Cor­rie stars hit the Street again af­ter Covid

Tina O’Brien tells Ge­or­gia Humphreys about up­com­ing sto­ry­lines now they’ve back film­ing again

Irish Examiner - - Culture | Arts -

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

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