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Is Carla going to be lonely this Christmas?

For over a decade Carla and Peter Barlow’s love story has captured the hearts of the nation and won them millions of fans all over the world.

Described as the Burton and Taylor of the soap world, they have had a roller coaster of a relationship, getting married for a second time in 2021.

All that is about to change as Peter Barlow bids farewell to the cobbles this Christmas in a heartbreaking Boxing Day Episode.

Here Ali King talks about Peter’s departure, what she will miss about working with Chris Gascoyne, how it felt filming those final scenes and what the future holds for Carla without her soulmate.

As we head towards Christmas, how are things between Carla and Peter?

They're a little off kilter. She is worried about him. Obviously, after the accident, he's been struggling with his mental health and at the same time Carla has been busy and concentrating a lot on the factory. But she has noticed a kind of sadness in him that she can't quite buffer for once. They are arguing a little bit. When he is going through something he can be quite irrational and he's telling her, quite irrationally sometimes, that she doesn’t pay him attention, doesn’t give heed to what he wants. He says it's all about what she wants, which is kind of dumbfounding to her at that point, because she's trying to juggle so many balls and put her life back together after the money's gone. So it's a case of them not communicating properly.

Was Stephen's death a big turning point for their relationship?

Yes it was a massive, massive turning point because although he acted on a whim, I think she doubted his motive and why he didn’t stop the car and what he actually did in that moment. I don't think they talked about it properly or enough. They weren't truthful enough with each other. And, actually, he believed he did save Jenny's life, but then there was everything the witnesses said. Carla knew how angry he was with Stephen and when he sensed that she maybe was slightly doubting him that hit him hard. He didn’t think she was truly on his side.

So in the past, Peter was there for Carla with her breakdown, and she's there for him now and has been in the past with his alcoholism. Do you think the codependency in their relationship is good for them because they help each other or an issue?

I think it's always been a bit of both. I mean, it's always kind of worked with their drinking and all the rest and they have known how to deal with each other’s demons. But I think it's becoming a little bit of an issue. She doesn't know whether she wants to do what he wants to do. He wants to do something else but he wants to do it with her. But I don't think she can. I think it's probably the first time where she's felt that it jars with her. For the first time she can’t be his everything. I think it's probably the first time she's seen that she can't be his  life raft. With everything she's been through, I think she's still quite strong and she kind of knows herself better than ever. And so I think in the past, it's been good for them, support wise. But we've seen that when they're at their worst together, it can be quite damaging. Maybe this is the first time she has realised she can't do that going forward. She's capable of living on her own and needs to be happy.

When does Carla start to realise that Peter may be better off away from Weatherfield? What is he saying that makes her start to think that?

He starts getting the postcards and the messages from his mate on the boat asking him to go and join him, she starts to notice that he's really excited. It is the first time in a while that anything has taken his mind off what has been going on. Obviously, he asks her to go with him and she flat out says no, because she's trying to get the factory back up and running. And I think the realisation comes from him that she's fighting for the business and they want different things. She's realising that she can't. She's quite happy to carry on on her own and starts to feel sad. And it's a slow sinking feeling that she realises that maybe it is time for them to do their own things, we had that and it was wonderful but maybe that is over. She isn't aware that he is talking to Tim and is starting to think he should stay with her.

What happens with the date night?

They know they have to talk and she has brought the food in for the date night but then the alarm goes off at the factory and it is something she has to sort and he feels let down again but in a more resigned way this time. She feels she is getting pulled in two ways, she can’t be in two places at once and she thinks he should be able to see that this is just for now whilst she sorts everything out, in the past he has accepted it but he has his own issues now. 

Is she worried about this change?

Yes I think that's starting to sink into Carla. She's starting to kind of worry. She talks to Sarah about it and tells her there's something different this time and she doesn't know if they can work through it. And the reason is she doesnt know actually, whether she’s got the energy to get him through this.

So how does she feel when she finds out that he plans to meet the mother of his liver donor?

I think she's amazed. I think she's really pleased that he's taken this step forward and got in touch with her because she knows it's such a big thing for him to do.  She's shocked at the timing, I think, but also gets that it is something that he’s doing it to make him keep on the wagon. She's proud and supportive and pleased when she found out because she was really, really glad to be there with him for the meeting.

Tell me about the AA meeting that she attends with him. What is that a bit of a turning point for them?

She said, you know, do you want me to go? And he said, Yeah, yeah, that might be nice which she was quite surprised by. But I think, because she was there, he didn't know how to be truthful because he didn't want her to see all his vulnerability. At first he started saying, everything was fine and Christmas will be ok, he was trying to protect her a little bit in front of everyone. But because she had noticed the sadness and the change in him she knows he is not being truthful and she calls him out on that.

What does he say which makes her finally understand how he is feeling?

It is gut wrenching when he opens up and says he feels like he is not living a life. It really brings home what she has been thinking that even with her by his side he is not living a full life, he doesn't feel like it's enough for him. She is so sad about that but then starts to think outside the box and puts him completely first and starts to think about what she should do. She needs him to want to own it. Tell her the truth. And think about what's best for him alone.

There are two great loves in Carla’s life - Peter and the factory, is she going to have to consider choosing between the two for both her and Peter’s sake?

I think she will have to choose. Going and living on a boat sounds wonderful and free but that's not for her. That's not how she sees her life but it is what he wants to do. She knows that there could well be a chance that he could do that for a year like he has in the past. But she has to look at the bigger picture, it would mean potentially throwing everything away for her to go and do that. If she went and came back what would be left for her here? He has his family and roots here , they would still be here but the business would be gone and she would have nothing left. She will obviously be thinking she has to kind of make the decision and carry on with her life as normal. It's that old saying isn't it as if you love someone, you c you should let them go. And that's really for both of them.

What was it like filming those final scenes that involved just the two of you? And how did you feel about the exit storyline?

We're filming solidly together for two days. There was a lot to learn. But aside from that it was amazing, but it was so emotional, I did not need any tearstick for those scenes. There was no way of knowing what would happen because every time we did it I literally filled up with emotion and started crying at different times in every scene. Just seeing a different look from Chris would set me off because he's so wonderful at Meisner technique which involves an actor reacting to another actor’s performance and behaviour, he's so reactive. That's why I've loved working with him so much, it’s always about the reaction. We can do things 1000 different ways in each take. And he's so brilliant every single time, it was just a different journey and you're absolutely spent and it's such a roller coaster of emotions. 

Are you pleased that that was what it was that it was a chance to really explore them as a couple in those final episodes?

Even though it doesn’t  go into specific details of all their past, it shows what they're like, as a couple.  It was really nice to have that much time on them because people seem to enjoy them just having a conversation. It was something to get our teeth into with all the emotions and it was a real journey. It was really, really lovely to do those scenes. 

Why do you think so many people love Carla and Peter as a couple?

They've just got brilliant chemistry and we've got brilliant chemistry, we trust each other. And so it just works. And you know, they really get each other and can go through anything and then there are the softer moments, they understand each other so much. They have kind of grown together such a lot. So I think the viewers can see that. It's just their chemistry and the way they're both perfectly imperfect people, but together, they kind of make sense. And I think, you know, that's what everybody wants to have.

Do you have a shorthand working together? What are you going to miss about working with him?

Yes we do, it's like, putting your comfiest coat on. And it's just knowing, knowing the freedom and knowing that you can dare do anything and know that he will see that. It's just it you know, it's effortless filming with him. And it's so enjoyable when you know someone so well like that. 

We then see a different sort of familial relationship with her nephew arriving? Are you interested to see that side of Carla and her having responsibility for somebody in a different sort of relationship? 

 Yes she is definitely not looking for love, she's still got her rings on, she's not over Peter just like that. But what it does with Bobby coming into this scenario is snap her out of going into the doldrums and going all reflective.  She is trying to be quite cut and dry about, you know, I've done this, I've made this decision, I've helped Peter make this decision along the way to leave. But in the factory people are walking on eggshells around her and she doesn’t want that, it was going to be tough so Bobby arriving has kind of snapped her out of that because he's so much trouble. Him coming in and creating havoc a little bit, and her having to support him in lots of different ways stops any self indulgence. So that's been amazing. 

Make sure you're watching this Christmas on ITVX

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