Steve McDonald is to walk away from the scene of a minibus smash that has left his friends and neighbours unconscious and injured.
Steve – who is currently keeping his depression hidden from his nearest and dearest – will be behind the wheel of the vehicle when it flips over during shock episodes to be broadcast next week.
But Steve will find himself unable to deal with the aftermath of the crash and abandons the scene. What will the other Weatherfield residents have to say about his actions? And can Steve’s ex-girlfriend Michelle (Kym Marsh) get to the root of the problem? Actor Simon Gregson tells us more about a dramatic week on the Street…
So why does Steve volunteer to drive the minibus carrying the factory girls?
It is another avoidance tactic – he does it to get out of going to a doctors’ appointment. He is that frightened of hearing the truth again and facing up to the depression. He’s stupidly thinking if he buries his head and doesn’t think about it, it will go away.
Can you talk us through what happens to make the minibus crash?
He gets in the minibus and everything is OK. They all start playing silly games and he joins in and everything seems fine. But then there are a couple of idiots that cut him up while he’s driving and he has to brake quite sharply. He loses it with them and has a bit of road rage, but then they reappear a while later in this ridiculous boy racer car. They cut him up again, but this time they brake right in front of him causing him to swerve and brake and it causes a crash.
Do you think that could have happened even without the depression?
Yes definitely, the actual crash itself is nothing to do with the depression – his reaction is the same one the old Steve would have had. He was angry with them like anyone would be. They then chose as a result to come back and taunt him again. Silly behaviour from both drivers, a typical road rage incident, but not necessarily linked to the depression. It’s Steve’s reaction afterwards that is a result of the depression.
What was it like filming the minibus scenes?
It was actually OK – we did it just before the cold spell set in. It was filmed over three weeks, we did scenes outside and then we did lots of blue-screen filming. That was actually the hardest thing to film as we had to hang upside down in the minibus, which was very uncomfortable and a bit claustrophobic. Hopefully it will look fantastic on screen.
What is going through Steve’s head when he regains consciousness?
His first instinct, for the first split second, is to wonder where he is. And then he thinks everyone is dead because it looks like they are. He manages to scramble out and then he realises they are on the edge of a cliff. He has a massive panic attack and just needs to get away because he can’t deal with the enormity of it. It is fight or fight and he flies.
Most people would be there trying to help the others but, because of his depression, he can’t cope with it and he has to get away. He has never experienced something like this – all the panic attacks and massive anxiety is a first for him and he doesn’t know how to deal with it.
Does he feel guilty about walking away?
He does very quickly afterwards. He bursts into tears when Michelle comes over to him and he’s very upset that he didn’t do anything to help and he doesn’t understand why he didn’t. He has no control over his own thoughts or his own brain.
So how does Steve react when he finds out that the factory girls are blaming him for the crash?
He feels terrible, but rather than saying that it was the fault of the idiots in the car, he hasn’t got it in him to fight back. He is in such a dark place – he thinks everything is his fault anyway, so now he has something to take responsibility for, something major he is blaming himself for.
So what happens when he breaks down and tells Michelle that he’s got something wrong with him?
It starts with the fact that he walked away from everybody. But then he just blurts out that he has been diagnosed as having depression and that he has been feeling bad for a long time. She’s very upset about it. Her thoughts change and she realises it wasn’t her and this is the turning point for them to start rebuilding their relationship.
Do you think this is the thing that will make Steve face up to the depression and get help?
Yes and I think for the sole reason that he has had to hit total rock bottom before he can start dragging himself back up again. And this is rock bottom. It wont be a quick fix – it will take time, but at least he is on the way up again now.
If you were Steve’s friend, what would you say to him? Do you think you could have recognised the symptoms?
It’s difficult – you would like to think that you would notice someone was having problems. It is easier for people who have been in this position to notice. But it is also something that people hide and men in particular find it hard to talk about something like this. They drink through it with a few pints down the pub and talk about football and anything else but the real issue.
So what happens when Steve goes to the doctors?
They put him on anti-depressants. He doesn’t want to take them as he is worried about the stigma but he accepts reluctantly. He also gets sent for therapy and it is the start of a slow recovery. He is also back in the arms of Michelle and that is going to help a lot too.
You can watch a 60-second rundown of all next week’s drama on Coronation Street below: