Coronation Street’s Marc Baylis has reprised his role as Rob Donovan and made a shock return in tonight’s visit to Weatherfield.
And it seems Rob’s been stalking the shadows of Weatherfield for weeks and here Marc teases that his alter ego could be behind the attack on Ken Barlow…
How is it to be back?
Awesome. It’s always great to come back and have a little play and I love playing Rob. When I got the call from Kate we had a nice discussion about what was next for the character and that, for me is important. I don’t want to be going round in circles with Rob. I always want him to be on the front foot and that’s exactly what this storyline is.
How long are you in for?
I’m still here now but not permanently. What will develop from this is that Rob is a very different person to the last time. A lot has occurred over the last 18 months and he was very angry and bitter at that point about the two women that he loved most in his life, one being the sibling, one being the love of his life, together, not hatching a plan but were responsible for him being sentenced to prison. So the anger that was underneath that whole storyline there to reveal that Johnny was Carla’s dad is a very different Rob to what we see now. The storyline will develop about what exactly’s been happening so I have to be careful with what I say as it is under wraps. But he’s a very different man. There are similarities to the time when him and Carla were getting closer and when him and Tracy first got together there’s a a bit more tenderness and a lot more unearthed about his and Tracy’s relationship.
How does he escape from prison?
It’s not that Rob has hired a pneumatic drill, gone through the prison walls and sprinted for his life. It’s not planned. An incident occurs which does involve the police. There’s a crash an he seizes the opportunity.
So could he be a suspect in the attack on Ken?
Absolutely. Hypothetically if Ken was to see Rob I’m sure he would say ‘excuse me what are you doing here?!’ ‘Would you finish this damn kitchen!’
What can you tell us about Rob, Tracy and Amy on the run?
That’s post what we’re revealing today. All I can say about that is that they are some of the favourite scenes that I’ve ever filmed on Corrie. In fact, through all of this storyline there is some beautiful material that I really hope gives that other side to this whole set up. Because it’s not the easiest of scenarios they’re in and what we’re trying to do is tell the love story. It is doomed, it’s a horrible scenario. If you’re in love as passionately as they are with each other and it is genuine, the fact you know it can’t go anywhere – it’s kind of redundant in a way. But the feelings don’t stop just because it’s redundant so that’s the struggle we’ve enjoyed playing.
How does he feel coming back to the scene of Tina’s murder?
It will always be on his mind. We played out the storyline after time had passed and throughout that whole arc I hope I showed the remorse of the man and how it did actually mess with his psyche. The whole point of that six months to me, playing Rob, was the fact that I was trying to tell the story of accidents can happen, forgetting the metal pipe, but they can happen and the initial fall was an accident. Showing the effect it had on him psychologically. But the Rob we see now is touching on that, I don’t think it will ever leave him as a person.
Did you need a cheat sheet when you came back to Corrie?
It depends what I’m doing but I’ve always got one eye on the show to see what’s going on. When you’ve spent a lot of your time involved in something it will always be a part of you. I’m always happy to see the show on good form and doing good work.
Were you surprised to get that call to come back?
To be honest, because of the relationship I’ve had with the show, going on for five years, I do know that anything is kind of possible in soap land and that’s one of the things I love about this job. The possibilities are endless as far as I’m concerned, with Rob’s future. So I’d be foolish if I didn’t keep an eye on the show to see what’s happening, I’m a massive fan.
How easy is it, stepping back into his shoes?
Although I’ve kept up with the show, I don’t know where Rob’s at so it’s really interesting for me to pick up the first few scripts and we have chats before about the storyline. But until you see the words printed on the page, you don’t know where that person’s at. I’ve never found a problem with picking up the character again. But the pressure is can I make it real? The first scene you walk in and feel the pressure again, there’s a bit of trepidation but within two seconds you’re straight back into it and it’s like you’ve never left.
Have you kept in touch with cast?
Yeah, I kept in touch with a fair few, mainly the ones I worked with, Ali, Chris, Kate, Kim, so there’s a definite ongoing relationship.
What have you been up to since you left?
I’ve just finished co producing a feature film, Arcadia, with a director friend of mine. That’s a project that’s taken up the last two and a half years. I was in it as well. I learnt masses and it’s probably the biggest learning curve I’ve ever had, especially branching into new territory. We started developing it as I was playing out the tail end of the Tina story. To be there from concept right through to editing, you can’t help but learn masses. We’ve finally finished that and it’s out now. Another film called Redcon-1, is out later this year. So it’s been nice to try different stuff.
You mentioned the other side to Rob, does he feel guilty for being so cruel to Tracy the last time they met?
There’s a remorse to Rob. The last time we saw him on screen there was a bitterness of that moment. He loves Tracy and understands why she did what she did. But at that particular time he didn’t feel that way and wanted a bit of revenge. That’s the beauty of coming back this time, it continues and you see the reasons why he did that. There’s a nice through line there even though there’s been a gap.
Does he have a plan now?
It’s a do or die situation that he’s in so it’s very much off the cuff, minute to minute. There’s a pace we’re trying to tell the story at, a sense of urgency there. He’s changing his mind all the time as to the right angle, what’s the right thing to do. And that, for me, is the question Rob always asks himself, what is the right thing to do. As we know a lot of the time he makes the wrong decision! But that gives me something great to be able to play and with Kate as well. We’re two tainted characters and that gives us a lot of material to work with. There’ s a bit of comedy that Rob and Tracy have in there as well.
You say it’s do or die. Could this be the last stint?
If it was possible for him to come back permanently, would you?
Absolutely. If that’s something that would ever be on the talbe then obviously I’d handle that conversation with every other conversation I’ve had. I love playing the character, I love the show and if the producers and writers feel I have something I can offer to tell good stories on this show I’m 100 percent behind that.
What are Rob’s intentions now?
It’s a do or die situation that he’s in. It’s very off the cuff , minute to minute. We’re trying to tell the story of the sense of urgency that’s there, he’s changing his mind all the time as to what the right angle is, how long he can stay where, what is the right thing to do. That is a key question that Rob always ask himself. And as we know, he does often make the wrong decision. But that gives me something great to play. With Kate as well, you have these tainted characters and that gives you a lot of material to work with. There’s a bit of comedy with Rob and Tracey as well. And let’s face it, if they’re together they’re not going to cave anyone else’s heads in. But anything is possible.
Is this the last stint then?
Who knows?! I can’t say whether he’ll die. I can’t say whether it will be possible for them to stay together. I would consider staying of course if that was on the table. I love the character and the show. I would always stay if there was a good story to tell.
How does it feel to be a part of another Whodunnit?
I know soap audiences love to feel a part of the show and know all of the characters on the street. That’s the beauty of this show. Whodunnit’s feel so involving and the audiences are a part of the jigsaw, it adds adds murder mystery to it. Have they seen something? They watch for clues and theories come in which are way off the mark but it’s highly entertaining.
What’s Rob s ideal outcome? Would he love the happily ever after?
Absolutely. With Rob and Carla upbringing there’s never really been any form of stability there or a family unit. So both characters had so much turmoil, they only know what they know which shaped their adulthood. They do desperately want a happy peaceful life but because of their baggage it will never happen. The two up two down would be the dream with Tracey.
Has it been bittersweet to come back and Ali King not be here?
Absolutely. It reminded me of when I first started and I didn’t know that she was on leave. So I had to establish Rob without his closest link there. But for me the character didn’t really take off until Ali was there because we could play all the sibling stuff. But I would hope that we can do that at some point again in the future.
Is there anyone else other than Tracy who Rob comes into contact with now?
Well you’ve seen the pictures with Amy so there’s her. But all of this storyline is not really like being on Corrie where you can just be around the street and bump into the other characters. All of this has been shot on location bar about 4 scenes on the street and we’ve shot it like a feature film. So far it’s been so contained and their love story is the main focus. There’s a few other characters in there though.
Has it been easy to slip back into working with Kate Ford?
Oh yes. On day one we had around 13 scenes together. In the first two days it was around 60 pages of dialogue together. So we didn’t really have time to think. But we’re in touch all the time anyway.