CHRISTMAS ON THE COB­BLES

RTÉ Guide Christmas Edition 2018 - - Interview -

On a re­cent visit to the set of Corona­tion Street in Manch­ester, Julie Lor­dan met some of the cast and found out what’s in store for them over the Christmas episodes

AU­DREY ROBERTS has found love with Lewis Archer (Nigel Havers), but she seems to be the only one who trusts him. When it comes to the wily Lewis, who can blame Au­drey’s fam­ily and friends for think­ing “once a swindler, al­ways a swindler”?

Hope­fully, how­ever, Christmas brings joy rather than heartache for the pop­u­lar char­ac­ter, even while those close to her fre­quently re­mind her of how dodgy Lewis is.

e trou­ble is, de­spite it all, Au­drey re­ally loves Lewis. “It’s like when there is some­one in your past, and it ends” says Sue Ni­cholls, “you still hold on to the hope that they have feel­ings for you, so if years later they re­turn, you might long to tell them to get lost, but there is still that spark and that is what hap­pened with Au­drey and Lewis. She knows the doubters could be right, but she turns a blind eye.”

And if Lewis lets her down (which is al­ways a pos­si­bil­ity, es­pe­cially as Nigel Havers is leav­ing the soap) would Au­drey see that as the end of all romance? “I don’t know, but don’t we all say a er a tough re­la­tion­ship ‘never again’ and then some­thing can hap­pen out of the blue that sur­prises you.”

On the bright side, Au­drey is le £80,000 by an old friend. “Yes”, says Sue, “but sadly over the weeks, the cash dis­ap­pears.”

Playing an older char­ac­ter, does Sue en­joy the ro­man­tic sto­ry­lines? “Yes, of course, be­cause romance can hap­pen at any age and it is im­por­tant to re ect that. Years ago, there was a story pitched to my char­ac­ter, that she was lonely and drank too much and went home ev­ery evening to a mis­er­able quiet house, and I ob­jected to that be­cause be­ing alone, at a cer­tain age, does not nec­es­sar­ily mean be­ing lonely and turn­ing to drink.”

One re­la­tion­ship that keeps view­ers en­thralled is the mother and daugh­ter dy­namic be­tween Au­drey and Gail. “Yeah, Gail is full on, but she gen­uinely cares for her Mum,” says Sue. “At the mo­ment, Gail is re­ally get­ting on my nerves a lot!”

And with­out giv­ing too much away, Au­drey will need all her self-be­lief and pa­tience in the next few weeks.

PETER BAR­LOW is sin­gle again, so ro­man­tic ad­ven­tures are en­tirely pos­si­ble. ere is ob­vi­ous chem­istry be­tween Peter and Carla Con­nor; he has al­ways had a so spot for Leanne Bat­tersby, and you can’t be sure that Toyah Bat­tersby is com­pletely out of the pic­ture.

Or, con­sid­er­ing he has been mar­ried to all these women, he might set his sights on some­one else.

Chris says view­ers would like to see Peter and Carla to­gether, and that could very well hap­pen. “ere are re­ally good scenes a er Christmas be­tween Peter and Carla which take place in the snooker hall that Peter has pur­chased,” says Chris. “It’s a real ‘will they or won’t they’ sce­nario.”

“I think it looks like Carla is Peter’s ‘one’. ey have been on and o to­gether now for years” says Chris. “But Peter still likes Leanne! She and

Peter are al­ways a pos­si­bil­ity given the right cir­cum­stances. But things seem to be over for good be­tween him­self and Toyah,” says Chris. “But you’d never know, I just go along with the writ­ers.”

Peter’s al­co­holism sto­ry­line has been on the back-burner for a while and he is in con­trol of his ad­dic­tion. But Chris has rm views on how he would like that to play out. “If Peter was ever writ­ten out, or if I de­cided to quit, then I re­ally think that’s the story: the drink. Peter, over a long pe­riod, would just drink him­self to death. It would be bril­liant, as an ac­tor, to do it. For this guy to deal with some­thing tragic, and if the da­m­age is bad enough, then for him to give up. But to be clear, I’m not want­ing to leave. I have been back now for over two years and I’m lov­ing it,” says Chris.

TIM MET­CALFE is do­ing his best to stand by his wife Sally, who is in prison, falsely ac­cused of fraud. But the great­est threat to his mar­riage comes from his sis­ter-in­law Gina, who has fallen in love with him and is playing games to drive him and Sally apart.

A piv­otal mo­ment oc­curs when Tim wakes up, with a huge hang­over, and nds Gina in bed be­side him. He was so drunk that he prob­a­bly just col­lapsed into bed – but he can­not be sure. “Tim is ut­terly dev­as­tated that he has done some­thing like this,” says Joe. “And there are some lovely scenes where Tim breaks down when talk­ing to his daugh­ter, Faye.

“e thing is, Sally and Tim re­ally love each other and are faith­ful to each other,” says Joe. And Tim seems to­tally un­aware of the signs from Gina that she wants some­thing more than friend­ship. “Yeah,” says Joe, “they are get­ting on re­ally well and be­com­ing close, as friends, but when this hap­pens, he be­gins to see how Gina re­ally is.”

Joe knows that the re­ac­tion from view­ers will be mixed. “Some peo­ple think that Sally is a night­mare,” says Joe, “and Tim could do bet­ter, but more think that he is be­hav­ing badly.”

Joe ad­mits that he was hop­ing Tim and Sally would have the long-term happy re­la­tion­ship that eludes most other cou­ples in Cor­rie. “When I read the scripts my re­ac­tion was that I wanted to pro­tect the mar­riage, be­cause I had in­vested a lot in my char­ac­ter and think it would be a shame if the re­la­tion­ship nished. I be­lieve they are a like­able couple,” says Joe.

Be­cause of cer­tain events dur­ing Christmas, the friend­ship with Gina is com­pletely over. “Yeah, there is no go­ing back. And any­way, Tim only wants to get Sally out of prison – that is his goal. He re­ally can’t cope on his own.”

So, Christmas Day won’t be very fes­tive in the Met­calfe house­hold. Tim is dis­traught that he might have been un­faith­ful, and on the day it­self, he goes to the prison to con­fess all to Sally. “He is plan­ning to tell her be­cause he feels he owes her the truth. I don’t know how a fam­ily could over­come some­thing like this,” says Joe.

“But the Christmas episodes are great and there is a lot go­ing on, so you can imag­ine how Christmas din­ner would be,” said Joe.

JENNY CON­NOR (née Bradley) has had a tough year. She is land­lady of e Rovers, but has to work along­side Liz Mcdon­ald, who had an a air with Jenny’s hus­band, Johnny. Right now her mar­riage is fall­ing apart. Even though both Johnny and Liz re­gret the a air, and Jenny said all is for­given, she can­not move on. So, Christmas might not be the cheery day that she would want. “Jenny didn’t think she would be con­fronted with Liz on a daily ba­sis, but un­for­tu­nately, Johnny has taken her at her word that she is ne. And of course, she’s not,” says Sally Ann. “She is try­ing hard to deal with the sit­u­a­tion, but in do­ing so, she is drink­ing far too much, with dis­as­trous con­se­quences.”

And then, be­cause of the drink, Jenny falls and hurts her­self, more than once. Which leads the gorm­less Gemma, who works with Jenny, to jump to con­clu­sions, be­liev­ing that Johnny could be hit­ting his wife.

“By the time we get to Christmas Day, Jenny and Johnny are not in a good place,” says Sally Ann. “Jenny has been drunk or hun­gover for about three weeks, but is be­gin­ning to re­alise that she has to stop. She and Johnny do rec­on­cile on Christmas morn­ing, and all looks good, un­til other peo­ple come and stick their oar in.”

And does Jenny think their mar­riage can be saved? “Well, if Johnny had done se­ri­ous suck­ing-up and made her feel spe­cial, we would have been ne, but he didn’t,” says Sally Ann. “But they ab­so­lutely love each other, so there is hope. Jenny doesn’t think it was a mis­take to for­give Johnny, but she thinks it was a mis­take for Johnny not to re Liz.”

Sally Ann rst acted in Cor­rie when she was a teenager and when she looks back on those early days, she could never have imag­ined her­self be­ing land­lady of the Rovers. “I al­ways thought I would end up in the Kabin, work­ing with Rita, and even­tu­ally tak­ing it over, so it is still sur­pris­ing to nd my­self in the iconic role of Rovers land­lady.

What­ever about Christmas on the cob­bles, all the ac­tors are plan­ning on a quiet tra­di­tional Christmas for them­selves, and they all ad­mit­ted that their es­sen­tial Christmas Day view­ing is Corona­tion Street.

SUE NI­CHOLLS (AU­DREY ROBERTS)

CHRIS GASGOYNE (PETER BAR­LOW)

JOE DUT­TINE (TIM MET­CALFE)

Sally Ann Matthews (Jenny Con­nor)

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