Free Sally:

How Coro Street’s Sally Met­calfe is fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of Deirdre Bar­low.

The TV Guide - - CONCERT -

Twenty years ago, a cam­paign was launched to re­lease Coro Street’s Deirdre Bar­low/Rachid from jail (‘Free The Weather­field One’) af­ter she was framed by Jon Lind­say and un­justly im­pris­oned for fraud. Will an­other rally, among sup­port­ers of Sally Met­calfe, now be needed to get her out of a sim­i­lar predica­ment? James Ramp­ton re­ports.

Dur­ing her 32 years in Corona­tion Street, Sally Met­calfe has en­dured some bad times in­deed. But surely she can rarely have been through such a ter­ri­ble trauma as this.

Sally (played by Sally Dynevor), the for­mer mayor of Weather­field, is on trial, charged with fraud, bribery and money laun­der­ing af­ter her sup­posed friend Dun­can duped her and ran off with £40,000 do­nated to a fake char­ity.

So might we need to start wear­ing our “Free The Weather­field One” T-shirts soon?

“Yes,” laughs Dynevor, “you def­i­nitely do. She needs all the sup­port she can get at the mo­ment.”

The 55-year-old ac­tress out­lines how Sally has been cop­ing with jail life in the lead-up to the trial.

“She’s had her real ups and downs – she got beaten up. She hates it in there. Not to be re­spected any more, to have been the mayor and then end up in prison – the whole thing is a night­mare.”

But, Dynevor says, “The thing that’s keep­ing her go­ing is that she knows she is in­no­cent, so she be­lieves she will get out. She be­lieves in the Bri­tish jus­tice sys­tem.

“She’s a law-abid­ing and hon­est cit­i­zen. She thinks that once this goes to trial and they hear her side of the story, she can tell them the truth about what re­ally hap­pened and it’ll all be fine.”

Never a per­son to take things ly­ing down, Sally comes to be­lieve that she can ef­fect change in the pe­nal sys­tem.

“Sally isn’t one to sit back in prison,” Dynevor ex­plains. “So in the weeks lead­ing up to the trial, she’s been ral­ly­ing the pris­on­ers. “She wants to fight for pris­on­ers’ rights. She wants to start a skills-swap scheme. “Jodie (one of the pris­on­ers) teaches her yoga and she teaches Jodie how to sew, and all the women help one an­other to make the best of a re­ally bad sit­u­a­tion. “At this point, prison is all very new to Sally. She looks around her and thinks that it’s aw­ful and not what she ex­pected. So she wants to try to make it a bet­ter place for women, with yoga and med­i­ta­tion. The whole idea is lovely, but quite naive.” Dynevor pro­ceeds to as­sess how Sally got into this sorry state. “I think she’s been a bit gullible. For a girl who has just stitched knick­ers for the last 20 years, to be handed the power to give a char­ity £40,000 is amaz­ing. “She has been naive, but she was re­ally try­ing to do some­thing good. She says: ‘I’m snooty, pre­ten­tious and no­body likes me’. But in ac­tual fact she’s try­ing to do her best and be a good per­son. So I do also feel re­ally sorry for her.”

If she were to be handed a long jail sen­tence, it is doubt­ful that Sally would be able to han­dle it well.

Af­ter all, Dynevor re­calls, “Sally once told Gail: ‘I’m mid­dle class. I can’t go to jail. I need a de­cent roll of toi­let pa­per’.”

For Sally, the prospect of a lengthy spell in­side, “Is the worst thing. Not only are your priv­i­leges taken away from you and you are locked in a room with­out your fam­ily, but you have to suf­fer the shame of it.

“That would be hor­ri­ble for Sally – ev­ery­body on Corona­tion Street know­ing that she’d gone to prison. She wouldn’t be able to walk down Cor­rie again with her head held high, that’s for sure. She’d get re­ally ribbed in Un­der­world when she went back.”

Dynevor has now been a res­i­dent on the Street since 1986. She re­flects on what has per­suaded her to stay so long.

“Ev­ery­body who leaves Cor­rie tells you it’s like a fam­ily. I’ve been here 32 years. I can’t imag­ine not be­ing here. It’s the best job in the world in so many dif­fer­ent ways.

“Great writ­ing – funny and sad. As an ac­tor, to get scripts where you pick them up and can’t wait for the next one is thrilling. I’d never get that any­where else. And I live 20 min­utes down the road. That’s an­other good rea­son.”

Be­fore she leaves, the ac­tress urges us one last time to pre­pare for a pos­si­ble cam­paign to free Sally: “Get your T-shirts ready.”

“The thing that’s keep­ing her go­ing is that she knows she is in­no­cent, so she be­lieves she will get out. She be­lieves in the Bri­tish jus­tice sys­tem.”

– Sally Dynevor

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