Sunday, 23 April 2017

Coronation Street Blog Interview: Veronica Doran

 
(This post was originally posted by GraemeN on the Coronation Street Blog in March 2017, reposted to this blog with permission.)


Veronica Doran spent eighteen months in the early 1980s playing Marion Willis in Coronation Street. Originally appearing as "Stardust Lil" a lady binman Eddie Yeats meets over the CB radio (which was all the rage at the time) they eventually met up and fell in love. Over the course of her time in the show, Veronica worked closely with legendary actors Geoffrey Hughes, Jean Alexander and Pat Phoenix.

I was attending a performance of Fenella Fielding's memoirs (she of Carry On Screaming fame) and I spotted Veronica at the party afterwards. I then contacted Fenella's friend and event organiser Simon McKay and it turned out Fenella and Veronica have been good friends since they worked together in the theatre in the 1980s. I was thrilled when Veronica agreed to an interview on her time in Corrie. And here's what she had to say..

First of all I'd love to know more about why and how you became an actor.

It was natural progression really. When I was 13yrs. to15yrs. old I was in a professional children's show "The Blackpool Tower Children's Ballet". When I left the show I wanted to be a comedienne and do the kind of work that Dora Bryan did. When I was 17 year old I went into Rep. at St Anne's on-Sea and that was the beginning of my acting.

Can you tell me more about how you came to be cast as Marion in Coronation Street?

My agent had a call from Granada TV. I read for the director and the casting director. Whilst I was waiting downstairs for my taxi to take me back to Piccadilly Station, the director and casting director came out of a lift, walked over to me, handed me a script and said "Something to read on the way home. You've got the part!”

 

Marion was quite a strong young woman I think. Did you enjoy playing her and if so, what did you like most about her?

Marion was very strong, patient, thoughtful and a little reserved I liked her a lot.

What was it like to work at the legendary Granada Studios back in the early 1980s?

It was terrific working at Granada in the 80's. We had a very big rehearsal room, two Green Rooms, one of which was a card players room. We had some very serious bridge players in those days.

You worked most closely with the late Geoffrey Hughes who played Eddie. What was he like to work with?

Geoffrey Hughes was very good to work with but, he could not think of enough things to make me laugh and when I go I go. Much to his delight!

 

In the early 1980s Coronation Street would still have rehearsal days. I've read that they could be quite daunting to be a part of - how did you find them?

I used to get nervous when I first started but, after a while you didn't have time to get daunted. We only had two days rehearsal and one technical run and that was for the cameras.

When you appeared in Coronation Street, many of the real legends of the series were still with the show. What are your memories of working with Pat Phoenix who played your landlady, Elsie Tanner?

I have many, many happy memories of Pat Phoenix. She was a lovely woman. Very kind with a big heart and she couldn't wait to help. After we both left the Street we stayed closely in touch. Right to the end and I miss her still.

One of my favourite Corrie actors from that era was Cheryl Murray who played Suzie Birchall. You worked with her when she returned to the show in 1983. What was she liked to work with?

Cheryl Murray came back to Coronation Street for six months while I was there. Her character Suzie Birchhall moved back into Elsie’s and the three of us worked very well together.

 

You also worked a great deal with that wonderful double act of Bernard Youens and Jean Alexander as Stan and Hilda Ogden. How did you find working with those actors?

When I first went into Coronation Street I used to go into the rehearsal room to watch Bernard Youens and Jean Alexander run their scenes. Their timing was wonderful, especially Jean. That comedy is either in you or it's not. You can develop it but you can't learn it.

Marion was written out when Geoffrey Hughes decided to leave the programme. Would you have liked to have stayed in the role longer or were you glad to do other work?

I would have loved to have stayed in the show longer but, Geoffrey wanted to leave. So it was decided to marry us and of course Marion was pregnant and send us to live with her mother in Bury. But then I went off to do a lot of other work. So that was great.

If you had to choose a favourite role, whether it be on stage or screen, what would it be and why?

There is no longer one particular part I burn to play. But there are still lots of people I should like to play.

Finally, what's next for you?

Although I have never left the business. I cared for my mother for a while. After she died I did several filmed interviews about various things. But the job I enjoyed most was celebrating my friend Fenella Fielding’s birthday on her radio show. It was a good party!

I'd like to thank Veronica for answering my questions on her time in Corrie and sharing so many fond memories. Thanks also to Simon for helping to set up the interview.

You can follow me on Twitter @GraemeN82






Tvor @tvordlj on Twitter

Profile: Coronation Street director Suri Krishnamma

(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog March 2017, reposted to this blog with permission.)

There's a lovely interview with Coronation Street director Suri Krishnamma, in the Isle of Wight County Press online.

Suri is originally from the Isle of Wight and talks about being asked to work as a director on Corrie.

He says that shooting Corrie presents a unique challenge.

"Coronation Street is shot multi-camera and I’ve never shot multi-camera before, so I was quite curious about the process. I did a short training course in Leeds at the Emmerdale set and then they hired me," he said.

He added: "It’s a real privilege. I grew up on Coronation Street because my mother is from Skipton in Yorkshire. As a child I remember sitting on my grandmother’s knee and watching very early black and white episodes, so it’s something that has been a part of my culture. I got to work with some of the real legends, such as Bill Roach who plays Ken Barlow. He is an extraordinary man at the age of 84, who looks barely over the age of 44. He has a very young spirit and an extraordinary memory."

Suri has also directed feature films, such as New Year’s Day, Bad Karma and Dark Tourist, in addition to many award-winning short films. He has also been nominated for three BAFTAs.







Tvor @tvordlj on Twitter

Sunday Comments April 23

Sally is devastated at the shocking news about her cancer. Tim is lovely, isn't he? He's so supportive. But it turns out it was a prank. They posted the recorded phone conversation and left in a giggle at the end and that was the telling bit. What a horrible thing to do to someone! Bad enough posting anonymous abuse on a website but this is going too far. Tim didn't realize the extent of the abuse but he knows now. He thinks Sally ought to delete her social media accounts. That's the way to fight back, not defiant replies.

Sally's been shut out of social media since the troll business. Jenny passed on the message that the reaction to the interview has been great. Turns out Sally hasn't deleted her accounts but has backed off for awhile. I think Jenny's encouraging her to take it up again, get back in the loop. That might be a mistake. Seems weird to see Sally and Jenny friendly.

Faye's down in the dumps. Anna thinks it's because she misses Miley but she must know it's also that she's upset she's not been allowed to see Seb. Everyone invites her out but she'd rather stay home and do school work with Craig's help. Only it's the first Craig has heard about it and he dropped Faye in it. Gary went straight to Faye who was in the back yard. He knew she was lying and knew that Seb was coming over. She continued to lie and said she'd finished with him for good. He said he believed her. He went out the front door and Seb came in the back. Typical teenage behaviour. He's up on assault charges, wonder what's going to happen there?

Meanwhile, the Barlow clan have gathered at Number 1 for pizza takeaway. Daniel is talking about going to Oxford to have a look around and Adam's talking Canada again. Peter insists they stay put but what to do about the kitchen? I've got a suggestion. Gary is a sort of builder, isn't he? Couldn't he do at least some of the work even if he couldn't do the plumbing or electrics? Why does Amy look so guilty? The Barlows have been told by Phelan about him being cleared. Oh and guess what, Ken's going to be brought around from the sedation. What will he remember?

All the Barlows are anxious to hear what Ken remembers though Tracy reckons he might not be thinking straight. Is she covering her backside? Sinead isn't going near the hospital because she knows he doesn't think much of her as Daniel's girlfriend. Turns out, Ken doesn't really remember anyway, nothing since breakfast that morning. The police got to him first. He's shocked that the police think it was not an accident. He's further shocked that it could be someone in his family, those high passions and all. He refuses to believe that. For now.

The family arrives. Ken wastes no time bitching at everyone for being hypocritical. They wasted no time bickering amongst themselves. Ken outed them all for secrets like Adam's run in with the drug dealer and he got himself so worked up he had the staff throw them all out, possibly scared of them. Did one of them do it?

Roy finds out from Peter about how Ken is and then goes to visit him later because Ken had called and asked him to come. The idea that maybe someone in his family might have tried to hurt him is sounding more and more likely to Ken. He remembers that a lot of his family were angry at him so it makes sense. Roy wonders if he does remember something somewhere but he doesn't think so. Ken admits he felt frightened of them but doesn't know who it would be. I think it's an after effect of the accident. Roy's comment that if someone tried once, they could again so he really needs to talk to the police if he truly believes one of his family could have done this. He might not be so lucky the next time.

Ken called the police back and told them a few of his family do have motives. He told them about Adam's run in with drug dealers leading to Ken insisting Adam go back to Canada where he thinks Adam was on that night. He told them about splitting up Peter and Toyah because of the pub sale and Chloe. He denied a resentful Tracy a loan and disagreed with Daniel over his turning down the place at Oxford. He does think Sinead is still pregnant. He mentioned that he was an absent father to Daniel by his mother's choice not his own. But I beg to differ on that. Ken didn't try very hard to insist. It gives them a place to start digging anyway.

Turns out Adam's been holed up in a bedsit, not in Canada but you didn't think he actually took Ken's money and disappeared altogether, did you? Back on the Street, Rosie bumps into Adam who's sulking on Maxine's bench. He's all concerned about Ken, and it feels a bit "too little too late" to me. Adam hasn't really shown a lot of concern for anyone besides himself so there must be something else going on. Rosie takes him in hand and home for a comforting cup of tea. Adam asks for a favour, an alibi for Monday night because he doesn't have one. She refuses to lie to the police for him. She figures he won't bring up the drug thing or go to the police about it (causing embarassment for Councillor Metcalf) like he threatens so she's calling his bluff. A chat with Todd in the pub gives her pause for thought when he, talking about the disliked Phelan, says he only wants what's best for his mother.

Adam seems to be making himself useful but doing some work on the kitchen when the police show up. They tell him what Ken said about Ronan. Adam spun it and told them his father was confused. He did admit he wasn't in Canada because you know they could have checked pretty quickly and easily. He told them Rosie was with him. He's probably crossing all his bits that Rosie will vouch for him and she does, reluctantly and she's not happy about it.

Barlow family meeting over breakfast at the cafe (because the kitchen isn't finished), none of them really want to be the only one to face Ken since he thinks one of them tried to kill him. But he needs talking to, try to persuade him he's wrong. Peter gets the nod. Over the road, Amy's still acting a bit off but she got quite a shock overhearing Sophie scold Rosie about being with Adam on the night Ken got hurt. She went straight to Adam who went along with the lie. Daniel and Peter got turned back from Ken's room by some very smug police officers. Ken is showing very strong signs of post traumatic stress but apparently, the hospital thinks he can go home. That's putting the fear into him. He's going to stay at Roy's, thanks to a kind friend.

We also find out that Simon's had his phone confiscated on the last day of term before the Easter break for using it in school when he shouldn't have. Peter looks concerned. He tracked down the teacher using the taxi database so he could ostensibly get the phone back for Simon. The teacher is into historical reenactments (the actor has been in Corrie in bit parts loads of times, by the way) The teacher isn't all that amenable to returning it. Oh looky, Brian's there visiting his old teaching mate and vouched for Peter's story about Ken being in hospital. A little bribery over the upcoming reenactment and the phone is in Peter's hands. Mr Rawlings was a great character, wasn't he? A right laugh.

Well Peter has got his hands on the phone but he's trying to get past the pass code. why is that, I wonder? Peter really is acting a bit shifty, mind you. Is it just that he is worried the police might believe he did it even though he didn't? Is there something on that phone that would make him suspect? He takes a hammer to the phone and smashes it to get the card out of it. I didn't think you had go through the pass code to get the back off the phone? Anyway, Brian was the one that told Simon the phone was returned because of course Peter smashed it and couldn't give it back!

Peter gave Si some money for a new phone but it isn't enough to get as nice a phone. If I was Simon, I'd go to Nick for the rest of the cash. Nick would hand it over in a minute! I guess he didn't though because he told them in the cafe the phone wasn't as good as his old one. Roy is quite right, phone cameras are better than they used to be but they don't have the top end sensors and control that a proper camera does. But I digress. Simon did get his phone set up again and retrieved his messages. Ah, but there was one from Peter and it sounded like Peter was about to do a runner, apologizing all over the place. Was that what Peter was trying so hard to hide from Simon via the smashed phone? I would think so. Motive.

Simon told his mother and Nick and that's all it took to get it broadcast. Nick wants to go straight to the police with proof of motive. Leanne is the voice of reason but Nick is not as we all know. He's setting Peter up for a public humiliation and an accusation. How will Peter talk his way out of it?

Tracy had found Ken's will earlier. I don't believe she hadn't looked until now. She got a shock, too. She must have sat there looking at it for a half hour judging from the time it would take Adam to go get hardware and get back. She dragged a few lies out of him about Rosie and confronted him about the will. Tracy gets nothing. News to Adam. It's not the one he drew up for his father, so he says. He seemed sincere. It would seem odd. The will was dated while Adam was out of the picture, not in Canada but not around. Considering how pissed Ken was at Adam, giving him a larger share of the estate would hardly be in character, would it? So what happened? It would look bad on Adam for a motive but it also gives Tracy a motive, too.

Daniel is upset that Ken can't remember anything because it means Ken probably thinks Sinead is still pregnant. He didn't tell him the truth because Ken was upset enough as it was. They argue about telling Ken about the abortion and Daniel reckoned they could lie and say it was a miscarriage, making me holler "Pot calling the kettle black" at the screen. Why is it ok to lie to Ken but it wasn't ok for her to lie to Daniel? yea, I get the difference but it does pain Daniel in shades of hypocracy. They continue to argue about the whole situation because she thinks he's ashamed of her and what she's done. He does tell her he loves her.

Sinead decides to do a bit of self medication in the pub and we all know she's a cheap drunk. Chesney finds her there later where she's rather sunk into self pity so he calls Beth to collect her. She's staggering drunk by that time. Chips first, though. Sinead admits to Beth that she hates Ken and blames him for "killing" her baby. She's glad he got attacked and wishes he was dead... and I wouldn't be saying that too loudly. She didn't remember saying it but it makes Beth worry. Sinead would be the last one on the suspect list, mind you.

The police also think they need to have a long talk with Daniel, this time, about his mother's disappearance. He went over the details of his mother's disappearance. They're holding it against him that he waited 6 years to report his mother's disappearance. He's a cool customer, though, isn't he? It does put him out to be a very good liar, that's true. But why haven't the police tried to find Denise before now? Very good point.

Peter told Adam and Tracy about Denise's absence and non-communication but it gives them reason to speculate that Daniel killed his mother. Tracy never really did take to Daniel. It sounds very much like they're all starting to suspect each other. Which probably means none of them did it, I suppose. Daniel wasn't happy that the rest of the family now knows about it all. So why was he looking at train schedules on his phone? Maybe he really does know where she is? Oh, he's going to check out Oxford in person. Apparently. But he's packed a very heavy bag. Is he doing a runner? Yes, yes he is and that's going to make him look guilty. He did have the grace to leave Sinead a note telling her they were finished. Did he go to Oxford or somewhere else? She managed to catch him at the bus stop to confront him.

Peter and Toyah are still looking at IVF, she's taking hormone shots and all that and he's still trying to sell the shop with the view to buying the pub. Nothing seems to be happening there. Toyah keeps trying to convince Liz that she and Peter could still run the pub if Liz and Steve sold it to them. Why is Tracy backing off Luke? Tracy doesn't trust Adam and warns Amy off, I guess that's why. She's determined to find out what Amy and Adam were up to.


Todd refuses to pass on Phelan's message to Eileen who's visiting Julie. Phelan has no alibi so it's hard to prove. His interview was a bit bumpy. Ah, but Todd had proof of where Phelan was and even he didn't have the nerve to delete the video (remember the "ghost" hunter?) and took it to the police. Did Pat thank Todd? He did offer to buy him a drink and asked why and said he owed Todd one. But those two little words didn't cross his lips either. Todd put it on the line. He doesn't like Pat or trust him. I guess they understand each other. Eileen finally got home and the next morning, she's hungover. I guess she and Phelan celebrated her return the night before. And she's won a car!!!!! Man, what competition was that because if the car comes with those guys to clean it, I'll have one! It's a "green" car, an electric one. She can't even drive! Lucky girl. Now she has to learn! I would in a flash if i had a new car.

Freddie has got interested in the fruit machines, thinking he knows the secret to knowing when they're going to pay out. Craig reckons the machines are fixed. Luke gave up, Freddie took over but ran out of change. Rita lent him one pound, wanting it back and the machine paid out 100! Rita expects a share but all she got back was the initial one pound investment. Brian thinks she should get half of the winnings and Rita agrees but she only got five pounds out of it. Seems out of character for her to get a bit nasty over it. Maybe she's been hanging around Norris for too long.

Bethany is still over the moon over Nathan but seems to be friendly enough with Craig. I suppose he still has a crush on her. She wouldn't give him the time of day. I wonder, if this business with Nathan ever ends, and she's licking her wounds (because it won't end well of course), that she and Craig could get to be quite good mates if not more. Nathan is getting her to skip school more often these days, I notice. She's making another v-log with Mel but discovered a photo of Mel and Nathan in a compromising position. Oh dear.

She says it's old and didn't mean anything anyway. She lied and apparently admitted it, no point trying to get out of it and Bethany acted like the 16 year old she is and tore a strip off Nathan for lying to her and feeling betrayed. The man is 35. Ok, he lied about Mel but if she's an ex, what's the problem? He's right, she's having a tantrum. Making a lot more of it than need be. He as much as told her to grow up and she walked out. Mel's going to be in for a shouting, I think.

Audrey has the shop in stitches telling them about the client that wanted a hairdo like Donald Trump, three cans of hairspray and even then it was a dicey prospect in a little breeze! But disaster strikes in the form of a vacuum cleaner, not a stiff breeze and Audrey landed badly, breaking her arm! Ouch! Maria points out that she's not going to be much use in the salon though Audrey's not looking forward to enforced down time. She might if she takes a holiday in the sun, though.

Cathy outed Brian's lies, not knowing he'd lied to Roy so Roy confronted Brian. He assured Brian he doesn't mind that Brian and Cathy spend time together. But what would he think if there was more to it, I wonder? Never mind, Brian came back and accepted the movie invitation. They keep bandying the 'friend' word about but it looks very much like both of them are hoping for more. Fiz is thinking of taking a massage therapy night course. But the course and supplies are going to be a startup cost. Ty isn't keen on the idea of her having her hands all over naked strangers' bodies, though. She proved her untrained talent on Tyrone's back. Kevin's money woes haven't gone away. He must be well overdrawn because his debit card bounced and he wouldn't take his shopping from Dev on "pay me later". ok, Erica ended up giving him the groceries. The police need to speak to Tracy again. What about? We don't know yet. Tracy got drunk later and I think that's actually the first time I've seen that. Looks like the wedding dress design is going to be a team effort. Aidan wasn't keen on the time wasting but Johnny had told them it was ok. Eva has been roped into being the dress consultant.






Tvor @tvordlj on Twitter

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Crazy Chloe's secrets from Coronation Street

(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog April 2017, reposted to this blog with permission.)

There's an interview in this week's Inside Soap magazine with actress Jo-Anne Knowles, who plays crazy Chloe in Coronation Street.

She says that she was "Absolutely!" a fan of the show before she was asked to act in it. "I've grown up with Coronation Street," she says. "My mum is thrilled that I'm in it as it's a show that she has always loved and finnily enought, my husband was a big Corrie fan when we first met 10 years ago. We used to watch it every single episode and it became part of the beginning of our relationship.  When we moved in together, it was teas on knees with Coronation Street!"

She says she loved the character of Chloe right from the first day she started playing her and that her husband doesn't mind her cosying up to Chris Gascoyne (Peter Barlow) on screen. Lucky lady!

She's big friends with Sally-Anne Matthews (Jenny Bradley). "We've known each other for years," she says. "It would be fantastic if Jenny and Chloe got a scene together. I enjoy my scenes with Bev Callard (Liz McDonald) and we have a real giggle. I am lucky to have scenes with Bill Roache (Ken Barlow) as he is divine and brilliant to work with."

Chloe is the FIFTH Coronation Street character that Jo-Anne Knowles has played. Find out about all of the others here.







Tvor @tvordlj on Twitter

Should Freddie have shared his winnings with Rita - Yay or Nay?

(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog April 2017, reposted to this blog with permission.)


Should Freddie have shared his fruit machine winnings with Rita, last night in Coronation Street?  I think he should have split the winnings 50-50, but my husband on the other end of the sofa, thinks not.   He thinks that Freddie should have given Rita a tenner at the most, as all she did was lend him a quid.

I also think it was somewhat out of order for Rita, who isn't short of a bob or two herself, to snap at Freddie like that over what would have been, at most, £50.

Could the jackpot storyline mean a fall out between Freddie and Rita, I wonder? And might it even signal the end of Freddie on the street as his exit storyline?

The actor who plays Freddie, Derek Griffiths, is leaving the show - to do this.







Tvor @tvordlj on Twitter

Friday, 21 April 2017

Don't forget the older generation, Corrie

 
(This post was originally posted by GraemeN on the Coronation Street Blog in March 2017, reposted to this blog with permission.)


This blog stems from a conversation I had with the actress Rita May a few weeks back. I interviewed Rita about her time playing Connie Rathbone in Coronation Street a few years ago as well as finding out more about her first novel. You can read that interview here.

Anyway, Rita is a fine actress with many impressive credits to her name. After we spoke she was rushing off for filming on a new Channel 4 series, so she's still in demand as she reaches her mid-70s. And why should she not be, with all her talent and natural gift for screen acting. Rita wasn't bitter about not being kept on in Corrie once Bill Tarmey's character Jack Duckworth had been written out, she just saw it as a missed opportunity. Rita enjoyed working on Coronation Street, liked the company of the cast and crew and would happily have stayed on in the role. Unlike many of the other former Corrie actors I've spoken to recently, Rita would still consider reviving her role as Connie as she believed there were many stories still untold.

 

This brought up the bigger issue of whether Coronation Street truly represents a community or the audience it hopes to attract. Rita May agreed with me that it was hard for a show like Corrie to remain relevant and chase the ratings in this multi-channel world. However we both also agreed that it's a shame Corrie has moved so far away from its roots. There was a time in the late 1990s when Coronation Street made a noticeable body swerve. It's true that by 1996 things were looking rather stale with slow-moving stories and a fair few characters which were to the beige side of interesting. The arrival of Brian Park in 1997 saw many changes, some quite obviously for the better. The Street became a much more youthful place with a range of more modern, younger characters taking up residence to spice things up.

I don't remember having a problem with that at the time as Corrie desperately needed pulling into the 21st Century if it was to survive. There are many younger actors in Corrie that I admire. Jack P Shepherd can do no wrong and as David Platt, he's grown and matured on screen, both as an actor and a character. Lucy Fallon has also been consistently impressive as the new, grown up Bethany, handling some challenging scenes of late. I love Mikey North as Gary, Qasim Akhtar as Zeedan, Elle Mulvaney as Amy and Rob Mallard as Daniel. They are all vital components of my current Corrie viewing. 

 

The issue of diversity has long dogged Coronation Street. It's still a problem in 2017. We didn't have a regular gay character until 2003/04 and it was more recently than that that we got a lesbian character in Sophie Webster. It's true Corrie led the way with Julie Hesmondhalgh's wonderful portrayal of Hayley Cropper but the soap still struggles to realistically portray ethnic groups. Weatherfield is still too white. However another area of diversity which Corrie struggles with these days is representing what it used to excel at - older people. Even when Brian Park started to introduce younger characters in the late 1990s we still had a balanced core cast of characters which included many of the older generation. Sadly by the new century we started to lose some of the actors who'd been so loyal to the Street for many years with the deaths of Betty Driver, Maggie Jones and Bill Tarmey as well as exits for Liz Dawn, Amanda Barrie and Johnny Briggs.These departures cannot be helped but what the show has failed to do is rebuild a community of realistic older characters.

I know we still have Bill Roache heading up the show as elder statesman Ken Barlow. However with Anne Kirkbride so sadly no longer with us and Eileen Derbyshire showing no signs of a return, his presence is looking somewhat isolated these days. Barbara Knox and Sue Nicholls still appear but not as regularly or in substantial storylines of their own. We still have Malcolm Hebden's gloriously bitchy Norris Cole and i'm glad of that. I was pleased when Derek Griffiths joined as Freddie Smith but his Coronation Street journey is nearly at an end already. And sadly that's about it. 

The Street needs older characters to broaden the storytelling out, add different dimensions and perspectives and appeal to more than just a younger audience who mostly don't watch television in the traditional way these days anyway. Coronation Street has a large and loyal audience, many of whom still remember the early days of black and white, of Ena, Minnie and Martha in the snug, of Annie Walker, imperious behind the bar and Elsie Tanner picking up the milk from the front step in something deliciously unsuitable. 

 

I'm not saying we should return to the days when the cast had an average age of 72. I just think in times which see a growing, vibrant older population in this country, people who still live, love and have problems only they can explain, Coronation Street needs to represent them. If they do it will add a depth to the Weatherfield story that sometimes nowadays we are sadly missing.

You can follow me on Twitter @GraemeN82







Tvor @tvordlj on Twitter

Coronation Street Blog Interview: Anne Cunningham

 
(This post was originally posted by GraemeN on the Coronation Street Blog in March 2017, reposted to this blog with permission.)


I recently had the great pleasure of interviewing the actress Anne Cunningham. Anne is a true Coronation Street original, having played Linda Cheveski, daughter of Street legend Elsie Tanner, in the very first episode of Corrie back on 9th December 1960. I wanted to find out more about how Anne started out as an actress, her experience of working on Coronation Street and also other aspects of her career.

First of all I'd love to know why and how you became an actor in the first place.

Not sure HOW I became an actor! Although born in England (Yorkshire) I was educated in South Africa and there was little theatre there except the National Theatre which needed you to be bi-lingual in Afrikaans and English. I did pass my exams in Afrikaans as a subject but was hardly fluent. However I had done “As You Like It” at school and the drama teacher suggested I might train as an actor in England at the Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama which offered a course combining a 2 year teaching course with a 2 year acting course in 3 years so that at the end as well as being a trained actor I was also a trained teacher. This appealed to my parents and I duly applied and was accepted. As it turns out I have never had to teach. 
 

How did you come to be cast in Coronation Street in the part of Linda?

I was appearing in weekly rep in Buxton as leading lady when the stage manager said he was asking the casting director from Granada to come and see the show as he had a small part in it. “Roar Like a Dove” So I sent a letter asking her to look at me too.
As luck would have it she wasn’t able to come that week but came the following one when I was playing TWO parts ( twins) in Grand National Night which needed Northern accents. I spoke to Margaret Morris in my dressing room during the interval whilst doing a quick change and hoped she’d remember me.
When back in London a couple of months later she contacted me and I met Stuart Latham at the Granada Offices in Golden Square in London. I was asked to do a test in Manchester. 

 

What are your memories of that first live episode of Coronation Street in December 1960?

I had never done television before. In fact I didn’t have a tv set! Having only ever done theatre “live television” was not much different...you couldn’t stop! The only difference was acting to the camera.

The Tanners made an immediate impact in the show. What was it like to work with those actors?

I loved the first year of the Tanners. We were a real “family” spending time on and off the screen together. I still regard Philip (Lowrie, who played Dennis Tanner) as my brother (both being only-children) and I also see Ernst Walder (Ivan Cheveski) regularly although he now lives in his home country of Austria. 

 

Coronation Street had many memorable original characters. My favourites from that era are Annie and Jack Walker, played by Doris Speed and Arthur Leslie and Ena Sharples, played by Violet Carson. What were they like to work with?

Doris Speed, Arthur Leslie and Vi Carson were very much the older and respected members of the cast as were Margot Bryant and Lynne Carol.

In 1963 you played Judith in the film This Sporting Life, with Richard Harris and Rachel Roberts. What was that film like to be a part of?

I left the Street at the end of 1961 feeling that a year in a soap was long enough as there was so much I had yet to do..film, West End, radio etc. As luck would have it the North was BIG ! Saturday Night Sunday Morning. The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner etc. So it wasn’t too big a step when Lindsay Anderson cast me as Judith in This Sporting Life. I loved working with him. He had a way of directing an actor which made you feel YOU had thought of what he wanted so everything was relaxed and easy.
Also apart from Rachel I was the only girl on location and was very spoiled! 
 


In 1964 you worked with Roy Kinnear on the series World of His Own. What was Roy like to work with?

I had worked with David Croft on a Light Entertainment programme called “Impromptu” which was one of the first programmes on the new channel BBC 2. After the success of That Was The Week That Was Roy Kinnear was offered a show of his own to star in A World of His Own and David cast me as his wife. His character was to be called Stanley Blake and I was to be his wife Helen.
The set designer was called Darrol Blake and HIS father was called Stanley, so when he was asked to design the first set “Stanley Blake’s bedroom” he said “This is where I came in” !! I LOVED working with Roy. He was a very generous actor and a wonderful comic feed. We laughed so much during rehearsals...and during the takes...that I am surprised David Croft didn’t explode!...mind you he was good at laughing too!
Darrol only designed the first series but in 1965 I married him and am now Mrs Blake...again!

You have appeared in many classic television shows over the years, including The Avengers, Z Cars and The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. Do you have fond memories of these programmes?

As a jobbing actor one had no idea which job would resonate with the audience and become “iconic”. It was just another job. The Avengers, The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin and Are You Being Served STILL produce an income of about £25 annually but I can’t say I remember them more than “Casanova” with Jeremy Brett “Poor Bitos” with John Neville or “The Physicists” with Roger Livesy and Mary Morris which were never seen again!

In 1973 you worked on a series of the Dick Emery Show. What was Dick like to work with?

Dick Emery was a nightmare to work with! A little man with all a little man’s complexes. Also he was Variety and jealous of any laughs not got by him! He would deliberately “fluff” if I got a laugh so that there would be a retake and the studio audience having heard the gag the first time wouldn’t laugh so much on the retake. 

 

You returned to Coronation Street in 1984 for a short stint. How did that experience compare with your time on the show in the 60s?

I can’t say I enjoyed my return to the Street in 84 as much as I had hoped. The director wondered if I could do the accent and the Green Room had grown so large that the regulars had little booths so there was little contact. There WERE still rehearsals, unlike now, so that you could get an idea of where you fitted into the whole episode but the ‘family” feeling had gone.

Do you still keep up with the Street today and would you ever consider returning to the show?

Hearing my friend Philip’s experience of life on the Street now I have no desire to return. 

 

Of all the roles you have played during your career, which are you most proud of and why?

My favourite part in my career has to be Helen Blake. It was a comedy role with many characters and a wide range of accents, working with a true gent and meeting the love of my life! We have just celebrated 51 years of happy marriage producing 3 daughters and 4 grandchildren! Success. 

I would like to thank Anne very much for taking the time to answer my questions. It really was a thrill to be in touch with someone who was there right at the beginning of one of my all time favourite television series. 

You can follow me on Twitter @GraemeN82 






Tvor @tvordlj on Twitter
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