Michelle Connor has had a tough year, and there’s no sign of it letting up. Extra helpings of misery are on the menu at the Bistro of late where she and Robert have suffered a targeted hate campaign which threatens not just the business, but their safety into the bargain. The evil doings are not confined to Weatherfield’s fine dining establishment either as Michelle has even found herself drugged, kidnapped and put in the boot of a car. Up to now, they’ve been attributing all this mayhem to ne’er do well Rich, but Robert is starting to doubt that he’s responsible. If it’s not Rich, then who is the true culprit? And, who is the real target?
I travelled to Manchester to catch up with Kym Marsh who plays Michelle to hear all about it. If you don’t want to read any spoilers, then look away now.
All this drama takes place at the same time as Michelle’s ex-boyfriend Will (Leon Ockenden) returns to the street, and it appears that this may be more than a coincidence. Last time we saw Will, he seemed harmless enough, trying his luck with Michelle and failing, as she decided at the eleventh hour that her heart lay with Steve. This time round, Will is wearing glasses, and this does not bode well.
Kym recalls that Michelle and Will have a lot of history, and notes he’s currently very supportive in her hour of need. That, and the fact that Rich has been in the picture, means Michelle doesn’t suspect his involvement for a second. However, we’re told that finding a number of pictures of herself at his home sees her make a terrifying discovery; Will is her stalker. “When she finds out, she’s in his house, alone with him!” Kym explains, “So she’s found all these photographs and she’s like “Oh My God! What am I going to do now?” So as you can imagine, she’s quite scared.”
One of the most traumatic aspects of the story so far has to have been Michelle waking up in the boot of a car; for viewers at least, as Kym seems to have taken it in her stride. “Do you know, the boot of the car stuff was actually OK” she says. “I thought it was going to be much worse than it was and actually I put myself in a situation that I didn’t need to put myself in.” Explaining how all they needed was a shot of the boot being opened, Kym insisted that they shut her into it and run the two scenes prior to it so she could know what it felt like. “In all, when we were doing the scenes, I was in there on and off for about half an hour” she reveals. I’m not sure I could do it!
So does Kym have any idea what Will’s end game might be? “It’s very odd because Will is convinced that’s he just completely in love with her and there’s nothing wrong with what he’s doing” she explains, adding “He’s become obsessed with her.” With Robert in prison on foot of Will’s machinations, Kym reveals, “he’s managed to get Robert out of the picture and she’s exposed, she’s on her own. She has no-one, who does she turn to now? So I think that was his idea in the first place.”
Asked if Michelle’s life is in danger, Kym tells us “Potentially, who knows? What is she going to do next? She’s now trapped in his house – is she going to let him know that she knows and risk that, or is she going to try to get out of there or is she going to pretend she doesn’t know anything? It’s what she does next really.”
We’re assured that the climax of the storyline will be incredible. Kym describes it as “edge of your seat” adding, “it’s very dramatic, it’s nail biting.”
Speaking about the intense year Michelle, and consequently Kym, has had, she says, “I’ve had the best twelve months here, it’s just been fantastic, I’ve been given some amazing opportunities.” While nothing can be revealed aside from that it involves Robert and Michelle, we’re told that more lies ahead for her. “There’s a lot of drama” is all Kym will say. “It’s nice because I’ve been here, I’m in my 11th year and I’ve done a lot of comedy having been playing opposite Simon – you can’t really not do comedy playing opposite Simon – and it’s been great. But, it’s always nice to have fresh opportunities and this is something that for me is great because it’s really letting me stretch my acting muscles a little bit and giving me a lot of challenges”. Kym adds, “she has had a tough year and it would be nice for Michelle to have some happiness but for Kym, I say ‘Keep the drama! Keep it coming!'”
When it comes to acting, Kym believes there is always something new to learn. “I like to watch my work back and see what I’ve done so that I can go ‘hmm, well maybe next time I could do this or whatever’” she reveals, adding “and you learn from other actors as well, and it’s great when other actors come into the show like Leon to play opposite different people because you will always find that they will bring something else out in you as well so it’s great really.”
We know that Alison King is set to tread the cobbles again as the inimitable Carla Connor, and Kym is really looking forward to her return. “I cannot wait! I am so excited about that” she says. “I love Alison King, me and her have been very close. She joined just shortly after me and came in to play my sister-in-law and our characters were as thick as thieves for 10 years.” Asked if the return of Carla will make Michelle’s life any happier as a result of having her there for protection, Kym says, “I honestly do not know, but whatever happens it’ll be great to have her back, she’s an invaluable member of cast and part of our family so it’ll be nice to have her home.”
I have enjoyed Michelle and Carla together, so I’m certainly looking forward to that. For now, we’ll have to wait and see what unfolds for Michelle as she grapples with the frightening revelation that someone she trusted and thought she knew is the one she should fear the most.