Thank you, Bar­bara Knox! Sally Car­man

on how the Cor­rie leg­end in­spired her to act, and why she’d love her char­ac­ter, Abi Franklin, to stay on the cob­bles for years…

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

Most ac­tors have a tale to tell about what made them want to per­form, but Sally Car­man’s story has to be one of the most heart­warm­ing we’ve heard yet.

Back in the late 1980s, when Sally was a school­girl, she was one of mil­lions of Corona­tion Street fans cap­ti­vated by the dra­matic plot that saw Alan Bradley ma­nip­u­late and al­most kill Rita Fair­clough.

Thirty years later and Sally is of course now mak­ing waves on the same show, play­ing trou­bled mum-of-three Abi Franklin.

‘I al­ways knew I was go­ing to be an ac­tress, but I didn’t do GCSE drama at school or any­thing,’ re­veals Sally, who was born and bred in York­shire. ‘I per­formed in a cou­ple of plays at ju­nior school but re­ally that was it.

child­hood hero

‘Fun­nily enough, Bar­bara Knox was a mas­sive part of it. I re­mem­ber watch­ing her do the whole Alan Bradley sto­ry­line and get­ting tin­gles and goose­bumps, and I just knew I wanted to do that.

I’ve told Bar­bara this, and she was quite touched by it.

‘Oh my good­ness, to meet her was some­thing else; it was like an out-of-body ex­pe­ri­ence!’

To be fair, we can’t give Bar­bara all the credit for Sally’s suc­cess. Some of that must also go to Sally’s par­ents - dad Stephen, a for­mer miner, and mum Ann, a for­mer house­wife. Dad, in par­tic­u­lar, needs some Brownie points, hav­ing given his daugh­ter a kick up the back­side when he could see that she wasn’t pur­su­ing her dream.

‘When I left school, I was in a cou­ple of bands,’ Sally tells us. ‘We used to gig in pubs. I was the lead singer, and we had a great time.’

Be­com­ing ABI

‘My dad said to me: “You’re never go­ing to do this act­ing,” so I went, “Yes I am!” He knew what he was do­ing – re­verse psy­chol­ogy and all that. So I ap­plied for four drama schools, got in at LAMDA [Lon­don Academy of Mu­sic and Dra­matic Art] and that was it.’

Sally’s first TV role was in 1998, when she made a brief ap­pear­ance in BBC1 cop drama City Cen­tral. Since then, she’s notched up nu­mer­ous roles on telly, ra­dio, film and in theatre, be­fore land­ing the part of Cor­rie’s Abi last year.

She was cherry-picked to play the char­ac­ter, and ini­tially of­fered six episodes be­fore even­tu­ally be­ing made a more per­ma­nent cast mem­ber. But if you think this sounds like she had an easy ride, Nicked: Abi finds her­self in trou­ble with the po­lice think again. Get­ting the nod from Cor­rie came after years of try­ing – and fail­ing - to break into the soap.

‘I had some­thing like 10 screen tests over the years for dif­fer­ent parts,’ says Sally.

‘I au­di­tioned for Shona,

Kate Con­nor, and I was up for Hay­ley Ta­mad­don’s char­ac­ter [An­drea Beck­ett] as well.

‘Gen­nie Rad­cliffe, Cor­rie’s cast­ing di­rec­tor, has been my big­gest sup­porter. She has worked so hard to try to get me onto the show, and she fi­nally man­aged it. But Abi was worth wait­ing for. She is by far the best fit for me.

‘She’s an ac­tor’s dream. She’s flawed, like we all are, but she’s do­ing her best.’

Trou­ble on The way…

When we first met Abi, she was a drug-ad­dled mess, un­able to prop­erly care for her three chil­dren – teenage son Seb, and young twins Lexi and Char­lie. After the twins were taken into care, she vowed to get them back, and it looked like she was well on her way when she cleaned up her act and landed a job at Kevin’s garage.

But things turned sour re­cently when Abi was wrongly ac­cused of dam­ag­ing Michelle Con­nor’s car and given the sack. And, this week, the for­mer me­chanic im­plodes and has a drugs re­lapse. She then de­cides to put the twins up for adop­tion, and when Seb trashes the florists after dis­cov­er­ing that the real car sabo­teur was Tracy, she takes the rap for her son’s crime and gets sent to prison.

It’s not the happy end­ing Abi had hoped for – but Sally is thrilled.

‘I don’t want her to get her kids back, and I think that’s un­re­al­is­tic now any­way,’ she tells us. ‘I like how she just bobs about like an al­ley cat, go­ing from one thing to the next un­til she ends up smack on her back­side.

‘And, who knows, if I’m in Cor­rie for a while, the twins can grow up and they can come and find me on the street in a few years’ time.’

Does this mean that Sally would like to stick around on the soap?

‘I re­ally would,’ she smiles. ‘You look at peo­ple like Bill Roache

[Ken Bar­low]. He’s in his 80s and he’s smash­ing it on a daily ba­sis.

‘I’d re­ally love that to be me in years to come. I couldn’t think of any­thing bet­ter!’

I re­mem­ber watch­ing Bar­bara and

get­ting tin­gles and goose­bumps

soap leg­end: Bar­bara Knox has played Rita since 1964

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