CHRISTMAS ON THE COBBLES
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)