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Corrie child abduction plot axed in wake of Maddie disappearance

Execs forced to rethink insensitive storyline

It promised to be one of the most gripping storylines in Coronation Street history – Claire and Ashley Peacock’s son Freddie going missing, sparking a four-month manhunt.

But the plot never made it to our TV screens.

The reason? Halfway through filming the heartbreaking episodes in 2007 – scenes from which are seen here – Madeleine McCann was abducted while holidaying with her family in the Algarve.

Now, on the tenth anniversary of the tragic toddler’s disappearance, Corrie bosses have reflected on the fictional story, and how they couldn’t bring themselves to go through with it.

“We always plan our stories in advance to make sure they’re not too distressing for our audiences,” executive producer Kieran Roberts told a conference on storytelling this week.

“But sometimes, stories that become controversial are ones you don’t expect.”

Another former producer, Stuart Blackburn, told YouView: “The characters involved had begun the story, and then the tragedy of the McCann’s case hit the headlines.”

Read more: Coronation Street SPOILER: Rob caught – and killed?

After holding a late-night crisis meeting in a hotel room, it was decided that the abduction story should be radically rewritten.

Rather than vanishing for four months, little Freddie was found quickly at the home of his babysitter, Casey Carswell.

And it’s unlikely that the programme will ever feature a plot that echoes the Madeleine McCann case.

“It’s the one subject that’s just too raw for dramatisation,” said a source.

And Corrie wasn’t the only show that had to rethink a sensitive storyline in light of the Maddie case – EastEnders did, too.

Read more: Corrie SPOILER: A second man lined up to attack Bethany

In Walford’s case, the plot revolved around Dawn Swann, played by Kara Tointon, who was pregnant by the husband of another character, Dr May Wright.

Madeleine McCann went missing in May 2007, believed to have been abducted from her family’s hotel room in the resort of Praia da Luz.