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

Tuesday 31 May 2022

Frank Bardsley is George's School Bully? Corrie Blog Interviews Simon O'Brien

In November of 1982, newly launched Channel Four debuted Brookside to the soap opera genre. Even though it was 22 years old by then, Coronation Street execs would have been hard pressed not to have taken a glance at this Liverpool based drama. Brookside quickly found its feet by portraying a dark yet pragmatic look at life in Thatcher's 1980s grim and fiscally starved North West. Although it was axed in 2003, the soap was a trailblazer in bringing cutting-edge societal issues to the genre, undoubtedly influencing Corrie and their peers. 

Simon O'Brien (L) with his Brookside TV family

Even in 2022, edgy and societal impressions of working-class life remain on our TV screens' directed via our favourite fictional characters: alcoholism, marital violence, murder, disease, child death, disability awareness, and much more - Brookside did it all first! I admit to being a massive fan of Brookside in the 1990s and have watched tons of classic episodes on DVD. A standout was the unexpected stabbing and murder of teen character Damon Grant played by Simon O'Brien, who has just joined Coronation Street as Sean's new love interest; Frank Bardsley. It's an ouroboros moment for this soap fan, and it was a surreal treat to join an ITV Coronation Street press day last week, to chat with Simon and to learn all about the latest new character, Frank Bardsley; 

Hello Simon! Welcome to Weatherfield! It's been 40 years since you starred in Brookside. How does it feel being back on a soap? 

It's a different world being back on a soap. Brookside filmed in real houses, all on one camera, and effectively broke the mould. It made TV look at issues outside of those four walls. 40 years later, and coming into the ITV Studios - what a machine! It's extraordinary how it works, with the purpose-built sets, and a learning curve to get back into it.

Was Coronation Street a programme that you always wanted to be in?

Everyone’s got to have a pint in the Rovers I think, at some point in their acting career. That is the moment, it's a landmark and an icon. To walk in through those Rovers Return doors is brilliant. The cast or director will say ‘well you've had your rovers moment now!’ 

What was it like when you first walked into the Rovers? 

As an actor, even in the TV profession, Coronation Street is an amazing institute. To sit in a booth in the rovers or to stand at the bar is quite surreal. It's that moment where real life and fiction blend into one. You are playing a character but you still get those butterflies!

What can you tell us about your character, Frank Bardsley? He isn't Sean's usual type?    

Sean and Frank hit it off as they have a shared sense of humour. It works as the basis for any good relationship but, Frank isn't his usual type. He has no dress sense and is a few years older than Sean. They have a certain rapport. Sean is smitten and does all the chasing. It's a seemingly blossoming romance, but Frank has a bit of history. 

This next week we learn that Frank may not be all he seems to be. Can you tell us what happens when he's introduced to George Shuttleworth?   


Frank and Sean's romance blossoms. George walks into the rovers one day, immediately recognising Frank, and in turn, he recognises George as an old school friend. Frank is pleased to see George, but George has to hide the fact that the very sight of Frank makes him feel anxious. George has always been meek and mild-mannered, meaning he was the butt of jokes and bullied at school. It seems that Frank was the ringleader in that.       

It's often the case that the school bully rarely remembers behaving that way in the past? 

Yes, that's exactly the case of what happens here. George confides in Eileen and he has these suspicions that Frank is not what he appears. George had some very bitter experiences and remembers him being a nasty piece of work. But no one takes that on board and Frank himself is aghast and doesn't see himself as the person that George remembers. He is utterly unaware, it's certainly the case with Frank. 

Is Frank going to have his work cut out in trying to convince people that he isn't this monster that George remembers? 

As it turns out, it's George that has to do the convincing! Frank is very polite, very witty, and treats Sean well. George tries to tell people to be careful and to be wary of him, but, he gets the wrong end of the stick, and that makes people think that George is making things up. It then transpires that what George accuses Frank of isn’t true at all, therefore, all the onus and pressure is on George to prove that Frank is a bully, and Frank just brushes the whole thing off. 

Sean’s son Dylan is also going to be around. Do you think that Frank is up for coping with a child, alongside his new fella? 

Well, I think what we can see, where the cracks might start to appear in Frank’s character is that he’s jealous of anyone that has a close bond or a pull on Sean’s time. You're not going to get between a father and son, it's just Frank doesn't see it like that. It becomes a tug-of-war for Sean's affections and Frank's facade starts to drop. I couldn't think of a better character to play, we have that corrie comedy, yet below that, a bit of a seriously flawed man. It's great to play it on both levels when looking at how things will develop! 

Thanks, Simon! 

So what do we think? Frank appears to be a character of charm but with a dark underside. It's not new territory, however, Simon’s Brookside tutelage could lend itself to current Coronation Street? Could things get dark for Sean, and his returning son, Dylan? Simon is also a Liverpudlian, just like Pat Phelan, and just like George Shuttleworth, thinking about it! It will be interesting to see how this develops! 

I am @rybazoxo Cobbles connissieur and Coronation Street superfan. 

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


Anonymous said...

Yet another new character who is not as nice as they seem.
Why can’t we just have a nice new character who was, is, and remains nice?
That would be boring I hear some people say, but that’s only because the writers are not capable of making nice characters interesting.

C in Canada said...

I'm with Anon above. Another new character with a secret. Yawn.
I'd really like to see Sean find a nice guy that actually treats him right and not mess him about.

Anonymous said...

Kids who were bullies can grow up to be normal, kind-hearted adults. Who really and truly wants to be defined by the child they were 30+ years ago? Give Frank a break! He’s not a ten year old anymore.


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