So Julie, tell us, how did you get involved with Cucumber? I auditioned for it! I wasn’t sure I was really what they were thinking about for the part of Cleo – I just thought, “That’s not me.” But yeah, I got it. I was absolutely amazed. In hindsight, to not be part of this would’ve killed me. We’ve all had the time of our lives doing this job – I’m sure everyone’s told you that? Yes, actually! Everyone we’ve spoken to tells us how brilliant the atmosphere on set has been. It’s ruined us all. What on earth are we going to do after this? It’ll probably be the only programme that won’t run for a second series. Any other show and they’ll make a go for it, but I bet this’ll be one successful series and that’ll be it. One only. We’ll be screaming at Russell, “Oh no! Please! Another!” [Laughs] How does it feel working on an LGBT show under Russell’s guidance? I’ve always been very involved with LGBT policy – particularly in Manchester. When I first came into Coronation Street was around the time Queer as Folk was coming out. Corrie’s introduction of Hayley and Queer as Folk was a big moment in Manchester’s gay history. So me and Russell often find ourselves sharing a platform at various talks and stuff like that. We’ve been in touch pretty constantly over the years. After Coronation Street, did you have your heart set on an LGBT drama? [Laughs] If only I had that kind of choice! When I made the decision to leave I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen to me. I didn’t have any expectations really, I just wanted to be a jobbing actor again – whatever that entailed. I wanted to be doing good work, but I didn’t make any assumptions about where I’d end up. So this came along and it just seemed too good to be true. What’s been the most interesting episode to film? Definitely episode five, that’s a big episode for me We last saw Julie on our screens as the transgender Hayley Cropper – one of the most iconic characters in this history of Coronation Street, who took her own life in an emotionally-charged episode last January. Now, in her first TV role since leaving the street, she’s back in our lives as Cleo – the no-nonsense sister of Henry, with a YouTube famous son and a surgically repaired vagina. Of course... with regards to my daughter. Issues about children and sexuality. I have a big showdown with Henry about – I find this soft porn empire at our mum and dad’s house – and I have this big showdown with him about that. After that, Russell wrote this 12 page story just for us. It’s an old fashioned dilemma about children and porn. It’s a two hander between me and my son. It’s going to be online after episode five. That was sort of given to me – what an honour to have that. It’s about what we’re exposing our children to, how we know nothing about it. How we wrap ourselves in knots talking about what children are seeing on television and not thinking for a second about their mobile phones and iPads. It’s an incredible piece of writing. We’re looking forward to seeing that. Have you had any other favourite moments? My favourite line has to be the shocker: “Oh yeah, five years ago I got a surgically repaired vagina, pop the kettle on!” [Laughs] Episode four is a good one, Date Night. We all get ready and go out on dates – I get in touch with an old flame to basically test drive my new vagina that I haven’t used since it’s been fixed. That episode you see a more private side to my character. What’re you most proud of when it comes to Cucumber? What I’m really proud of is that, from the start, Channel 4 have described it as channel defining. They’re keen to get it a wide audience, they don’t want it to be marginalised because of the gay content. Yeah there’s sex in it, there’s sex-a-plenty in it. But because it’s gay sex, it’ll be seen as risqué. It’s about people, and that’s completely universal. The stuff we say about love, sex and relationships, ageing, loss, fear of sex. It’s all universal. But to have that in an area that’s exclusively LGBT – well gay really – is a really timely and wonderful thing. I’m really, really proud to be part of it.
Cucumber episode three Cucumber episode three