Cast discuss life on Coronation Street

By Ian Youngs
Entertainment reporter, BBC News


Five decades after viewers first peered inside the Rovers Return, Coronation Street remains one of the UK's most popular TV shows.

Its stars are among the most recognisable people in Britain and, with five episodes a week to fill, the demands of the soap have increased over the years. As the serial celebrates its golden jubilee, some of Weatherfield's finest lift the lid on what it is really like to be part of the show.

William Roache - plays Ken Barlow

The schedule is unbelievable. It's very hectic - filming from eight in the morning till seven at night, it can be six days a week.

No one actor's doing that, but you do have periods like that when your story is uppermost. And that is to the exclusion of everything else because you go home and have to brush up on your lines as well.

My son Linus, who had been in Law & Order, which he thought was fast, said he couldn't believe the speed at which we work. He said he'd got nothing but admiration for the way we did it.

You can have a life outside the Street. You just know certain places to avoid and stick with what you know.

At Old Trafford, people know I'm a [Manchester] United fan. That's one of the mass events where I can get away with it, but anywhere else it's just murder.

We get the scripts a week before. We've got 20 scripts in our bags. It is a lot to take in - it's not so much the learning, it's remembering where you are in a story at a certain time. And also it's murder to try and get a haircut because of the continuity.

With night shoots, you get home at two or three o'clock in the morning and you're wide awake. So you watch a bit of Discovery television and have a can of beer, just to come down a little bit. And it's business as usual the next day.

I've never known any different - I grew up from the age of 11 on the show. This is my life and to me this is normality.

Over the seven years, there are things I've missed out on but there are also things I would never have been able to do if I wasn't on Corrie. So it comes with its pros and its cons. But it's just amazing to be part of such a big organisation.

I can go out at night - I live in Manchester and people see me in Manchester a lot so everyone just leaves me to it, smiles and it's lovely.

It is just a job. Being recognised is just part of it. I usually wear a baseball cap, which for someone of my age is odd. I keep my head down and take my glasses off.

We go into people's houses two or three nights a week and they believe they know you, and I don't find anything wrong in that.

I've only ever had one hate mail. But God, it was a good one.

With filming, we always say you get your turn on the roundabout - it's a very big cast and there's no pattern to it.

Filming the DVD for Christmas, A Knight's Tale, I was leaving the house at six every morning for two weeks and not getting back until after 12 at night, including Sundays. That is utterly exhausting. And then I was off for three weeks. It's famine or feast.

Ideally as an actor you'd like anonymity - to just be watching the world. But if you do that, you find the world is watching you, particularly in Manchester.

It's something we all share and it can be great. I tend to avoid supermarkets - people are very friendly but you can't dash in and buy something because somebody might come up and talk to you.

Someone might come up and say "oh my husband's just died". You can't say "sorry the car's on the meter". They feel immediately at ease with you.

If you're out, you're working. So I just try and do the job then go home.