Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Coronation Street Blog Interview: Deborah McAndrew


Deborah McAndrew has always been one of my favourite Coronation Street actors. Deborah first appeared in The Street towards the end of 1990, which was around the time I started watching the show. As Angie Freeman, she was an immediate hit and over the next four years on and off throughout the decade she entertained millions of Corrie fans. Angie was a design student who lodged with Curly Watts. I seem to remember Curly had quite a soft spot for Ms Freeman...just don't mention the red wine! Angie was a modern Corrie woman - capable, intelligent with both quick wit and temper! Easy to love really! 

Deborah very kindly agreed to answer some of my questions, both on her time in Coronation Street and her more recent work as a playwright, working with Northern Broadsides and as Creative Director at Claybody Theatre.

- First of all I have to ask a few questions about Coronation Street. What are your memories of joining the show as Angie back in 1990? 

I remember being surprised to get the job, as it was my first professional acting job. I remember the director, Brian Mills, being very kind. I remember thinking that the three month contract meant I could pay off my student overdraft. I never thought I'd end up being there for three years!

- I grew up watching Corrie in the 90s and Angie was always one of my favourite characters. Why do you think she was so popular at the time and has remained a fondly remembered character ever since?
I think Angie was a nice person, but not too sugary. She was fiery and flawed (a lot like me in that respect) The writers gave me some great one-liners, especially in scenes with Curly and Raquel. Because Angie was a smart girl she could always be given the quick come-back, which was great to play. I don't think I realised at the time how popular the character was with viewers - you find yourself in a bit of a bubble. It's difficult to know what the secret to a good 'Corrie' character is, but I think comedy is a key ingredient. 

- You probably worked most closely with Kevin Kennedy, who played Curly. What was he like to work with? 
I enjoyed the whole Angie/Curly/Raquel love triangle and became very fond of Kev. It's no secret that he had a lot of problems back in the early and mid 1990s, and I did see some of that troubled time for him. I'm pleased to say that I saw him very recently when he was on tour with The Commitments, and we had a cuppa after the show. He's really happy and loving life now, and doing great work with his charity for people suffering alcoholism and other addictive disorders. He's a great guy.

- You appeared in Corrie in an era that still featured many classic characters and big names. What was it like to work with people like Julie Goodyear, Liz Dawn and Betty Driver?

At the time I just did my job. You can't go into work every day thinking you're working with 'legends' - it would be paralysing. However, with hindsight I do feel very privileged to have been part of the show at a time when those iconic characters were at their height - particularly the strong women that have always been the cornerstones of the show. They were all wonderful.

- We've seen Sally Ann Matthews reprise her role as Jenny Bradley over the last year or so. Would you ever consider a Corrie comeback?
I guess it's dangerous to ever say 'never', but I can't imagine a time when it would be right either for me or the show for Angie to make a comeback. My Corrie years belongs to another era, another life, and I'm content with that. 

- I'm interested in how you made the transition from Coronation Street actor to playwright. What was that process like and which do you find the most rewarding?
I was always a writer really, and always a theatre creature. I started in Corrie, and it's what people know me for - but in a career that now spans almost 27 years I actually spent less than 4 of those years in Corrie. The other 23 years have been in the theatre and on radio, as an actor and writer. There was no transition really. I just grew into my own skin and the work for which I was always destined.

- I've heard great things about Northern Broadsides - we've written about the company before on the blog. What is it like to work with that team?
When I joined Northern Broadsides as an actor in 1995 it felt like I'd found my spiritual home. After 22 years association with the company, and over half of that time as a writer, there is no doubt that Broadsides has been the most important creative relationship of my career. I have definitely spent some of the happiest times of my life with the team, I met my husband Conrad Nelson there, and most of our closest friends are connected to Broadsides too. From the very start Barrie Rutter always gave me great support as an actor and when my focus switched to writing he never doubted me. 

- You have also set up your own company, Claybody Theatre. Can you tell me a little more about that?
Claybody Theatre Company came about because I had written a play called Ugly Duck about my adopted home city of Stoke-on-Trent, and I wanted to put it on. I applied for Arts Council funding and got it. What followed was a successful site-specific production of the play, directed by Conrad, a remount of the production for the New Vic Theatre, and subsequent commissions and projects for the new company. It wasn't my plan to be running a theatre company, but it's just happened. Our mission statement is to create work that is inspired by the people, history and heritage of Stoke-on-Trent, and present these plays in non-theatre spaces in the city.

- Away from television and theatre, you've also done a great deal of radio drama, mainly for the BBC. Why do you enjoy acting on radio as much as you obviously do?
I love doing radio drama. It's the purest form of drama really - just actors and text. I get to play characters on the radio that I'd never be cast as if you could see me. The voice is so much more flexible than the body. I've also loved doing the radio over the years because it has kept me in touch with acting while my daughter was growing up. These short contracts - either in Manchester or Birmingham - were jobs I could do when she was little and Con was away on tour. 

- Finally, what's next for you?
At the moment my adaptation of Cyrano is on tour with Northern Broadsides, directed by Conrad Nelson. It's a lovely show. I'm really proud of the wonderful cast, and it's getting great reviews. Next up is another adaptation I've done of Anne Bronte's novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, which opens at Bolton Octagon at the end of March and then goes to York Theatre Royal. After that my adaptation of Anna of the Five Towns will be on at the New Vic Theatre, to celebrate 150 years since the birth of the author Arnold Bennett. Then I'm hoping Claybody Theatre will be producing a new play of mine in the autumn (funding permitting) before my adaptation of A Christmas Carol rounds off my year at Hull Truck Theatre. I've done the Chester Mystery Plays for 2018, which will be performed in the Cathedral in the summer, and I also have another couple of commissions coming up for next year. There might be a bit of radio drama dotted around all that writing, which would be lovely. I'm very busy - but very happy to be so.
I'd like to thank Deborah for taking the time to answer my questions and I wish her all the best with all her future projects. Thanks also to Fay at Pemberton Associates for helping to set up the interview.
You can find out more about Northern Broadsides here

More information on the Claybody Theatre Company here 

And you call follow Deborah on Twitter here 

And if you are so inclined, you can follow me on Twitter @GraemeN82

Like us on Facebook | Follow us on Twitter | Download our free App | Visit Corrie.net

NEW! Coronation Street Blog - the book.
A must for all Corrie fans!

Please read our advice for leaving comments on the Coronation Street Blog

All original work on the Coronation Street Blog is covered by a Creative Commons License


Tvor said...

Great stuff! Thanks!!! Angie was always such a great character.

Graeme N said...

Thanks Tvor, glad you enjoyed.

Louby said...

Thanks Graeme, it's always interesting to know what actors do post-Corrie.

Graeme N said...

You're welcome, glad you enjoyed it.

fairycake said...

Cheers, Graeme! I have always loved the character of Angie and really enjoy knowing what former favourites are up to post Corrie. She was- and is- still such a beautiful, talented woman! I send her (and you) many hugs and much love! Eden XX (one for both of you!)

Graeme Naylor said...

I'm glad you liked the interview :) Thanks!

Cobblestone said...

I always loved Angie. She did return to the show for a year or so, years later, when she set up Underworld in partnership with Mike Baldwin, but it coincided with a particularly grim period of writing, when the writers seemed incapable of reproducing the zinger lines for which Angie had been famous. The result was, she drifted around in the background for a few months, then announced she was leaving, to remain a sleeping partner in the business. (I wonder how THAT technicality was resolved? Anyone remember?) It's a pattern that has too often been reproduced since with returning characters (Dennis, Amber, Sunita &c) But I do remember Angie's last words were along the lines of "I'm not going far; I'll still pop back and visit." Is it too much to hope that, due to a legal error, she still owns half of the Faktry?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Our Top 10 Blog Posts in last 7 days (automatically updated)

Click on a name to find out more about your Corrie favourites!

adam barlow aidan connor alan halsall alex bain alexander bain alison king alison sinclair all about soap awards alma baldwin amy barlow amy kelly andrea beckett andy whyment anna windass antony cotton audrey roberts awards baby Oliver barbara knox barlows battleaxes becky mcdonald behind the scenes ben price ben tagoe bet gilroy bet lynch beth tinker bethany platt betty driver betty turpin betty williams betty's hotpot bev callard beverley callard bill roache billy mayhew billy the vicar blanche hunt brian packham brooke vincent bruno langley can i visit the coronation street set Canada canadian coronation street fans carla connor Cath Tyldesley catherine tyldesley cathy matthews celebrities on coronation street characters joining coronation street characters leaving coronation street cherylee houston chesney brown chris gascoyne chris harper claire king classic corrie clothes worn on coronation street colson smith competition connor mcintyre conversation street coronation street coronation street art coronation street babies Coronation Street Blog - the book coronation street cartoons coronation street fan events coronation street fan of the week coronation street fans coronation street funerals coronation street history coronation street in canada coronation street look-a-like coronation street map coronation street men coronation street merchandise coronation street news coronation street preview coronation street spoilers coronation street weekly update coronation street weekly updates coronation street writers craig tinker damon alexis-rochefort damon rochefort daniel brocklebank daran little david neilson david platt debbie oates debbie rush debbie webster deirdre barlow deirdre hunt denise osbourne derek griffiths dev alahan eileen derbyshire eileen grimshaw Elle Mulvaney ellie leach ellie-louise leach elsie tanner emily bishop emily nugent ena sharples erica stewart exclusive interview exercise dvds famous people who have been in corrie fat brenda favourite females favourite males faye windass feckless fellas in coronation street filming locations filming mistakes fiz brown fiz stape florizel street flying ducks gail rodwell gary windass gary's army diaries gay and lesbians gay men in coronation street gay men in soaps gay women in soaps granada manchester coronation street set granada studios gurn of the week helen flanagan helen worth hilda ogden hilda ogden's curlers Hope Stape hot pot how to contact coronation street inside soap inside soap magazine izzy armstrong jack p shepherd Jack P. Shepherd jane danson jean alexander jennie mcalpine jigsaw jimmi harkishin job vacancies at coronation street joe duttine johnny connor jonathan harvey julie goodyear julie hesmondhalgh kabin kate fitzgerald kate ford katherine kelly kathy jones katie mcglynn ken barlow kev webster kevin webster kieran roberts kirk sutherland kylie platt kylie turner kym marsh leanne barlow leanne battersby leanne tilsley liam bairstow lily platt lisa george liz mcdonald lloyd mullaney Lucy Fallon luke britton maggie jones malcolm hebden manchester tart marc baylis maria connor mark llewellin martin sterling mary taylor matriachs maxine's bench michael le vell michelle connor mikey north mikey north miley windass minnie caldwell mothers on the cobbles music in the rovers nathan curtis new set new zealand newton and ridley nick tilsley nick's bistro nigel pivaro no.1 Coronation Street no.11 coronation street no.13 coronation street no.3 coronation street no.5 coronation street no.6 coronation street no.7 coronation street no.9 coronation street norris cole norris cole's brother nuttalls brewery odd side of the street official coronation street website oldham coliseum oliver battersby on location opening titles original cast our blog is the best blog in the world outside broadcast paper boys paper girls pat phelan pat phoenix patti claire patti clare paula lane peter barlow peter gunn pets on coronation street pictures of the coronation street set pigeons pillars of the community platt family plot holes props qasim akhtar quay street returning characters rita fairclough rita littlewood rita sullivan rita tanner road to coronation street rob donovan rob mallard romanian holiday rosamund street rosie webster rovers bosses rovers fire rovers return rovers return barmaids rovers return fire rovers return landlady roy and hayley roy cropper roy's rolls roys rolls ryan thomas sair khan sally webster sally and tim sally dynevor sally dyvenor Sally Metcalfe sally webster sally whittaker sam aston samia ghadie samia longchambon sarah platt Sarah-Louise Platt schmeichel sean tully shayne ward shelley king simon barlow simon crowther simon gregson sinead tinker six episodes per week sophie webster special effects speculation spin-off spoilers state of the street steve mcdonald storyline speculation storylines streetcars sue cleaver sue johnston sue nicholls susan barlow susan oudot sylvia cropper sylvia goodwin terry duckworth the corrie years the kabin the Nazirs the newspaper boy the road to coronation street through the years tim metcalfe tina o'bren tina o'brien Tina O’Brien tiricia hopkins todd grimshaw tony warren Tony Warren inspiration tours of coronation street toyah battersby tracy barlow trafford set tram crash tricia hopkins tyrone dobbs underworld underworld sign unofficial book unofficial merchandise unseen characters viaduct street victoria court fire vip bloggers walking tours watch coronation street online weatherfield weatherfield arms weatherfield council weatherfield county weatherfield county football club weatherfield fire station weatherfield gazette weatherfield haulage Weatherfield high Weatherfield Open Days weatherfield style weatherfield wayfarer websters' autos wedding wedding dress weddings weekly awards weekly update where have you seen william roache William Roache Interview window cleaners writers for soaps Yasmeen nazir zeedan nazir