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The Coronation St Files: Day 2: Karen McDonald: Shunned by her parents, she got married for a bet andtried to ruin Mike Baldwin.


SHE'S the girl with the big earrings, even bigger mouth, plunging cleavage and red boots who has taken husband Steve and the whole of Weatherfield on a whirlwind ride over the past four years.

In day two of our fantastic Corrie exclusive series, Street scriptwriter and official archivist DARAN LITTLE looks at the life of stroppy Karen McDonald - set for an explosive departure at Christmas - and reveals that her brash exterior hides a disturbed adolescence.

B ORN Karen Phillips in 1976 to bus driver Malcolm and checkout assistant Margaret, Karen was an only child growing up on the roughest estate in Weatherfield.

She was useless at school - she thinks Great Expectations was written by Charles Darwin - and left with only three GCSEs and a swimming certificate, but Karen is an optimist and refuses to be restricted by her past.

But with the recent death of her mother and her cold hatred for her father, viewers learnt only this year about her very unhappy past.

Religious nuts

On a holiday to Rhyl her parents were caught up with religious fervour and changed almost overnight from a loud, rowing couple into religious converts.

Karen's cosy world vanished as they became cold towards her, more interested in saving souls than showing love and affection.

She rebelled and ended up being beaten and thrown out by her father. She was 14 and was taken in by the rowdy Sykes clan.

They lived on the same estate and daughter Linda - destined to become Mike Baldwin's cheating wife - was in the same year at school as Karen. The pair became friends and Karen lost her virginity to Linda's brother Jimmy.

As she blossomed into womanhood, Karen was rejected by her parents, who would cross the street to avoid her. Each encounter sent her into acts of self-destruction; if she couldn't have their love she wanted to prove she was worse than they thought.

She agreed to marry a lad called Liam, but he was sent to prison for armed robbery.

In June 2000 she first walked on to Coronation Street. Linda was working at Underworld and was engaged to boss Mike Baldwin. She landed Karen a job sewing knickers and almost immediately she was causing ructions.

A one-night stand with Peter Barlow was followed by a relationship with taxi firm owner Vik Desai. While dating him she realised she fancied his best friend Steve McDonald. But he refused to do the dirty on Vik. Smarting, she told Vik Steve had tried to seduce her.

But Steve tricked her into admitting the truth over the cab radio while Vik was listening. He dumped her.

Wedding sham

Karen bet her mates she could get Steve - she always calls him "Baby" - to take her out for dinner. When she succeeded she offered double or quits on getting him to take her on holiday.

When Janice Battersby bet her a day's wages she couldn't get Steve to marry her Karen took the bet and told Steve, offering him a 50-50 split.

He agreed to go through with a sham marriage, but Karen was convinced he would change his mind at the last minute.

Everyone was astonished when neither party backed out and the wedding went ahead. Afterwards Steve and Karen admitted they were attracted to each other and decided to give the marriage a go, renting No 12 Coronation Street.

Money rules Karen's life, so when Peter Barlow offered her pounds 700 to say he'd slept with her she jumped at it. Peter had robbed the safe at the bookies where he worked and needed an alibi. Karen told the police he'd spent the night in her bed but Steve was furious.

To get back at Peter he agreed to put pounds 5,000 of the stolen money on a horse which Peter knew was going to win. It romped home, but Steve claimed pounds 2,000 of the winnings as his "compensation". Karen had the last laugh, though - she took the money on an extravagant shopping spree.

The honey trap

Karen was roped in by the mother of Geena, one of Lothario Dev Alahan's many fiancees, to create a honey trap to prove he was a cheat. She goaded a gooey-eyed Geena, who constantly boasted about a fairytale wedding: "Your boyfriend's like anyone else's. You'd better watch your step. Someone might come along and steal him from you!"

Never content with what she has, Karen decided her and Steve's flat was not good enough. After all, Steve owned his own business and she deserved the best. She set her sights on one of the executive flats being developed by the Corrie killer, Tricky Dicky Richard Hillman.

She lured Steve to the show flat, fed him his favourite takeaway and took him to bed, only to be disturbed by Richard showing people round.

Steve was shamed into agreeing to buy the flat, but, to Karen's horror, pulled out after discovering a bail hostel was to be opened next door.

Upwardly mobile

Karen's ambitions extended to her work life as well. She hoped to be made factory manager at Underworld and was furious when Mike employed ex-con Joe Carter instead. It was the start of a tempestuous love-hate relationship. She refused to co-operate with Joe and ended up being sacked.

In the hope of mixing with celebrities, she took at job as sales assistant at posh furniture store Elevation, but after being ridiculed and humiliated for her back-street upbringing by her hoity-toity colleagues, she left - but not before she'd splashed out pounds 1,800 on a sofa.

Even the sofa conspired against her - it was too big to get into the flat. She was furious when it had to be housed at No 11 with Eileen and her clan.

Drug mule

Karen showed her true colours, and her love for Steve, when she helped him out at the cab office after Vik fled the country. Vik owed money to a local mobster and had turned to smuggling drugs.

When Steve found out he'd used Karen as an unwitting "mule" to bring pounds 100,000 worth of cocaine into the country after a holiday the three of them shared abroad, he battered Vik and threw the drugs into the canal.

Karen backed Steve, taking her job back at Underworld and pushing Steve into partnership with Dev, a man he loathed.

Steve grew suspicious of Karen's relationship with Joe Carter when he made her supervisor at work.

The power went to Karen's head and she caused upset by being overpowering towards her old mates, ending up having a cat-fight with Janice in front of an important client. Joe told her he fancied her but she refused to cheat on Steve, although she was attracted to him.

Factory plot

She agreed to go to an overnight trade fair, but once alone in a hotel with Joe, with his rugged good looks, persistence and fake charm, she felt she couldn't trust herself and came home to Steve.

She was devastated to discover he'd taken a girl to bed, believing she was being unfaithful. Furious Karen threw him out, started a relationship with Joe and filed for divorce.

Joe moved in and stunned her by revealing his plan to ruin Mike and buy the factory off him. Blinded by love, she was roped into the deal, forging Mike's signature on cheques and order forms. When the girls started to be laid off Karen realised she wasn't cut out for hardened crime and confessed to Mike.

Threatened by Mike with prison again, Joe delivered Karen yet another heartless blow. Before disappearing, he cruelly rejected her, claiming that he'd never loved her.

Worse was to come when Mike issued with an ultimatum. Either she paid back the pounds 8,000 Joe had stolen from him or she left town. She packed her bags and went to live with her Auntie Eva but Steve tracked her down and brought her home, paying Mike the money himself.

Wedding fight

Wanting the big wedding she'd never had, Karen talked Steve into letting their divorce go ahead. Like a mug, Steve went along with the plans, proposing and agreeing to pay for a wedding to rival the Beckhams'.

At the wedding, in front of all her friends and family, Karen learnt that Steve was the father of Tracy Barlow's baby Amy - the result of a one-night. Horrified Karen turned on Tracy, threatening her with her stiletto for ruining her big day.

Steve had to work hard to convince Karen to forgive him and the wedding went ahead, but in turn Karen decided to ruin Tracy's special day in revenge and caused an uproar at Amy's christening, grabbing Tracy by the hair and thumping her.

Karen was knocked for six when her father Malcolm turned up with the news that her mother was dying.

Karen refused to make her peace and Maggie died without seeing her. Steve feared Karen would suffer a breakdown and he was proved right.

Searching for some form of forgiveness, she turned her back on materialism and tried to do good. But when Tracy made a play to take Steve off her Karen snapped back and fought for her man.

Karen is ruled by passion - whether it be for fashion, her love for Steve or her hatred of Tracy and mother-in-law from hell Liz.

She threw herself into making a baby - amusing Tracy, who enjoyed calling her Barren Karen. But now she's pregnant, and Karen feels she's had the last laugh.

But vindictive Tracy isn't one to give up easily and both women are destined for a dramatic showdown at Christmas which will change Karen and Steve's marriage for ever.


STROPPY: Karen is still haunted by her sad childhood; FURY: Cat-fight with Tracy; CRUEL: Soon lover Joe was gone; SURPRISE: Caught with Steve at show flat
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 30, 2004
Next Article:Irish want to die at home.

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