Paula Wilcox warns that her Coronation Street alter ego, Elaine Jones, is in for a ‘frightening’ time at the hands of her dangerous fiancé, Stephen Reid (Todd Boyce).
Viewers know that Elaine is serial killer Stephen’s latest target, and she has already been the victim of drugging at his hands. Speaking at a press event, Wilcox revealed the moment that Elaine begins to see through Stephen.
“[Elaine] happens to see a photograph when she’s sitting with Stephen’s sister, Gail, and it’s a photo of Stephen’s ex-wife," said Wilcox.
"And Elaine realises a few days before, she’d seen this woman’s face on Stephen’s computer because he was on a Zoom call with this woman and he quickly finishes the call and says ‘oh, this woman’s a business associate.’
“But Elaine did get a good look at this woman and seeing a photo of Gabrielle, she realises it’s the same woman. And I think that’s really frightening.
"Her reaction is horror and shock and deep, deep sadness I think,” she added. “But real shock, so she goes into a tailspin at that point and from then on, she really is seeing the light.”
On what drew Elaine to Stephen in the first place, Wilcox mused: “Her story has been so sad, really, in a way. She went through all that coercive control with Geoff.
"She never realised at the time that it was coercive control and she's learned about it in the interim. I think she's probably been pretty scared of relationships and maybe even pretty lonely.
“The idea of Stephen is so attractive because she's lonely and he's very presentable as a partner, isn't he? He's well taken care of, he looks smart, he's intelligent and he seems to be a very gentle, kind person.
"So I think she's just fallen hook, line and sinker and is just very focused on this marriage business and sharing with somebody and filling the last years in a really happy way.”
Having told people that Elaine is depressed, Stephen comes to his own realisation; if he stages Elaine’s suicide, he can’t claim on the fraudulent life insurance policy in her name.
Instead, he plans to whisk her away to the Peak District with murder in mind — but then Elaine and her son, Tim Metcalfe (Joe Duttine), find the forged documents.
As Tim confronts Stephen alone, how is Elaine feeling at this point? “She still doesn’t know that he might have murdered anybody but she does know what he gets like when he gets… or does she?
"She’s seen flashes of it and there was the most wonderful scene when he just went berserk in Underworld.
“That’s who he is, but I don’t think she’s seen that side of him," the actor reminded us. "So she’s not aware that he’s a particularly violent man. She does not want Stephen to see her, she does not want to see Stephen, she’s really frightened now of seeing him because she doesn’t know what he might say.”
A struggle breaks out between Stephen and Tim when the latter warns that he’ll be going to the police. Might Stephen kill Tim?
“She goes back to [Tim’s] place and sits there on her own and starts to imagine what’s going on, especially when Tim doesn’t come back for a while,” Wilcox teased.
While we wait to hear everyone’s fate, the star heaps praise on Corrie’s storytelling. “It's a great story and I was really pleased because I felt like it was something I could enjoy and get my teeth into. I really liked the idea of being involved.”
“The story’s been full of surprises, hasn’t it? I’ve found myself when I’m reading the scripts, I’m just as fascinated with all the ups and downs as I’m sure the audience has been.”
Wilcox also admitted that fans like to warn her about Stephen — and she responds by keeping up appearances as Elaine. “They say things like, jokingly sometimes: 'You want to stay away from that Stephen!' And women say: 'He's so bad!' My reaction is just like Elaine's would be: 'Oh, he's lovely! He's a really nice man! He's polite and kind. What's the matter with you?' So I put it right back on them!
"Because actually there's no point at which he ever shows that side of himself to me. I think it's something that he's really very, very good at – always being, to Elaine at least, because he wants something out of her, he can be charming."
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