Steve McDonald (Simon Gregson) and Leanne Battersby (Jane Danson) are facing every parents' worst nightmare in Coronation Street as son Oliver is rushed to hospital after suffering a mysterious seizure, and it may just the beginning of what could be one of the soap's biggest storylines for 2020.
Returning home after leaving teenager Summer Spellman briefly watching over three-year-old Oliver on Friday 10th April while he helped out daughter Emma Brooker's imploding love life, Steve was horrified to find the scared schoolgirl frantic with worry as the toddler was fitting and lay unresponsive on the floor.
Next week, Leanne dashes to join her platonic baby daddy at her boy's bedside in A&E and his fuming to discover he left Oliver with an inexperienced young girl, and accuses Mr McDonald of negligence. Oliver appears to recover although it's not yet clear what caused the fitting, but the co-parents are soon slinging at mud at each other and Steve ends up seeking sneaky legal advice from Imran Habeeb about access to his son.
When Leanne learns her sister Toyah's fella has gone behind her back it sparks another barney between the blended family, and Ms Battersby can't believe Steve is seriously reconsidering the issue of who has full custody after the worrying incident.
The repercussions of a potential health crisis for little Oliver would be huge for several Weatherfield families - not just the McDonalds and Battersbys, but through Steve and Leanne's partners the Platts and Barlows would also be affected.
Back in January's preview of 2020, Corrie producer Iain MacLeod exclusively teased to RadioTimes.com a sprawling story in the works that would see the street's biggest clans clash over an incident he described as: “The hardest thing imaginable.” Could Oliver's seizure signal the start of the saga?
"A huge event early spring has the most far-reaching impact of any story we’ve done since I’ve been on the show," revealed the soap boss. "Something horrifically difficult draws in three to four different clans and forces them to deal with something which builds into a ‘clans at war’ story."
MacLeod confirmed Steve, in particular, would end up in a nightmare situation that mum Liz McDonald tries to help him out of - only for it to lead into her exit later this year, following Beverley Callard's decision to quit.
"Liz attempts to do something heroic for her son that goes slightly wrong and ends up corrupting their relationship. Ultimately it will determine the best place for Liz is not in Weatherfield as she and Steve are upsetting each other.”
MacLeod's teases has to how the plot launches seem to point towards Steve and Leanne's squabbling over access. So what exactly is wrong with Oliver? Does he have an underlying condition which may have a tragic outcome? Will his parents need to conceive a saviour sibling? Will one of them abduct the child and do a runner to prevent losing a custody battle? Watch this space…