It’s pretty clear to Coronation Street viewers that Stephen Reid (Todd Boyce) is not a man you want to be involved with.
Yes, he’s superficially charming, but there’s his inconvenient habit of murdering anyone that gets in his way. Now that he’s disposed of three victims, it’s quite clear that he has no moral compass whatsoever.
However, to the characters on the show it’s a far different case, as Paula Wilcox, who plays Elaine Jones, pointed out to us recently.
‘Nobody in Coronation Street knows or suspects that he’s a serial killer,’ she observed. ‘Elaine’s not the only one. Some people have got doubts about him but some people, like Elaine, think he’s great.’
Paula explained that Stephen has been playing a very clever game as far as Elaine is concerned.
‘The way Todd plays Stephen, he seems like he’s sort of tentative and slightly unsure of himself,’ she said.
‘The audience knows that it’s because he’s got to be careful because he can’t remember which lies he has told to whom but, because Elaine doesn’t suspect anything, she sees somebody being quite tentative and a bit shy.
‘Also, the great thing about Stephen is that he’s slightly unattainable. There is something about him that feels he’s keeping something back emotionally. He’s not really somebody who throws his arm around you and tells you what’s going on, he doesn’t really with anybody, even family.
‘He’s really a slightly mysterious man. Of course the audience knows why, but Elaine is oblivious and just feels it makes him more attractive.
‘She is doing that thing that some Women (Women apparel Here) do with men like that where they think they can be the one to fix them and bring them out of themselves.’
So in upcoming episodes when Stephen and Elaine get engaged, Elaine doesn’t think for one moment that Stephen could be after her cash despite the fact that he is quite keen to hide the engagement plans from everybody else.
Her son Tim (Joe Duttine), however, is suspicious to hear that they’re moving in together. This leads to Elaine revealing the engagement to her son, as Paula explained.
’She tells Tim that they are serious about each other, but when he starts quizzing her about Stephen already owing her money and is really sceptical about him,’ she went on.
‘In order to prove that the money doesn’t matter, she says but that now they are properly together “what’s mine is his anyway,” and Tim realises they are getting married.
‘She is just trying to make him understand that they are a proper couple and that phrase is what makes him realise, oh my God, this is serious. He says oh, Don’t be daft. It’s not as if you’re getting married and she says they are.
‘She’s not gone all out to actually make an announcement she was just fighting her corner.’
Angry at Tim’s reaction, Elaine agrees to fly to Las Vegas with Stephen to marry him there. Paula said that Elaine has two reasons for this decision.
‘There’s the idea of upsetting Tim because he’s been so unpleasant because, at first she thinks it’s because he’s worried about his inheritance, that the house and money will get left to Stephen rather than him.
‘Then she realises that actually, it’s because he thinks that she’s too old to be attractive to anybody. That’s really hurt her,’ Paula told us.
‘So when Stephen suggests Vegas, she says, yes why not. So her second reason is that it’s so glamorous and fun and young. Tim is saying that Stephen usually goes for younger Women (Women apparel Here) and will trade her in for a younger model and here is Stephen wanting to fly her off to Vegas to make a grand gesture and marry her.
‘She doesn’t want her family at the wedding now anyway so this works for her. The whole idea is really exciting. The idea of being in America with Stephen in a whirlwind marriage is just magical for her and she is swept away.’
This plan is set to be thwarted, however, as Tim is determined to stop his mum making a huge mistake. He pretends he’s going to take her to the airport, but locks her in the car instead.
‘I think she is shocked,’ Paula said of her character’s reaction to this.
‘I think at the same time she’s quite concerned about Tim that he has done something so extreme. She makes a comment about it hardly being a kidnap attempt but she has seen how desperate he is and she feels sorry for him.
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‘She just doesn’t understand why he won’t let her live her life with a really nice man who cares for her. Tim for his part feels the time has come to make a big gesture to show how he feels, he just has a sense that something is not right, but Elaine can’t and won’t see it.’
Will Tim persuade his mother to see sense about Stephen – or could she be heading to being victim number four?
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First appear at Coronation Street’s Paula Wilcox reveals Elaine’s shock at ‘extreme action’ in Stephen murder storyline