Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Return of the Queen

“He was in his second day on the job,” Beverley Callard remembers about producer Stuart Blackburn, “And he said: I want Liz back in the Rovers.”

We’re on the third floor of ITV’s building in Quay Street, the historic centre of Granadaland, and Beverley is explaining why she decided to return to Corrie.  She’s looking forward to the move to MediaCity.  “The building’s getting a bit tired now.  And we’ve always felt a bit out of it, over there [she waves at the set].  At MediaCity, we’ll all be together - writers, actors, everyone.”

She already knew Blackburn from his days story-editing the show, so when he made overtures, she was keen to listen.  “It had to be done in complete secrecy,” she said.  “There had been negotiations with another former cast member which ended up in the papers so they didn’t want it leaked.  I was doing Little Voice at Manchester Opera House and Stuart came to my dressing room and laid it out for me.”

Liz is back, back, back in Weatherfield, and she’s landlady of the Rovers again.  She’s done well in Spain - “Liz speaks Spanish now!  With a Weatherfield accent, mind,” - and somewhere along the line Liz managed to invest in a spa and it’s paid dividends.  She has enough money to buy back the Rovers which is, after all, where her heart is.

“But she’s got a bit of money now so she’s gone up market.  She can finally dress like she’d like to dress, instead of how she can afford.”

Which doesn’t mean the end of the legendary miniskirts and cleavage flashing tops.  “They’re just a better class of outfit.  She’s not buying stuff off the market any more.  Wardrobe did turn up with a necklace made of five capital L’s and I just said, ‘No!””

Her wardrobe plays a big part in her entrance too.  “The script said my first shot was just a close up of this gorgeous leather stiletto.  It really was a gorgeous shoe, though it was so high I could only wear one of them for the shot!  We got it all set up for lighting and the camera and I nipped and borrowed Ryan Thomas’s big work boots.  So the first shot was actually my stockinged leg with this huge leather boot on the end!” 


Beverley’s feet are actually a source of fun on set: as the owner of size two and a half feet she’s used to Simon Gregson (Steve) leaving Barbie shoes around the set to make her laugh.  “In the till, in a hotpot.  And now Kym Lomas has joined in as well.”

She’s always been close to Simon, and recalls that he knew about the possibility of her return before her.  When she agreed, he sent her a text: O. M. G.

One of the conditions of her return was that she didn’t just go over old ground.  “Liz didn’t like Michelle, she didn’t like Tracy, she didn’t like Becky.  Every eighteen months I was just doing the same scenes again.  Now she really gets on with Michelle - they have a great relationship with each other.  They know they’ve got this idiot trapped in between them!”

She’s enjoying working with Kym and Michelle Keegan.  “We don’t wear those big high shoes behind the bar though.  We have an agreement for when they come off and all three of us put our Uggs on.  Otherwise we’d be at different heights.”

How does she find the new look Rovers?  “To be honest with you it doesn’t look much different!  Michelle Collins and I would love to have more scenes together; there’s just been a couple so far.  Stella and Gloria said ‘I wouldn’t have done it that way’ about something and Liz replied ‘I wouldn’t have killed a punter and set fire to the pub, either’!”

Beverley is committed to the Rovers and how it looks.  “As an actress I’m very 100%.  Like if it’s lunchtime in the pub, I’ll say, ‘where’s the ketchup on the tables for people’s dinners?’  Liz is a very good landlady - it’s the best thing she does.”


The set for the Rovers isn’t perfect though.  “Only two of the pumps work!” she laughs.  “The other day I had a scene where I had to pour a lager.  I was acting with one hand and stirring this non-alcoholic beer with the other so it didn’t look flat!  I said, can we get another pump working round the other side of the bar so I can act that way as well?”  She’s stunned to hear that the pumps in Emmerdale are said to dispense real beer.  “We’ll have to work on that!”

The Street hasn’t changed in the two and a bit years since she was last here, but over her twenty five years she’s seen huge changes.  “It’s so much more glamorous now.  Which Liz would love.  You know she’s had satellite in Spain and has watched every episode of TOWIE.  But I think there needs to be a balance on the Street.  I like it when the older characters get big storylines.  The country loves them.  I want Emily to get a boyfriend!”

Perhaps Liz could flirt with Dennis?

“No.  I think she reckons she deserves someone a bit younger.  There’s a bit of a flirtation with Owen again, and she has a moment with Lloyd.  She also spends a lot of time talking to someone in Spain called ‘Luis” a lot.  But right now she’s single.  You can tell because she’s wearing a onesie. The minute a man appears she’ll be swapping that for the lingerie.”

While she’s been away, Beverley has been in the theatre, in a production of Little Voice.  “Jim Cartwright, who wrote the play, directed it, because while he loved the previous productions there was always something not right about them.  I loved it.  He said I was the first actress to make Mari a real person.”

She adored being back in the theatre, and would love a return to it, perhaps with her actress daughter Rebecca Callard.  Rebecca had a stint on Corrie as Fizz’s cellmate in prison; would she like to work with her in the Rovers?  

“I’m not sure about that.  When she did it she came home and said, ‘I don’t know why you say it’s hard!’  I said - you’re in one set you’re only acting with Jennie (McAlpine).  Wait til you’re on the cobbles!”

When asked how long she’s in Corrie for, she says “the long term” but quails at the suggestion of another decade.  “I think I would have to do a play in the middle of that,” she says.  “A comedy.  Or perhaps one at the Royal Exchange so I can do both.”

Until then Liz is firmly back where she belongs - dishing out Newton & Ridley’s finest to the legends in Weatherfield.

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16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bad news that she won't be burying Michelle under the smokers patio.
AmandaB

Humpty Dumpty said...

'negotiations with another former cast member which ended up in the papers' Presumably this was Kevin Kennedy. Wonder if he scotched his chances of a return or he'll turn up in a year's time.

Anonymous said...

Not looking forward to the diva's return to the Street.

Dolly Tubb said...

No, PLEASE don't let it be the same-old-same-old 'artistic leg getting out of the car' scene again - that's exactly how Stella arrived, and Tracy out of prison. TBH I was hoping each time it would be Fat Brenda.

Anonymous said...

I guess Steve is the monkey in the middle between Michelle and Liz. I can't wait for the cruel jibes and cutting remarks to begin while he looks either downcast or gurns like there's no tomorrow. I am not looking forward to Liz' return. Maybe I'm alone in this but it seems that EE is trying to save their sinking ship by doing just that - returning old characters hoping it will boost ratings.

njblas said...

Her new love interest will be Barry Connor. I'd bank on it.

Hi Ho Silver Lining said...

I think a lot of peoplee are happy to see Liz back not because they like he so much as they want shot of Stella. Lets see how it goes. As for Kevin Kennedy, he needs to stop milking it about once being Curley Watts.

Graeme N said...


Excellent blog! :)

Anonymous said...

What's the betting she'll be leaving "forever" (again) in about two years?

ChiaGwen said...

Sorry to hear Liz will be getting on with Michelle - I had high hopes of a clash and Steve would sie with Liz, get rid of Michelle and find someone else....oh dear. Glad to see Liz back though. Still wishing Big Jim would return as well.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear her wardrobe will be upscaled. That streetwalker would not have worked at her age.

Anonymous said...

With Liz back does that mean Amy will finally be let out of her bedroom? Will she now be fed a square meal in the back room of the Rovers? If so will Toothy Barlow raise another round-eyed ruckus about Michelle being around her daughter. I do hope not.

Anonymous said...

I am not looking forward to seeing Liz falling out of her tops and wearing mini skirts at her age. Nor am I looking forward to Steve being caught between two bitchy women. I would like to see a great relationship between all three and for Steve to get some guts and stop being such a pathetic wimp.

Anonymous said...

Good article, Scott. I too, Chia Gwen, am not looking forward to a Liz and Michelle girly plot. I think with Liz coming back, Steve has the opportunity to gain some grace which he so much deserves.

Canadian Bacon Sarnie said...

I can't wait to see Liz back in the pub! Finally, it will be what it's supposed to be again. That pub was turning into some serious blah-dom.
I love Liz and her spunk! The street is about to get it's ass kicked by Liz MacDonald so the 'punters' better be good~ No more bickering or she'll be banging their heads together. I'm also glad that she's changed in some ways and has some money. That should be fun. As for her age, she is, in my opinion, a great looking lady for her 'age' and should be working every asset available to her. Leave the Christian dressing to Sophie (or not as it goes)..
GO LIZ !!!! Welcome back.

Anonymous said...

I really don't enjoy watching Michelle treat Steve like an idiot, and would rather see Liz standing up for her son, not joining forces with Michelle. I've never understood why Michelle wants to be with Steve if she has such a low opinion of him.

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