Maria Jane Connor (neé Sutherland) is a fictional character in the British ITV soap opera Coronation Street portrayed by Samia Smith since her first onscreen appearance on 19 May 2000. At one point or another she has dated Tyrone Dobbs, Jason Grimshaw, Vikram Desai, Nick Tilsley and Liam Connor. She currently works as a hairdresser at Audrey Roberts' salon.
Samia Smith, speaking on the fraught relationship between Maria, husband Liam Connor, and his sister-in-law Carla Connor, has given the insight that; "I think Liam loves Maria but he is in lust with Carla."
Discussing the storyline which saw Maria give birth to a stillborn son, actress Samia Smith commented: "Maria thinks the baby was the only thing binding Liam to her. There are scenes coming up where she's going to almost push him into Carla's arms. Viewers will be screaming at the telly - but I don't know if Maria has the strength to fight for Liam." She discussed the work and research she put into filming the storyline to ensure authenticity, explaining: "It was so important that I got it right and it wasn't too overdramatic. They were both the hardest and easiest scenes I've ever had to do, because the situation was so sad. I was absolutely emotionally drained at the end of it all. The midwife has a lot of experience of attending stillbirths, and she helped me work out how to play it so that it seems real. It scared me personally, though, because the idea of going through something like that is petrifying. They were the most challenging scenes I've ever done." On filming the delivery scene itself, she explained; "There was a prosthetic baby, but the director didn't show it to me until filming started so I'd get the full impact. It looked so real and I just broke down." Smith also gave the insight that filming the storyline affected her on a personal level, leading to the discovery her own mother had gone through the same situation: "Because of my mum I wanted to do the scenes well but they left me feeling exhausted and drained. I know mum will be watching it at home, as will thousands of women who've been through it so I need to do it justice for them."
Maria became attracted to John Lynley, the boyfriend of her best friend and flatmate Toyah Battersby. They had a one-night stand, and as a result she became pregnant by him. She had an abortion with an unknowing Toyah by her side. When Toyah discovered the truth, she left for Sheffield without John. When Leanne Battersby came back to the street in 2004, she found out what Maria had done to Toyah. At that time Maria was in relationship with Nick Tilsley, and Leanne stirred things up between Maria and Nick causing them to split up. After having a string of brief affairs, including being engaged for a second time when Nick returned from Canada to win her back, she found herself becoming close to Tyrone again, and eventually the pair reunited. After a pregnancy scare, Tyrone broke off their engagement after realising that she would never be happy with him, claiming she was too beautiful and that in the end it would make them both unhappy. Although upset, Maria accepted his decision.
In 2006, Maria began an affair with bad-boy builder Charlie Stubbs, who was in a relationship with Tracy Barlow at the time. The fling developed after Charlie formed an obsession with the hairdresser, he went as far as to staging a break-in at her flat and positioned a CCTV camera outside the flat in order to keep surveillance on her. When David Platt discovered Maria's affair, he was jealous as he had an intense crush on her himself. Charlie tried to drown David in a bath of water in an attempt to avoid his affair with Maria being revealed to Tracy. However, Maria walked in on Charlie's attack on David and confessed to a furious Tracy, who brawled with her on the cobbles, with Maria winding Tracy up about Charlie which resulted in Tracy spitting in Maria's face. It was this affair that would ultimately be the end of Charlie, as Tracy murdered him in revenge for his cheating in January 2007. Maria witnessed Charlie's death in hospital caused by Tracy's attack and quickly saw through Tracy's self-defence claims, testifying against her at the murder trial along with Charlie's good friend Jason Grimshaw.
Maria then began flirting with local entrepreneur Liam Connor and eventually they began dating in September 2007. Maria revealed to Liam that she was pregnant with his baby and he agreed to stand by her, proposing on 3 December 2007. In January 2008, Liam and Maria went on a break away to the Lake District. When their dog Ozzy went missing Liam fell off a cliff while searching for him out on the moor. However, Liam was rescued and managed to make a full recovery much to Maria's relief. On February 11, 2008, Liam and Maria married, despite some last minute nerves from Maria. At this time, Liam's sister-in-law Carla Connor was attempting to ensnare Liam for herself. At the wedding reception Maria slapped Carla and gloated that she had won Liam. In April 2008, Maria was horrified to realise that her unborn baby had stopped kicking. She was rushed to hospital, where the midwives said that she must have her labour induced immediately. Unable to tell Liam, she went to the hospital with friend Marcus Dent and gave birth to a stillborn baby boy. Maria and Liam decide to call their stillborn son Paul after Liam’s late brother. Liam and Maria have now reconciled. While they were not together, Liam had a one-night stand with Carla, who had always fancied Liam, and Liam and Carla soon began an affair, but Liam later ended his and Carla's relationship, Carla had also tried to ruin their marriage on the wedding day, but Liam later regretted his actions, after Maria had begged for forgiveness after not telling him about their stillborn baby, though Maria has yet no knowledge of his affair. They then left to go on their honeymoon with their dog Ozzy, much to Carla's despair and returned later in June.
In September 2008, Carla bought a stake in Liam and Tom Kerrigan's new T-shirt business much to Liam's annoyance but having no alternative as the bank wouldn't lend them any money he accepted Carla on the condition that Maria wouldn't find out.
Upon Liam's murder on 17 October 2008, Maria will discover she is pregnant again.
Grace Dent, writing for The Guardian, has been highly critical of Maria during her time on the show. In February 2006, she highlighted the unlikeliness of Maria's relationship with Tyrone Dobbs, writing: "Maria Sutherland is one of those shiny, lithe, capricious, tidily-kept hairdresser girls who flutter around the Trafford Centre's Karen Millen store on Saturdays, trying on sparkly halter frocks, dreaming about snaring Rio Ferdinand. Tyrone Dobbs, on the other hand, looks like one of the Flumps." Following the death of Charlie Stubbs in January 2007, she deemed Maria to be the Street's "local loose-knickered simpleton", and has also referred to her as being "such a tit", and "a pretty, perky, easily beddable dimwit".But then again what does Grace Dent actually know.