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

Monday 19 January 2015

Happy Monday 2 – Martin Meets the Cast

This time last week I was watching scenes from the crash that will go out tonight. I hope you enjoy the episodes – I am sure you will.

It might feel you already know what’s going to happen, what with all the spoilers that have been flying around faster than the Underworld girls in the back of a Streetcars minibus. However, I’m confident that what unfolds on screen tonight will be sufficiently gripping for us to label Corrie’s latest stunt a success.

After the crash screening (which I blogged about yesterday), came a press conference and round table interviews with Katie Cavanagh (Julie), Amy Kelly (Maddy), Andrew Whyment (Kirk), Katie McGlynn (Sinead), Antony Cotton (Sean), Kate Ford (Tracy), Kym Marsh (Michelle), Stuart Blackburn and Sally Dynevor (Sally). Not a bad line-up!

It was brilliant to speak to them all about the upcoming episodes and what else is in store for their characters over the next few months. While filming the crash episodes was hard work – much has been reported about the bruises and ailments sustained by various members of the cast – all seemed genuinely pleased with the results and excited to have been involved in such an ambitious shoot.

If you’ve had your fill of spoilers, then I suggest you read no further. But if you want to know how I got on and what I found out, please stick around.

Sally Dynevor and Amy Kelly

Maddie is somewhat of a heroine after the crash, which Amy loves.

She puts Maddie’s calmness in crisis down to the fact “she was a kid on the street… used to going into auto-pilot when something bad happens”. Amy was chuffed to be involved in this storyline and says everyone was “praying it was going to look as good as it read”.

Sally Dynevor is full of praise for Amy, who she describes as “the sweetest, most gorgeous, mature 19 year old” she has ever met. The only thing she dislikes (slightly) is that Sally now accepts Maddie. Conflict brings good drama, of course, and she likes scenes with “a bit of oomph in”. She is hopeful though of some conflict with Kevin and Jenny Bradley and ideally would like Sally to “get more snobby” and “try and boss Tim around a lot more… have lots of squabbles with all the neighbours, be much more nosey and not a particularly nice person”. In other words – Classic Sally!

Amy likes the fact Maddie has softened and is “more patient with people and has dropped her defences”. But she doesn’t want things to be “all nicey nicey” and so enjoys the old Mouthy Maddie coming out every now and again.

Both Amy and Sally enjoyed the recent 80s wedding, although Sally got a fright when she put that wig on and “looked exactly like I did in 1986”. She is enjoying all the comedy scenes and the fact Tim and Kevin get on so well; “Sally feels a bit left out”, she jokes. Amy loves “days with the Websters” which, as you can imagine, involve a lot of lost takes due to constant laughing.

Amy Kelly is only 19 and did her A-Levels last year (Art, Photography and Theatre Studies) while filming Coronation Street – which she credits as helping her to remain grounded when she started to be recognized everywhere. For now, she is enjoying the fact Maddie is “bimbling along” nicely and content to “just see what happens”.

Sally Webster is one of my favourite characters and Maddie is a very strong addition to the cast. Amy Kelly was made up with the positive comments she has received on this site, particularly in Clinkers’ 2014 round-up blogs here and here. I promised to pass this feedback on, which goes to show that the cast do read our blog!

Kym Marsh and Kate Ford

I was wondering why Tracy and Michelle would attend an Underworld Outing but, of course, they are both ex-employees – in packing and personal assisting. Despite hating each other on screen, Kym and Kate are good friends in real life and spark off each other nicely.

Talking about the crash, Kate Ford described having Kym Marsh lying on top of her, which is “probably a fantasy for a lot of people”. I couldn’t possibly comment on that but was certainly disappointed not to get a photo with them both!

Tracy will end up saving Carla. I asked if this proves Tracy is not evil after all. “I honestly believe it was a moment of humanity”, says Kate although she predicts “when she wants something from Carla… no doubt she will use this to her advantage”.

Kate says it “felt like a puzzle” when they got the scripts because it was so different to anything they’d done before. The way it was shot – some scenes inside with the blue screens and some outside, was “more like film”. Kym points out that none of the actors went to the quarry – they filmed their scenes either inside a studio or in Trafford Park and Heaton Park, where in 2012 I saw Tracy “Made of Stone” Barlow’s favourite band, The Stone Roses.

Kym Marsh was particularly excited about being involved in the minibus episodes because she was pregnant during the tram crash. She tells a great story about going into her local Co-op one night after filming without realising her blood and bruises were still painted on!

Michelle will feel bad for not picking up on Steve’s depression but Kym explains, “when someone is acting strangely you don’t automatically go ‘oh they’re depressed’”. When Steve tells all, Michelle will snap into action and start “to take control of the situation”. Michelle will support Steve and be protective when some of the others blame him for the accident. She will help him to cope with the guilt he will inevitably feel.

Tracy on the other hand will be more concerned with what the kids in the playground will say about Amy’s “mental Dad”. Amy’s brilliant Mini-Tracy act is something Kate is enjoying - “it’ll take the pressure off me for a bit”, she laughs.

According to Kate, Tracy’s worldview is so twisted that she believes Steve “was going to commit suicide and take everybody with him – she doesn’t get it.” She found unsympathetic lines like this difficult to say.

Interestingly, Simon Gregson initially thought Steve wasn’t the right character for a depression storyline but as he read around the subject it became clear that it was going to be very powerful. Kym feels it gives the “message that if you are someone who is happy every day and joking… it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not going through something privately”. Kate talks about the “very English” reaction to depression  - of unhelpfully telling people to “get a grip and pull yourself together”. She believes it is great Coronation Street is highlighting such an important issue and hopes that people who suffer from depression will find comfort in this.

Steve will receive therapy and go on medication. He has a long way to go on the road to recovery but the crash will be the catalyst for “Steve and Michelle loving each other” again and Kym is “absolutely delighted” they’ll be getting married this year. 

Katie McGlynn and Andrew Whyment

Sinead is most severely affected in the crash and it will be touch and go as to whether she fully recovers. “It’s very serious – it’s going to be hard for her” says Katie McGlynn. Katie was “over the moon” when she found out she was going to be involved in such a big storyline. She regards her involvement as a “privilege” and hopes it “comes across alright”. She did research to gain some insight into what it is like for those who have gone through something similar.

Sinead’s biggest concern is that “she doesn’t want to be a burden to Chesney”. She is worried it will put a strain on their relationship. “It’s going to be upsetting and a struggle”, says Katie, and she doesn’t know what will happen at the end of it all. However, “Chesney’s just totally devoted to her… he’d just be there for her”, she feels.

According to Andrew Whyment, Kirk will try “to be there for Sinead” in the aftermath of the crash and “be there for Chesney as well” because “Kirk sees Chesney as like his little brother”. Kirky will stay strong for the whole family.

Andrew is pleased Kirk has “found his match” with Beth after years of being unlucky in love. He enjoyed the sweet scenes on the wedding night, which showed that “Kirk and Beth really love each other”. He loves working with Lisa George and wants their characters to stay together for a very long time – “we get on really well, the characters really work so long may it continue”. 

Andrew Whyment is now in his fifteenth year on Coronation Street. This makes him one of the more senior cast members “which is weird”. It also means he is a good source of advice for the newer actors.

People often tell Katie she looks different to Sinead and it’s true – I can’t picture Sinead in a Blondie T-shirt. The chat-up line she gets most often on nights out is “Chesney’s done alright for himself, hasn’t he?” to which she still doesn’t know how to respond. It’s true though – Chesney’s done well with the ladies – first Katy and now Sinead. I guess there can’t be many 20 year olds who manage a kebab shop though, so that’s definitely in his favour.

Andrew predicts “a really good year for the Tinkers” – the Sinead storyline will be powerful and bring the family together and Craig will be involved in Faye’s pregnancy plot. Sinead’s Mum will be back for some scenes at the bedside. “I think we should have some really nice stuff coming up”, says Andrew. More screen time for Craig is to be welcomed and I wouldn’t be averse to the Terrible Tinkers we saw at Beth’s wedding coming back for an episode or two.

Antony Cotton and Katie Cavanagh

Both Sean and Julie are in the early stages of romance and the crash will bring them closer to their respective partners. But Katie Cavanagh says Dev is about to “go and save the world in India”. Perhaps he’ll start with the football team he sponsors in Mumbai.

Dev will leave Julie with Mary, creating lots of “argy bargy” about who will live in the house and look after the kids. Julie will be devastated that Dev is going away but is “completely bestotted” and will of course support his philanthropic pilgrimage.

Katie is “having a ball” working with Patti Clare and loves “the way the writers have picked it up and run with it”. There is a lot of good stuff coming up with the two of them. Todd will continue his nasty streak (what the hell happened to him in that London?) by trying to break Jason and Eva up but Auntie Julie “would not see bad in him really”. She should do – he’s a right piece of work.

After the crash, Sean will be caught between Steve and Michelle who he works with and the Underworld girls who he also works with. Antony Cotton describes “the ripple effect that it’s not just the person who is injured or that has suffered the trauma - it’s all of their families and because we’re all connected.”

Filming was pretty traumatic for Antony. Braving claustrophobia inside the minibus, the nighttime scenes outside left him with a chest infection. He subsequently broke a rib during a coughing fit. This was on the day the stunt work began, and so he had to soldier on through.

“Billy steps up to the oche”, says Antony and is the first to come round to see how Sean is. It is a big shock at the start of their relationship but Billy’s vocation means that he cares about the community and therefore Sean “couldn’t be in better hands”. Could it be the real thing for Sean this time round?  “Sean’s trouble”, according to Antony, “is that every rock he picks up, underneath it is love”.

When Sean first appeared in the show, many of the older writers had never written for a gay character before. Antony Cotton made a conscious decision to play Sean as a Raquel sort of character – “always looking up at the stars even if she was in the gutter” – and this is how he was written. As a result, “he’s always seen love around every corner and fallen in love very easily”.

Sean and Billy will both have to make choices and each will need to change in order to accommodate the other. Billy’s career is so all-encompassing that he may need to choose “between the relationship and the Church”. “With Sean”, says Antony, “he normally ends up messing it up himself so we’ll see if he messes it up this time.”

I’m curious to know whether Emily Bishop will be down with a gay vicar, remembering as I do her shameful refusal to accept Sophie Webster’s sexuality. Antony Cotton will be thrilled “if there’s more stuff for Sean and Emily” because he adores Eileen Derbyshire and regrets the fact they currently only share scenes when he is “giving her a scuna of sherry over the bar”. He often listens to Radio 4 plays with Eileen Derbyshire during breaks from filming.

Antony Cotton is proud of how far public attitudes have changed in recent years. He recalls that “ten years ago when there were two men kissing on The Street there were headlines that said Degradation Street, this is disgusting, this is not family viewing” – and so he accepts that a gay vicar “will wind some people up”.

However, he did not have a single negative thing written about him after the first two episodes with Sean and Billy went out and has not read “a single online or print media article that even referenced the fact they were the same gender”. Antony feels it is “wonderful that in just a short space of time change has happened”. He’s absolutely right and I hope Sean can find happiness with Billy.

And that was the end of an amazing afternoon where I met several cast members and learnt lots about what is coming up in Corrie. However, my time in Manchester was not yet over because I had a party to get to! I was invited to attend an evening of pizza, bowling and karaoke with Corrie’s ‘New Generation’. But that is another story for another day. 

Enjoy tonight’s episodes - I look forward to reading the post-crash analysis here on the Blog. If you come back in a day or two, I’ll fill you in on my night on the town with some of Coronation Street’s brightest new stars.

By Martin Leay
Twitter: @mpleay 

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Gayle said...

Martin thank you so much for sharing! I'm a very long time viewer in Canada and always enjoy reading the blogs posted here! I love the character Billy and hope he stays for a long time!

maggie muggins said...

Thanks for writing about the press conference and meeting the cast. Next best thing to being there. I'm a fan of Billy with Sean too, and it was interesting to hear Antony talk about how his character has evolved from when older writers developed the character of Sean.

Martin Leay said...

Many thanks both. I got it wrong about Sinead's Mum - as we saw last night, it is Agnes Tinker, Sinead's Great Grandmother who is back for the bedside scenes. You'd think the others would have come too!


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