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Karen Phillips is an antagonist of the British soap opera Coronation Street. She served as an anti-hero from 2000 to 2004 and was best known for her problematic relationship with established character Steve McDonald, which culminated in her intense conflict against the villainess Tracy Barlow.
She was portrayed by Suranne Jones.
Karen Phillips was born in July 1975. She grew up to be a misused schoolgirl and was often supported by her friend Linda Sikes. When she moved into Linda's house, her father furiously beat her to the point where she ended up growing estranged from her family.
Karen arrived in the area and quickly became popular with the men, sleeping with both Vikram Desai and Peter Barlow. She had an affair with Steve McDonald behind Vikram's back and bet Janice Battersby that she could marry him by the end of the year when Janice claimed none of her boyfriends respected her. After the wedding Karen and Steve realized they did in fact love each other.
Joe Carter landed a job at Ubderworld and became Karen's boss. Karen gave him constant lip, thinking she could get away with it and was shocked when Joe fired her. She told Steve about it, painting herself as the victim but after talking with Joe Steve realized Karen had brought it on herself. She later got her job back in 2003 and was promoted to supervisor as Joe fancied her. Karen was seduced by the idea of a lavish lifestyle and agreed to help Joe steal the factory from his boss Mike Baldwin by forging cheques. Mike found out and forced them to leave.
Karen realized Joe had manipulated her and left to stay with her aunt. Steve tracked her down, telling her he forgave her and that he'd paid the money back to Mike so she could return home which she did. Later that year she reluctantly helped to hide Steve's criminal father Jim McDonald from the authorities.
Karen and Steve arranged a second wedding. But then Steve's old lover Tracy Barlow crashed the wedding and revealed that Steve was the father of her unborn baby. Karen went through with the marriage anyway just out of spite.
At the christening of Tracy's daughter Amy Karen gatecrashed, wanting to ruin Tracy's day as much as Tracy had ruined hers. Karen thumped Tracy. Their rivalry intensified and prompted Steve's mother Liz to move back into the area. Liz got along with Tracy and took her side against Karen.
In 2004, Karen's dad Malcolm turned up, asking Karen to see her dying mother. Karen refused because of her strained relationship with her parents but felt guilty when her mother died a week later. Karen thought God was punishing her and tried to mend her "sinful ways" She quit smoking and drinking, gave up her material possessions and tried being pleasant towards Liz and Tracy.
Eventually Karen decided that being a good wife to Steve was the only thing that mattered. She made many failed attempts to have a child with Steve which Tracy rubbed in her face. Karen helped Steve and Tracy's team win a car on a game show and it was agreed the car would equally be split between the McDonalds and the Barlows. Karen used up all of the car's petrol and slashed the tires when Tracy needed the vehicle for a shopping trip.
Karen's desire to get pregnant led to her driving into the countryside with Steve and being interrupted by a dirty nappy of Amy's left in the car and a squeaky toy that kept going off. Holding Tracy responsible Karen swore revenge. She finally learned she was pregnant, only to miscarry. In herr greif she went mad and tricked Steve and Tracy into thinking she'd killed Amy. Though Karen had safely left Amy with Roy Cropper a disgusted Steve refused to forgive her and told her to get out of his life.
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