The News of the World claimed this week that four Coronation Street fans had found details of forthcoming soap storylines left carelessly lying around in a hotel lobby.

According to the notes, Jim MacDonald ends up in a wheelchair, Zoe Tattersall in a psychiatric hospital and Nicky Platt meets the woman his father was with on the night he was stabbed to death.

A Street insider told the paper: "The scenes would have boosted the ratings but not now the cat's out of the bag." The only way soaps can overcome such a disaster is to change the storyline. So how would the Corrie script editors do that in this case?

Scene One: Jim is lying in a hospital bed. His ex-wife Liz is at his bedside looking miserable.

Liz: So what are you going to do then, Jim?

Jim: Well, as I can no longer emerge from my coma, be confined to a wheelchair and sink into the depths of despair, it's a bit of a challenge.

Liz: What about being revived by a miracle dose of Betty's hot-pot, at which point you discover that you are an ace cook and take over the cafe?

Jim: If you think I'm going to be the Jane Asher of the Rovers you've got another think coming! No MacDonald man has earned his living baking cakes, and I'm not going to start now.

Liz: Well... what about confessing that it was you - not Jon Lindsey - who stole all that money and sent Deirdre to prison, and you haven't come out of your coma for so long because of latent guilt?

Jim: If you think I'm going to be beaten up when I go on holiday to Spain you've got another think coming!

Liz: Well, if you're going to be difficult then you've only yourself to blame for the ideas they come up with.

Jim: What in Vera's name are you talking about?

Liz: You've got two choices. Stay unconscious. Or come round, be so happy you've regained consciousness that you become a born-again Christian, take holy orders and become the Street's vicar. There's a very sexy vicar in EastEnders whom our editors have got their eye on, but I suppose we'll have to put up with you.

Jim: Oh. (A pause) What was that about the cakes again?

Scene Two: Zoe and Ashley are rummaging through papers

Zoe: I'm really worried, Ashley.

Ashley: Why's that, Zoe?

Zoe: Well, you know the bit after I recover and we have a discussion to see whether we have a future together and, after much soul-searching, we decide we have.

Ashley (without enthusiasm): Yes, I remember.

Zoe: There's a note here that says we'll need a bit more to boost the ratings, so I can choose between being Mavis Wilton's long-lost love child ... or having an affair with Mike Baldwin.

Ashley: What? You and him? Why?

Zoe: Apparently it's my turn. Everyone else has had their go already.

Scene Three:

Nicky: So, you're Alison Oakley, the woman my father Brian was with on the night he was stabbed to death.

Alison: Yes. But I can tell you one thing ...

Nicky: (hopefully) Could it be a message from my dad? (Turns to her) Yes,

Alison, what can you tell me?

Alison: You may say Brian Tilsley was your father. But you're not his son.

Nicky: How dare you say anything so rude about my mother Gail?

Alison: I'm not saying anything about your mother, ducks. I'm saying that when your father knew you, you were an ugly little boy with straw- like hair. You're not the same boy your father knew and, if I guess correct, you probably changed sometime around late adolescence in order to boost the teeny-girl ratings.

Nicky: Oh God!

Alison: And the real story is that the true Nicky Platt is coming back to claim his inheritance. Gail will have to decide which one she gave birth to.

Nicky (in terror, seeing future soap stardom fade, turns to editors): Look, c'mon fellas, give me a break. No? Can't I be Mavis Wilton's love child? Or have an affair with Mike Baldwin? Oh God, I'll make the cakes then.

Script Editor: OK, sonny, you can stay. Can you rustle up a pineapple upside down cake by lunchtime? I'm a bit peckish.

(The `Coronation Street' theme rises to a crescendo as Nicky looks disconsolately at a food processor and some icing sugar. A discarded dogcollar lies just out of reach.)