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...

TV Times - - Soap Interview - Corona­tion Street Mon, Wed, Fri / ITV / 7.30PM & 8.30PM Ali­son slade

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

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