Coronation Street ended on the mother of all cliffhangers last night when Abi Webster went into labour.
The fan favourite had been suffering from backache and was being given a massage by drug dealer pal Dean when Kevin returned from his trip away.
He not only caught the compromising moment, but realised his estranged wife had been snorting cocaine under his roof, and ordered her out.
As Abi then saw Dean about to drive off in a sports car belonging to one of mechanic Kevin’s customers, she jumped in the vehicle to try and take the key out of the ignition, only for Dean to speed off with her in the passenger seat.
Dean pulled over when Abi was struck down with stomach pain and, as she crouched down on the side of a country road, he drove off, fearing she was suffering an overdose.
A desperate Abi rang 999 and told emergency services she was having a baby…only for her battery to die.
In tonight’s episode of Coronation Street, Abi manages to get herself to hospital, where she gives birth to a baby boy. But she decides that she is an unfit mother, and abandons the newborn.
Actress Sally Carman recently spoke to whattowatch.com and other media about what lies ahead…
What went through Abi’s mind when she went into labour?
"The brilliant thing about Abi is that for all the knocks she’s had, she’s such a fighter and if there’s a grain of hope, she will die for it. So, when she was on the side of the road, it didn't occur to her to think 'This is it.' She was like, 'I need to get to hospital.'"
She's six months pregnant. Had she not spotted the signs?
"There weren’t any. She thought she was pregnant a few months ago after not having a period for a while, but then she had her period and thought 'Oh, I’m not, that’s that.' And because she was trying to get her relationship back on track, it was pushed to the back of her mind.
"It didn’t even occur to her that there could possibly be a pregnancy, considering she was having her periods again. She didn’t put weight on particularly, there was just nothing."
Can you reveal what happens when she arrives at the hospital?
"She’s full of shame and guilt, and she’s massively in shock and she’s not thinking straight. She’s feeling all these horrendously negative feelings and she’s in pain and she’s desperate, so she gives a false name because she’s worried about the hospital calling the police on her. She’s just completely emotionally overloaded and isn’t able to see the wood for the trees."
She must be terrified, because she also knows the baby is coming too soon…
"She’s completely terrified because instinctively, she’s really nurturing. If she’d had a different upbringing and different life experiences, she would be an amazing mother and she still could be, but every time she gets a chance to embrace and be that person, something happens.
"So instinctively there is a desire for this baby to be born and be healthy, but she just can’t quite see anything. She’s still high on drugs, she’s completely distorted with her viewpoints and it’s just too much for her."
Abi has lost three children (son Seb was murdered, and twins Charlie and Lexi were put into care and later adopted) so why does she do a runner from the hospital and abandon this baby?
"I think for the same reasons she gave up the twins - because she doesn’t believe she can look after him. From her point of view, she has already failed this baby. He’s been born too soon, probably because of the drugs she took - that’s what she believes - and she has no home, no relationship, and no job. So what can she possibly do for him other than give him a chance by giving him up?"
She then heads back to Weatherfield - does she have a plan?
"Abi goes back to Weatherfield because she's in such denial. She thinks she can shut that down and get away with it by just carrying on with what she was doing before. She's clearly not thinking straight. She’s in a really bad way - emotionally, mentally, and physically."
She later returns to the hospital and meets her son for the first time - what is that like for her?
"Regardless of every experience Abi has had, telling her that she’s never going to succeed and that life is cruel and unkind, her heart instantly opens to this child. It’s not in her control. She just loves him. Straightaway, she loves him. And she names him Alfie after Seb’s favourite teddy bear."
In upcoming scenes, Abi will admit to Imran that he is the father. Does she want him involved, and does she feel guilt towards Toyah?
"I think she would happily have nothing to do with him. She even says, 'I don’t want anything off you, I’ll never tell Toyah, I’m doing this because he’s my son.' She doesn’t want him involved at this point at all.
"There’s huge guilt with regards to Toyah, because Toyah has come through and really helped her. There haven’t been that many people who have done that for her, so she’s blown away by Toyah’s kindness and generosity. That becomes a huge factor in all of this and it’s a massive problem."
It’s Toyah who persuades Imran to help Abi. How does Abi feel about that?
"It’s horrendous, because the more she trusts and bonds with Toyah, the harder it is to admit any of this. She tells Imran he needs to say something, and then she’s like 'No, you need to protect her.' It’s a mess.
"She’s stuck between a rock and a hard place because is it in her interests to tell her? Is it not? Not telling her is done for all the right reasons, but of course, none of them are right reasons. It’s obviously all going to come out, but it’s one mess after another and it’s something she wants to put off as long as possible because she knows there’s going to be a horrendous fallout from it."
Would Abi’s ideal be to get custody of the baby and keep his paternity a secret?
"In an ideal world, she’d love it to be just her and Alfie, to start afresh and prove that she can be a good mum. I don’t think she wants Imran involved, but she’s utterly grateful for his help because she knows on paper that it doesn’t look good for her to keep Alfie, and she starts to realise that he has got her and Alfie’s best interests at heart."
Would her ultimate dream be to reunite with Kevin?
"The idea is definitely there, but she has to put it on the back burner because it’s too painful. There’s an element of her thinking that if she can be a good mum and if Kevin can witness that, it might open the possibility of there being a family unit because she absolutely adores Kevin and Jack. But it’s way too early for her to even consider that."
Did you always know that Abi’s one night stand with Imran would result in a baby?
"No! Even when Abi thought she was pregnant, I didn’t know anything, so I was playing it out in real time in a way. That works for me, plus I can’t hold my own water so it was best I didn’t know!
"Me and Iain (MacLeod, Coronation Street's producer) had a chat. He didn’t come up for breath, he was speaking for about 40 minutes and he was like 'And this happens, and this happens' and my jaw was falling further and further on the floor. I think I said two words and they were 'Thank you.' I can’t quite believe that I get to do another brilliant storyline. I’m just really grateful."
Do you think Abi can ever find happiness?
"She has to, because no human being can go through what she has been through and not have happiness. It might not be forever. It might be a small window of happiness, which I’m happy with, but there has to be something.
"I’m hopeful she will get it, and that it peps her for when it all goes wrong again…which I hope it does!"
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When she is not writing about soaps, watching soaps, or interviewing people who are in soaps, she loves going to the theatre, taking a long walk or pottering about at home, obsessing over Farrow and Ball paint.