How I became a Barlow
Star Rob Mallard on Daniel’s shocking attack on his dad Ken, and what it takes to become part of Coronation Street’s foremost clan...
Rob Mallard was understandably nervous when, just a few months after landing the role of Coronation Street student Daniel Osbourne, he was told that his character would attack his father, Ken Barlow.
Not King Ken, the Corrie legend? Surely that could only mean one thing: before you could say University Challenge, Daniel would get his comeuppance and be carted off to HMP Weatherfield – or worse – leaving Rob jobless and awaiting his next audition.
‘I thought that the story worked, but I was worried on a personal level because Corrie has got such a moral element to it,’ admits Rob, 25. ‘I thought that any character who did that would ultimately have a very short shelf life. But
Kate Oates, our producer, said to me, “Don’t worry”. I think she saw a look of panic on my face!’
From the moment Ken was found slumped at the bottom of the stairs by Pat Phelan, viewers were left wondering whodunit.
Was it toxic Tracy? Angry
Adam? Eccles the dog?
The answer was finally revealed in explosive scenes – putting viewers out of their misery and meaning Rob no longer had to answer the same question – ‘Was it you?’ – 30 times a day.
‘It wasn’t hard for me to keep quiet, because I didn’t want to ruin the storyline, but people were constantly asking me about it,’ adds Rob. ‘Whenever I was stopped for a selfie, they’d always follow it up by saying, “Did you do it; did you push Ken?”.’
If keeping a juicy secret was no big deal for Rob, that’s probably because he’s had more important matters to deal with – like his demanding schedule. Since joining the cast last year, it’s been one big plot after another. First came the revelation that Daniel had been abandoned by his mother, Denise; closely followed by the bookworm taking up with Sinead Tinker, who secretly aborted their baby.
Then came Ken’s attack; the aftermath of which saw Denise return and, last week, a desperate Daniel turn to drugs. Talk about hitting the ground running.
‘The brilliant thing about being put in the Barlows is that because they’re such strong characters, it gives you no option but to find a way in – and everyone was very good at making me aware that there was a space for me,’ says Rob, who was born and bred in Oldham and trained at the Birmingham School of Acting.
‘The struggle for me was the amount of stuff the character has had to go through in such a short space of time. It’s been intense – at least three solid months of nine to 10-hour days.
But it’s felt good to do that, and it’s satisfying to know you are going to produce something good at the end of it.’
Of the millions of viewers watching Daniel’s life implode, no one has been glued to the drama more than Rob’s nan, Irene. She’s a huge Corrie fan and has proudly watched her grandson’s rise to fame – a journey that began when Rob started taking weekly drama classes at the age of 11.
‘Initially, I went to Taekwondo lessons with my sister, but after about six weeks, I decided it wasn’t for me,’ Rob tells us. ‘My sister carried on and my mum said,
“I don’t want you coming back to me in years to come and saying I never paid for you to do anything – so is there anything else you want to do?” She suggested drama because she knew someone else who went to this particular class, and it took off from there.
‘At school, I was always putting on plays with my friends, and after I did my GCSES, I went to college to do a BTEC in drama. I’d originally stayed on to do A-levels, but the revision for GCSES gave me such a fear of sitting an exam ever again that the prospect of sitting the AS and A-level exams was awful, and I left. But I loved college, and met some of my best mates there. And from there, I got into drama school.’
Nana Irene will no doubt be keen to know what’s destined for Daniel following his downward spiral, but if she’s hoping for happier times, she’s about to be disappointed. Next week, he learns that his exam results aren’t good enough to get him into Oxford University.
‘Daniel’s had a certain goal, which was climbing through the ranks of education, So he’s probably going to be quite low.
But that might give him a bit more humility,’ says Rob.
Still, at least things are rosier for Rob off screen. He’s found romance with co-star Daniel Brocklebank, who plays Billy. And, he was recently crowned Best Newcomer at The British Soap Awards. Life is looking pretty peachy – even if it’s not how Rob originally saw it panning out.
‘When I was little, I wanted to be an Egyptian,’ he recalls. ‘Then I realised I couldn’t be one, so
I decided to teach history instead.
‘But acting is a brilliant thing, and knowing what you want to do is fantastic because a lot of people don’t know, do they?’
We are (dysfuctional) family: adam, peter, Ken, Tracy and Daniel Happy days: Rob with partner Daniel and his soap award FOR ALL THIS WEEK’S BIG Soap STORIES, SEE PAGES 26-31