Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Coronation Street Blog Interview: Louis Emerick

Liz McDonald is one of my favourite Coronation Street characters, and while I’ve enjoyed her stint as a single lady, I'm also a big fan of how she sparkles with a man to wrap her arms about at The Rovers. It turns out she’s in luck! Yes, a new male arrival to the street might herald the return of her legendary hair tinsel as we prepare to see new character Mike Thornberry whisk her off her heels in the form of seasoned actor Louis Emerick. I travelled to ITV studios in Manchester to meet and chat with Louis about his character and the drama to come. Those not wishing to see any spoilers, should duck down behind the bar now.

Mike already has a Spanish love interest, but thankfully for Liz, it’s a farmhouse in want of restoration. She might also be happy to hear that his wife Jill is of the ‘ex’ variety, and the reason he’s on the street is for a bit of part-time work to fund the renovations, having lost money in the divorce, but thankfully not the house. There is also another interesting aspect to his character that should prove fun to watch – Mike is a retired teacher of Steve McDonald.

Speaking of meeting Liz for the first time, Louis says of Mike, “He’s just happened into this pub and met Mrs McDonald, as he calls her, and he quite likes what he sees. He used to say that he used to give Steve extra detention just so that his Mum would have to come and have a word with me. On that day he comes in, he ends up getting a job with Streetcars, and so that’s fulfilling the part-time work thing and then he’s going to work on wooing Liz.”

On encountering his former teacher, we’re told Steve is none too pleased, but Tim persuades him to take Mike on as a cab driver on the basis they could have a bit of fun with it. Asked what subjects his character taught Steve, Louis says “maths and geography" and jokes, "and as you can see, he’s been around most of the women on Coronation Street, so I’ve done a great job.”

Louis reveals that he’s known Beverley Callard for nearly 30 years, and given that most of his scenes so far have been with her and Simon Gregson, he says, “I couldn’t have wished for a better baptism, if you like.”

Although, it isn’t Louis’ first time to tread the cobbles. “32 years ago, I delivered the new furniture after The Rovers was burned down for the first time and I had a lovely scene with lovely Bill Tarmey, God rest his soul, and Roy Barraclough, God rest his soul also” says Louis, who treasured the experience.

Acknowledging the subsequent relocation of the set, he says “what’s interesting about that is, I was waiting to go in on Monday to do my first scene in The Rovers, and even though it’s moved locale, you still get that sense of nervousness because of all the people that have stepped in The Rovers before. So it didn’t take away the nerves, you still felt like you were treading on holy ground in a way.” Describing Corrie as “an institution” he says of the overall experience of joining the show, “it’s exciting and scary at the same time.”

A fan of the programme, Louis admits he never thought this would happen for him. “You watch it as an actor and you see characters that maybe you could be linked with, and then somebody else comes in, so I’d kind of given up the ghost of ever coming in really” he says, before revealing he auditioned for the parts of Tony Stewart and Freddie Smith.

Louis describes his time at Brookside in the role of Mick Johnson as "a great learning curve to be able to hopefully take on something like this" and also recalls other former cast members Michael Starke (pictured) and Sue Johnston had roles on both. However, having left that soap in 2001, he wouldn’t have gone directly to another. “That’s the reason why I left” he says, “because I wanted to do other stuff.” However, with seventeen years now passed, he continues, “I probably would’ve been ready maybe a year or two ago. I think you definitely need that gap, because it’s very intense.” Speaking of Corrie, he says, “I’m only coming in nice and gently, but I see some of the others - there are four units here, any actor at any time could be stepping off one and on to the other.” Praising the high standard of the show, he adds, “I mean, who wouldn’t want the chance to come and do it?”

Speaking of high standards, Louis shares an enjoyable insight concerning Bev Callard’s performance. “I’ll tell you a lovely little thing that she did” he says. “We filmed out of sequence, so on my first day I was over at Streetcars and she had this blouse on that had a little bow on it, and the bow was undone. So, come a week later we’re in The Rovers and we’re doing the scene where I first go in, and the bow was tied up.” Describing the professionalism she showed by thinking ahead with this lovely touch, he continues, “when I start by saying, ‘are you Mrs McDonald? I remember you’, and she says ‘you’ve got a good memory’ and I say, ‘yeah, for a pretty face’ and I lean in, and she undoes the bow.” He laughs, adding, "it was great, because what it did for me, as an actor, it totally calmed me down and we had a little sort of moment. Fair play to her for doing that." He also describes how Kate Ford acknowledged that he would have taught her character Tracy, and acted accordingly. “It’s small things, but it just means so much” he says, “so I salute all of the actors here, to welcome me as a stranger coming in - just doing little things like that can make a whole difference.”

Asked how his character Mike compares to Liz’s ex Big Jim, Louis says “Aw, Jim McDonald’s in the right place in prison, come on, you’d never let that man out again, would you? Now she’s got somebody with a bit of culture, with a bit of charm, in Mike, somebody that’ll try to woo her properly - leave him there, throw away the key” he laughs.

Liz has certainly had her fair share of bad luck when it comes to men. With Mike sounding as if he’ll be a nice guy, maybe she’ll finally get the man she deserves. It was great fun chatting to Louis, and I genuinely can’t wait to see this story play out.

By Emma Hynes
www.emmahynes.net
Twitter: @ELHynes
Facebook: @EmmaHynesWrites
Instagram: emmalouhynes




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1 comment:

maggie muggins said...

Nice interview, Emma! Thanks for sharing it with us. More not-Pat-Phelan stories, yay!

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