Samia is excited to be back, but was she surprised at the storyline? “To be fair, Maria’s done loads of stupid stuff over the years” she told me, “so nothing is too surprising. But yeah, it’s kind of up there isn’t it, coming back with a gay husband from Argentina.”
So there we have it Corrie fans, but what’s all this about?
“The whole reason Maria’s married him is because he’s in love with Ash, his boyfriend who we don’t meet, and he needs a visa to get into the country, so actually what she’s done is illegal, but she’s done it out of the goodness of her heart so they can be together.”
Luke is naturally furious at the news that she’s married. How does he find out?
“He comes in the restaurant to surprise her with a big bouquet of flowers and she’s there having lunch with Pablo and obviously at first he doesn’t know that he’s gay, so to him, he thinks that she’s got a boyfriend back from Cyprus, and then I introduce Pablo to him as my husband and so he’s a bit puzzled to say the least.”
Poor Luke! Why has Maria kept this a secret from him?
“She knew he wouldn’t be too happy, and I think alcohol played a part. She was drunk when they got married and so she wasn’t really thinking straight.”
So how does Maria try to make it up to Luke once he knows the whole story?
Samia immediately starts laughing and tells me “I think I must have upset one of the writers, seriously. One of Audrey’s clients, Debs, is in the Weatherfield amateur dramatics so Audrey’s been telling her how to do her hair like a lion and she brings the costume in. It’s basically an excuse to get me in a lion outfit and make me look stupid. She is trying to say sorry to Luke by saying ‘I’ve made you look stupid by coming back with a gay husband, so I’m gonna make myself look stupid’.”
So, as far as Maria is concerned, is Luke the man for her?
“Yeah, I think so. But Maria is always thinking that whoever she’s with is the man for her, she always throws herself into it. I think she’s been with him quite a while now, and he knows Liam, and so she’s broken down that barrier of letting him have a relationship with her son, so yeah, she’s probably quite serious about him.” Since we spoke, the official Corrie site
has revealed that Luke gets down on one knee, but we’ll have to wait and see if Maria accepts.
Who does Samia think was the perfect partner for Maria?
“Samia would say Tyrone, because I adore Alan, and he really is like a brother to me, and I love working with Al, but I’d say probably Liam was the real love of her life, he really broke her heart, and then obviously he died. Anyone who Maria gets involved with either leaves the show or dies” she laughs, “so I’ve warned Dean not to stay with me.”
I asked Samia how other characters on the Street react at the news of what she’s done. “Audrey’s the most judgemental ‘cos Audrey’s like Maria’s surrogate Mum” she tells me, “so she’s really not happy with her about it. Kirk’s reaction is quite funny. I think he says ‘what is it with you and the gays?’ She’s had a gay boyfriend and now she’s got a gay husband.”
Samia seems to be a big fan of Pablo and hopes the viewers warm to him, revealing “I actually texted the writer who wrote the episode saying ‘please can we keep [him] ‘cos he’s just hysterical’. My cheeks were hurting when I got home from laughing that night. He’s brilliant.”
Having made her Corrie debut in 2000, what has kept her with the show all these years?
“I just genuinely love Corrie, I love the show and the people here” she says. “I know it’s so cheesy and all of us say it, but it is like a second family. Especially ‘cos a lot of us have actually grown up together. There’s not many jobs where you’re actually still working with your closest friends that you’ve had from twenty odd years ago. It’s a really special place.” She confesses to having had itchy feet a few years ago, but not now. “It’s quite unique to be able to see a character through…it’s been really interesting to go through her life” she observes, adding that she still feels challenged, especially when tricky storylines come her way.
Talking wedding plans, family life and Dancing on Ice, Samia is a very entertaining and enthusiastic interviewee, and I laughed as much as she did as she regaled me with her perilous hairdressing mishaps including almost cutting Kate Ford’s fringe off during a scene, and nearly beheading Barbara Knox with an old-fashioned drier.
There is no mention of there being any consequences for what Maria has done, and while I’m not condoning her actions, could they herald a new era for her character where she doesn’t play it quite so safe? Here’s hoping.
By Emma Hynes
This interview was conducted at ITV in Manchester on behalf of the Coronation Street Blog.