|Coronation Street character|
|Portrayed by||Alison King|
|First appearance||1 December 2006|
|Created by||Steve Frost|
|Book appearances||Coronation Street:
The Complete Saga
|Classification||Present; regular (temporarily departing)|
|Other names||Carla Donovan (maiden name)
Carla Connor (first married name)
Carla Gordon (second married name)
Carla Barlow (third married name)
|Home||12 Victoria Court|
Carla Connor (née Donovan, previously Gordon and Barlow) is a fictional character in the UK television ITV soap opera, Coronation Street, portrayed by actress Alison King. The character first appeared on screen on 1 December 2006. King left the show temporarily in early 2009 for maternity leave and returned later that same year. She took a break for a few months in 2012 and will take another break in mid 2016. 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, which 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 held hostage by Tony in her factory and escaping when he sets the building on fire, battling alcoholism, running over Stella Price (Michelle Collins) and crashing into the bookies when drink driving, rape at the hands of her fiancé Frank Foster (Andrew Lancel), attempting to commit suicide when she cannot deal with her rape, becoming a suspect in Frank's murder, her affair and marriage to Peter Barlow (Chris Gascoyne), supporting her terminally ill colleague Hayley Cropper (Julie Hesmondhalgh), learning that Peter has been having an affair with much younger Tina McIntyre (Michelle Keegan), becoming a suspect in Tina's murder, suffering a miscarriage, surviving a minibus crash, escaping a fire at her flats started by arch-enemy Tracy Barlow (Kate Ford) and developing a gambling addiction.
Carla lived on a council estate in Manchester, with her alcoholic drug-dealing mother, Sharon and younger brother Rob (Marc Baylis), who was arrested and sentenced to eight years in prison for armed burglary in 2004. She grew up with the Irish Connor family, becoming friends with Liam (Rob James-Collier), Michelle (Kym Marsh) and their cousins Tom Kerrigan (Philip McGinley) and Aidan Connor (Shayne Ward) and later married Michelle and Liam's elder brother Paul (Sean Gallagher). She comes to Coronation Street with Paul when he buys a share in Underworld.
Carla arrives at Underworld and is furious to discover that husband Paul has spent money saved for her business on buying Danny Baldwin's (Bradley Walsh) share of Underworld. Carla becomes good friends with Leanne Battersby (Jane Danson) and they plan to buy a restaurant together. However, their friendship ends when Carla discovers that Leanne is an escort and thinks Paul is her client. She tells Paul that their marriage is over when she learns that he had been seeing escorts for years but he blames Leanne and kidnaps her, intending to make her tell Carla that they never slept together. However, Leanne has already tried to tell Carla this unsuccessfully and Paul is distracted while driving and the car is hit by a truck. Paul dies but Leanne survives, thanks to being in the boot of the car. Angry with Leanne, she pulls out of their business deal and takes over at Underworld instead.
Carla moves on and starts dating catalogue boss Tony Gordon (Gray O'Brien). Carla and Tony's relationship makes Liam, jealous and during an argument, they kiss, confusing them both. Carla tries to stop Liam marrying Maria Sutherland (Samia Ghadie) and ends things with Tony by admitting her feelings for Liam; however, Liam marries Maria so she and Tony reconcile, Tony proposes and Carla accepts. Carla supports Liam when his and Maria's son, Paul, is stillborn and they spend a night together, unaware that Carla's assistant, Rosie Webster (Helen Flanagan), has filmed them kissing. Carla uses this as blackmail to make Liam sell his share of Underworld to Tony and Rosie also uses it, showing it to Tony as she has feelings for him but he rejects her, despite knowing that Carla cheated on him. Carla and Liam have a brief affair and plan to run away together but changes her mind on learning that Maria is pregnant, telling Liam that she doesn't love him but is devastated by his death in a hit and run incident planned by Tony. Needing to get away, Carla postpones the wedding and visits a friend in Los Angeles, returning on 26 November 2008 and she and Tony get married on 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 him. She tells Tony that she and Liam were a mistake and makes Rosie's life hell in revenge for her interference. In February 2009, Carla becomes suspicious of Tony but he is angered when he learns that she has been checking up on him. Tony locks Carla in the factory one night to confront her about this. During the showdown, Carla admits that she loved Liam so Tony tells her that he caused Liam's death. Horrified, Carla escapes after a struggle and flees to Los Angeles. However, Tony is shocked when he learns that she has filed for divorce and hired business colleague, Luke Strong (Craig Kelly), to look after her interests. He has no further contact with her and is horrified when she calls in October and asks him to meet her. She tells him that she knows about his and Maria's relationship and demands that 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 (Robert Beck), attacks Carla but she knocks him out. Tony tells Carla that Jimmy is dead but he will keep her secret if she keeps his. Jimmy is, in fact, merely unconscious and Carla returns to Los Angeles but comes back when she is contacted by the police after Tony confesses to being responsible for Liam's death. She visits Maria and they argue but later console each other. She is questioned but released without charge and returns to Underworld, taking over and destroying everything 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 that Tony admitted killing Liam but she didn't believe him and left. Liam's sister Michelle (Kym Marsh) finds out and attacks Carla 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, 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, assisted by Tony, they plan to kill Carla and Hayley Cropper (Julie Hesmondhalgh). Tony escapes from prison and he and Robbie hold Carla and Hayley hostage in Underworld. Tony appears and tells Carla 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 dies. The next day, she sees Maria standing in the rubble of the factory and is surprised when Maria angrily blames her, telling her that she will never forgive her. Needing a break, Carla and Trevor go to South Africa and return in July. She learns that Nick has started his own business and takes legal action to stop him when she learns Nick does not have permission to use Turner's Joinery as a factory. However, Leanne soon gets permission from George Wilson (Anthony Valentine). Carla uses her contacts to steal an order from Nick and starts Underworld up again. However, Trevor ends their relationship, accusing her of being obsessed with Liam so Carla turns to alcohol but soon realizes that she has a problem. She goes to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting but leaves on seeing Leanne's fiancé, Peter Barlow (Chris Gascoyne). He offers her his support but Carla insists that she is in control, later admitting that she blames herself for his death. At the opening of Nick and Leanne's new bar, The Joinery, Carla gets drunk to 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 tells her that he is committed to Leanne, leaving Carla embarrassed. However, she is delighted when Leanne confides in her that she is having an affair with her ex-husband, Nick, and encourages Leanne to think about leaving Peter. When Peter is seriously injured in a tram crash, Leanne marries Peter. Drunk and upset, Carla tells Leanne about Peter supporting her and that she has feelings for him. She also tells Leanne that she doesn't deserve Peter and accuses her of marrying a dying man for his assets, reminding her of her time as a prostitute, so Leanne slaps Carla. However, Peter's stepsister Tracy Barlow (Kate Ford) learns of Leanne's affair and tells Peter. In revenge, he tells everyone about Leanne's affair with Nick and how Carla feels about him on their wedding day in February 2011.
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. Frank supports Carla when she struggles to cope with Peter and Leanne's marriage before learning that Leanne is pregnant and tries to congratulate her 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. 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 drives home but accidentally runs over Stella Price (Michelle Collins) before crashing into the bookies. Frank moves Carla into the passenger seat and tells people that he was driving and Stella stepped out in front of him. When Carla regains consciousness, Frank tells her what he said, insisting that he will not let her go to prison. In September, Carla tells Frank that she is calling off the wedding, claiming doubts about their relationship but later admits that she loves Peter and has spoken to a solicitor, angering him. Later that night, Frank visits Carla and demands they try again and even have a baby but refuses to leave. He becomes violent, pins her up against the door and rapes her. After he leaves, Carla phones Maria and the police and Frank is arrested. He is released on bail, providing that he does not approach Carla or Underworld but he threatens Carla, trying to 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. Carla struggles to cope and tries to commit suicide but phones Peter to say goodbye and they realise what she is doing so they call an ambulance and go to the flat where they find paramedics trying to bring her round before taking her to hospital. Carla survives and begins counselling. Stella stuns her when she confides that she too was raped, making Carla and Stella bond as they discover how much they have in common. Stella encourages her not to 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 so Carla has to sack Becky McDonald (Katherine Kelly), Eileen Grimshaw (Sue Cleaver) and Sally Webster (Sally Dynevor). Frank promptly employs all three and makes Sally a supervisor at his factory. Underworld is almost bankrupted and Carla is unable to pay the wages so her remaining employees walk out and some join Frank. Just as Carla is about to give up, Michelle visits on a break from working on a cruise ship and sends Carla on holiday. While she is away, Michelle tries to get the factory up and running again. Enlisting the help of Nick, she secures 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 rejects him but they 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. They are almost caught several times and Frank hires a private investigator to follow Peter, hoping to catch him with Carla. 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 is there for her but struggles to cope with his son, Simon (Alex Bain), who, devastated that Leanne has left, blames him and starts playing 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 Sumner (Niky Wardley), offers to double that, unaware Jenny and Frank are together. Carla is furious when Frank reveals what he has done after she signs the contract and has to stop Peter hitting Frank. Frank, now secure, makes many enemies and when Carla confronts him, 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, Sally, Michelle and Kevin Webster (Michael Le Vell). Jason Grimshaw (Ryan Thomas) finds the whisky bottle that was used to kill Frank and 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 Alcoholics Anonymous acquaintance tells Leanne that Peter was with him when Frank died. Anne attacks Carla and accuses her of stealing the contract giving Frank 100% of Underword 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. She threatens Carla with a knife before being arrested. In April 2012, Carla learns that Frank left her his 40% share of the factory in his will, 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, particularly after Simon is rushed to hospital after drinking a bottle of wine. Peter realises that his chances of winning are not good and gives Leanne in custody in June, making him start drinking again and splits up with Carla after a drunken row. Meanwhile, her brother, Rob, arrives after being released from prison and helps her run Underworld. Carla decides to leave with Peter after he snatches Simon but Michelle tells Leanne that Simon is with Peter and that he and Carla are planning to take Simon to Lanzarote. Leanne and Carla go to meet Peter and Simon, asking Simon where he wants to live and he chooses to stay in Weatherfield. Carla and Peter return on 10 December 2012, just as Leanne, Nick and Simon are about to leave for Las Vegas and get married. Peter and Simon are thrilled to see each other but Carla and Leanne are not, leading to an almighty catfight, and Carla admits she doesn't want to be there so she and Peter decide to return to Los Angeles. However, Peter can't leave Simon 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, Rob has been altering the accounts for Underworld. She sacks him and he sets up on his own - stealing Carla's clients and orders. 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 horror. However, Carla puts him in charge of packing, frustrating Rob as he wants more responsibility. He gives his new girlfriend, Tracy, a job in packing and she 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 knows what they have done and asks a friend to claim to be interested in buying 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 initially unaware of this until Michelle tells her what 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 Rob, including one that Peter cannot pay when Rob wins. This forces Peter 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 her and Michelle, annoying Michelle so much that she leaves and returns to work at The Rovers Return. Michelle is initially angry with Carla but they soon reconcile but Michelle continues to work at the pub, which she later helps run when Steve buys 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 becomes protective of her, throwing Leanne out when her argument with her half-sister Eva becomes physical and they accidentally knock into Hayley and sacks Beth Tinker (Lisa George) when she becomes frustrated with the machine Hayley used and is rough with it. In late 2013, Carla and Peter hire Tina McIntyre (Michelle Keegan) 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 asks him not to marry Carla but he does go ahead. At the ceremony, Carla wears a dress designed and made by Hayley and is given away by Rob after the two reconcile. She gets drunk at the reception and is put to bed in the hotel by Hayley. After all the guests leave, Peter and Tina passionately kiss. When Carla later learns that Hayley only has weeks to live, she dashes out to visit her. Peter and Tina then sleep together and are almost caught by Hayley's husband, Roy, who comes back for his bag which he left behind earlier. However, when Tina gives Peter an ultimatum, he chooses Carla and Tina promptly leaves for London, but returns for her belongings. Carla later asks Tina to stay in Weatherfield and arranges a date for her and Rob in the Bistro with Carla and Peter present.
In January 2014, Carla and Anna find Hayley dead on the bed with Roy's arm around her. The pair support Roy as he grieves for Hayley and soon learn that Hayley committed suicide. When Fiz Stape (Jennie McAlpine) finds out, she shouts at Roy before storming off. Anna tries to reason with Fiz but it is Carla that persuades her to listen. Carla is horrified to learn that she is pregnant in March 2014 and confides in Michelle. Michelle supports her while she tries to decide what to do. Carla initially decides to have an abortion but realises that she cannot go through with it and leaves. She tells Peter about the baby and they decide to keep it. When Peter and Carla decide to take Simon to the cinema, Carla leaves Peter a dozen messages as he does not arrive as he is with Tina. When he comes home later, he is drunk. Carla is angry and says if he drinks again, they will not have the baby. Carla decides to send Peter to rehab for a few weeks and when he visits, she asks Steve to watch him and asks Dev Alahan (Jimmi Harkishin) not to sell him any alcohol. When she returns to the flat, Steve leaves and Tina takes over. While Carla is out, Peter tells Tina that he is bad for her as she deserves better but Tina does not agree as she loves him. Later, Carla and Peter return to rehab. Overhearing Michelle and Carla talking, Steve hears Carla say that she will have an abortion if Peter continues to drink when he comes home. After hearing Carla, Steve confronts Tina about her affair. While Peter is in rehabilitation, Leanne asks Carla to look after Simon as she has a busy schedule at the Bistro with a party. While Carla is working and looking through the factory accounts, Simon keeps disturbing her and asks to speak to his dad. Carla refuses, so Simon asks for a coffee so he can look for the clinic's phone number but Carla returns and tells him that he cannot speak to his father. This causes an argument and Simon storms into The Rovers to see Tina and blames Carla for his father's drinking. Simon asks if Tina can look after him as he claims he hates Carla so Tina goes back with them to calm him down. While Tina and Carla are chatting about Peter and his drinking, Simon overhears Carla say that if he keeps drinking he will die. Simon gets angry again, thinking that Carla wants Peter to die. After a short dispute between the pair, Tina tells Simon that it is not Carla that is making his father drink, Simon then apologies to Carla.
Carla picks Peter up from rehab and he vows not to drink again. Peter is upset as Simon has not been in touch since he came home so Carla phones Leanne and asks her to bring Simon to the flat, but Leanne arrives alone as Simon is angry with Peter for drinking. Tina persuades Simon to visit his dad but Simon is still unhappy with Peter. Simon leaves after a short visit. On the day of her pregnancy scan, Carla asks Peter to meet her at the factory. Peter does not turn up or answer her calls so Carla goes to the clinic alone and has the scan. When Peter returns to the flat drunk, Carla is angry and lashes out at Peter.
Rob discovers that Peter is having an affair with Tina. He confronts Peter who denies it so Rob goes to tell Carla but finds Carla in pain and he takes her to the hospital, collecting Peter on the way. They are told that the baby is fine but Tina tries to persuade Peter to leave Weatherfield with her. He agrees, although feels conflicted wanting to remain with Weatherfield with Carla and his unborn baby. During an argument with Rob and Tracy in The Rovers, Carla announces that she is pregnant just as Tina arrives to tell Peter that their taxi has arrived. Tina storms out, swiftly followed by Peter. They have an almighty argument, ending in Tina scratching Peter across his face. Peter leaves Rob visits Tina and attacks her, telling her not to tell Carla about her affair with Peter. Unknown to Rob, Peter returns to The Rovers and tells Carla about his affair with Tina. Elsewhere, Rob is now trying to convince Tina to keep quiet about his and Tracy's illegal dealings with Tony Stewart (Terence Maynard). Tina tries to escape, leading to the balcony of the building yard. A scuffle ensues and as Rob pushes Tina away, she loses her balance and falls from the balcony, plummeting onto the cobbles below. Rob thinks Tina is dead and leaves the flat, before hearing Tina's groans and realises she is alive. He hopes that she has forgotten everything, but she hasn't. When Tina reveals that she will never keep quiet and tell the police that Rob tried to kill her by pushing her off the balcony, Rob picks up a metal pipe and beats Tina with it repeatedly. Meanwhile, Carla is furious about Peter's affair and storms out into a busy pub, shouting that she wants to "kill" Tina. She is restrained by Michelle but eventually leaves the pub. Carla goes to Tina's flat and finds her badly injured at the bottom of the balcony as witnessed by Leanne and newcomer Kal Nazir (Jimi Mistry), but soon finds herself prime suspect. She is arrested but later released without charge. At first, it is an assault investigation, but when Tina later dies from her injuries, it turns into a murder investigation. Carla confides in Roy repeatedly and slaps Peter when he tries to talk to her. She later collapses when Rob and Peter are fighting and is cradled by Michelle. She is rushed to hospital but miscarries the baby. Carla is devastated and reveals to Roy that she was expecting a baby girl.
Carla struggles to cope with her miscarriage and gets drunk to drown her sorrows. She insults many of her employees and shouts at Tina's grieving mother Ann McIntyre (Lorraine Hodgson) in The Rovers. Peter takes her home but Carla only allows him into the flat if he buys her a bottle of vodka. He does and she kisses him when drunk but Rob throws Peter out and shouts at Carla for her behaviour. She later attends Tina's funeral and is mortified when Rob and Peter are arrested for fighting at the church. Carla almost has a fight with Tracy when she interrogates Carla about Rob's whereabouts. In October 2014, Rob confesses to Tina's murder leaving Carla with an impossible choice, leave Peter in prison or make a statement to the police. Carla ultimately chooses to tell the police on Rob and Tracy's wedding day. She tells him this so he goes on the run just as Tracy and the police arrive. Carla's actions lead to Tracy viciously attacking her, and a fight to ensue. He later calls Tracy and she meets him at a B&B before deciding she wants to be with him, even if they are on the run. However, the police threaten Tracy with returning to prison if she does not help them catch Rob, which she does reluctantly. Peter is released a few days later and begs Carla for another chance, but Carla tells him she did it because it was the right thing to do and she does not want to reconcile. After seeing Simon upset that Peter is leaving, Carla promises Simon that she'll make sure he can visit whenever he wants. Tracy wrecks Underworld whilst Carla and Michelle are out on a spa date, blaming her for Rob's imprisonment. She is eventually stopped when Carla pushes her to the ground and talks sense to her. When she found out that Rob will be serving 25 years imprisonment, she was devastated, having lost her brother, her husband and her baby in the space of one year.
In January 2015, Carla and her staff are involved in a minibus crash while on their way to collect a fashion award Carla has won. When the minibus crashes, Carla becomes wedged in between the driver's seat and the passenger seat. Tracy notices Carla was still inside and climbs into the wreckage in to retrieve her. When freed, Carla passes out in front of Sally and Julie Carp (Katy Cavanagh) while Tracy almost falls down with the minibus to the quarry, but leaps out at the last second. Carla has a broken leg from the accident and thanks Tracy for saving her but is angry that Michelle wasn't there, telling her that if Tracy did not save her, she would be lying at the bottom of the quarry. Carla blames Steve for the accident and Michelle tells her about his depression and she wishes her luck with Steve before leaving. Sinead Tinker (Katie McGlynn) is the person who has the worst injuries from the minibus crash. After hearing that Liz McDonald (Beverley Callard) is selling her share of The Rovers, Carla offers to buy her half so that Michelle and Steve would still be able to live and work there. However, nobody is aware that Tony and Tracy are attempting to con Liz, Steve and Michelle out of the pub so that they can buy it. On the day of Steve and Michelle's wedding day, Liz confides in Carla, revealing that Tony has been having an affair with Tracy, and that they were conning her out of The Rovers. So, Carla offers to look after Tracy's daughter and Liz's granddaughter, Amy (Elle Mulvaney) for the night, and confronts Tracy in the pub toilets. Carla gives Tracy some harsh home truths, leading to Tracy trying to slap Carla, however she blocks it and tells Tracy that eventually she will be all alone in the world. Later that night, Tracy steals the keys to Carla's flat at Victoria Court, and lights a candle to see what she is doing. She places the candle under a lampshade, and after spotting Carla asleep on the sofa, she contemplates killing her with a large ornament. After hearing Amy in the toilet, Tracy quickly leaves, unaware that the lampshade has caught fire from the lit candle. When the fire is raging through the flat, Carla collapses from smoke inhalation and desperately tries to call Amy. Leanne breaks into the flat, and pulls Carla out of the building. After she gets her breath back, Carla reveals that Amy is still trapped inside, so Leanne and Kal dash back into the burning building to save her. Kal saves Leanne and Amy, before Carla and the other residents watch in horror as the building explodes, killing Kal. Factory worker Maddie Heath (Amy James-Kelly) is also caught up in the explosion, and is also killed. As Carla was asleep when she started the fire, Tracy tells the residents that it was Carla who started the fire, leading to Leanne shouting at her in the street and everybody else hating her. The only people who stand by Carla are Roy, Nick and Michelle.
A number of weeks after the fire, Carla plays a game of poker with Liz's new boyfriend Dan Jones (Andrew Paul) and wins a large amount of money. This subsequently leads to Carla developing an addiction to gambling, as it takes her mind off the fire and her guilt. She later attends Nick's pregnant girlfriend, Erica Holroyd's (Claire King) birthday party but after she storms out, Carla and Nick get drunk together. While walking Carla back to the café, she and Nick kiss passionately, but they both instantly regret it because of Erica. At a pub quiz, Erica experiences stomach pains and is taken to hospital, where she miscarries her baby. Carla later comforts Nick and tries to help him understand how Erica is feeling as she suffered a miscarriage the previous year. Carla continues to gamble online at home and at work, and even desperately rounds up players from the street when she is losing money online. She plays poker with Nick and Erica at the café, where Erica takes most of the winnings, which frustrates Carla. She later confesses her addiction to Roy. After losing a large amount of money at a casino, Carla returns to the café and viciously insults Roy and his new friend Cathy Matthews (Melanie Hill), claiming that Cathy is attempting to replace Hayley, and shows no remorse when Roy demands she apologise. After confiding in Michelle about her guilt over the fire, she returns to the café and apologises to Roy before going on holiday, which Michelle advised her to do in an attempt to take her mind off the fire and her guilt.
Carla returns a number of weeks later, and it is revealed that she went on holiday to Las Vegas instead of Madrid in order to gamble to feed her addiction. Michelle is furious and after trying to help her, Carla shouts at Michelle and throws her out of her flat. She later attempts to apologise to Roy and Cathy for insulting them, and is shocked to learn that Cathy has moved into the café. Nick later accompanies Carla to a casino, and is stunned to learn how serious her gambling addiction is. Reliasing the extent of her financial troubles, Carla decides to move away and later tries selling the factory to Sally and Kal's daughter Alya (Sair Khan). However, before any contracts are signed, her old friend, Aidan, arrives so Carla decides to go into partnership with him, while also starting a relationship with Nick. However, Carla hardly ever turns up for work, which puts Aidan under pressure. She starts drinking more and pushes her friends away. To punish herself even more, Carla attends a charity event in Maddie's memory, and is given the cold shoulder by the Nazir family and Maddie's partner, Sophie Webster (Brooke Vincent), so Carla gets drunk to drown her sorrows. She even steals Nick's credit card to gamble with. Desperate to help her friend, Michelle gives Carla the number for a therapist, but Carla rips the number up after Michelle leaves. The following week, Carla is suspicious as to why Tracy is being kind to her, and when Tracy tells her not to keep blaming herself, Carla orders her to get in her car and they drive away from the street. To Tracy's surprise, Carla takes her to where the minibus crash occurred earlier in the year, and expresses that she wishes Tracy had left her to die in the wreckage. She then flips a coin to decide her fate as she drunkenly stands on the edge of the quarry; heads she stands or tails she falls. It lands on tails, so as Carla prepares to throw herself from the cliff, Tracy screams that she was the culprit who started the fire. Carla refuses to believe her, but when Tracy tells her that she saw a photograph of Rob when she lit the candle, Carla realises that she is telling the truth. In pure anger, Carla grabs Tracy and drags her to the edge of the quarry, saying that she has punished herself for months over the fire, leading to Tracy pushing Carla over. Tracy pleads with Carla not to tell anybody, however Carla is intent on phoning the police and opening an investigation to clear her name, but Tracy says she will deny everything. When Tracy tells Carla that her motive towards the fire was that she was jealous of her and that she still wishes she was dead, Carla drives back to the street, determined to call the police on Tracy. The next day, she is unsure of what to do, so tells Nick and Michelle that Tracy started the fire. Alya comes to The Rovers where Carla, Nick, Michelle and Aidan are, and resigns, however, the police enter and arrest Tracy in front of everyone; Nick announces he called them and Carla is initially angry because of Tracy having Amy to think of. She later decides to get her life in order and Nick and Carla start a relationship properly.
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 (Ryan Thomas).
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 March 2010, it was reported that Carla's husband Tony Gordon portrayed by Gray O'Brien would escape from prison resulting in Carla being put in grave danger. Robbie Sloan, portrayed by Vicar of Dibley star James Fleet who is Tony's cellmate and has been bribed to aid the escape. According to The Sun newspaper: "Robbie is freed from jail - having been due for release - and meets Carla (Alison King) under the pretence that he is a trader who wants to buy lingerie cheaply. Having arranged a further meeting with Carla on the planned jailbreak day, he returns to visit jail and creates a diversion by sparking a fight with another inmate. As wardens attempt to break up the altercation, Tony feigns a heart attack and is transported to hospital for treatment. However, Robbie is waiting for the ambulance and threatens the guards at gunpoint before securing Tony's escape."
In April 2010, it was revealed that Tony was to hold Carla and Hayley Cropper (Julie Hesmondhalgh) captive at Underworld after escaping from prison. He arrives at the factory with a gun and ties up the terrified pair. Tony eventually lets Hayley go free before setting the building on fire. In subsequent scenes, viewers saw Carla untie herself, grab Tony's gun and fire a shot which wounds him. While Carla manages to escape the burning factory, Tony dies in the blaze. Police later examine his body and assume that the bullet killed him. A Weatherfield insider revealed: "Things look very bleak for Carla as there are no witnesses to back up her story." It was later reported that Carla was to be wrongly charged with murder in the storyline following this Carla is later released.
Alcoholism and Peter Barlow
In July 2010, The Sun newspaper reported that an upcoming storyline would see Carla face a drink problem after King was pictured filming a visit to alcoholics anonymous. An insider told the paper: "She sees Peter Barlow (Chris Gascoyne) at the meeting and backs out, pretending she is meant to be in a Spanish class next door."
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 September 2010, it was reported that Carla would fall for Peter Barlow portrayed by Chris Gascoyne. It was reported that pair apparently grow closer as Peter helps Carla overcome her boozing and comes to her aid when she is arrested for drink driving. A source said: "Carla is feeling vulnerable and Peter is there," a source told the paper. "They soon become more than friends. He's stunned when she tells him she hasn't felt like this about anyone since Liam." Carla's best friend Leanne (Jane Danson) who is in a relationship with Peter would tell Carla that she is in love with her ex-husband Nick Tilsley (Ben Price), "This storyline will really put the cat among the pigeons," the source added.
Alison King later told Inside Soap that she wants Carla's friendship with Peter to develop even further as he helps her to battle an alcohol addiction. King said: "I think she should definitely gets her claws into Peter. They've got a nice friendship and some good banter going on. They're equals, and I think it's the first time Carla's felt that way with someone since Liam died. They could be a great coupling - but it would turn into a nightmare if they both fell off the wagon."
In March 2012, it was announced that Carla's brother Rob Donovan 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." Rob departed in November 2014 and returned later in 2015 whilst his character was in prison for murdering Tina.
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 British Soap Awards 2012. 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. King was nominated for the "Best Actress" award at The British Soap Awards 2014, and was nominated for the award again in the 2015 ceremony.
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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