Corrie shock as Steve McDonald revealed as father of Leanne Battersby's baby
Viewers were left aghast after it was revealed that Coronation Street's Steve McDonald is the father of Leanne Battersby's longed-for baby.
In dramatic scenes aired on ITV on Friday, soap fans learnt that hapless Steve (played by Simon Gregson) faces the daddy of all dilemmas after his wife Michelle (Kym Marsh) also announces that she is expecting a child.
The two women bond over their baby news, but will the Rovers Return landlord Steve be able to keep the secret of his illegitimate child - conceived following a one-night stand - from Michelle, who herself is keen to be a mother again?
In 2011, viewers had witnessed Leanne (Jane Danson) being told that it was unlikely she would ever be able to conceive after contracting an infection whilst pregnant and in a relationship with Peter Barlow.
For Leanne, news of the miracle baby means the world to her - however Steve wants nothing to do with the infant, fearing it will threaten his marriage and could see Michelle leave him for good.
However Leanne also has her own trepidations.
If she is honest about who the father is, will it blow apart the marriage across the road and prevent her rekindled relationship with Nick Tilsley from happening?
Producer Kate Oates said: "Nick is persistent and Nick adores her. The question is, when he discovers that she is pregnant, whether that is a hurdle he can overcome and whether he is willing to bring up another man's child, and also when he discovers who that father is, how he deals with it."
She added: "It's another thing when it's your neighbour and it's Steve McDonald."
Viewers are being warned that tempers are likely to flare between the two men.
Oates added: "Steve has gone from not necessarily wanting any more children to potentially fathering two, and the drama that we are going to uncover is kind of how he juggles that and what it does to him having Leanne over the road with a burgeoning bump."
Sources said that the fling happened when Leanne and Steve were both at a low ebb and sought comfort in each other.
Although Leanne has been a mother to Simon Barlow (Alex Bain) since her relationship with his father Peter (Chris Gascoyne), she has not given birth to a child of her own.
Danson, who plays Leanne, said: "In true Leanne style she kind of shuts her eyes to it all because it will be okay, but because he (Nick) has given up so much, we've got to start this relationship with absolutely no secrets, we've got to be so honest with each other. She has to tell him the truth and hope that he will cope with it, which he doesn't really, very well."
She describes it as "a pressure cooker waiting to blow" as Michelle seeks to bond with her over baby news and speaks of them going through pregnancies together.
Meanwhile Gregson says that the fling happened after Steve "gave into temptation" but added that his character was "over the moon" about Michelle's pregnancy because of his desire to have a child with her.
Marsh said: "She's thinking this can only be a good thing and it's kind of my last chance, of course she doesn't know his (Steve's) secret," but she added that her character would no doubt make Steve's life hell.
But she remained tight lipped about what the couple's future held: "If it does mark the end for now, we hope that they will somehow find their way back to each other."
Ben Price who plays Nick said his character would be more concerned over Steve's motives, adding, "it's messy, he doesn't like mess, it's the girl he always loved".
Bosses earlier announced that Peter Barlow would be returning to the cobbles, which Danson said was "great news".
She said: "Leanne still likes him a bit. He is the Battersby side of her that intrigues her so it's safe with Nick but there's an element of danger with Peter and she quite likes that."