‘I was frightened I'd never see Polly grow up'
We are HUGE fans of Kym Marsh. Not only is she one of soap’s best actresses but the Coronation Street star is also an absolute delight to talk to.
Kym – who’s dating personal trainer Matt Baker – is a fitness lover who works out most days, and has the body to show for it.
We settle down with her while she’s having a quick break on the Corrie set and find out what she likes to do during down time, how she battles stress, her hopes for her kids and whether there’ll be wedding bells again for her on and off the screen… You’re known for working out and healthy eating – what’s your daily regime? I try to work out four times a week and I run outdoors. I’m a big believer in healthy body, healthy mind. It should be a massive part of everyone’s life. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a huge part of mine now. I always used to say everything in moderation, but these days I limit myself to one cheat day a week and follow the Paleo diet the rest of the time.
How’s Simon Gregson coping following his wife’s recent health scare? They’ve had a rough time. I can’t comment on it too much but they’ll be all right and they are a great couple.
You have a big storyline coming up now that Carla Connor [Alison King] is coming back to the cobbles – how’s that working out? I’m really excited that Alison’s coming back. We’re very close and she’s a huge part of the family. We’ll start filming fairly soon. I don’t know anything about the storylines, but hopefully we’ll have some fun!
‘Being healthy is a huge part of my life’ The Coronation Street actress reveals the family health scare that made her finally give up the cigarettes, shortly before friend and fellow Corrie star Liz Dawn died of a smoking related illness, and why she’s in no hurry to walk down the aisle…
Do you think there will be wedding bells for your character Michelle Connor and her beau, Robert Preston? What we’re filming at the moment is all going to be shown towards the end of the year and nothing has happened like that so far... but who knows? They are a nice couple I think, so maybe we’ll just have to wait and see.
What’s been your favourite storyline to date on Corrie? Enjoyed is not the word for this storyline... When Michelle lost her baby, that was the one I found the most challenging, not least because I’d gone through something similar myself, but also because I wanted to do justice for all those other people who have gone through the same thing. There were huge similarities between mine and Michelle’s story, but also major differences, so it was important to tell Michelle’s story and not just mine. You can’t just bring yourself to it – you’ve got to put yourself in the position of the other person.
Did you find it hard to go through the emotions again? It was a really tricky time and it took me back to places I wasn’t comfortable with, but I’m so glad I did it. I’ve gone through so much over the last eight years but my main reason for wanting to do it was to reach out and educate people, or reach out to people who had perhaps gone through it themselves and to let them know they weren’t on their own. The response to the storyline was incredible and that was overwhelming.
People get very involved with soaps – do they ever shout stuff at you in the street? All the time! They tell me to forgive Steve and I’m like, ‘No, he cheated on me!’ With that character, people forgive him for everything.
Do fans flirt with you? No, I never get chatted up at all. Who knows why?!
When did you last get a bunch of flowers sent to you? God, it’s that long ago since I had flowers I’m not sure. I think the last time was from Corrie following the baby storyline. That’s the last time I got any – disgraceful isn’t it?!
You need to have words with your partner Matt! Have you spoken about marriage? Again, we’re just happy with the way things are at the moment and taking our time. Life is good! You’re an ambassador for Stoptober. Tell us your story… I’ve always had a strange relationship with cigarettes. It’s been very on and off since I was a teenager. Nowadays kids get a different message, but when I was 15 it was still seen as cool to smoke and that’s when I started. My group of friends all smoked and there was a shop just down from the school that would sell cigarettes separately to kids. We’d go in our school uniforms and buy two cigarettes each. That’s horrifying when I think back. Did you smoke heavily? Not at first. It was only when I left school and started working at about the age of 16 that I smoked more regularly. Back then you could smoke indoors.
How many would you typically smoke in a day? I started out on about 10 a day and that was enough. I fell pregnant with my son David and luckily it was easy to stop as pregnancy hormones meant the smell of smoke made me sick. After I had Emily and split from her dad, I was going through a stressful time and I started again. Looking back my smoking has always been driven by stress or socialising. The biggest thing was not social smoking. I hated smoking in the week but as soon as I had a glass of wine on the weekend with my friends, I’d want a cigarette. I’d smoke 20 a night.
But stress was always the main trigger? Yes. For instance when I lost my son Archie I was on strong antibiotics and couldn’t drink on them, so instead I used cigarettes to calm me down. We all have something that we turn to and smoking was my emotional crutch.
How did you give it up? The time was right for me. I’ve got children, I want to see David and Emily have kids, I want to see Polly grow
‘My smoking has always been driven by stress’
up and I don’t want to end up like my dad with really bad health problems. You’ve got to find your reason and really want to give up. I tried vaping but in the end I went cold turkey. Every time I had a craving I reminded myself why I didn’t want to smoke. They say if you stop for 28 days you can stop for good and I’m proof of that 18 months later.
You mentioned your dad, what happened? The other catalyst was that my dad had a massive cardiac arrest aged 49 due to smoking. He’d smoked
40 a day for years. We used to say dad would always have a pencil behind one ear and a cigarette behind the other. He was only eight years older than I am now and for three or four minutes we lost him. I walked into the Coronary Care Unit and I remember looking at this man on the bed and thinking he looked more like my granddad, because it had aged him massively. My dad never touched another fag again. Smoking 40 cigarettes a day is a tough habit to quit but there was no second thought. I didn’t want to get to that point where it takes a heart attack to stop. How’s your dad now? He’s 72 and he’s done very well to still be with us after all these years. He had a quadruple bypass because his arteries were so blocked and since then he’s been better, it gave him a new lease of life. He looks after himself a lot more now. What’s your crutch now you don’t smoke? When I’m stressed now I turn to exercise, which is a much healthier substitute! What would you do if your kids smoked? I’ll be honest – Emily was smoking and she’s nearly 20. She’s just vaping now thankfully. It’s hard with your children but she’s an adult now. I’m encouraging her. Have you encouraged anyone on Corrie to give up cigarettes? Yes, so far Brooke Vincent has stopped smoking and Daniel Brocklebank is also stopping. Campaigns like Stoptober will only encourage people and eventually we might see a smoke-free country, you never know. In general, the Coronation Street lot are a healthy bunch, although we do keep on asking for chocolates in the green room!
Kym is encouraging thousands of smokers to stop smoking this Stoptober. It’s never too late to start your quitting journey. Search ‘Stoptober’ for all the support you need to quit.
Go to nhs.uk/oneyou/stoptober
With youngest daughter, Polly
Kym’s dad suffered health problems from smoking
On the red carpet with her two oldest kids, David and Emily
With on screen love interest, Steve Mcdonald
Kym says life is good with her boyfriend Matt