Corrie stars hit the Street again after Covid
Tina O’Brien tells Georgia Humphreys about upcoming storylines now they’ve back filming again
AFTER a few months off work thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, the cast of Coronation Street have returned to the cobbles. And star Tina O’Brien admits she was nervous about filming the ITV soap with social distancing measures in the place.
The 36-year-old — who started playing fan favourite Sarah Barlow (nee Platt) in 1999 — had concerns about how difficult it would be filming certain scenes two metres apart from her co-stars.
Take, for example, having to depict a charged moment between Sarah and her ex, Gary Windass, played by Mikey North.
“We are very tactile, we have to get up close to people; it’s just part of the job,” elaborates the Mancunian.
“The idea of doing it from a distance was a little bit bizarre for me. But it was fine, and Mikey is so great to work with that it was just normal.”
The storyline, which was reworked to adhere to the new safety precautions, began with Sarah demanding answers from Gary about his involvement in the disappearance of loan shark Rick Neelan, after his engraved watch was found in the words.
After Gary admitted the truth — that he killed Rick — Sarah was horrified and ran away to call the police, with Gary chasing after her.
When he saw a car hurtling down the street, he realised Sarah was in danger and dived in front of the vehicle, while pushing his former flame to safety.
Because the actors can’t have contact, O’Brien was replaced by a mannequin — which bubbly O’Brien quips was “a lot taller and slimmer” than her — in certain shots.
O’Brien has been involved in many of the most dramatic storylines in Weatherfield over the years.
Back in 2000, there was Sarah’s teenage pregnancy back, then a couple of years back the soap explored the grooming of her daughter, Bethany Platt, who was played by Lucy Fallon. Her mother was even married to a serial killer.
Currently, Sarah is dealing with the fact she has uncovered Gary’s web of lies, and whether she should reveal his secrets to the world.
O’Brien is married to businessman Adam Croft (they have son Beau together, and she also has daughter Scarlett from her relationship with former co-star Ryan Thomas).
“But I think, because of the PTSD that he had and the fact she really did truly love him, she feels like she doesn’t want to betray him.”
Meanwhile, Sarah also has her husband Adam (Sam Robertson) to deal with, and his suspicions about Gary are growing.
“She’s incredibly torn because she loves her husband and she very recently married him, but she also knows that he is gunning for Gary and he would do anything to see him go to prison.”
O’Brien surmises that if Gary was out of the picture, Sarah and Adam would work.
“But interestingly he’s a Barlow, and I don’t know if he got the Barlow genetics; would he stray?!” she follows, with a giggle.
“I don’t know… I think without Gary on the scene, they would have a really good chance.”
Making things even more complicated is that Gary is marrying another woman (Maria, played by Samia Longchambon).
But whatever happens with Sarah’s tumultuous love life, one thing is certain — she will continue to have plenty of amusing scenes with the rest of the Platts.
Being reunited with her on-screen family — including Jack P Shepherd who plays her brother David — has been the best bit since returning to work after lockdown, O’Brien gushes.
“One of the directors said the other day, ‘Which is your favourite set? and me and Jack, without even hesitation, both said, ‘The Platts’ house’,” she recalls, smiling.
“To be able to do normal scenes when there’s a bit of banter again, it’s been comforting for us. So, I hope it will be comforting for the audience to see that dynamic again.”
■ Coronation Street is broadcast weekdays on Virgin One
AS FIRST guests go on upstart podcasts, it’s hard to do better than Barack Obama. It helps that the show he’s appearing on is his wife’s: The Michelle Obama Podcast. A Spotify Original, it follows her memoir Becoming, the audiobook version of which won multiple awards, so fans will already relish her tone and tales — and this episode feels familiar as it charts their rags to riches story. What sets it apart is how the conversation is peppered with old American pop culture references, including Barack cajoling her for a Lost in Space catchphrase that will pass younger listeners by. “You could have done anything,”
Michelle tells him when they’re reminiscing about their college days, but adds, “you were running away from the money! I was like, ‘What is wrong with this Negro?’”
Michelle sets out her mission statement at the end of the episode: “Once we start the conversation, there’s no telling where it will go.”
One gets the feeling this is the start of a journey for Michelle that leads right back to the White House for the Obamas.
Michelle Obama is undoubtedly one of the biggest names to have started a podcast in recent times — and maybe it’s the lockdown effect, but it seems like there’s an array of celebrities with new podcasts to their name —sadly they come with rather stale ideas.
■ Spinning Plates with Sophie Ellis