Samia Ghadie as Maria Connor (2009)
|Coronation Street character|
|Portrayed by||Samia Ghadie|
|First appearance||19 May 2000|
|Introduced by||Jane MacNaught|
|Book appearances||Coronation Street:
The Complete Saga (2008)
|Occupation||Kennel maid (2000–01)
Personal assistant (2011)
Salon manager (2012)
|Home||2a Coronation Street|
Maria Jane Connor (née Sutherland), is a fictional character in the UK television ITV soap opera, Coronation Street, portrayed by actress Samia Ghadie. The character first appeared on-screen on 19 May 2000.
During her time on Coronation Street, Maria has been the centre of storylines such as giving birth to a stillborn baby, sleeping with her best friend's boyfriend and being widowed after eight months of marriage. She also had many failed romances. In April 2009, Smith announced she was pregnant and taking maternity leave. Maria was off-screen from November 2009 until June 2010.
Maria is first seen working in the kennels belonging to her father, Eric (Steve Money). Tyrone Dobbs (Alan Halsall) and Jack Duckworth (Bill Tarmey) bring Tyrone's greyhound, Monica, in to look for a stud to mate with. Maria and Tyrone are immediately attracted to one another and the pair start a relationship. Tyrone proposes to Maria on Blackpool Tower and she happily accepts. However, their relationship quickly dissolves as Tyrone succumbs to his feelings for Fiz Brown (Jennie McAlpine), leading a heartbroken Maria to terminate their engagement.
Later, she romances Jason Grimshaw (Ryan Thomas). After deciding to change careers, she takes a hairdressing course. She is then hired by Audrey Roberts (Sue Nicholls) at the salon as a junior stylist, but does not get with along with Audrey or fellow stylist Maxine Peacock (Tracy Shaw). Maria ends her romance with Jason after discovering that he had sex with Candice Stowe (Nikki Sanderson). She and her friend Toyah Battersby (Georgia Taylor) later move into the flat above the salon, having become good friends on a trip to Blackpool. Maria attends Gail Platt (Helen Worth) and Richard Hillman's (Brian Capron) wedding in July 2002, where she meets Gail's son Nick Tilsley (Adam Rickitt). Maria realises she has fallen in love with Nick and they commence a romance. They decide to run away to Canada, leaving Maria's current job as barmaid at the Rovers Return. Nick worked all hours, leaving a bored Maria home alone. She dumps him and returns soon after. Upon her return, she regains her job at the pub and changes her image, becoming more promiscuous and fashion-conscious. Maria moved back into the flat where Fiz had moved in her absence. There is an uneasy truce between the former rivals for Tyrone's affection, at first especially since Fiz is now seeing Maria's brother, Kirk (Andy Whyment) but the pair soon become close friends. In late 2002, Toyah arrives home with a new boyfriend, her tutor from college, John Arnley (Paul Warriner), who seduces Maria. Maria falls in love with him, ending up having a one-night-stand with John in January 2003 when Maria is dejected and intoxicated. Fiz discovers Maria and John's affair but keeps the secret. However, she struggles to conceal it when Maria announces she is pregnant. Maria later has an abortion but Toyah eventually discovers her betrayal and leaves Weatherfield.
Maria's sloppy work habits soon found her on the wrong side of her boss Shelley Unwin's (Sally Lindsay) mother Bev (Susie Blake). Even though Bev had goaded Maria and Maria was later sacked, family loyalty won out. She soon persuaded Audrey to take her back on at the salon. She takes a dislike to fellow stylist, Candice, who took her ex-boyfriend Jason from her. In April 2004, Nick, another of Maria's ex-boyfriends, returned and the pair reconciled. However Nick's ex-wife Leanne Battersby (Jane Danson) returns months later, and after hearing what Maria had done to her stepsister Toyah, succeeds in splitting Nick and Maria. Nick leaves, taking a job in Nottingham. Maria stays on in the flat above Streetcars where she and Nick were living and Steve McDonald (Simon Gregson) moves his mother, Liz (Beverley Callard) in to the flat in November 2004 as Maria's flatmate. Old flame Tyrone attempts to reunite with Maria and the couple resumes dating in late 2004 and in 2005, Maria's parents relocate to Cyprus and she and Kirk are charged with keeping the kennel business going. Maria and Tyrone later break up after she keeps trying to change his personality and he discovers she doesn't love him as much as he loves her.
Maria has sex with builder Charlie Stubbs (Bill Ward) who is romancing Tracy Barlow (Kate Ford). They enjoy a string of sex sessions together but Charlie becomes possessive of her. After a couple of months, Maria confesses her affair with Charlie to Tracy. Eventually, Maria begins a relationship with Liam Connor (Rob James-Collier) and moves in with him. Maria finds out that she is pregnant, and Liam proposes. Unknown to Maria, Liam has captured his sister-in-law Carla Connor's (Alison King) affections, which causes Maria some anxiety, but they still marry.
Maria is horrified to realise that her unborn baby has stopped kicking and an emergency scan shows that the baby has died and she must have her labour induced. She delivers a stillborn baby boy who she names Paul after Liam's late brother (Sean Gallagher) and Liam finds himself drawn to Carla. The secret lovers are discovered by Carla's fiancée Tony Gordon (Gray O'Brien) who has Liam murdered in a Hit and Run attack. That same night, Liam's sister, Michelle (Kym Lomas) realises Maria is pregnant again. Maria learns about Liam's affair when a drunken Sally Webster (Sally Dynevor) shows her video footage of Carla and Liam in each other's arms at Carla's wedding to Tony. The video was taken by her daughter Rosie (Helen Flanagan). Maria becomes suspicious of Tony when she discovers that he already knew about the affair before marrying Carla and suspects him of involvement in Liam's death. She begins a harassment campaign against Tony, who considers killing Maria to silence her. Maria almost runs Tony over in her car, causing him minor injuries, and he refuses to press charges against her.
Carla discovers Maria was right all along and flees Weatherfield, leaving Tony a broken man. When Maria finds Tony mourning at Liam's grave on her wedding anniversary, they call a truce and build a close friendship. When Maria goes into labour, Tony delivers her baby, another boy that she names Liam Anthony Connor, after Liam and Tony. Tony proposes to Maria and she accepts. Maria discovers the truth about Tony when he suffers a heart attack and confesses to Roy Cropper (David Neilson) that he had Liam murdered. Roy's wife Hayley (Julie Hesmondhalgh) informs a heartbroken Maria. She refuses to believe it but Tony admits it, causing Maria to have a breakdown and asks them to raise Liam but they make her realise that she has done nothing wrong and is a fit mother to Liam. They persuade her that she simply needs a change of scene so she and Liam return to Ireland with them but returns to Weatherfield in June 2010, announcing her intention to stay and moves into the salon flat with Liam and Kirk. Carla offers Maria a job as personal assistant at Underworld, and she agrees. Carla sends Maria to Frank Foster's (Andrew Lancel) house all dressed up for an informal meeting. Frank forces himself on Maria despite her telling him she has a boyfriend but she escapes and rushes home crying and shaken. Over the next few weeks, Maria has to put up with Frank's appearances at Underworld, Maria informs Carla of what he did, but after numerous apologies, Frank agrees to business with the factory. Maria reaches breaking point when Carla announces that Frank has bought into the business and will be a new partner, she slaps Carla and quits her job after Carla says that Maria provoked the attack on herself. Having reached the end of her tether, Maria eventually reports Frank to the police. Frank is arrested the next day, but there isn't enough evidence so the police do not press any charges. Maria then returns to her old job as a hairdresser at Audrey's Salon, alongside David and Audrey.
Maria receives a phone call from a distressed Carla, on the eve of her wedding to Frank, asking her to come over to her flat. Upon arrival, a shocked Maria finds Carla cowering on the floor, revealing that Frank has raped her. Maria puts her feud with Carla to one side and is immediately supportive, helping Carla as she reports the attack to the police. She supports Carla as she presses charges on Frank. Michelle Connor (Kym Marsh) returns from her cruise and the three sisters-in-law support Carla as Frank faces trial, he is found 'not guilty'. Maria later begins fawning over gay friend; Marcus Dent (Charlie Condou) and he moves in with her, after splitting from his then boyfriend Sean Tully (Antony Cotton). After constant complaining about being single, her friends decide to deceive her into reconciling with her ex-boyfriend, Jason. She has sex with him and they resume dating. Jason is preparing to move in with Maria until Maria discovers a lump on her breast, who confides in Marcus and after undergoing a biopsy, she learns that the lump is benign. After celebrating with Marcus, the pair share a surprise kiss, but later agree that it was a mistake. However, Maria later realises she is in love with Marcus but he is dating Aiden Lester (Toby Sawyer). Aiden receives a promotion, which is in London, and asks Maria whether Marcus will travel with him. Maria attempts to terminate the thought of moving to London as Marcus will stay. Although, the couple later notice her trickery and agree to leave for London, upsetting Maria. Marcus angrily confronts her at the flat and unable to contain his feelings, they sleep together but after their steamy session, he rejects her. The taxi arrives to take Aiden and Marcus but he refuses to leave, lying that he still loves Sean and ends his relationship with Aiden, leading a heartbroken Aiden to leave alone. Marcus stuns Maria when she sees him still at the flat and after revealing he is in love with her, they kiss and start casually dating. She later declares to Jason that their relationship is over.
Creation and development
Maria was created as a love interest for Tyrone Dobbs, and first appeared working as a kennel maid at her parents' kennels. Auditions were held for the role in 2000, and actress Samia Ghadie beat several rivals, including singers Kimberley Walsh (of Girls Aloud) and Suzanne Shaw (of Hear'Say), to win the part. Describing Maria's development as a character since her arrival on Coronation Street, the official website states: "Maria has blossomed from working as a kennel maid to one of the Street's most glamorous young women. She laps up the male attention that her good looks bring her but playing footloose and fancy-free with the men in her life has gained her a bit of a reputation." Jenny Cockle, writing for the Sunday Mirror, has similarly observed that during the character's duration on the show, Maria has evolved from a "dowdy kennel maid" to a "sexy siren". Reflecting on her early days at the programme, Ghadie said: "I thought I'd do my three months and then I'd be off. I was a jobbing actress when I joined and was really pleased to have a job for three months. I never imagined I'd still be here now." Since her arrival at Coronation Street Samia Smith has revealed that she will always be grateful for the opportunities she has been given since she joined. In 2012, Ghadie revealed that she would like to stay at Coronation Street for another ten years, she said to OK! magazine: "I'd be very happy if I was still in Corrie in ten years' time. I think because of everything that has happened in the last few years I'm trying not to plan too much ahead. I am happy for each day". She also confirmed that she had signed another contract that would keep her in the show til September 2013. Ghadie revealed that it does not feel like she has been on the show for 12 years: "I'm 30 in July so it's quite scary, really! I was 17 when I joined so it just feels like my life is going really quickly! When I first joined, I was on a three-month contract. I thought I'd do my three months and then I'd be off. I was a jobbing actress when I joined and was really pleased to have a job for three months. I never imagined I'd still be here now, but I'm still really enjoying it. I think the show is going from strength to strength and it's got a brilliant mix of comedy and drama at the moment. For once, I'm involved in the lighter-hearted stuff, so that's nice!"
Discussing if Maria and Tyrone Dobbs (Alan Halsall) could get back together, she said: "She could save him from Kirsty, couldn't she? I really love working with Alan Halsall, who plays Tyrone, because he's like a brother in real life. I've known him forever so it's always good working with him, and I do love Maria and Tyrone scenes." Commenting on the relationship between Maria, Liam and Carla prior to Maria and Liam's wedding, Smith assessed: "I think Liam loves Maria but he is in lust with Carla." Discussing the scenes in which Maria give birth to a stillborn son, Smith described the research she put into filming the storyline to ensure authenticity: "It was so important that I got it right and it wasn't too overdramatic. They were both the hardest and easiest scenes I've ever had to do, because the situation was so sad. I was absolutely emotionally drained at the end of it all. The midwife has a lot of experience of attending stillbirths, and she helped me work out how to play it so that it seems real. It scared me personally, though, because the idea of going through something like that is petrifying. They were the most challenging scenes I've ever done."
On filming the delivery scene itself, she explained; "There was a prosthetic baby, but the director didn't show it to me until filming started so I'd get the full impact. It looked so real and I just broke down." Smith also gave the insight that filming the storyline affected her on a personal level, leading to the discovery her own mother had gone through the same situation: "Because of my mum, I wanted to do the scenes well but they left me feeling exhausted and drained. I know mum will be watching it at home, as will thousands of women who've been through it so I need to do it justice for them." In an interview for the Inside Soap Year book 2009, a point was made about the fact nothing nice seems to happen to the character and asked Samia about it, she replied "I'd love Maria to be happy for a change! I sometimes wonder if the Corrie scriptwriters think I've got a dodgy smile or something, because Maria hasn't smiled for months".
Asked how she felt about Maria's romance with Tony Gordon, the man responsible for Liam's death, Smith commented: "It's freaked me out to be honest! It is a bit creepy, we can't deny that, considering everything that's happened between them! I think the writers have done a brilliant job in making it a slow burner and making it as realistic as possible to allow them to fall for each other. They have actually got quite a bit in common. They've both had their hearts broken by two people who they were very close to and considered the loves of their lives. Ultimately, they've forgotten everything that went on earlier this year with the accusations of murder and everything - that's all been brushed under the carpet.." Commenting on Maria's relationship with Tony, Smith said: "I think Maria genuinely loved Tony. I don't think she feels anything but hatred for him now. She's quite sad thinking about what might have been with him because she actually thought she'd got it all sussed - that she was going to be with him and he was going to be a father to Liam. Her world ended when she found out that he'd murdered her husband."
In February 2011, It was reported that Kym Marsh who played Michelle Connor was to be written out due to her pregnancy, forcing re-writes to the script instead of Michelle, Maria became involved with Frank Foster (Andrew Lancel). It was reported that Maria would be involved in a sexual attack by Frank, a Coronation Street source revealed: "Time will tell how bad Frank's character will be - but he's a ladies' man and no Weatherfield woman will be safe from his interest. Samia Smith revealed that the storyline would be very dramatic and there would be plenty of tears. Smith also revelaed that Maria faces a horrible dilemma, she told All About Soap magazine: "She's absolutely terrified. He starts groping her all over and has his hand up her thigh. He basically tries to rape her but she manages to struggle out of his grip and runs from the house screaming and petrified." Smith noted that she was worried about offending people with the storyline she said: "A few years ago my first kind of hard-hitting storyline was when Maria had the stillborn baby and it sort of makes you really hyper-aware that other people have been through it, so you kind of want to do it justice. It's the same with this one really. Sexual assault is a very serious issue, so I want to do it justice and hopefully not offend people who have been sexually assaulted. Ghadie revealed that if Coronation Street was real life, Maria would be in a mental home.
In 2012, Maria began a relationship with ex-boyfriend Jason Grimshaw played by Ryan Thomas, Thomas praised the plot: She was one of the first girls he ever went out with. I think he's just done a big round circle and come back. It's been great, I've enjoyed working on it. They've got all the right qualities to last as a couple but you just don't know. Couples don't seem to last too long on Corrie and if they do, there's always things that get in the way of relationships in soaps, so we'll wait and see. Ghadie revealed that filming the scenes with Thomas was more awkward than romantic as she and Thomas are good friends and revealed that it was like kissing your brother.
In 2006, the character won the Inside Soap 'Best Dressed' accolade. Grace Dent, writing for The Guardian, has been highly critical of Maria during her time on the show. In February 2006, she highlighted the unlikeliness of Maria's relationship with Tyrone Dobbs is very romantic , writing: "Maria Sutherland is one of those shiny, lithe, capricious, tidily-kept hairdresser girls who flutter around the Trafford Centre's Karen Millen store on Saturdays, trying on sparkly halter frocks, dreaming about snaring Rio Ferdinand. Tyrone Dobbs, on the other hand, looks like one of the Flumps." Following the death of Charlie Stubbs in January 2007, she deemed Maria to be the Street's "local loose-knickered simpleton", and has also referred to her as being "such a tit", and "a pretty, perky, easily beddable dimwit". A writer from TV Magazine noted that most of Maria's men end up dead and quipped "Maria is the Street's unlikely black widow and her men often have a bleak future."
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