With new character Aidan Connor set to arrive on Coronation Street, I caught up with Shayne Ward at ITV in Manchester to hear all about his character, how he feels about joining the street and what we might expect from the arrival of another member of the Connor clan.
Shayne describes the opportunity as a dream come true for him and is particularly happy to be playing the part of a Mancunian-Irish character considering he is one himself. “Aidan was brought up on the same estate as all of the Connors, but myself and my father and that all moved over to Tenerife” he reveals. "Obviously with Carla and everything to do with the factory, she's having a few problems at the minute, so I receive a secret phone call to come back and see what's going on."
Shayne comes across as a genuinely cool customer. Witty, intelligent and passionate, he is clearly excited to be joining Corrie, but at the same time is a man who appears to take everything in his stride, and this combination of traits makes him an endearing person to be in the company of.
It helped that his colleagues on set made him feel relaxed “There was no pressure” he explains, “with the established characters, in my head I'm going, 'Bloody hell, there's Sally, there's Carla, there's Nick', but then they just come and speak to you and everything's really chilled. They say, 'Just take your time, enjoy it'."
Shane revealed that the circulation of his name in the media as a potential new cast member left both himself and his management scratching their heads at the not unwelcome rumour, even thinking there may have been a mix up with Sean Ward who plays Callum. "Then a couple of days later, I received an email saying they wanted to see me for a casting” he explains. “I thought, 'Oh God, okay!' So now they've got Sean Ward and Shayne Ward. It was absolutely crazy how it just came about, but thank God it did."
When asked what type of guy Aidan is, Shayne explains, “I'm a nice guy…he's got charisma, he's got the charm, but at the same time, if you cross a Connor, as a family unit they come together. We can take the mick out of each other and have a go at each other, but don't cross us.”
Shayne already knows Kym Marsh, and, aware of the stereotyping that can occur when a singer makes the transition into the acting world, sees her as an example of a success in this regard. “I know I will be [pigeon holed] as well” he explains, “but you know, I love the challenge and it just shows for Kym what an incredible job she's done to be here for 10 years now. Without a doubt, talent always shines through. She was always destined to be doing this as well, so fair play to her."
Having gone from the X Factor to star in Rock of Ages and War of the Worlds, in his own experience, he uses criticism or any doubts about his ability to his advantage “You're with established actors, but I can deal with it. It's one of those things, I use it as my strength to kind of go, 'Well do you know what, I'll prove you wrong'."
Shayne gave some fascinating insights into his experience of rising to fame from a talent show such as the X Factor, from getting used to someone saying his name who actually didn't know him to being recognised in public. Acknowledging the various effects on himself and his family, he remarks “I always say, complain when they don't come up to you, not when they do', you know? I think it's a blessing” he continues, “it just depends on whether you can deal with it or not. I think you've got to be prepared and I think it's also important to have a strong family or unit behind you of some sort, and honest people because there's too many people feeding an ego and that's what destroys people. They become bitter, they can't handle it, and I don't like to see that. It's a very harsh game and it can be very fickle, but it's how you deal with it, to be honest. But I love what I do and God, I wouldn't change it for the world."
Shayne has no objection to the inevitability that people will be calling him Aidan now. “It's quite funny when you hear certain stories, how people believe certain storylines that go on and sometimes shout abuse at [the actors] or 'How could you do this?!' Bloody hell, I can't wait for that!"
We’re told his arrival doesn’t coincide with the departure of Alison King, nor is it Carla that rings him for help. "It's been a while since you've had a Connor boy come in. If you think about it, they had Paul, they had Liam. I think it's about time they had fresh meat.”
And what of a potential love interest? "Probably Rita! I'm going to take her off Norris, because Norris is dying to get in there but he won't admit it! It's doing my head in! I'm like, 'Just say that you love her!'"
Extra brownie points go to Shayne on revealing, "I love Roy. He's just such a great character. I've not said hello to him yet. I reckon Ken and Roy have been two of my favourite characters."
Run-ins with other characters sound like a given, including Carla. I asked Shayne if Alya might be one of them considering her designs on Underworld. "I can't imagine myself falling out with her character, because she's lovely” he tells me.
Shayne shares a dressing room with Colson Smith (Craig) and Andrew Whyment (Kirk), would love to have had a scene with Bet Lynch, and wonders if the leopard print worn on the street to this day is an homage.
He credits his Irish family for bestowing him with his love of both acting and singing and could never say he’d be willing to give up either. Like his character, Shayne is business minded and clever with his money. He manages his own Twitter account, and acknowledges the power of social media to make or break a person.
Shayne sees himself and Corrie as "a match made in heaven. I love the fact that I'm Mancunian in a Mancunian show. It just couldn't be any better."
I can honestly say I would’ve chatted with Shayne for hours. I think he will be a great fit for the Connor family and I very much look forward to seeing him in action when Aidan arrives on our screens on the 21st of August.
By Emma Hynes
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