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Coronation Street producer confirms HUGE character return for Christmas Day

 Rovers Coronation Street.
Rovers Coronation Street.

Coronation Street producer Iain MacLeod revealed that heartthrob Tommy Orpington (Matt Milburn) will return to the cobbles over Christmas.

The former Weatherfield County FC footballer is a local celebrity amongst the residents and has been in and out of the soap since 2016.

His first appearance saw him hire Michelle Connor (Kym Marsh) as his wedding planner, leaving her then-husband Steve McDonald (Simon Gregson) starstruck.

Tommy then returned in 2018 as part of Jack Webster's (Kyran Bowes) sepsis storyline and was a VIP guest at the opening of David Platt (Jack P. Shepherd) and Nick Tilsley's (Ben Price) barber shop in 2019.

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The football superstar even modelled Underworld's new menswear range and supported fellow player James Bailey (Nathan Graham) when he came out as gay the following year.

In 2021, Tommy was a character witness for Corey Brent (Maximus Evans) during the teen's murder trial after he and his gang killed Seb Franklin (Harry Visinoni) in a hate attack.

Now Tommy is set to return this Christmas in very different circumstances following his football retirement as Coronation Street producer Iain shared all the details with What To Watch about Tommy's return.

Tommy Orpington takes the stand in court.
Tommy Orpington takes the stand in court.

Iain told us: "Well, you'll see him on Christmas Day. He, since leaving football, has made some bad business investments, not the least of which was opening a Tommy Orpington-themed gourmet burger restaurant, which has been established on screen. Anyway, they've all gone belly up, his wife has left him and he's now had to return to the trade he had when he was a non-league footballer, which is painter and decorator.

"And you think given all that he'd be quite miserable, but he's not at all, he's very accepting of his lot, actually finds the act of painting and decorating quite zen because no one's telling him what to do, he hasn’t got the gaffer screaming at him to do shuttle runs. He can just whip out his paint roller and stick his earbuds in and he finds a quiet meditative, so he's in a good place when we find him."

Iain also teased that Tommy will be "more involved" this time around and a potential romance between him and a mystery Weatherfield resident could stir up trouble, kicking off a big storyline over the next 12 months.

He said: "As I noted before, significantly, he is now single, and there might be one of our female characters that needs some decorating done — not a euphemism. So, yes, there's basically a story that evolves where this attractive, successful historically, man arrives into one of our female characters’ lives and upsets the apple cart in fairly spectacular fashion, shall we say.

"You'll know quite quickly who I'm talking about when you see the episode, but I'd rather not say too much now, just so that you can enjoy that surprise for yourselves when we get to Christmas.

"I spoke to Matt Milburn the other day, who plays Tommy Orpington, and obviously, he's been in and out of the show, and he's often been sort of slightly over there as a kind of untouchable figure on a pedestal for our characters to hero worship. So this will be the first time we've done anything more significant with him, and he's absolutely over the moon to be doing something a bit more involved."

Iain added: "He’s thrilled with the storyline and thinks it's a lot of fun. The cast involved are all up for it as well. It's very funny, it's potentially quite sad in certain places, and it triggers something really big for us over the next 12 months, a big new direction for some characters. So yeah, Tommy Orpington will finally be coming off the subs bench."

Coronation Street airs hour-long episodes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 8 pm on ITV — see our TV Guide for full listings. You can also catch up on episodes on ITVX.