Tuesday, 30 November 2010


Seemingly a dossier of storylines planned for 2011 were left on a tram - and they've been handed to me.  So, in the spirit of Wikileaks here they are....
A van pulls up at the factory as Carla is closing up for the day. Her five long-lost Connor brothers climb out and take over the business. They set about building another extension to the factory and in doing so discover just what that smell is in the ladies loo. It’s Colin Fishwick. Fiz identifies the rug he’s wrapped in as hers and she is arrested for Colin’s murder ... and crimes against interior design. John conveniently heads off on a teacher’s training course in Benidorm. Sian and Sophie decide to adopt a child and book a trip to Tibet to find one.

Gail enjoys a weekend away from it all at a retreat. Whilst there she meets handsome monk, Daniel, who asks to keep in touch. After exchanging a few religious postcards Daniel turns up on Gail’s doorstep having turned his back on celibacy and he moves in with her. Fiz is given a life sentence at her trial and uses her time in prison well – she makes another rug. Sian and Sophie jet off to Tibet.

Gail and Daniel announce their engagement, much to Audrey’s discomfort. She knows there’s something not right about him and is determined to discover his dark secret. Ken decides to commission a portrait of Deirdre but when he goes to see the painter (Trixie) he falls into her arms and decides he would have preferred to have lived her bohemian life. They embark on a steamy affair. Sian and Sophie return with a little Tibetan baby they call GaGa.

The Connors decide to make the factory smaller again and they remove the new extension over the course of a weekend. Two of the brothers die in the process, another goes back to Ireland and two more vanish. Carla is on her own again. Tracy Barlow offers to spring Fiz from prison if she’ll give her baby Hope. Fiz agrees. Tracy then offers the child to Becky and Steve for a few grand in unmarked notes. A deal is struck. GaGa isn’t settling in to Weatherfield life so Sian and Sophie post him back and agree to adopt Chesney instead.

Tracy visits Fiz in prison carrying a very large bag and smuggles Fiz out in it. Fiz gives her baby Hope, which Tracy accidentally leaves on a bus and Becky is furious that she’s lost the chance for another child. Ken presents Deirdre with the portrait but she isn’t struck with it and throws it back at him. Trixie arrives in her old VW Beetle and begs him to leave with her. Emily reminds Ken that Uncle Albert would be turning in his grave if he thought Ken would get into a German car. He is brought back to earth by this reminder of his past. Trixie leaves without him and Deirdre burns the painting on the Red Rec. She is arrested because Weatherfield is now a smokeless zone.

Deirdre is released from prison following the intervention of the Prime Minister. There’s a flood in the Rovers cellar and during the building works an old beehive wig of Bets is discovered with rats nesting in it. Norris gets very excited and Rita notices he changes just a little. His secret is out – he’s been Alec Gilroy in disguise all these years. Rita curses herself for not noticing the haircut and tank-tops were the same. He just wanted to be near Rita – he proposes to her, and she now finds herself owner of the Kabin once more .. and landlady of the Rovers, which Alec buys from Steve.

Gail and Daniel marry on the banks of Weatherfield Canal. While they are away on honeymoon in Blackpool Audrey rifles through Gail’s private papers and discovers a newspaper cutting from the trial of Brian’s murderer. It is Daniel. Audrey decides to keep quiet until the Rovers has a big do. Peter Barlow is back on the bottle and he joins Eileen for a night on the town. They end up in bed together and when Eileen discovers she’s pregnant Ken forces Peter to propose to her. Eileen says yes. Baby Jack is taken ill and desperately needs a kidney transplant. Tyrone’s offer of a kidney is rejected but he pleads with Kevin to give the child one of his. He agrees.

There’s a big do at the Rovers and Audrey produces the press cutting – Daniel is exposed as Brian’s murderer. Gail is having none of it and she forgives her new husband. However, later that night Daniel suggests a drive to their wedding location by the canal. As Gail gets into the car she questions his need to tie her up and Daniel admits he also set fire to the convent killing Ivy. He has a pathological desire to wipe out the Tilsleys. They set off towards the canal. Meanwhile, the residents are partying at the Rovers in celebration that Dev has learnt to do another facial expression at long last.

Daniel is about to drive his car into the canal when he spots a figure climbing from the water. It is Joe, who faked his death a little too well. He has returned and shoots Daniel and snogs Gail. She berates him for all the money she wasted on the funeral but they are reunited. Steve wins a fortune in a Cumbrian gurning competition and his prize is a modelling job in Hollywood. He and Becky decide to go and chase their dreams. Becky, on a hunch, visits the lost property office at the bus depot and finds baby Hope, whom she renames Hope Rover. Steve, Becky, Amy, Hope Rover and all the other kids they’ve bought along the way head off to Hollywood. At the airport they realise the tickets say Hollinwood, a suburb of Manchester.

Fiz notices that she hasn’t seen much of John since Colin Fishwick’s body turned up at the factory but then Sean spots a picture of him in the Weatherfield Gazette. It turns out he’s been leading a double life as the headmaster of Weatherfield County Academy so he’s not been able to see much of her. She confronts him at a parent’s evening and they fall into each others arms. He agrees to come home but only if Fiz will let him run a correspondence college from home. A bolt of lightening strikes the Websters causing Jason and Rosie to merge into one but Sally insists ‘Josie’ lives with her. Sally and Eileen have a fight in a vat of mud just for the sake of it – and the ratings. Eileen goes into labour and Sally helps deliver baby Blanche Barlow.

Sophie and Sian split up when Sophie announces she was just going through a phase. Sian agrees that she was too and she begins a torrid affair with Kevin.  Peter and Eileen marry with Leanne and Nick, who have found out that they never legally divorced, as their witnesses. Baby Jack comes home from hospital – he is now 18 and Kevin gives him a job at the garage having sacked Tyrone. Baby Jack rejects Tyrone as his father and changes his name to Baby Jack Webster. He is later diagnosed with a cotton allergy meaning he has to work in the garage shirtless.

Newton and Ridley announce that the Rovers is to get a new name and there’s a campaign to stop them involving Rita sitting atop the pub. It snows heavily and she’s stuck there for a fortnight with Alec too tight to pay the fire brigade to bring her down. Little does she know that while she’s up there he goes on a cruise with an exotic snake act from Crewe.  As the Platt/McIntryre family sit down for Christmas lunch Tina begins to doubt that Joe is who he says he is. He is later seen sitting on Maxine’s bench caressing an iron bar. 2012 might not be Gail’s year. Again.

Of course, it could just be utter rubbish.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Corrie Trivia


Bet and Alec - in panto guise
1. Julie Goodyear and Roy Barraclough (Bet and Alec) first worked together in the mid-60s when he was an actor and she was a stage hand.

2. When Barbara Knox (Rita) made her first professional stage appearance another actress cut the crown of her hat out in a jealous rage.

3. Thelma Barlow and Peter Baldwin (Mavis and Derek) worked together first in the theatre. They were in the same show but didn’t have a scene together.

4. The role of Peter Barlow has been played by more actors than any other. Recently Linus Roache, who played Peter some years ago, returned as another Barlow son – but in the back of shot during many of his scenes, in the Barlows, was a picture of him as a young Peter.

5. Bill Waddington (Percy) used to own a pig farm.

6. Sue Nicholls (Audrey) is well known for entertaining the cast by singing pastiches of musicals.

7. The Oldham Coliseum Theatre is where many Corrie actors have appeared over the years. Roy Barraclough played his first pantomime dame there, Kenneth Alan Taylor (Cecil Newton) was the dame there for many years, Peter Dudley (Bert Tilsley) also and in recent years Eric Potts (Diggory Crompton) was resident dame. Now, Fine Time Fontayne plays the dame – he appeared as Hilda’s lodger Henry Wakefield.

8. Michael Le Vell’s real surname is Turner.

9. One of Julie Goodyear’s first stage appearances was in ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum’. She wore a leopard-print bikini.

10. Bill Tarmey (Jack) used to sing regularly at his local pub. He gave it up a few years ago.

11. Liz Dawn’s return as Vera for Jack’s death was to have involved her flying. The scene was shot but not used.

12. One of Katherine Kelly’s (Becky) first professional roles was playing a nurse in a play about British comedian Frank Randle. He was played by Keith Clifford who also played Corrie’s Charlie West, owner of the famous turkey.

13. Antony Cotton’s (Sean) real mum appeared in the recent TV play about Corrie ‘The Road to Coronation Street’.

14. Sarah Lancashire (Raquel) was once a waitress. Suranne Jones (Karen) later worked in the same restaurant.

15. Every actress who has played Ken’s wives appeared at the Oldham Coliseum Theatre before landing the job.

16. Kevin Kennedy and Ken Morley (Curly and Reg) were reunited on stage when they both appeared in the touring version of ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’.

17. Bernard Popley was the real name of the actor who played Stan Ogden. One of his early jobs was appearing in a film shot in Manchester. An actress called Pat Pilkington was in it too – she later became Pat Phoenix.

18. Jean Alexander (Hilda) first appeared in Corrie in 1961 – three years before Hilda was invented.

19. Roy Barraclough played the man who sold Stan Ogden his window cleaning round and he also played a salesman who sold Hilda a bed.

20. Alan Rothwell (David Barlow) started out on the Wilfred Pickles radio show. Vi Carson (Ena) also worked on that programme.

21. Eileen Derbyshire (Emily) once mistook the real vicar at a filming location  for the actor vicar and had a long coversation with him about one of the storylines before realising her mistake.

22. Betty Driver, and her late sister Freda, once booked on a cruise to get a break from Corrie.  Imagine their surprise when it turned out that several of the cast were on board as guest speakers!

23. When Granada TV was 40 years old they held a special concert at Liverpool's Philharmonic Hall hosted by Roy Barraclough and with guests including William Roache and Liz Dawn.

24. John Savident (Fred), Meg Johnson (Eunice) and Barbara Knox (Rita) all started their theatrical lives as amateur performers.

25. Actress Susie Blake (Bev) owns the bell cord from the Rovers set.  As part of a storyline it was changed and she was given the old one as a leaving gift.

Copyright: The author

Thursday, 18 November 2010


Another interview from the archives ... this time an interview with John Jardine from about five years ago:

Mark Llewellin chats exclusively with actor John Jardine

John Jardine will be instantly recognisable to long-standing Coronation Street fans for his portrayal of Randolph Taylor, affectionately known as ‘daddy’ by his wife. They were the parents of Curly’s former girlfriend Kimberley – ‘Daddy’ fond of slinking off, pipe in hand, to the greenhouse where he’d lecture ‘Norman’ on the blissful married life he had ahead of him! Despite it being some 14 years since John left Corrie he is still recognised by fans, including hundreds of Canadian ones who urge him to go into character and perform his most famous line: “That Battenberg cake is just the right side of moist mummy!” But John is now established as a member of the Hollyoaks cast – where he has been reunited with Kimberley’s alter-ego, the actress Suzanne Hall, as his daughter-in-law. “It was a wonderful surprise,” he tells me. “On my first day I was in the Green Room and Suzanne walked through!”

We were sat in the sun-dappled gardens at the Jardine’s pretty home, set at the foot of the beautiful Pennine hills, in his adopted home county of Lancashire. John told me that the charming cottage had been the butler’s accommodation for the adjacent large mill owner’s property and he and his Irish wife Kay have lived there for a number of years.

John was born in Harrow, west London, his parents running the nearby Swan Hotel in Northolt. Although none of the family worked in showbiz his parents were keen theatre-goers and John vividly recalls the weekly outings to either the Harrow Coliseum or the Watford Palace. “I remember gazing up from the car park, up at the back wall of the theatre where the windows of the dressing rooms were, and thinking I’d like to be inside there – maybe that’s where it came from.” But his parents were horrified when he later announced his hopes of becoming an actor. “I had an A level in religious studies and they rather harboured a hope that I’d go into the clergy so years later when I was playing the Archbishop of Canterbury I had a picture taken in the full robes and sent it home with a note saying ‘I got the top job!’,” he chortles.

Whatever his parents hope, he ended up in the RAF, with who he served until 1955. It was during this time that John got his first experience on the stage, taking part in shows and plays for the services – and he proudly showed me an award he won for his work. “My Oscar,” he beams. Aged 21 he left the RAF and needed work and although he did try to break into acting he ended up working in an outfitters in Harrow. “I was very good at the selling but I couldn’t wrap the clothes and as we were all on commission my colleagues weren’t best pleased that they had to wrap all my sales for me.” He landed an audition for the Central School of Speech and Drama, which he passed, but before he could accept the place someone advised him that he would be better off getting experience working in repertory theatre. So, he wrote off to, and got a contract with, the Harry Hanson Court Players in Swansea.

It was a time John confesses to having enjoyed greatly – appearing in some productions, working backstage on others, and some weeks, doing both. From Swansea he moved to Leeds (where the leading man was Leonard Pearce, now remembered as Granddad in Only Fools and Horses), which is where he first met Kay: “We met in a darkened room,” he says. Kay was a friend of his landlady and in the days when people watched television in the dark, he returned home to find the ladies watching the box. They were married in 1959. John continued to work in rep theatres all over the country and eventually he, Kay and son Terry found themselves residing in York. Then John landed parts in two plays in Oldham.

In those days – until just a few years ago in fact – Oldham Coliseum was widely regarded as a repertory theatre of distinction and one at which many household names began their careers. “I went, leaving the family in York, to do these plays and there seemed a possibility of more but I went to Carl Paulsen who ran it and told him that I’d have to have a proper contract because we’d all have to move to Oldham,” John told me. “It seems that he told his second in command that he wanted me to stay because I learnt the lines. So we all moved down.”

John found himself appearing in a different play every week and playing to packed houses. “Oldham audiences were very loyal and we got a bit spoilt there.” Comedy is John’s favourite medium and he recalls working with several co-stars who would go onto to join the Corrie cast – Peter Dudley (Bert Tilsley), Barbara Knox (Rita), Roy Barraclough (Alec) and many more. When John took over running Oldham in the early 70s he invited many of them back to star in his productions. After Oldham he joined the Library Theatre in Manchester under the direction of David Scase who also played Corrie’s Dr Lowther (the man Hilda Ogden left to look after).

But John isn’t only known for his theatre work of course – in the early 70s he was cast as the court foreman in the long-running daytime drama Crown Court. “It was wonderful because they filmed it at Granada in Manchester and you finished by 5pm so I could rush back to Oldham and appear on stage at night. I did that for a few years.” Being at Granada he was also able to make an impression on the Corrie casting directors and he landed a few Weatherfield roles over the years. “I think I’ve played four different people – I was Martin Platt’s dad, a press photographer, a solicitor. Then in 1990 John Stevenson created the Taylors and Marlene Sideway and I were cast. They were wonderful parts – I really enjoyed playing ‘Randy’ as Vera called him.”

Since the Taylor’s left in 1992 he’s appeared in shows including A Bit of a Do, Last of the Summer Wine (he jousted with Bill Owen’s Compo whilst the pair were dressed in full armour on bicycles: “It was so hot we literally roasted!” and he recently appeared as a supermarket manager), Brazen Hussies with Julie Walters, and the cult comedy The League of Gentlemen. One role which he is particularly proud of is in the series The Courtroom, made by Mersey TV: “It was a more modern take on Crown Court and I was asked to play a man accused of murder. He had carried out a mercy killing on his terminally ill wife, she’d asked him to do it.” Then last year he was offered the role of Grandpa Bill in the soap Hollyoaks. A new family, the Ashworths, had been created and the idea was that they had a granddad in a retirement home who they would go and visit – in fact, John’s portrayal was so funny that he’s now left the home and he’s moved in with the family (his son is played by former Emmerdale actor Jim Melia and his daughter-in-law by Suzanne Hall). “It’s a teenage soap and one of the lads playing my grandsons said to me on the first day: ‘We’ve never had anyone as old as you in this before!’”

“I’m enjoying doing Hollyoaks – and the new producer Bryan Kirkwood asks me to do Daddy’s ‘moist’ line every time I see him – so I’m hoping to be in the show for a while. I’ve just completed by second stint and I’m hoping to be back in towards the end of the summer. Other than that, as all actors know, you just wait and see what comes along……we’re well used to it in this family – my son Terry is a director of Autograph Sound who do the audio side of lots of big West End and international musicals and one of my two grandsons has already done a long stint in Les Miserables in the West End.”

Text and picture: The Author


Below is a reprint of an interview I did with Thelma Barlow some years back and which appeared in On The Air magazine:

Actress Thelma Barlow talks exclusively to Mark Llewellin as she celebrates 50 years in show business.

Not all Coronation Street characters have their names etched on that golden list – the ones we all miss so dearly, the very mention of whose name is sure to bring a smile to people’s faces – but Mavis Wilton is definitely up there with the best of them. Although writers invent the characters and create the situations that keep them busy it is the artiste who invests the written word with depth and actress Thelma Barlow is held in high affection by fans around the world for investing Mavis with so much. It’s surprising then to hear Thelma tell me that she never had any aspiration to become a performer during her formative years.

She was born in Middlesbrough just a few weeks after the death of her father. Her mother, who had also been born in the wake of her own father’s death, did what she had to do to keep herself and her two daughters fed and clothed – she rolled up her sleeves and worked hard. “There were no benefits in those days,” says Thelma. “We’re a line of small but strong women in our family!” The young Thelma was schooled in Huddersfield, Yorkshire and soon went to work as a secretary. “I studied short hand typing at night school but I didn’t enjoy it – one day my friend and I decided to change courses and the only one we could agree on was speech and drama so that’s what we changed to!” she says.

She was inspired to join the local amateur dramatics society and then took the momentous decision to head off to London in search of work. “I shudder now to think about it – I only knew one person there!” she laughs. Thelma had done a little radio work during which she had met a folk singer who told her to look him up if she ever went to the capital and he would send her to Joan Littlewood. “Joan ran a theatre company in the East End and later became hugely famous but in those days she was just starting out and she was putting together a company for a one-off project. I did an audition and got the part – alongside Michael Caine!”

That role led to another contact who passed her off as his girlfriend to land them both a contract with a touring company in the West Country. “We travelled round in an old van, putting the scenery up, learning lines for the next play on the way home – it was great training.” She tells me. “That’s where I first worked with Peter Baldwin (Derek Wilton) and my husband, the scenic designer Graham Barlow. We were married in Exmouth with a triumphal arch made of scenic braces covered in ribbons and we had a one day honeymoon in Budleigh Salterton before going back to work the next day!”

Stints at repertory theatres in Liverpool, Birmingham, Nottingham and Bristol followed. At Bristol Old Vic she was reunited with Peter Baldwin who played her husband in The Way of the World. “By now I had two sons and Graham landed a job in Glasgow so we moved up there – it was alright for a while but then I had a lot of difficulty getting work due to Scottish nationalism which was very strong at the time. I did a few jobs in England and then auditioned for Mavis. I did one episode of the Street in 1971 for Emily’s engagement to Ernest – then I went back a year later for the wedding, then another stint and so on until I joined the cast on a more regular basis. It was a great role and I loved playing her – I was lucky to get to work with Barbara Knox and Peter because they were both brilliant.”

When I ask whether she left because Derek was killed off by producer Brian Park she tells me the real reason: “No! That’s not true. I had already told them I was going a couple of years before and was persuaded to do two further years but I had told the producer that I would not be renewing my contract at the end of 1997. So they knew that when they decided to kill Derek off – I don’t know why Mavis didn’t die instead, maybe they wanted a bit of the grieving widow but either way, they knew I wanted to do other things – get back to theatre, most actors’ first love. My sons had left home, I was divorced, for the first time I had no responsibilities.”

Since leaving Coronation Street she has certainly been busy – making cameo appearances in top TV shows like Where the Heart Is and The Royal and she played Mrs Heap in David Copperfield plus of course her long stint in Dinner Ladies. Stage appearances have included Alan Bennett’s Enjoy, Blithe Spirit and Smoking with Lulu by Canadian Janet Munsil. She also appeared in London’s West End in the acclaimed revival of Arsenic and Old Lace. Her latest project has been a film, Mrs Henderson Presents, due for release at Christmas, in which she plays Lady Conway. “I’m the naughty friend of the title role, the lady who founded the saucy Windmill Theatre in London, played by Dame Judi Dench. It’s set in the late 30s and she’s very posh – lovely because I thought I was resigned to apron and slippers roles!” she laughs.

A couple of years ago Thelma moved from Yorkshire to the south coast where she is creating a new garden. “I garden organically – great fun! I also love cooking, travel, theatre-going and catching up with friends. I still see a lot of Peter. In fact Peter and I went to Toronto and Vancouver and we had a great reception – the fans there are brilliant!” she tells me. “I’ve been very lucky – very lucky indeed!”

Text Copyright: The author  Picture: ITV

Wednesday, 10 November 2010


Over the past decade or so I’ve been lucky enough to be able to take literally hundreds of Corrie fans to many of the locations used in filming the show, and in some cases, to the very cobbles themselves. How this came about is a long story but it started thanks to me agreeing to give a small group of Canadian fans a tour around the Oldham Coliseum Theatre where I worked at the time and which has strong links to lots the cast. I’ve also had, thanks to my proper job, the good fortune to get to know many of the cast – past and present, and to work alongside people such as the actors who play Chesney, Ken, Jason, Sean and many more.

I’m a fan myself and the earliest episode of Coronation Street I can recall watching was the one, in 1979, when a lorry ploughed into the front of the Rovers. Deirdre had left a young Tracy outside in her pram and everyone thought she’d been killed (now, looking back it’s a pity she wasn’t!) but of course, in true drama style she’d been kidnapped moments before the crash. The fact that, 30-odd years later, all those references will still mean something to viewers who weren’t even born at the time is one of Corrie’s strengths.

Each year I am asked to take groups around the many Corrie ‘off studio’ locations such as where Richard Hillman died, where the weddings and funerals take place, and so. It’s something I love to do and in the past 12 months or so I’ve looked after fans from the UK, Canada, Australia, Italy and New Zealand.

The following are just some of the more unusual incidents to have happened to me on my tours:

The park which is used as the location of the Red Rec overlooks several rows of houses which have been refurbished over recent years. In the build up to this the developers moved residents out of their homes so it was a bit controversial. On one of my visits, with forty fans in tow, a lady emerged from one of the houses to berate us. She thought we were the developers. When she finally accepted that we were Corrie fans she invited the group into her home to take a look at a two-up and two-down. As the last fan entered the house she suddenly looked at me and said: “Oh no, my husband’s asleep upstairs!” She’d quite forgotten in the heat of the moment.

We were at Ryecroft Hall, which doubles as Weatherfield Registry Office, when the six or so ladies I was looking after suddenly decided to run around the corner of the building shouting “Don’t do it – it’s me he loves!” I tried to think of what storyline they were re-enacting. I couldn’t place it. I asked them and they seemed confused. It turned out they were remembering something that had happened in entirely the wrong soap-opera!

When I recently filmed a segment for the upcoming CBC ‘Corrie Crazy’ show we were at the scene of Richard Hillman’s death, a canal bank. The director thought it would be fun if I were to lie out on the quayside like a dead Richard Hillman and have the presenter walk and talk to the camera and just step over me. Very funny except that the quayside is covered in Canada geese poo. Some things I draw the line at!

Filming Blanche's funeral.  ITV
Sometimes I have to go and identify a location and I often visit early in the morning because when you’re driving, studying a map and trying to look for the hidden location it’s easier when there’s no traffic around. This is how I found myself at the location of Blanche’s funeral at 6.30am. I was creeping through the graveyard in the gloom trying to find the exact burial spot when I stumbled across another chap. We sort of, like in a comedy sketch, backed into each other. I don’t know who was most frightened. It turned out he was doing some family tree research and was looking for a gravestone with his surname on it. Or at least, that’s what he said!

Sometimes I get an odd request from a group, and sometimes they have their own secret agenda – like the lady who had been a huge fan of Uncle Albert and wanted to visit the British Legion club he used to drink in or the lady who wanted a picture of her messing up William Roache’s hair for a friend – all achieved. Then there was a lady who was so obsessed with Hilda Ogden that she wanted to be taken to actress Jean Alexander’s home. I couldn’t help with that but we did take her to the British Lawnmower Museum where Jean’s own lawnmower is on display. That seemed to please her and she must have had fifty or so pictures of herself taken with the lawnmower! And what about the lady who recently asked if I knew the hotel and room number which was used by Kevin and Molly for their trysts. I assume she wanted to get in there for some reason. When I told her that the room had been a set in the studio she seemed very upset!

Mainly I have groups of ladies to look after – and more often than not they want to visit somewhere associated with Liam or Steve or Jason – one of the good-lookers. One lady practically fainted when she sat in Steve’s chair in the Streetcars office, another found her way into the toilet that Jason escaped out of when he fled from the first wedding to Sarah. She boarded the coach with some toilet paper as a souvenir!

I was lucky enough to walk down those famous cobbles when the studios were open to the public. Since then I’ve walked down the set dozens of times and met the vast majority of the cast. However, when I’m looking after a group of fans I still remember my first time in ‘Weatherfield’ and try and bring that feeling to others – even if they can’t actually get into the studios themselves.

You'll find my 50 favourite bits of Corrie trivia at http://coronationstreetupdates.blogspot.com/

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Becky and Sean Interviews 2010

Last year I interviewed Katherine Kelly and Antony Cotton ahead of their visit to the British Isles Show in Canada.  The interviews appeared in the official show magazine, but in case you couldn't be there, here are the interviews as they appeared:


Katherine Kelly chatted to Mark Llewellin ahead of her visit to Canada

Have you been to Canada before?

Yes. My dad is Irish and has a large family. Some of them live on the east coast of America and when I was in my teens we went there on holiday. We also visited Toronto and Quebec but just for a day or two. I’m really looking forward to going back. When I was training at RADA my best friend was an actress from Halifax, Meredith McNeill. She’s coming with me on this trip and it’ll be our first visit to Canada together. It will be lovely to see her family especially as her sister is due to have a baby very soon.

How did you get the part of Becky?

Becky ties the knot.  Pic: ITV
 I’d done quite a bit of theatre and some TV roles already. I was asked to audition and was told to go along looking scruffy. However, earlier in the day I had an audition for something else and had been told to look glamorous. The first audition over-ran and so I was rushing on the train to the Corrie audition, trying to take my make-up off, pull my hair about … it was mad! Unusually, I didn’t have to go through a second audition; I got the part straight away. Becky was being looked after by Roy and Hayley. It was a job for a few weeks but I was kept on. That was in 2006.

What do you think of the public reaction to Becky?

She’s gone down a storm. Canadian viewers haven’t seen the best of her yet. She changes from a girl to a woman. She’s trying to become a good person, there’s still a big mountain to climb, but she’s trying hard. It’s an exciting time for me too and last year there was, in the UK, quite a bit of recognition for Becky, and for my playing of her.

As an actress, do you have to like her?

No, but you have to find a reason why she does what she does. Why she is who she is. Her past is an open book although sometimes she chooses to be vague about it all. Bill Ward who played Charlie Stubbs used to say that Charlie deserved to die but that he understood how Charlie had become so evil. Becky’s been a slow burner and I’ve had a lot of input into her clothes, make-up, hair, habits and humour. The whole team have enjoyed creating her, and developing her. It’s interesting that when I do public appearances I find a whole cross-section of fans – the other day I met a 94-year-old lady who had queued for two hours to tell me how much she liked Becky, there are 5-year-old mini Beckys . Girls seem to like her, which is a huge compliment.

Becky seems to get drama and comedy stories.

Yes – and she gets involved with so many different characters. I had a scene with Rita the other day, she’s taken to spending time with Claire Peacock. She’s now married to Steve so she has him, Amy and Liz around her. And she loves Roy and Hayley of course. People sometimes ask me how I can be happy playing her for so long. But she is like seven characters in one. The viewers have watched her grow up. In Canada they’ll see much more of this over the next year. The writers keep it mixed - slapstick and the most challenging of storylines. I hope I do her justice. Actors get pigeonholed – they’re good at comedy or drama, well playing Becky, I get to do both.

What have viewers got to look forward to?

In Canada they have Becky’s marriage to get through. Well, two weddings actually (I liked the pink one best!). Then Tracy Barlow returns and of course, Becky is bringing up Amy. We haven’t yet got to this in the UK but there’s going to be a three-way saga with Becky, Tracy and Steve. A mother’s love knows no bounds but Amy knows Becky better than her real mother. All the tricks Tracy has learnt in prison will come to the fore. But Becky already knows them.

When you are not working, what do you enjoy doing?

As with any freelance worker, you don’t get a lot of free time. However, I like the usual actor-ish things – cinema, reading, theatre. I’ve just taken up golf but I’m not very good … but I’m lucky, my work is doing something that were I in another job, would have been my hobby.

Any message for Canadian Fans?

I’ve met some in the UK and they are always lovely. I’m looking forward to meeting as many as I can during my visit. Please keep watching Becky – you’re about to see my favourite year playing her.


Antony Cotton spoke to Mark Llewellin ahead of his visit to Canada

Have you been to Canada before?

No, no it’s my first time. I’ve met lots of Canadians during my time on Coronation Street though, and they’ve always been really nice so I’m looking forward to it. I don’t think we’ll get much free time as we are visiting Halifax, Nova Scotia and St John’s, Newfoundland before flying into Toronto for the British Isles Show. I’m hoping to see Niagara Falls and a few bits and bobs. I’ll have to go again when I’m not working.

Your mum has been in Coronation Street hasn’t she?

She has. Well remembered! My mum, Enid Dunn, has played two roles in the show. She has also appeared in shows like Shameless, Phoenix Nights and Doctors, the BBC soap.

What can viewers expect for Sean in the next few months?

Canadian viewers are about nine months behind the UK, aren’t they? We’re now looking forward to all the stories building up to the 50th anniversary. As you know Sean and Violet had a baby but she took off with Jamie Baldwin so Sean never knew him. There’s going to be lots of baby talk in the Rovers over the next few months (in the UK) with Becky and Steve planning to adopt a child. This gets Sean thinking about his little boy, who would be two years old by now. He decides to track Violet down and does this using social networking websites. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens as Sean plans to reintroduce himself to his son, Dylan.

Do you enjoy playing him?

Oh yes. I love Sean in the Rovers because he gets involved in other people’s storylines. He doesn’t really need his own – he has this Weatherfield world to get mixed up in. With him being involved in the pub and in the factory there’s a lot for him to take an interest in! There’s always a love interest around the corner too. I’m not sure whether the Canadian fans have met Leon yet, but he’s a love interest who’s been and gone. There’s bound to be another. As we gear up for the special anniversary I’m intrigued to see what else comes along.

There are lots of rumours of past characters returning to the show for the 50th anniversary. Who would you like to see coming back?

There are a lot of rumours, aren’t there? It was in the papers yesterday that Bet (Julie Goodyear) was coming back but that’s not true. Everyone is asking us about this at the moment. Raquel would be my number one choice. Sean would like her I think. Then there’s Ena Sharples, I would like to see her back on the cobbles. Of course, Vi Carson died many years ago – I would have liked to have met her. I did once get to appear in a scene with her via some computer magic. They put me into a scene digitally. I replaced Martha Longhurst. It was that lovely scene where she says of a friend who has passed away, ‘She sat up, broke wind, and died.’ I think, whoever comes back, it would have to be for a reason. I’d also like to see Bet and Alec Gilroy behind the bar. That would be fun – but I can’t see any of my suggestions happening.

You’re always busy with other projects – what are you doing now?

You’re right – I had my own chat show and I write a lot. I’m writing something for ITV Studios at the moment. I had the first script commissioned and I’ve just submitted the first draft of that. It’s a comedy/drama set in a fictional part of Manchester. The central character is a woman and it revolves around her and her home. I’ve enjoyed immersing myself in her world. It’s a funny look at life. Hopefully it will be made sometime.

All packed for Canada?

Not yet. I’m really looking forward to going though. I’ve been to some of the dinners you host for visiting Canadian fans and I’ve always enjoyed them. They’re such lovely people and great fans of the show. Have you any tips for me?

Wear comfortable shoes and get ready to be amazed at the crowds of people who come to see you!

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