Cosy crimes and gritty sagas by Corrie Blog editor Glenda, published by Headline. Click pic below!

Sunday, 28 May 2023

Andrew Sill interview: Justin takes the stand in court

The last time we saw Justin was when he was in the car at the hospital car park, asking for Daisy’s help and trying to explain what he had done before he was arrested. It was such a cowardly side to Justin compared to the self assured Justin which we have seen, particularly when he locked horns with Daniel outside the Rovers or when he turned up for court for Daisy’s Stalking Protection Order hearing. 

Yes, in the hospital car park I think we saw a pathetic side to Justin. He was so laser-focused on Daisy and he was completely isolating himself from the outside world so he felt like the acid attack was a rational thing to do. The revenge in him was bubbling away but immediately after the attack that tunnel vision had slightly broken off and he had a chance to look at his actions and think, “What have I done?” But he has an ability to jump through mental hoops to justify his actions so very quickly he ushered those thoughts away and thought of himself as the good guy again. In his head, he is the hero in his own story. When he got to the hospital and he saw Daisy’s reaction, it shone a spotlight on all the wrong stuff that he had done so in that moment when he’s asking Daisy for her help and trying to explain the unexplainable and inexcusable, it is a pathetic, different side to Justin.  

Which ‘Justin’ will turn up for his trial; will it be the bravado Justin or the cowardly Justin?

It’s a new Justin that we are going to see. There is a lot going on in his head with the trial underway as he feels backed into a corner so he is willing to go to whatever lengths he has to, to gain the upper hand. He has manipulated his sister and he is lying to anyone and everyone around him. There is a very definite fear of going to prison for a very long time so he is desperate. We will see a slither of the pathetic Justin but this is his big chance to be seen and to be heard, particularly by Daisy, so he is happy to grab that opportunity with both hands. As the trial progresses we are going to see Justin wrestling to stay calm and collected as this inner tension is bubbling under the surface.

As Justin is the hero in his own story, in his head, does he genuinely believe he has done nothing wrong or does he feel remorse towards Ryan for the attack?

Justin is in survival mode. He did realise he had done wrong, moments after the attack took place, but has since decided that he is going to do anything and everything to protect himself so he has almost convinced himself that he has done nothing wrong and decompartmentalised that. Because he is such a truly phenomenal liar, he utterly believes his own lies. Weirdly, I think he does feel remorse for Ryan but it’s not like in an overly sympathetic way to Ryan, he feels remorse that this has led him to where he is and he regrets the situation he has got himself into. He has no appreciation or understanding of the damage he has caused Ryan and he is looking at it through the prism of how it has affected him.

Karen, Justin’s sister, tells Daisy how sorry she is for Justin’s attack and how she hopes he’ll be sent down. But after a row between Ryan and Daisy reveals Daisy’s history of manipulation, Karen passes on what she overhears to Justin’s lawyer. Talk us through Justin’s part in this.

Justin and Karen have been in contact. Justin has been incredibly manipulative and actively working behind the scenes to orchestrate his defence by putting his sister in a position that she feels incredibly uncomfortable about. Justin is guilt-tripping his sister by talking about their mum and really pushing that heavily on her. He’s the only family she has got now so he is using that against her and it just shows his ability to use people to get what he wants. He doesn’t even see his behaviour as using people, it’s a means to an end for him.

Does Justin want Daisy to suffer for rejecting him?

It’s complicated because that antagonistic feeling he had towards Daisy before the attack came from all this pressure from her rejection and the death of his mum. Everything was building up into this boiling point but after the attack he has fallen back into this obsession with her and we saw that during the scenes when he was in the car in the hospital car park. He has already immediately gone into feeling like she is this kind of hope he can hold on to. So no, he isn’t desperate for her to suffer for rejecting him, he is in this cycle of hatred and objectified obsession and depending how the mood takes him or what situation he finds himself in, he will swing from one degree to the other.

How confident does he feel when he takes to the stand to tell his version of the attack? Does he think he can get the jury on his side having painted Daisy in a negative light?

Justin has a well rehearsed speech as he knows this trial is important so he sees this as his golden opportunity to convince the jury to let him go. He is going to put on the full charm offensive and he will use all of his manipulation tactics to win the jury round. He’s not confident that this is going to all pan out for him but he knows that this is make or break and he has to put on the performance of his life to get away with this. It’s a very stakes, high pressure situation for him. We are going to see the most manipulative Justin yet.

Throughout this storyline we have seen Justin manipulate situations to his gain like when he appealed to Daniel’s vulnerabilities when they both talked about losing loved ones to cancer or when he turned up for court in a neck brace for Daisy’s Stalking Protection Order hearing.

Yes, we have seen little hints of him being able to manipulate people; he has done it to Daisy, he has done it to Daniel, and they have worked him out and pushed him away. But the jury doesn’t know anything about the situation or what Justin is like and for most people, when they meet him for the first time, they are won over by his act. He can be quite unassuming but this is the be all and end all so he is going to pull out all the stops. 

The court scenes were all filmed on location in Bolton. What was that like?

The trial scenes were filmed over a course of a week and obviously because Justin is on trial, he is inside a big glass case defendant box in the court. It was the court that they used when they filmed Happy Valley, so the defendant box is the one that James North’s character, Tommy Lee Royce, climbed out of! There’s so much history in that court too like there are old, Victorian cells underneath the court so I was going straight from there up into the box which was weird. The days were long and the very last scene we filmed was when Justin takes the stand and I had like a three page monologue to say so it was quite nerve-racking! I remember waiting all week for this one big scene! I felt a lot of nervous energy going into that scene which was good because that’s exactly how Justin would feel too because it’s his last big gamble. It was definitely the longest speech that I have had, being in Coronation Street, and it was quite cathartic to get it all out there.

When you first read the scripts of Justin taking the stand, what were your thoughts?

I was like, “Okay, this is the time for him to put everything on the table!” I knew this was going to be the most difficult scene I’ve ever played as Justin because it’s his chance to manipulate the jury and give everything he has got. It felt like the entire six months run that I have done on Coronation Street was distilled into that one monologue because it’s very rare in television that you’re going to have a big monologue like that. It also felt quite theatrical as it was in the courtroom so I really wanted to make the most out of the scene. It felt like a challenge and because of how Coronation Street is filmed, I only had one or two chances to get it right but I feel happy with how it went and we will see what the viewers make of it when it comes out on TV!  

Have you enjoyed playing such a sinister character? Is it difficult to play a character you can’t sympathise with?

Yes, it’s always fun to play a bad guy. I do usually play troubled characters and Justin is definitely troubled. I have had to try and find the truth and the realism in him otherwise it just comes across as an inauthentic villain. I know this sounds crazy but as an actor, you have to try and find that sympathy in the character and relate to them on a human level. So I thought about his mum passing away, his isolation and loneliness and the fact that he doesn’t have anyone and that he’s latched on to Daisy due to a really tenuous connection that he feels is something more, in his head. I’ve just had to try and play that all believably and make it all feel real.

What’s been the hardest scene of the storyline to film?

There have been loads because the really great thing about this character is that he has developed and changed as the storyline has gone on and I’ve been really lucky to have been given such well written, engaging scenes to perform. The scenes when Justin turns up at the wedding fair were difficult because I was trying to play it as believable as possible because I think the less creepy I played it, the more creepy Justin came off! Justin’s monologue during the trial scenes was difficult because it was just me talking for a long time so I had to find a way to keep people engaged and take the audience on a journey. 

What reaction have you had from viewers?

I’ve had a fair few people come up to me in pubs and they are like “Are you the boy off Coronation Street?” and asking for a photo. Everyone has been really nice and they know it’s not real life but I did have one guy come up to me and he was like, “You’re really scary!” and he did actually seem a wee bit scared of me! I was like, “Honestly mate, that’s not who I am!” 

What can you tease about the outcome of the trial?

It’s a bold play by Justin! Viewers are really not going to know until the end which side the coin is going to fall on.

You’ve been involved with the stalking storyline and now the acid attack storyline, two very hard hitting issues. Have you enjoyed working on storylines that have sparked public conversation?

Yes, it’s been great to be involved in storylines that make a point and have weight to them but also have the drama. As an actor, that is something that you really want to play so I’ve enjoyed sinking my teeth into this role.

What has been your most memorable moment being at Coronation Street?

Definitely meeting Princess Anne. When else are you going to have the chance to say that you’ve met a royal in the Rovers Returns - it’s pretty mad! That’s like ‘tell your grandkids’ type of thing! She took a great interest in the acid attack storyline so I got a chance to talk to her which I hadn’t really expected. She was very knowledgeable and knew what was going on in the storyline. 

Do you think it’s important for Coronation Street to show that Justin will get his comeuppance whether that’s at the trial or in other ways?

Yes, definitely. When I have been a viewer of a show and watched a character do terrible things, I can’t help but hope that it’s going to come back to bite them and I think that Justin certainly deserves justice to be served because what he has done has been horrendous. I definitely think he should get his comeuppance. 

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Saturday, 27 May 2023

Conversation Street Podcast Episode #577

On our latest podcast, we chat about the episodes of Corrie shown in the UK between the 22nd and the 26th May 2023 (Episodes #10960 - 10965).

This week's podcast really was a case of finding some light in the darkness because by 'eck, wasn't that a grim set of episodes? Not that the scripts or performances were poor or anything, but it just seemed like there wasn't a lot of happiness for anyone! Top of the misery list, of course, was Paul, whose worsening condition causes him to be a bit of a party pooper at the stag and hen do on Wednesday. We just hope that Gemma and Chesney can have a happy wedding next week before the news of Paul's MND spreads further... Also this week, Craig and Tim were left teary eyed when Faye made the decision to do a classic Corrie flit and move to Slough with Miley and Jackson. Meanwhile, Roy suffers angina attacks, Hope's dumped by Sam after she sabotages Eliza's birthday party and Daisy is getting anxious about next week's big court case. 

In The Kabin, we take a look at the nominations in this year's NTAs, report a lengthy delay in the publication of Maggie Sullivan's next Coronation Street novel and uncover some evidence online that a head swap may soon be on the cards for one of the Corrie kids! We round things off with a little bit of feedback.

Street Talk - 00:17:22
The Kabin - 02:11:57
Feedback - 02:38:30

Back in Episode #101 of the podcast, we ran a character profile of a young Faye Windass and her first few years on the Street. For this week's bonus show, as Faye leaves Weatherfield, sloping off to Slough with Jackson and Miley, we take a look at what she's been up to in the nine years since. A teenage pregnancy, a prison sentence, early menopause, and of course being caught up as a minor character in the villainous tales of Pat Phelan and Geoff Metcalfe... it's been an eventful decade for Faye, and one that has given us plenty to chat about as we say a one final goodbye to her.

You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, stream all our old episodes on our own site here, or click the play buttons above to give it a listen from the comfort of this very blog! 

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

Friday, 26 May 2023

Daniel Brocklebank interview: Billy discovers Paul's devastating secret

Over recent weeks, Paul has been keeping his motor neurone diagnosis a secret from his family and friends. However, viewers saw tonight the devastating moment where Billy found out Paul's secret after turning up at Paul's court hearing.

We chatted with Daniel Brocklebank about how Billy copes with finding out the truth and hinting at what viewers can expect over the coming months.

Prior to finding out about Paul’s illness, Billy was getting a bit frustrated with his behaviour. What did he think was going on?

His behaviour was very abnormal, and I don’t think Billy was as astute as he could’ve been. But by the end of it, he thought he was going off him. He thought he made a mistake getting back into the relationship, and he genuinely thought it was him rather than something going on with Paul because he was always out with Dee-Dee, he was constantly never at home. And I think Billy thought in the end that Paul was going off the idea of being in a relationship and had made a mistake in terms of getting back with Billy. 

Is that what made Billy go to the court case?

Well, his behaviour was so shifty, so Billy goes through his belongings, which again is a very un-Billy like thing to do. And he finds a letter from the court with the date and the time of the court case. So Billy turns up thinking, “What have you done?” And then of course is hit with the news that not only has he been stealing cars, but that his sentence is being reduced due to his medical diagnosis of the MND. It’s a massive shock. 

Billy’s hearing it as a bit of car crash revelation from the judge. She played it brilliantly. And there’s no dialogue in that scene either, so the reaction is just him trying to take it in and get his head around it. The scenes afterwards are the scenes we were able to actually show that emotion between the two of us. 

There was one scene in the court afterwards, and we discussed it with the director, Peter and I… Sometimes, when you get these scenes, you’ve got the writer’s stage directions, but then sometimes, when you’re rehearsing a scene, you don’t necessarily want to play it the way that they’ve decided you should. They decide what we’re going to say, but personally, it’s my job to decide how I say that line. As long as it’s sticking to the narrative and telling the story truthfully. And the stage directions we’d been given for this particular scene, Pete and I both felt that they weren’t helpful in terms of the way… Because we’ve got such a long way to go with this storyline, and it’s such an emotional journey, we don’t want to burn all of that out too soon. 

The tears, the anger, the frustration, of course there’s going to be those moments, but sometimes, we don’t want to be crying all the time in scenes. We want to be giving it variation and colour. And also, the audiences don’t want to just be seeing us sitting and crying all the time either. So there’s choices in how we choose to play these things, and that was one of those moments where all three of us felt, actually, this scene should be played not necessarily as the stage directions were suggesting. 

The scenes back at the flat were highly emotional. What was it like filming those scenes?

They were brutal, actually. I came home exhausted after that day. And Pete and I had done some filming that day with Rob Burrows as well, which I think added to the intensity of filming them. Obviously, having spent the afternoon with somebody with advanced MND and such a hero like Rob as well, who’s made such a huge impact on the MND community and the MND Association. I think it added to filming that day.

They’re heart-breaking scenes, absolutely heart-breaking. Even during the read-through, Pete and I were welling up. Sometimes you make a choice about how you’re going to play things. Sometimes, it just gets you, and you literally can’t choose anything else because that’s how it’s making you feel in that moment.

How is Billy feeling during all of this?

He does have an awareness, obviously, and I think Billy being Billy, he would’ve gone and researched what the potential sort of outcome is for Paul. Especially as he’s not been there for the initial diagnosis.

Of course, he’s devastated. He’s going to be stuck between being a pastoral role, but also, this is a personal journey, so it’s not the same as a parishioner that’s ill. He’s very, very aware that their time together is coming to an end, and their time as it stands is coming to an end because the longer it goes on, the less Paul will be able to do.

I think he’s trying to live every moment as we all should, really. I think we all forget that our time is finite for all of us anyway. I think for Billy, it’s utterly heart-breaking. He feels he’s just got this guy back, and they’re getting things on track, and he thought that everything was going well, then all of a sudden, bang, this thing comes in and literally smashes everything out of the park and completely dismantles the future he thought they were building on. 

Does he support Paul’s wishes to keep the diagnosis a secret from his family at the moment?

I’m not sure he supports it, he understands why. There’s obviously Gemma’s wedding coming up, and I think Paul wants her day to be about the wedding, not to be about the fact that he’s ill. So I think Billy understands why he doesn’t want to share it at that moment, but also knows that’s not going to be able to keep it from them for that much longer if the symptoms continue to develop in the way that they are.

How hard is for Billy going to this wedding now that he’s burdened with this secret?

I think it’s another one of those things where it’s about enjoying the moment, and I think for Billy, seeing Paul walk Gemma down the aisle is hugely emotional because it’s going to be one of those memories after Paul’s gone.

So it’s a big secret for Billy to keep, but Billy’s terrible at keeping secrets. For a vicar, he’s awful at keeping secrets. I’ve been playing him now for getting on nine years. I’m honestly astounded sometimes, I’m like, “Oh, my God, why can’t he keep his mouth shut? This is unreal, you’re an archdeacon.” But obviously in this situation, he only finds out just before the wedding, so he doesn’t really have much time to process it prior to the wedding. Billy is quite an emotional character, and he’s not very good at hiding anything at all, but he’s very aware that he has to try and hold it together for Gemma, and for Paul because realistically, it's not about Billy. It’s not Billy’s place to tell anyone, so he has to respect it. He doesn’t necessarily agree with it, but he understands why, and he has to respect that choice.

How have you found the reaction to this story?

I’ve been working with the MND Association for a very long time, and from the people who have contacted me personally through the MND Association and on Twitter and things like that, they’re thrilled that we are telling this story. Obviously, very sad to see Peter leaving, but thrilled that we are highlighting MND and showing someone’s journey through the illness. It has been very positive.

How are you family feeling now about the storyline?

I think it’s dredging up quite a bit of stuff. It’s 21 years since my grandfather died, so we’ve sort put all of that to bed in some respects. I have to say, there was a scene we filmed a couple of weeks ago, and obviously Paul’s physical debilitation is very visible. And it very much reminded me, telling the whole family what’s going on, and I very much remember that in our family, and in the scene, Paul gets up and walks out of the room, and I remember my grandfather doing the same thing, and all of us just sat together, not being able to comprehend what we were going to have to face as a family. And when Paul gets up and left the room, I just burst into tears. I mean, it totally worked in the scene for Billy, thank God. There are definitely going to be points where it’s triggering.

Can you give any hints about what we’ll be seeing in the coming months?

Well, I think it’s going to be a really lovely blend. I think there’s going to be some really nice moments. Billy and Paul really ticking things off, bucket lists of adventures together and sort of trying to find their happiness in every moment they can. 

Obviously, inevitably, there will be difficulties along the way, but I think there’s going to be some really fun moments as well. So it’s not going to all be doom and gloom and woe is us. It’s about balance. Even in the bleakest of moments, there is a huge amount of humour to be had, and I’m sure we’ll find it. I think we’re trying to find it even when it’s not in there, trying to stay positive, because it’s bloody exhausting having to cry for 12 hours a day. So if you can find moments where you can find little lightnesses within the dialogue, the scenes, the staging of it. We have such a giggle at work anyway. Like, it’s a joyous place to work.

Sophie Williams

Find me on Twitter @sophie_writer1

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Preview of tonight's Coronation Street - Friday 26 May 2023

Friday 26th May 2023

PAUL STRUGGLES TO FACE HIS FATE Billy urges Paul to apologise to Gemma but Paul refuses to discuss it. Billy confides in Dee-Dee how worried he is about Paul and demands to know what’s going on. Outside the court, Dee-Dee wonders where Paul has got to. Damon finds Paul sitting alone in Victoria Garden. Damon urges Paul to do the right thing, get himself down to court and embrace the life he has left. Paul finally arrives at court and Dee-Dee’s awash with relief. Unbeknown to Paul, Billy too heads into the courthouse. 

WALKING FREDDIE IS NO STROLL IN THE PARK FOR ROY As Roy walks Freddie through the precinct, Freddie spies a cat and gives chase. Roy is brought up short by the pain in his chest.  Evelyn calls an ambulance. 

DAISY IS BEING WATCHED Aware that Justin is due in court today, Daisy tells Ken and Daniel that she’ll never relax until he’s behind bars. In the Rovers, Daisy tells Jenny that Justin pleaded guilty to the assault on her but he’s still a free man. Jenny assures her it’ll be a different story after next week’s trial. 

ELSEWHERE Craig calls at the factory with some work bits and bobs which Faye left behind.  Sally feels for him and suggests he joins them at No.4 later as she’s doing a Mexican supper. At No.4, Sally does her best to cheer up Tim and Craig and suggests they find a common hobby to take their minds off Faye. In the Rovers, Mary notices Isabella’s sticky fingers but decides to let it go for Brian’s sake. Isabella asserts that she can’t wait for Brian to visit her in Naples but makes it clear that Mary’s not welcome. Isabella calls in the cafĂ© in tears and tells Brian that during the renovations at her flat, the builders have discovered subsidence and it’s not safe for her to return.

Glenda Young
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