Coronation Street fans distracted by Johnny Connor’s hairy prison transformation

Coronation Street fans did a double-take during Monday's trip to Weatherfield, as Johnny Connor made a long-awaited return.

The barman, played by Richard Hawley, has been doing time in prison following his involvement in a decades-old robbery attempt, waiting out his sentence in the local jailhouse.

Making an appearance this evening, Johnny looked completely transformed, having grown a bushy beard and longer hair.

The last time viewers saw Johnny, he had some salt and pepper stubble, and his hair was shorn close to his head – making the transformation all the more dramatic.

Watching from home, many exclaimed over Johnny's sizeable new beard, which altered his appearance entirely.

"He's got lockdown hair….#Corrie," wrote one Twitter user.

"Johnny and Peter could be brothers with that beard #Corrie," added a second, comparing Johnny to Peter Barlow, who has similarly grown out a beard in his ongoing battle with alcoholism.

"Woah, now THAT'S what we call a beard, Johnny! Brian Blessed, eat your heart out!" added a third.

And a fourth wrote: "#corrie wow! Never knew Johnny was preparing for castaway 2! That beard!"

Johnny could be seen walking up to the payphones in the prison, wishing his friend Gary Windass good luck ahead of his looming court date.

Gary had been a support system for Johnny in his early days behind bars when his health started to seriously deteriorate.

Johnny, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, a condition targeting the brain and spinal cord.

While in prison, he started hallucinating, convinced he could see his late son Aidan and imagining a cat was visiting him in his cell.

The doctor diagnosed him with Charles Bonnet Syndrome, giving him medication to help his symptoms subside.

Gary was forced to step in, however, when a prison drug lord mistook his medication for hard drugs and attacked him.

Monday's episode saw the judge send Gary free, giving him just eight months for perverting the court of justice.

Without Gary's companionship, will Johnny's prison experience start to spiral?

Coronation Street airs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7.30pm and 8.30pm on ITV.

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