Coronation Street killer talks... but this is only the start of the drama says actor Marc Baylis
Rob Donovan has finally been unveiled as Tina McIntyre's killer. But as Corrie actor Marc Baylis tells Susan Griffin, this is only the start of the drama.
After six long months, Marc Baylis can finally confirm to the world it was him, or at least his character Rob Donovan, who killed Coronation Street's gutsy and glamorous barmaid Tina McIntyre.
But one thing he won't be doing now that it's out in the open, is appearing in public places.
Michelle Keegan, who has played Tina for six years - and who was recently named Sexiest Female at the British Soap Awards for the sixth time - has far too many fans for that to happen.
"I think I'll even swim to work [along Salford's ship canal] so no one can see me," says 37-year-old Baylis. "I'm just going to have to take it on the chin," he adds of being heckled by the public.
When it was announced that Keegan's character was being killed off, a few faces emerged as potential suspects. There was Peter Barlow who had an affair with Tina; his pregnant wife Carla; Tina's long-standing nemesis Tracy Barlow and her fiance (and Carla's brother), Rob.
So keen were the cast and crew to keep it a secret that four alternative endings were shot. No wonder Baylis is relieved that the big reveal has now happened.
"I've just been looking forward to getting it out there because we haven't been able to speak about it for over six months," says the actor who joined the soap in 2012.
As viewers saw on May 27, Rob went to Tina's flat to confront her about the affair she'd been having with his brother-in-law.
Pictured: Rob Donovan [MARC BAYLIS] and Peter Barlow [CHRIS GASCOYNE]. See PA Feature TV Corrie. Picture credit: PA Photo/ITV.
"He's had his suspicions about Tina and Peter and, when he discovered the truth about their affair, was determined to make sure Tina didn't tell Carla," explains Baylis. "As much as Rob doesn't think Peter is good enough for his sister, now that he knows she's pregnant, he wants her to be happy."
But Tina's never been one to shy away from confrontation, and aside from the fact that she wouldn't keep quiet about the adultery, she informed Rob that she knew all about his and Tracy's dodgy dealings.
Rob's already spent time in prison, somewhere he has no desire to return to, and it wasn't long before the argument escalated and the pair ended up in a tussle, which saw Tina plunge from the balcony to the cobbles below.
The final scene might only have lasted a few minutes but it took three nights to shoot. Partly because of the technicalities involved, but also as Keegan suffers from vertigo. "Not at the end of that scene, she didn't!" quips Baylis. "But when you're up that high, safety has to come first and we had a great team on that shoot."
The killing is merely the start of the drama, however. In the scenes before the push, Peter was spotted visiting Tina's flat, Tracy had left her own engagement party (to oversee a drop-off of suspect goods, though the residents won't know this), and after Peter had confessed his wrongdoing to Carla she'd stormed off to the flat - which means there are a few guilty-looking people on the street.
"Rob's not a stupid man, he knows where to the point finger, where to play the innocent, where to play different cards that will protect him and cast shades on other characters," says Baylis.
"This is the beginning of massive new chapter for Rob," the actor continues. "There's the psychological effect, as he didn't plan for this to happen. It's not just, 'He's a killer', we see how he deals with it and there are a lot of twists."
Viewers were introduced to Carla's estranged brother after he was released from Strangeways Prison where he'd spent time for armed robbery.
Pictured: Rob Donovan [MARC BAYLIS]. See PA Feature TV Corrie. Picture credit : PA Photo/ITV.
"From what we've heard about Rob and Carla's background, it was brutal, harsh, they had an alcoholic mother and a succession of stepdads. They've come from a world of poverty and violence. You kind of forget that behind the glamour they came from the gutter," notes the show's producer, Stuart Blackburn.
"There's a tougher edge to him and I've been waiting a long time for a story where we can back him into a corner and go, 'Let's see what he really can do'."
Baylis agrees. "At the end of the day he's trying to protect his family, protect Carla from finding out about the affair. It's that that thing of being a family man," he says of his character.
"It's history repeating itself. The first time he was in prison, it was for an incident he did to help support his mother. In order to protect people that are foremost to him, he'll either lash out or do an act that in his eyes is one of protection, but in other people's eyes is pretty callous."
The irony is that "this is probably the happiest he's ever been in his personal life", notes Baylis. And though Rob has charmed a few women on the street since his arrival, it's Tracy Barlow who stole his heart and the pair only recently got engaged.
"How many people can say they've been in the most successful relationship with Tracy Barlow?" says the actor, grinning.
He and Kate Ford, who plays Tracy, have "an absolute riot" on set, though he admits it's difficult to keep a straight face when she has such fantastic one-liners.
Pictured: Tina McIntyre [MICHELLE KEEGAN]. See PA Feature TV Corrie. Picture credit : PA Photo/ITV.
He leaps to Tracy's defence when asked what Rob sees in her - after all, she is a bit of a soap villain and not averse to lying, stealing and cheating to get what she wants.
"She's very gobby but he [Rob] just tells her to shut up, he takes her with a pinch of salt and she does actually amuse him. She's not as cold-hearted as everyone thinks," Baylis explains. "She's got a very loving side with him and it is a genuine relationship."
He describes the pair as Corrie's answer to Bonnie and Clyde. "I think that's where we're at, absolutely. It's something we've discussed in the work place so if that's coming across, great. We love working together."
As to whether Rob will confess his crime to the love of his life remains to be seen, but Baylis stresses that "it's a long storyline". That might be true, but it's soap tradition that the killer always gets his comeuppance, which means Baylis' Corrie days might be numbered.
"I won't deny [I've thought about] that," he admits. "Of course, there's always going to be trepidation with stuff like that, but from an acting point of view this is the longest job I've had in 15 years," says Baylis, who's also appeared in Hollyoaks, EastEnders and The Bill.
"We've got about 60 characters on the street at the moment, and to be the one picked out to be a massive part of this storyline is amazing."