Alison King as Carla Barlow (2013)
|Coronation Street character|
|Portrayed by||Alison King|
|First appearance||1 December 2006|
|Introduced by||Steve Frost|
|Book appearances||Coronation Street:
The Complete Saga
|Home||14 Coronation Street|
Carla Barlow (née Donovan, previously Connor and Gordon) is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera Coronation Street, a long-running serial drama about working class life in the fictional town of Weatherfield. She is portrayed by the actress Alison King. Carla was created by producer Steve Frost as part of the new Connor family. She made her first on-screen appearance on 1 December 2006. King left the show temporarily on 6 February 2009 for maternity leave and returned for five episodes between 19 and 23 October 2009. She made her full-time return on 23 November 2009. The actress later took a break in July 2012, returning on-screen in December.
Carla's storylines have focused on her relationships with brother-in-law Liam Connor (Rob James-Collier) and Tony Gordon (Gray O'Brien), with the latter producing a wedding following Liam's death. Other notable storylines have included the breakdown of two marriages, being the victim of a kidnapping and an attempted murder, battling alcoholism, rape at the hands of fiancé Frank Foster (Andrew Lancel) and her relationship with Peter Barlow (Chris Gascoyne) .
Carla is portrayed as a strong, no-nonsense businesswoman. She has been referred to as "the new Elsie Tanner", and one of the serial's most popular characters, with critics often praising her storylines.
On 20 September 2006, it was announced that the former Dream Team actress had been cast as Carla Connor. A Coronation Street spokeswoman said of the new addition, "she will make quite an impact. The phrase ‘dosh doesn’t make you posh’ was made for Carla. She’s a WAG on the cobbles, beautiful but tough and ambitious". King had briefly appeared on the Manchester soap in 2004, as a housewife who tried to seduce Jason Grimshaw.
Alison King returned to filming during August 2009, following maternity leave. Her comeback was described as an explosive conclusion when she returned, according to a show insider. Carla was back briefly during October and reappeared permanently from late November onwards.
In May 2012, King and Gascoyne confirmed they would have a temporary break from filming. They departed on 16 July 2012 and returned on 10 December 2012.
In July 2011, it was reported that Carla will drunkenly drive her car into the bookies, injuring Stella in the process. This was the result of further rejections from Peter Barlow. A source told The Sun: "Carla's drinking is out of control again, it's a cry for help - and for love". The shows producer, Phil Collinson recently teased a storyline seeing Carla's feelings or Peter to arise once again. Collinson said: "I have to say, it's one of the biggest stories that we've told on Corrie for many years. She's going to have a pretty rough time across the autumn."
In March 2012, it was announced that Carla's brother Rob would be arriving later in the year. Carla had previously mentioned a brother. Speaking of the announcement a Coronation Street spokesperson said: "We are seeing lots of different actors over the next week or so. We have got some exciting storylines lined up for Carla's brother. He is a character the fans have been keen to meet for some time". In May 2012, it was announced that actor Marc Baylis had been cast to play Rob. Speaking of his casting Baylis said: "I feel incredibly honoured to be joining the very talented cast of Coronation Street. Rob is an exciting character to play and I am hoping he is going to ruffle a few Weatherfield feathers". Producer Phil Collinson said: "I'm very pleased to welcome Marc to the cast - the latest in a long line of handsome Corrie charmers. Carla's brother Rob is sure to set hearts fluttering in Weatherfield from the minute he arrives. The audience can expect thrills and a few broken hearts when this handsome bad boy hits town."
Carla lived on a council estate in Manchester, with her drug-dealing mother and younger brother Rob, he got arrested and sentenced to eight years in prison for drugs. She grew up with the Connor family, becoming friends with Liam, Michelle and their cousin Tom Kerrigan and later married their older brother Paul. Her brother was sentenced to eight years in Strangeways in 2004 for an armed burglary. She comes to Coronation Street with her husband, local factory owner, Paul Connor.
Carla arrives at the Underworld Christmas Party and is furious to discover that Paul has spent the money intended for her business on buying Danny Baldwin's (Bradley Walsh) share of Underworld. Not giving up without a fight, she persuades Kelly Crabtree (Tupele Dorgu) and Joanne Jackson (Zaraah Abrahams) to work overtime to make orders for her. On 16 April 2007, while working for Carla, Polish worker Kasia, falls down the stairs and dies as a result. Carla phones Paul and between them, they conceal her illegal shifts. They wait until morning and clock Kasia in for work so they can legitimately claim she came into work early.
Carla becomes close friends with Leanne Battersby (Jane Danson) when she dates Liam Connor (Rob James-Collier) briefly and they plan to buy a restaurant together. However, their friendship ends when Carla discovers that Leanne is a prostitute and thinks Paul is her client. She vows to divorce Paul, who blames Leanne for wrecking his marriage, and kidnaps her. However, Paul is distracted while driving and the car is hit by a truck. Paul dies from his injuries but Leanne survives. Refusing to believe that Leanne and Paul hadn't slept together, she pulls out of their business deal and takes over Paul's share of Underworld instead. This causes friction with Liam and in time, Carla recovers from Paul's death and starts dating catalogue boss Tony Gordon (Gray O'Brien) in September 2007. Carla and Tony's relationship makes Liam jealous and during an argument, they kiss, confusing them both. Carla tries to stop Liam marrying Maria and ends things with Tony by admitting her feelings for Liam; however, Liam marries Maria so she and Tony reconcile and in March 2008, Tony proposes and Carla accepts.
In May, Carla supports Liam following the stillbirth of his and Maria's son, Paul, and they spend a night together but are unaware that Carla's personal assistant, Rosie Webster (Helen Flanagan), has filmed them kissing and Carla uses this to blackmail Liam so he will sell his share of Underworld to Tony, threatening to tell Maria about their night together. However, Rosie shows the footage to Tony as she has feelings for him but Tony rejects her, despite knowing that Carla cheated on him. Carla and Liam have a brief affair and plan to run away together but she changes her mind on learning that Maria is pregnant, telling Liam that she doesn't love him but is devastated when he dies in a car accident. Needing to get away, Carla postpones the wedding and visits a friend in Los Angeles, returning on 26 November 2008 and they rearrange the wedding for 3 December. Before marrying Tony, she tells Ryan Connor (Ben Thompson) that she will always be his aunt and will always love him. When Tony and Carla return from their honeymoon, Maria accuses Tony of being responsible for Liam's death but he denies it and Carla stands by Tony. She tells Tony that her and Liam were a mistake and makes Rosie's life hell as revenge for her interference.
In February 2009, Carla is suspicious of Tony's involvement in Liam's death and Tony is angry when he discovers she has been checking up on him. Tony locks Carla in the factory and after an explosive showdown, Carla admits that she loved Liam and not Tony. Guilt-ridden, Tony admits being responsible for Liam's death. Horrified, Carla escapes after a struggle and drives off and hires old business colleague, Luke Strong, to look after her interests in her absence and files for divorce. Carla is later revealed to be living in L.A. and is not heard from for many months. In October, Tony is shocked when Carla calls and asks him to meet her in the cemetery on the day of baby Liam's christening. She knows that Tony and Maria are now dating but Tony tells Carla that they are engaged. She demands he end it, sell her his share of Underworld and leave Weatherfield or she will report him to the police for Liam's death. That night, Tony's friend, Jimmy Dockerson, attacks Carla and intends to kill her but she knocks him out instead. Tony tells Carla that she has killed him but will keep quiet about that if she does the same. Jimmy is, in fact, merely unconscious and Carla returns to Los Angeles briefly but returns to Weatherfield on 23 November 2009, when she is contacted by the police after Tony hands himself into the police. She visits Maria and they argue but later console each other. She is questioned by the police but is released without charge and returns to Underworld, taking over and shreds all paperwork connected to Jimmy. She visits Tony in prison and he admits setting her up. Jimmy is arrested in December 2009 and Carla is questioned again, admitting Tony confessed to killing Liam but she didn't believe him and left. Michelle (Kym Marsh), Liam's sister, finds out and attacks Carla in the fatory and tells everyone that Carla knew that Tony killed Liam, and everyone leaves in disgust. The factory girls and Roy Cropper (David Neilson), who Tony confessed to, all forgive her.
In early 2010, she starts dating local binman, Trevor Dean (Steve Jackson), and sells Tony's share of Underworld to Nick Tilsley (Ben Price), despite Leanne warning her not to trust him. In May, Robbie Sloan (James Fleet), Tony's cellmate, is released from prison and with a gun given to him by Tony, they plan to kidnap and plans to kill Carla and Hayley Cropper (Julie Hesmondhalgh). Tony escapes from prison and heads to Weatherfield, where Tony and Robbie's plan works when Robbie ties Carla to a chair and tapes her mouth shut. Afterwards, he lures Hayley to Underworld and takes her hostage too. Tony appears, much to Carla's horror, and rips the tape off her mouth, allowing her to speak while telling her that he plans to murder her. He frees Hayley but wants him and Carla to die together, setting the factory on fire but Carla escapes while Tony chooses to stay in the factory and dies. The next day, she sees Maria standing in the charred remains of the factory and is surprised when Maria angrily blames her for everything, telling her that she will never forgive her.
Needing a break, Carla goes to South Africa for the World Cup with Trevor and returns in July. She soon learns that Nick has started his own business and takes legal action to stop him after learning that Nick does not have permission to use Turner's Joinery as a factory but Leanne asks George Wilson, proprietor of Turner's Joinery to help Nick, which he does but Carla, using her contacts, steals an order that he was going to give to Nick and starts Underworld up again. However, Trevor ends their relationship, accusing her of being obsessed with deceased lover Liam, so Carla turns to alcohol to numb her pain. Realising that she has a problem, she goes to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, but leaves when she sees Leanne's fiance, Peter Barlow, there. He offers her his support in dealing with her alcohol problem but Carla insists that she is in control, later admitting that she is still grieving for Liam and blames herself for his death. At the opening of Nick and Leanne's new bar, The Joinery in November, Carla turns to drink again to help her cope with her feelings for Peter but is arrested for drink-driving. Peter meets her at the police station and she tells him how she feels but Peter makes it clear that he is committed to Leanne, leaving Carla embarrassed and upset. However, Carla is delighted when Leanne confides in her about her affair with ex-husband, Nick, and encourages to consider leaving Peter for Nick but after Peter is seriously injured in the tram crash, Leanne chooses to marry Peter. Drunk and upset, Carla tells Leanne that Peter was helping her with her alcohol problem and that she has feelings for him. She also tells Leanne that she doesn't deserve Peter, accusing her of marrying a dying man for his assets, reminding her of her time as prostitute so Leanne slaps her. On Peter and Leanne's wedding day in February 2011, Carla leaves the church, embarrassed, when Peter tells everyone about Leanne's affair with Nick and Carla's crush on him.
She later takes on Maria as her new PA at Underworld, comforting her when business client Frank Foster (Andrew Lancel) tries to rape her. However, the factory is in dire financial straits, so Carla and Maria accept a big contract from Frank, as there are no others available. In June, Carla's mother dies and she initially refuses to attend the funeral, but Frank persuades her to go. Afterwards, she asks Peter to meet her but Leanne catches them and accuses them of having an affair before learning that Carla has been to her mother's funeral. Leanne and Peter argue about his feelings for Carla while Carla goes drinking in the Rovers with Frank, who takes her home as she can't drive home. Frank supports Carla when she struggles to cope with Peter and Leanne's marriage before learning that Leanne is pregnant and tries to congratulate Leanne on her pregnancy but Leanne isn't interested. Carla spends the night with Frank and the next day, agrees to go to Rome with him. Leanne later miscarries and Carla supports Peter, admitting that she loves him and sharing a kiss - before Peter pulls away. In August, Frank proposes to Carla in the Rovers and Carla refuses initially but changes her mind after arguing with Peter and tells Frank that she will marry him. Frank helps Carla and Leanne make friends again and a truce is agreed.
A few weeks later after a disastrous meeting with Frank's parents, Carla tries to drive while drunk and runs over Stella Price (Michelle Collins) before crashing into the bookies. Frank moves Carla into the passenger seat so people thought he was driving and Stella stepped out in front of him. When Carla regains consciousness, Frank tells her what has happened, insisting that he will not let her go to prison. In September, Carla tells Frank that she is calling off the wedding, due to doubts about their relationship. When Frank demands the truth, she admits that she loves Peter and has spoken to a solicitor, angering him further. Later that night, Frank comes to her flat and demands that they try again and even suggests having a baby but refuses to leave. He becomes violent and rapes her, leaving her cowering on the floor, unable to speak, while he gets dressed. He leaves and Carla calls Maria, who persuades her to call the police, which she does, and Frank is arrested. He is released on bail, providing that he does not approach Carla or Underworld but he ignores that and threatens Carla to try and make her drop the charges but she refuses, so he plans to ruin Underworld. When Frank goes to The Joinery to cancel the wedding reception, he goads Peter into attacking him by claiming that Carla was asking for it. Peter is arrested for assault, making Leanne suspicious and she confronts Carla and Peter, demanding answers about why Peter is so protective of her. Carla struggles to cope and tries to commit suicide with an overdose of sleeping pills. She phones Peter to say goodbye and they realise what she is doing so they call an ambulance before going to the flat where they find paramedics trying to bring her round before taking her to hospital. Carla survives and begins counselling to help her cope and is stunned when Stella confides that she too was raped, making Carla and Stella bond as they discover how much they have in common. Stella encourages her not drop the charges and confides that she never reported what happened to her.
Carla's erratic behaviour causes many clients to withdraw their orders and soon her employees are unemployed, forcing Carla to sack Becky McDonald (Katherine Kelly), Eileen Grimshaw (Sue Cleaver) and Sally Webster (Sally Dynevor). Sally is furious and demands a reason so Carla reminds her that she does not need to work, due to Kevin's (Michael Le Vell) large lottery win. Frank promptly employs all three, making Sally a supervisor at his factory, using her ambition against her. Underworld is almost bankrupted and Carla is unable to pay the wages, causing her remaining employees to walk out and some join Frank's staff. Just as Carla is thinking about giving up, Michelle visits on a break from working on a cruise ship and sends Carla away on holiday. While she is away, Michelle tries to get the factory up and running again. Enlisting the help of Nick Tilsley, she is able to secure an order and promises the staff their wages on condition the order is filled. It works, and Underworld slowly recovers.
In December 2011, Peter starts drinking again on the anniversary of the tram crash and whilst drunk, tries to kiss Carla but she pushes him away but the pair later spend the night and next day together. Peter goes to tell Leanne that their marriage is over but loses his nerve, making Carla feel rejected and refusing to talk to him. The couple reconcile and begin an affair, agreeing that Peter will leave Leanne after the trial, as Frank's defence is that Carla and Peter are having an affair and falsely accused him of rape to get rid of him. The pair are almost caught several times and Frank hires a private investigator to follow Peter, hoping to catch him with Carla. The weekend before the trial, the investigator gets pictures of Peter and Carla kissing outside a hotel in Chester. Peter admits the affair after Frank's mum, Anne Foster (Gwen Taylor), gives the photos to Leanne while Peter is testifying. He comforts Carla briefly but leaves to face Leanne. The next day, he catches Carla just as she's leaving for court and tells her that he has left Leanne and is there for her but struggles to cope with Simon, who, devastated that Leanne has left, blames him and starts acting up. Carla overhears many people gossiping about her and Stella bars them from the Rovers.
Frank offers Carla £50,000 for her share of Underworld; she initially refuses but eventually accepts when Frank's "lawyer", Jenny Summer (Niky Wardley), offers to double his money, unaware that Jenny and Frank are working together and are now dating. Carla is furious when Frank reveals what he has done after she signs the contract and has to stop Peter hitting Frank again. Frank, now secure, makes many enemies and when Carla confronts him at Underworld, he admits he raped her and reminds her how easily he overpowered her. The next day, Frank is found dead in the factory with Sally beside him. Several people are suspected of killing Frank, including Carla, Peter, and Kevin. The whiskey bottle that was used to kill Frank is found by Jason Grimshaw (Ryan Thomas), and he gives it to the police. Carla's fingerprints are on the bottle and she is arrested for murder but is released without charge. Peter confesses to Frank's murder to protect her but he is cleared when an AA acquaintance tells Leanne that Peter was with him when Frank died. Frank's mother - Anne - attacks Carla and accuses her of stealing the contract giving Frank 100% of Underworld, unaware that Michelle stole it and Anne is warned to stay away from Carla. The police continue to investigate and Frank's mother, Anne, admits that she killed him after she overheard him taunting Carla about getting away with raping her. In April 2012, Carla learns that Frank left her his 40% share of the factory in his will as it was never changed despite her calling the wedding off; making her the sole owner of Underworld. Sally, however, is disappointed as she had hoped to buy Frank's share.
Carla supports Peter as Leanne fights him for custody of Simon (Alex Bain), particularly after Simon is be rushed to hospital after he drinks a bottle of wine. Peter realises that he doesn't stand much chance of winning and gives Leanne in custody in June, leading him to start drinking again and splits up with Carla after a drunken row. Meanwhile, her brother, Rob Donovan (Marc Baylis), arrives after being released from Strangeways Prison and helps her run Underworld. Carla later decides to get away with Peter after he snatches Simon but Michelle tells Leanne that Simon is with Peter and that he, Simon and Carla are leaving the country together. However, Leanne goes with Carla to meet Peter and Simon, asking Simon where he wants to live and Simon chooses to stay in Weatherfield with her while Peter and Carla go to Southampton. Carla and Peter return to Weatherfield on 10 December 2012, just as Leanne, Nick and Simon are about to leave for Las Vegas and get married. Peter is thrilled to see Simon but after Carla and Leanne fight again, Carla admits she is struggling with being in Weatherfield so she and Peter agree to return to LA. However, Peter can't leave Simon again and Carla leaves alone but returns on Christmas Eve, saying she couldn't be without him - unaware that Peter was trying to get Leanne back. He causes trouble for her and Nick on their wedding day, causing a temporary separation but they later marry in January 2013.
In January 2013, Carla is furious to learn that in her absence, brother Rob has been altering the accounts for Underworld. She sacks him, and he later sets up on his own - stealing Carla's clients and orders, with the pair locking horns over business. Realising that she cannot beat Rob's tricks to win over her clients she reluctantly offers him a 30% share of Underworld, much to Michelle's disliking. When Rob returns to the factory Carla puts him in charge of packing, this frustrates Rob as he wants more responsibility. New girlfriend Tracy Barlow (Kate Ford), given a job in packing by Rob, convinces him to pretend the van is robbed whilst transporting expensive material, which they secretly sell on to another company. What Rob and Tracy are unaware of, however, is that Carla has discovered their plan and asked a friend to pretend to be interested in purchasing the material. An agreement is reached and Rob takes the material to the chosen location, only to be greeted by Carla and Peter. Tracy is sacked and Rob is forced to sell his share of Underworld to Carla in return for her not turning them in to the police.
Later in 2013 Peter's bookkeeper's business is struggling. Carla is at first unaware of the scale of the problem until Michelle tells her what partner Steve McDonald (Simon Gregson) has told her about him offering risky odds that could potentially bankrupt him. Carla tells Peter to stop but he continues, accepting large bets from Carla's brother Rob. The first works in his favour, however when Rob returns to place another large bet he wins and Peter finds himself unable to pay out. In the end Peter is forced to close his shop and allow Rob and Tracy to set up their own business with 6 months rent-free. Carla then gives Peter a 49% share in Underworld and he works in the office with Carla and Michelle. This leads to Michelle leaving Underworld to work at The Rover's Return as she feels Peter is taking her job away from her. At first Michelle is angry with Carla but shortly after they become friends again, although Michelle continues to work at the pub, which she later helps run when Steve purchases it as a surprise for her.
Carla accompanies Hayley to hospital for a CT scan, where she is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Throughout Hayley's illness, she confides in Carla, who grows protective over her, throwing Leanne out of the factory when she has an argument with her half-sister Eva and pushes her into Hayley, and more recently sacking employee Beth Tinker (Lisa George) when she becomes frustrated working at the sewing machine Hayley used and is rough with it. In late 2013, her and Peter hire Tina as a baby-sitter and child-minder for Simon, who seems to enjoy her company, as does Peter. When a video of Simon getting bullied goes around the school, Peter grows closer to Tina and she tries to talk him out of marrying Carla on his wedding day, however, he does go ahead with the marriage. At the ceremony Carla wears a dress designed and made by Hayley and is given away by her brother Rob after the two reconcile shortly before. She gets drunk at the reception afterwards and is put to bed in the hotel by Hayley. After all the guests are gone Tina appears and kisses Peter. When Carla later learns that friend Hayley only has weeks to live, she dashes out to visit her. Peter and Tina then have sex in her bedroom and are almost caught by Hayley's husband Roy Cropper (David Neilson) who comes back for his bag which he accidentally left behind in Carla and Peter's flat. However, when Tina gives Peter an ultimatum, he chooses his wife Carla over Tina and she promptly leaves the Street for London.
In January 2014, Carla and Anna arrive at the café flat and find Hayley dead on the bed with Roy's arm around her. The pair help Roy through the grief of Hayley's death and they soon learn that Hayley committed suicide after taking an overdose of drugs. When Fiz finds out, she shouts at Roy before storming off. Anna tries to make Fiz see that Roy is going through an extremely hard time, but it is Carla who she listens to.
Columnist Grace Dent has described Carla as "...an alluring vision, raven haired, classy, sultry and replete with guile". The episode aired on 3 December 2008, in which Carla married Tony Gordon attracted an impressive peak of 10.5 million viewers. In an online poll conducted by MSN Entertainment, Carla Connor was voted as 'Soapland's Sexiest Female of 2008', with more than 31% of votes. At the 2008 Inside Soap Awards, the character was voted 'Best Bitch'. King was awarded "Best Actress" at the 2012 British Soap Awards. On Digital Spy's 2012 end of year reader poll, King was nominated for "Best Female Soap Actor" and came fifth with 9.7% of the vote.
In January 2009, the character was heralded as the new Elsie Tanner: "strong, dark, mouthy, pushy, full of herself and nobody's fool, ready to put the world to rights with another lashing of lipstick. Has Coronation Street finally found the new Elsie Tanner in Carla Gordon I'm starting to think that perhaps they might have". The return of the character on 19 October 2009, after an eight month absence, drew large ratings for the show's episodes which were watched by 9.88m (42.2%) and 10.24m (40.5%) respectively.
Radio Times soaps columnist David Brown gave mixed comments in his response to Carla's rape storyline. He made the point that while it was being treated with more sensitivity than the rape of Toyah Battersby (Georgia Taylor) was, back in 2001, the impression was that the writing team were placing too much pain and anguish upon Carla's character: "By having Carla undergo a vicious violation like rape, it begins to feel that she’s being systematically targeted by the storyliners. There’s no denying that the scenes in this evening’s double bill are powerfully acted by Alison King, but there seems to be an underlying mission to crack open Carla’s carapace and expose her vulnerability. In the wider world, rapists often choose their targets regardless of the victim’s circumstance, so there’s no saying that Carla wouldn’t suffer an assault of this sort. But, in a fictional setting, it does begin to look cruel when so much anguish is piled onto one person’s shoulders."
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