded antique rifle in the furniture shop, Derek goes on a drink-fuelled vengeful rampage desperate for revenge on Gary. Tracking him down to the Rovers on Christmas Day, he holds the pub at gunpoint but Gary insists he leaves the innocent staff and punters alone and says they take he personal grudge elsewhere.
Storming into the festive fairground Michael Bailey has set up on the street, armed Derek and guilt-ridden Gary end up in an almighty showdown on the helter skelter that leaves at least one local dead. Is it Robert? Shona? Maria? Adam?
"We want to subvert expectations from the normal 'fluffy' Corrie Christmas," says producer Iain MacLeod. "This is a realistic and truthful payoff to Gary's story about loan sharking, the pressures of poverty and the mental collapse that can cause. Killing someone on Christmas Day is commonplace on the other soaps but less so on Corrie, but we want to tell the most exciting storyline and it justifies the outcome.”
Killer exits for Michelle and Robert
Having got revenge on cheating lover Robert Preston by conning him out of the bistro, Michelle Connor sells it out of spite to the lowest bidder - which turns out to be sleazy businessman Ray! Horrified she's handed the eatery over to the sex pest, who made her life a misery when she rejected his advances, 'Chelle flips and trashes the place before leaving Weatherfield for good. It's set to be a dramatic send-off for Kym Marsh who is taking an extended break from the cast.
Co-star Tristan Gemmill is also off soon, but Corrie won't confirm rumours he's the casualty in the Christmas carnage…
Vicky murder mystery
Robert's other woman Vicky has suspiciously disappeared after an earlier showdown in which he warned to stay away from the ceremony so he can have his perfect day with Ms Connor. Police have questioned the cheating chef and soon he's prime suspect in a potential murder investigation - has he done away with Vicky? Could those shooting rumours be false and Robert gets permanently banged up to silence his bit on the side?
David's big shock
Having been in prison, faced his rapist, almost lost the love of his life and fallen out with his family, David Platt is more than ready to draw a line under 2019. Before that, though, it's time to celebrate his Christmas Day birthday (he'll be 29, fact fans) for which his nearest and dearest have planned a suitably festive surprise at the aforementioned fairground.
New wife Shona has something big up her sleeve, only to find herself caught up in Derek's gun-toting rampage, and with actress Julia Goulding soon to depart to accommodate her real-life maternity leave the character will have to be written out for a considerable period of time… "The events of Christmas Day precipitate a really serious story for the Platts," divulges MacLeod. "They are definitely the central family at Christmas. David and Shona's relationship will be sorely tested for the whole of next year…"
Baby in danger
Also caught up in Gary's misdemeanours is current girlfriend Maria Connor, now pregnant by the loan shark.
Unlucky-in-love Maria is in festive focus this Christmas and New Year as she's duped yet again by her bad boy lover. Despite Sarah and Ali warning her off, she's determined to stand by her man, especially now they've got a baby on the way, but after the game-changing gun siege do the couple still have a future? And could Maria and the unborn baby be in danger?
"After Christmas Day Maria finds out a lot, so we'll have to wait and see whether she does stay with him or throw in the towel," says Samia Longchambon, who's plays her. "I've been wanting to give her a shake throughout this whole storyline, but then I've wanted to do that for the best part of 20 years!"
Street stalwart is home alone for the festive season, but a freak accident at home leaves her in grave danger - could this be her last Christmas on the cobbles? "No!" confirms MacLeod. "I won't expect you to tune in on Christmas Day and watch Rita's demise - that is something that I'd never do!
"Rita's storyline is not really about her being in physical peril, but it will have far-reaching consequences in terms of the perception of her role in the world, and on the street. That will play off into the new year culminating around February. It's heartbreaking, subtle and poignant, and Barbara Knox nails it with the gusto you'd expect."
Fans thought Fiz Stape and Tyrone Dobbs had a lucky escape when they had let nanny Jade Rowan go, knowing she’s the secret daughter of Fiz’s deceased killer ex John Stape. But you can’t keep a good revenge plot down and Jade ends up back in the fold when Fiz discovers she’s homeless and invites her to spend Christmas with the family. Jade’s plan to discredit Fiz’s parenting of her half-sister Hope steps up a gear when there’s a trip to A&E on Friday 3rdJanuary after the kiddy injures herself – but all is not as it seems…
Tracy cheats on Steve
It’s usually Steve doing the philandering in the McDonald marriage, but after a row with his wife it’s Tracy who does the dirty on her hubby this time. On New Year’s Day, Trace wakes up in someone else’s bed with a hangover and the shock realisation she’s been unfaithful – but which local did she do the deed with? Daughter Amy finds out, but will she dob her mum in to her dad?
Adam proposes to Sarah
Amidst the horror of the siege situation, Sarah Platt and Adam Barlow are caught in up the chaos along with her kids Bethany and Harry. Hiding out and fearing for their lives as the bullets start flying, protective Adam promises Sarah they'll get out in one piece - and caught in the moment, he pops the question! Will Sarah say yes, and will the bearded Barlow regret his spontaneous gesture?
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