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

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Coronation Street Blog interview with Wendi Peters

Whether departing soap characters disappear into the night gazing longingly from the rear window of a cab, or are despatched in more dramatic circumstances, the extent of their legendary status is only really felt through the passing of time, and I think it’s safe to say that Cilla Battersby-Brown has firmly etched her legacy into the annals. In some ways it’s hard to believe she has been away from the street almost twice as long as she spent causing havoc on it. I caught up with Wendi Peters at ITV in Manchester to chat about her infamous character’s return to the cobbles.

Wendi herself is surprised at Cilla’s iconic status considering she was only there for four years, putting it down to a combination of her storylines and her bold, brash nature. But what has Cilla back after seven years, and where has she been?

Despite her departure for Las Vegas, and later move to South Africa, Wendi reveals that Cilla has been living of late in slightly less exotic Wolverhampton. “That did make me giggle” says Wendi on learning the news.

She reveals that Chesney and Fiz are skeptical of Cilla's reason for returning and are right to assume that there’s an ulterior motive, as Cilla is harbouring a secret. “She’s Cilla. She’s not back just to say hello,” observes Wendi, “there always has to be a reason.” However, her children don’t ask, accustomed as they are to being lied to. 

Wendi reveals that the only person who really takes to her that doesn’t know her of old is Sinead who tries to persuade Chesney to give her a chance. Describing him as Cilla’s “blue eyed boy”, Wendi notes that, by extension, his son becomes the apple of her eye. “On her first sighting of Joseph, she’s absolutely thrilled” she reveals, “she thinks he’s very bonny and takes after his Nana.”

However, while Fiz isn’t exactly happy to see her, “Chesney is the one that really knocks her for six as he’s so hostile towards her” reveals Wendi who confirms that Cilla gets a “huge shock” when it becomes apparent that “they can’t wait to get rid of her.”

It’s clear therefore that Cilla’s return is going to be far from prodigal.

Much has naturally been made of potential clashes and comparisons with Beth Tinker. “All I’ve been getting Twitter-wise is ‘we can’t wait to see the arguments and the fights with Beth’” observes Wendi. “It’s an odd one this. You have to say we’re the typical strong Corrie women and I suppose there’s a slight resemblance.” However, Wendi anticipates that interactions between the two might offer “a bit of a twist on what people are expecting.”

So how did Wendi feel when she learned they wanted to bring Cilla back? “It was a complete shock” she reveals, “I’d put it to bed really, I’d moved on. It was something I’d never really considered. It’s lovely just to come back for a short break to find out where she’s been and what she’s up to, and to have the purpose of getting Jennie out for her maternity leave. The fact that my daughter’s properly having a baby, it’s so lovely to come back and see her go out”.

With regard to her preparations for playing the part after 7 years away Wendi reveals “I’d obviously learned my lines at home but I didn’t read them out with anybody, so the first time she actually spoke was when I walked on set and said ‘Well aren’t you pleased to see me?’ It’s really weird, because I feel like I’m in full swing again, it’s like riding a bike.”

While Cilla's loud personality has traditionally been matched by her wardrobe, viewers can anticipate a change in this regard. “She’s gone a bit more upmarket this time” Wendi reveals, explaining how she was anxious to tone Cilla down. “Although she still has the essence of Cilla, she’s never going to change,” she notes, “we did want to bring her a little bit back down to earth. She’s still got the gold jewellery which I’ve picked out of my loft; I have a Cilla box in which I put a few scripts, my last continuity photos, her jewellery and a little hat from the last scene.”

Wendi’s preparations also included watching Cilla’s last week of episodes, but she regretted doing this, disliking bits of both the character and the way she played her. I asked Wendi if that contributed to her decision to tone Cilla down. “Before I even watched that I wanted to tone her down slightly” she confirmed. “She’s 7 years older, she’s nearly 50. I loved playing her, but I just felt we needed to find a little bit more reality in her. I felt over the 4 years she’d maybe gotten a bit too much at certain times.”

Wendi describes her nerves on returning as being like the first day at school, revealing, “It wasn’t until I’d got about 2 or 3 scenes under my belt that I relaxed and thought this is going to be okay now".

With regard to whether or not she resembles Cilla in any way, Wendi observes “I think there always has to be a bit of you in a character you play. I’m very impatient, I’m a bit of a control freak, and I’d like to think a much nicer version of Cilla.”

Wendi has no idea if Cilla will return again after this 6 weeks, but isn’t closed to the idea. “Never say never” she observes, "for me it’s very much dependent on what they come up with, the way it’s going to go, and how she’s going to be” as well as what’s going on in her own life at the time. For now though, it's clear that an intriguing few weeks lie ahead as far as her return is concerned.

Wendi is a true breath of fresh air, and the enthusiasm with which she talks about her character, her love of theatre and the life she has carved for herself, filled with all the things about which she is passionate, is an inspiration.

By Emma Hynes
Twitter: @ELHynes


Download our App | Follow on Twitter @CoroStreetBlog | Like on Facebook


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

15 comments:

lizzieizzard said...

Welcome back Wendi you are going to add some sparkle to the show even if it is for a short visit.

Frosty the Snowman said...

Hm I think people are suffering with memory lapse. Cilla was a pretty unpleasant character that didnt give a stuff about her kids or anybody else unless they could be useful in some way or another. Glad she is only back for a short time.

Anonymous said...

I LOVED how Wendi Peters played the awful Cilla Battersby. Cilla, for some strange unknown reason was why after years of hearing that familiar show theme and quickly changing channels, I decided to give Corrie a watch. Cilla was selfish, greedy, a terrible mom -- but somehow I couldn't wait to follow her exploits. In the end, she was a terrible woman but you got the feeling that she knew she was terrible and that she wished she was better and wished she did do better for both Chesney and Fizz. I suppose that is where the actress's talent came in... Ms. Peters somehow brought out the humanity in a character like Cilla. I'd love to see her back and I hope she has got a meaty story we can all feast on for a change.

Anonymous said...

Same here Frosty, couldn't stand the nasty piece of work and not looking forward to her return.

Anonymous said...

@frosty Do you actually like Corrie ? You never seem to have anything good to say .
Nobody's forcing you to watch it

Anonymous said...

Love Cilla and I love Cilla's mini me Beth. :D

-Pod

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 09:24,
Frosty is our self-appointed curmudgeon, hence the moniker.

Tvor said...

Cilla was always one of my love-to-hate characters. She really had very little redeeming qualities but Wendi played her OTT with such glee.

Humpty Dumpty said...

That picture of Cilla shows exactly how she was played. Eyes rolling upwards in a very hammy way. Never thought she was particularly well acted.

canadian bacon sarnie said...

Nice interview. It's always a treat to get to know the actor who plays these way-out-there characters on Corrie.
Looking forward to seeing what she's become. The best Cilla look was the triple 'kiss curl' action on her wedding day.
p.s. Hey Frosty!! Chill out.

vintgal003 said...

This Canadian girl cannot wait for dear Cilla to appear on our screen....HOPE that Cilla's stay has been extended...love her interaction with the rest of the cast...to spice things up!! Welcome back Wendi !!

Anonymous said...

Glad you said this!!

I'm perplexed by what Frosty actually enjoys about Coronation Street, and I find his "glass half empty" stance on everything to be very draining.

By all means be critical where warranted, but shouldn't this be balanced out with credit where credit is due?

Though Corrie isn't always perfect, and can't be expected to, it still has lots to be positive about, yet every story and character seems to come under your very harsh scrutiny.

Could you therefore enlighten us as to what you like about Corrie NOW, in a new era of television, not what it used to be in a different era?

Anonymous said...

I'm perplexed by what you actually enjoy about Coronation Street, and I find your "glass half empty" stance on everything to be very draining. By all means be critical where warranted, but shouldn't this be balanced out with credit where credit is due? 

Though Corrie isn't always perfect, and can't be expected to, it still has lots to be positive about, yet every story and character seems to come under your very harsh scrutiny.

Could you therefore enlighten us as to what you like about Corrie NOW, in a new era of television, not what it used to be in a different era, as I'm puzzled and intrigued.

Tvor said...

The triple-6 kiss curls on Cilla's forehead at her wedding was brilliant!

Anonymous said...

After recently seeing Fiz becoming like her mother when she went for the jugular against Jason after Tyrone's accident,I find the timing of Cilla's return interesting and perhaps Fiz will realise that due to her past actions with Roy after Hayley's death, Maria and Jason that she to her horror is becoming like her mother?That being said,I am looking forward to see Cilla as granny to Hope and Joseph.

GRITTY SAGAS BY CORRIE BLOG EDITOR GLENDA YOUNG, PUBLISHED BY HEADLINE. CLICK PIC BELOW!

You might also like...

GRITTY SAGAS BY CORRIE BLOG EDITOR GLENDA YOUNG, PUBLISHED BY HEADLINE. CLICK PIC BELOW!