This week saw Coronation Street air dramatic scenes as they screened their highly publicised mini-bus crash episode which left one Weatherfield resident in a serious condition. A work night’s out ended in tragedy for the staff of Underworld as Steve McDonald lost control at the wheel of his mini bus, causing it to veer off road and crash in a spectacular stunt.
Last week The Custard TV attended to a press day to meet the cast involved in the scenes. The most seriously injured character is Sinead Tinker (Katie McGlynn), as the only member of the group not wearing their seatbelt when the bus crashed she was left unconscious and with life threatening injuries. Her spinal injury is the start of a long journey for the character and a storyline that took the young actress by surprise:
“I was over the moon to be given the storyline; I’ve only been here a year and a half so I didn’t even expect to be involved in the bus crash! But it’s a challenge as an actor to do so hopefully it comes across alright on screen.”
In order to gain some insight into the difficulties Sinead will face and to gain a better understanding of what it is like to live with a spinal injury, Katie did some online research into the injuries her character receives. However she admits Sinead’s biggest struggle will be her relationship with Chesney:
“You will see how it affects their relationship; there are certain aspects of it that Chesney can’t be involved in but he wants to be there for her. Sinead’s biggest struggle is that she doesn’t want to be a burden to him so she finds it hard to deal with.”
The actress confesses that she doesn’t know what the injury means for her character in the long term but the storyline will be a long, slow process for Sinead as she tries to regain her independence. Viewers have come to know the character as a bubbly and self assured woman with a sunny disposition, traits that will undoubtedly help her through her ordeal but it will be Chesney and her family that help her get through it. Whilst Chesney will find it a struggle Katie says that he is absolutely “devoted” to Sinead and will be her rock over the coming months. It is a positive sign that Coronation Street have given the Tinker household a big storyline that will bring them to the forefront of the show in 2015 (they will also be involved in Faye’s pregnancy storyline) as they work well as a family unit and are popular with fans and viewers alike, and it will be interesting to see how Chesney and Sinead’s relationship is tested and develops over the coming months.
The crash itself occurs when Steve McDonald (Simon Gregson) loses control of the mini-bus after some teenage boys looking to create trouble break suddenly in front of him, causing him to swerve at speed and the bus to crash. The incident is ultimately the culmination of Steve’s depression storyline and forces him to face up to his illness. The crash itself however is not the consequence of his depression; rather it is Steve’s reaction afterwards which is the result of the depression. The events also mark the beginning of the reconciliation between Steve and Michelle, the woman who has been at his side for the past few years. Viewers have seen Steve push her away as his depression took hold, causing them to split and go their separate ways, but the crash brings them back together as he confesses to Michelle that he has been diagnosed with depression. Kym Marsh admitted that Michelle initially blames herself but wants to help him:
“She asks herself ‘how did I miss this?’ as all the signs were there but it’s not the first thing someone would think of when someone is acting strangely. She thought it was her that was the problem and that Steve didn’t love her anymore but in hindsight she realises she should have pursued her initial doubts further.”
Now that Steve has hit rock bottom and admitted he needs help, Michelle begins to take control of the situation and becomes protective of him, especially as not all of the residents of Coronation Street are quite so sympathetic towards him in the aftermath of the crash:
“She gets very defensive over Steve, especially before everyone realises that he has depression, she’s very protective of her family.”
When Coronation Street first announced the depression storyline some fans were surprised that Steve was the character who would be suffering with the illness, not least the actors themselves:
“We both went ‘really?’ and Simon questioned whether he was the right person to be given the storyline, but the more we thought about it and the more it progressed we both realised he was absolutely the right man. Just because a person may be happy and outgoing on the outside it doesn’t mean that they are not going through turmoil privately.”
Coronation Street has deservedly attracted praise for the storyline and Simon Gregson has been brilliant at interpreting his character’s slow descent into depression. It has been refreshing to see another side to Steve whilst it also sends out a message that the illness can affect even the happiest of people.
Not everyone on the street is so sympathetic towards Steve, namely Tracy Barlow, and Kate Ford who plays her teases that she blames Steve for the crash:
“Her ego is so big that she thinks he did it (crashed the mini bus) so that he could take her with him! But she’s just naive to his depression.”
Kate also praised the show for tackling a little discussed subject matter:
“It’s a very English thing to say just get on with it and get a grip, depression is a very taboo subject but it shouldn’t be, it’s great that Coronation Street are highlighting it.”
The soap have confirmed that a wedding is on the cards for Steve and Michelle later in the year, much to the excitement of Kym:
“I’m delighted, it will be weird after being Michelle Connor for nearly nine years but it makes sense for the characters and for us as actors as we love working together.”
Viewers will no doubt be pleased to hear that there is happiness in store for Steve but he still has a long journey ahead of him in his recovery. The storyline has rightly been praised and handled with great sensitivity, it was a great decision on the part of the team at Coronation Street to air such dramatic scenes around Steve’s depression as it has attracted more viewers to the show and exposed them to an issue which is often little spoken about by society.
The second part of the mini-bus crash continues tonight as Carla’s life hangs in the balance and in the hands of Tracy Barlow as she makes a decision that will change their relationship forever…
Coronation Street continues tonight at 7pm on ITV