I was attending a performance of Fenella Fielding's memoirs (she of Carry On Screaming fame) and I spotted Veronica at the party afterwards. I then contacted Fenella's friend and event organiser Simon McKay and it turned out Fenella and Veronica have been good friends since they worked together in the theatre in the 1980s. I was thrilled when Veronica agreed to an interview on her time in Corrie. And here's what she had to say..
First of all I'd love to know more about why and how you became an actor.
It was natural progression really. When I was 13yrs. to15yrs. old I was in a professional children's show "The Blackpool Tower Children's Ballet". When I left the show I wanted to be a comedienne and do the kind of work that Dora Bryan did. When I was 17 year old I went into Rep. at St Anne's on-Sea and that was the beginning of my acting.
Can you tell me more about how you came to be cast as Marion in Coronation Street?
My agent had a call from Granada TV. I read for the director and the casting director. Whilst I was waiting downstairs for my taxi to take me back to Piccadilly Station, the director and casting director came out of a lift, walked over to me, handed me a script and said "Something to read on the way home. You've got the part!”
Marion was quite a strong young woman I think. Did you enjoy playing her and if so, what did you like most about her?
Marion was very strong, patient, thoughtful and a little reserved I liked her a lot.
What was it like to work at the legendary Granada Studios back in the early 1980s?
It was terrific working at Granada in the 80's. We had a very big rehearsal room, two Green Rooms, one of which was a card players room. We had some very serious bridge players in those days.
You worked most closely with the late Geoffrey Hughes who played Eddie. What was he like to work with?
Geoffrey Hughes was very good to work with but, he could not think of enough things to make me laugh and when I go I go. Much to his delight!
In the early 1980s Coronation Street would still have rehearsal days. I've read that they could be quite daunting to be a part of - how did you find them?
I used to get nervous when I first started but, after a while you didn't have time to get daunted. We only had two days rehearsal and one technical run and that was for the cameras.
When you appeared in Coronation Street, many of the real legends of the series were still with the show. What are your memories of working with Pat Phoenix who played your landlady, Elsie Tanner?
I have many, many happy memories of Pat Phoenix. She was a lovely woman. Very kind with a big heart and she couldn't wait to help. After we both left the Street we stayed closely in touch. Right to the end and I miss her still.
One of my favourite Corrie actors from that era was Cheryl Murray who played Suzie Birchall. You worked with her when she returned to the show in 1983. What was she liked to work with?
Cheryl Murray came back to Coronation Street for six months while I was there. Her character Suzie Birchhall moved back into Elsie’s and the three of us worked very well together.
You also worked a great deal with that wonderful double act of Bernard Youens and Jean Alexander as Stan and Hilda Ogden. How did you find working with those actors?
When I first went into Coronation Street I used to go into the rehearsal room to watch Bernard Youens and Jean Alexander run their scenes. Their timing was wonderful, especially Jean. That comedy is either in you or it's not. You can develop it but you can't learn it.
Marion was written out when Geoffrey Hughes decided to leave the programme. Would you have liked to have stayed in the role longer or were you glad to do other work?
I would have loved to have stayed in the show longer but, Geoffrey wanted to leave. So it was decided to marry us and of course Marion was pregnant and send us to live with her mother in Bury. But then I went off to do a lot of other work. So that was great.
If you had to choose a favourite role, whether it be on stage or screen, what would it be and why?
There is no longer one particular part I burn to play. But there are still lots of people I should like to play.
Finally, what's next for you?
Although I have never left the business. I cared for my mother for a while. After she died I did several filmed interviews about various things. But the job I enjoyed most was celebrating my friend Fenella Fielding’s birthday on her radio show. It was a good party!
I'd like to thank Veronica for answering my questions on her time in Corrie and sharing so many fond memories. Thanks also to Simon for helping to set up the interview.
You can follow me on Twitter @GraemeN82
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