Corrie wins charity's praise
31 March 2003
Corrie's new storyline, which has seen Katy Nelson being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, has earned high praise from Diabetes UK.
Katy (Lucy-Jo Hudson) was rushed to hospital after collapsing in the Rovers. She had earlier complained of being extremely tired and very thirsty - both typical symptoms of diabetes. And as with anyone who is recently diagnosed with diabetes, Katy is confused about the implications of having the condition. However, Martin Platt, who is a nurse at Weatherfield General, reassured her that she can come to him with any questions.
Simon O'Neill, Head of Care Developments at Diabetes UK said, "It is great that Coronation Street is including a character with diabetes. "There are about 1.4 million people in the UK diagnosed with diabetes and covering the subject in such a popular programme will help to raise awareness of the condition. "We're looking forward to seeing how the storyline develops."
The main symptoms of diabetes are increased thirst, going to the loo all the time - especially at night, extreme tiredness, weight loss, genital itching or regular episodes of thrush, and blurred vision. Type 2 diabetes develops slowly and the symptoms are usually less severe. Type 1 diabetes, which Katy has been diagnosed with, develops much more quickly, usually over a few weeks, and symptoms are normally very obvious.
In both types, the symptoms are quickly relieved once the diabetes is treated.
Cop Kate to the rescue in real life
30 March 2003
SEXY EastEnders star JILL HALFPENNY was at the centre of a real-life drama when she rushed to the aid of a collapsed man.
The Geordie stunner - undercover cop Kate - was enjoying a night out with pals when the man passed out. A quick-thinking drinker raised the alarm and the emergency services were soon on the scene. But not before Jill, 27, had checked he was breathing. One witness at the trendy Goose pub in Brixton, South London, said: "Jill seemed very concerned about the man's condition. He wasn't conscious and was slumped in a chair.
"She checked his airway was clear and placed him in the recovery position before an ambulance crew arrived. "Jill moved all her friends out of the way so the emergency services could get to him and she was very concerned. "She stood watching while the man was carried out by an ambulance crew with the help of firefighters and the police. "She was really down to earth and not stuck up at all - it made you think how other celebrities might have acted."
The actress later told friends she used the first aid skills she picked up
when she appeared in rival soap Coronation Street as man-eating nurse Rebecca.
She told one: "Even though I was only acting the role of a nurse the producers
thought I should learn first aid so I looked authentic on screen. "I never
would have believed that one day I'd get to use that training for real. But
I'm really glad I did because I was able to help this man."
Bouncers pounce on Sean
30 March 2003 by Ben Dowell
BOUNCERS pinned Coronation Street star Sean Wilson against a wall after he leapt over a nightclub bar.
Fellow cast members looked on in astonishment as Sean, 38 - who plays Martin Platt in the soap - headed for the beer pumps himself after having to wait to be served in the club's VIP lounge. Bar staff set off an alarm - and red-faced Steve was bundled out of the exclusive area in Manchester's trendy Lucid bar.
An onlooker said: "The bar was really packed and Sean was a bit worse for wear. I think he lost patience and thought it would be funny to try and get a drink himself. "But you don't go around doing that - the bouncers were not at all pleased. Sean got a real shock when he got set upon and was bundled away."
Sean and fellow Street stars Thomas Craig (Tommy), Michael Le Vell (Kevin
Webster), Kate Ford (Tracy) and Sally Lindsay (Shelley) had been chatting with
Phoenix Nights comic Peter Kay before the incident. The group - at the club
for a live concert by Irish pop superstars Westlife - had at first been refused
entry to the VIP area because they didn't have wristbands. A Coronation street
spokeswoman said: "It was a simple mistake - Sean got round the wrong end
of the bar. There was nothing malicious in it."
Rears to you Emma!
30 March 2003
CORRIE copper ANGELA LONSDALE walks a different beat - out shopping for clothes.
Angela, 32, who plays WPC Emma Watts, was already an arresting sight in combats with the words "Less Delux" on the back. And after nipping to the cashpoint she extended her funky wardrobe at a Manchester department store.
The actress - who split from EastEnders star PERRY FENWICK last year - later sped off in her MGF sports car. As Emma, she has more to worry about than fashion - choosing between husband Curly or her police career.
JONATHAN WRATHER has been inundated with saucy job requests since his Corrie character Joe Carter started running Underworld. He says: "I've received a few letters from women saying, 'Give us a job' along with pictures of themselves in underwear.
Les Battersby faces jail in Corrie
27 March 2003
Les Battersby faces jail after a fight with estranged wife Janice's policeman boyfriend.
Les, played by Bruce Jones, gets into a scrap with Pc Mick Hopwood after being stopped for jumping a red light. Les is kicked by his love rival as he lies helpless on the ground before Curly Watts' Pc wife Emma manages to intervene. But it is Les who ends up in trouble after Mick, played by Ian Gain, arrests him for assaulting a police officer.
Emma has witnessed the whole incident and knows that Les is innocent. But Mick persuades her to lie for him and give a false statement - and when Curly finds out what she's done, it threatens the foundations of their marriage.
A spokeswoman for the ITV1 soap said: "When Mick confronts Les, the red mist descends and he puts the boot in. "Emma knows he was in the wrong but she backs him up by providing a false statement. She has a real crisis of conscience over the decision and when Curly finds out he is furious. "Meanwhile poor Les is left facing jail even though Mick is the one in the wrong."
Both actors were trained by fight co-ordinators for the scene, to be screened
on Monday night.
Your chance to vote for
your favourite soap
27 March 2003
The British Soap Awards 2003 gives the fans the chance to decide who will carry off the top prizes. Everyone who votes will also be entered into a competition to win tickets to the glittering event hosted by Des O'Connnor and Melanie Sykes.
There are six awards in the public categories; Best British Soap, Villain of the Year, Best Actor, Best Actress, and the What's On TV Magazine awards for the Sexiest Male and for the Sexiest Female in soapland. Eight soaps are taking part: EastEnders, Coronation Street, Brookside, Hollyoaks, Emmerdale, Doctors, Crossroads and Family Affairs.
You can vote using ballot papers in What's On TV magazine or The Sun or you
can vote online and view the full list of nominees at soapawards.itv.com.
Bitter truth for Corrie's
26 March 2003
The truth finally dawns on newlywed Lucy Richards in Coronation Street - her new husband Peter Barlow is a rat.
Pregnant Lucy, played by Katy Carmichael, genuinely believed that Peter was telling the truth when he said he'd broken things off with ex-girlfriend Shelley. She thought he was keeping their relationship secret to protect the feelings of the heartbroken barmaid. But in a forthcoming episode Lucy becomes increasingly suspicious about the number of calls on his mobile from Shelley and finally decides to confront him. To her horror she discovers he hasn't finished with her at all and has been lying all the time
Desperate to win her over Peter tries to explain how things got out of hand and he promises to tell Shelley that their relationship is over. Lucy is unconvinced and says she is leaving Weatherfield for good. When Peter turns up at the florists to make one last appeal he finds Lucy has gone and left no contact details. The shameless womaniser simply turns his attentions back to Shelley - but still doesn't tell the truth about his double life.
Will Peter's lies finally catch up with me?
Fans warn Sally about love
26 March 2003
Confused soap fans are having trouble distinguishing reality and TV fiction as the latest Coronation Street storyline hots up. Actress Sally Lindsay, who plays barmaid Shelley Unwin, says she is continually stopped in the street by fans eager to tell her that boyfriend Peter is a two-timing rat.
Peter Barlow, played by Chris Gascoyne, is romancing both Shelley and pretty florist Lucy Richards, played by Katy Carmichael. He snook off to marry pregnant Lucy in secret even though he is still engaged to Shelley. When Lucy discovers his duplicity she dumps him and departs from Weatherfield, leaving Peter to try to rekindle his passion with Shelley.
Sally says she is enjoying the love tangle storyline even though she has been
amazed at the fury of fans outraged on her behalf. "They think I'm the
wronged woman and actually sympathise with me on the street," she said.
Soccer man's cure is a dose
26 March 2003
A professional soccer player has been given an unusual order by club doctors - keep watching the soaps!
Chesterfield defender Kevin Dawson has been told to sit back on the sofa and take a regular diet of Coronation Street. Kevin, 21, was diagnosed with diabetes after blood tests showed high sugar levels. He expects to miss the rest of the season. But physio Jamie Hewitt hopes recent Street storylines lines will help the young star cope with the condition.
He explained: "We have asked Kevin to watch Coronation Street for some tips, because there is a new storyline with a character Katy Nelson who has been diagnosed with diabetes." The plot has received praise from the charity Diabetes UK for helping raise awareness of the condition. Katy, played by Lucy-Jo Hudson, is rushed to hospital after collapsing in the Rovers. She has recently been extremely tired and very thirsty - both typical symptoms of diabetes.
As with anyone who is recently diagnosed with diabetes, Katy is confused about
the implications of having the condition. However, Martin Platt, who is a nurse
at Weatherfield General, reassures her that she can come to him with any questions.
Simon O'Neill, Head of Care Developments at Diabetes UK said, "It is great
that Coronation Street is including a character with diabetes. There are about
1.4 million people in the UK diagnosed with diabetes and covering the subject
in such a popular programme will help to raise awareness of the condition. We're
looking forward to seeing how the storyline develops."
Married in haste
25 March 2003 by Nancy Banks-Smith
"How happy could I be with either
Were t'other dear charmer away"
- Music hall song
In Coronation Street (ITV1), Peter Barlow, who is engaged to two women at once and loath to get on the wrong side of either, was yesterday committed to accompanying Shelley, the buxom barmaid, to a funeral at 11am and marrying Lucy, the posh florist, at 1.30pm. The funeral was in Yorkshire and the wedding in Lancashire. Peter was, he conceded, cutting it a bit fine. Hamlet was caustic on this very subject, the funeral baked meats coldly furnishing forth the marriage table. A decent interval between the two is often considered desirable.
It is hard to put your finger on Peter's elusive charm, unless it's something to do with the large selection of tattoos he acquired in the navy. If sex were to fail to come up to expectations, one would always have something interesting to read. Though he can hide at will behind a spiral staircase, Peter might reasonably point out that his father, the preternaturally upright Kenneth, has had three wives and 23 girlfriends. But not, Ken could counter, all at the same time.
The funeral felt like flypaper. Shelley's mother was in low spirits ("It's
five years and two months since we buried your dad") and Uncle Len's conversation
was oddly hypnotic ("At least they put the clocks forward next weekend.
Be lighter in the evenings. Darker in the mornings, of course.") Peter
tore himself away with a noise like velcro, wildly claiming an appointment with
Customs and Excise, and arrived a mere 20 minutes late for his wedding. "This
is him, then, is it?" sniffed the well-corseted woman in the register office,
implying that a heavily tattooed and travel-stained bookie was hardly worth
It's all Greek to Matthew
25 March 2003
Former soap heart-throb Matthew Marsden is swapping the rainy streets of Weatherfield for sunny ancient Greece in his latest film role. And instead of Sally Webster his new love interest is Helen of Troy!
Matthew, who played hunky mechanic Chris Collins in Coronation Street, has landed the lead role of hero Paris in a new film version of Helen of Troy, which also stars Brad Pitt. It is the latest film part for Matthew, 30, who has also starred in Black Hawk Down and Shiner, but he admits that many soap fans in the UK will always fondly remember him as Chris.
His Corrie character attracted a legion of female fans after conducting a
passionate affair with Sally. He was voted Best Newcomer in the British Soap
awards in 1998 but quit the soap soon after to concentrate on his film career.
is on the line says Tracy
24 March 2003
TEARFUL Tracy Shaw is fighting to save her marriage to TV producer Robert Ashworth. The ex-Coronation Street star, 29, looked upset as she took a mobile phone call and then told friends: "I am devastated. He thinks we've gone too far and it's over, but I want us to stay married."
The actress revealed her emotions to the cast of The Blue Room, in which she
is starring at the Devonshire Park Theatre in Eastbourne, Sussex.
Gun battle in the Street
24 March 2003
Violence is to rear its ugly head again in Coronation Street when the Nelson family find themselves the target of armed gangsters who have tracked them down to their Weatherfield hideout. And according to the Daily Star, the Nelsons' life on the run explodes in a hail of gunfire when their secret identities provided by the police are blown wide open.
The Daily star reveals the Nelsons tell police they are coming off the witness protection programme because they are fed up looking over their shoulders 24 hours a day. The ear-shattering attack draws a line under the Nelsons' past lives, but it also opens up the soap to a host of possible new storylines.
Corrie fans will see Tommy get shot and then a hospital vigil as he clings
to life before pulling back from the brink of death. As for the baddies? They
get their just desserts and end up doing a long stretch of porridge.
Archie set to leave Corrie
24 March 2003
Street undertaker Roy Hudd has quit the soap, reports the Daily Star, because he fears stress could take him to an early grave. The comedy legend, who plays cheeky Archie Shuttleworth, says has has been find the Street's busy production schedule too demanding.
The star, 66, is loved by Street fans as he gave Audrey Roberts a shoulder
to cry on during the tricky Dickie storyline. Hudd's character will be phased
out gradually. Daily Star says that Archie will not be killed off, according
to a Street insider. The character will be wound down, but will still appear
Corrie: The first gay
23 March 2003 by Polly Graham
CORONATION Street chiefs are introducing the first gay character in the show's 43-year history. Executive producer Kieran Roberts is planning to turn teenager Todd Grimshaw, played by heartthrob Bruno Langley, into a homosexual.
Sensitive Todd will shock his Street pals when he ends his romance with Sarah Lou Platt after developing a crush on a man. Scripts have yet to be written but bosses hope to introduce the storyline in a few months' time. "There have been meetings about Todd wrestling with his sexuality," a source confirmed. "Nothing is written in stone yet but it looks like it is going to happen. The Street never shies away from the big issues."
It will be a challenging role for 19-year-old Bruno, who joined the show two
years ago. In real life he recently split with co-star Tina, 19, after a 14-month
romance. The pair's characters have already been at the centre of a contentious
plot. TV watchdog the ITC received nine complaints over scenes in which Sarah
Lou celebrated her 16th birthday by making love to Todd. But the ITC praised
the programme for the way it handled the subject.
Husband is divorcing TV's Tracy
23 March 2003
FORMER Corrie babe Tracy Shaw is being divorced by her husband Robert Ashworth - not the other way around, The People can reveal. Despite some reports, Tracy - who played Maxine Peacock - is now battling to save their rocky 21-month marriage.
TV producer Robert, 30, is feeling the strain of being at their Manchester home while te actress is away baring all in sexy drama The Blue Room.
A pal explained: "The rest of the world is seeing more of her than he
does. He's had enough." Tracy, 29, staying in Eastbourne, has told friends:
"I'll fight tooth and nail for Robert."
Never chear on me, boys, says Sally
23 March 2003 by Ian Hyland
WHEN a soap actress arrives for an interview flashing a sparkling engagement ring you could be forgiven for thinking your luck was in. But before the word 'exclusive' has even entered my mind Coronation Street's Sally Lindsay pulls it off and tosses it across the table. "Better get rid of that," she says. "It's not mine, it's Shelley's. As if I'd wear that. It looks like it fell out of a Christmas cracker."
Turns out Sally has just finished filming some scenes for the end of next month and is wearing the ring because Shelley is still planning to marry Peter Barlow. Of course what the Rovers Return landlady doesn't know is that Peter is set to marry his pregnant bit-on-the-side Lucy the florist. Tomorrow.
No wonder Sally's a bit tired. "I'm exhausted, but it's great. There's a helluva lot going on in Shelley's life at the moment and there's also been a lot of action in the Rovers. And I have to be there so that there's someone serving the drinks. "But I'm not complaining. Besides, the perks are good. I mean, I get to sit here talking to you after a full day's filming don't I?"
Yes, she's a funny one is that Sally Lindsay. But what do you expect from one of Peter Kay's best mates? "As if I'd have an engagement ring anyway," she says. "I've got to find a fella first." Sally's been single since splitting with a partner of four years in December 2001. And by her own admission it's been a fallow 15 months on the man front, with not even the whiff of a date since Christmas. "Am I single now?" she says, repeating my question. "Why? Are you asking?"
Blimey, she IS desperate.
"Am I looking for man? I don't know - where do you go looking? I haven't got a clue. "You know what, I'm Bridget Jones," she says. "It's so ridiculous. But I am her. Whenever I've got any free time I just go out with my friends. Meanwhile they try and set me up on dates. But I get introduced to blokes and I suddenly turn shy. I'm like 'ooh, hello' and it doesn't go much further. I'm all mouth me. Suranne (Jones, who plays Karen McDonald) tried fixing me up recently but nothing came of it. "I have had the odd date over the last year or so but nothing major. Look, I'm 29," she explains. "My brother said to me when you're getting on a bit you can't afford to mess around. You know when something's not working. It's not like being 22."
She hasn't resigned herself to being a spinster just yet but I have to admit I'm slightly alarmed when she tells me about the new house she's just bought - a picture postcard cottage with roses around the front door. I can just picture her in 40 years sitting in the living room all on her own. Still wearing Shelley's wedding dress. She can see the joke but Sally laughs off a recent story that her search for love has become so desperate she consulted a fortune teller. "Oh, as if," she says. "Anyway I'm so busy at the moment I haven't got time to get my nails done never mind have my palm read. I should get round to getting a man, because it's worrying my friends. My grandad's like 'is she one of them Libyans?" He's always asking me if I'm gonna get married."
Much is made of actresses being unable to hold down a relationship because of the pressures of fame. Well, Sally's been in the show for almost two years now and you'd be hard pushed to find anyone less touched by the pressures of fame. "I'm a really crap celebrity," she says. "I wish I was more interesting. I drink in the same local, I've the same friends from school. I came to it late. So it's no big deal. I'm still not used to being recognised though. Some people are quite rude and blokes can be really foul-mouthed. What gets me is when people risk their lives trying to cross a busy road just to say, "I don't watch the show but I think it's shite'. What's all that about?"
Sally won't accept that she's changed much since joining the show. I tell her she's definitely glammed up a bit, which is perhaps my polite way of saying she's lost a bit of weight and had her hair done. But she's not having any of it. I always think, who wants to take my picture anyway? Most mornings I go to work with wet hair. "I suppose if you're in bed with Tom Cruise and you both get in the car in the morning that would be interesting. Actually that would be very interesting. Anyway, I've not glammed up really. I had a fringe cut, that's about it. I usually look a tramp. I hang my washing out in my nightie."
Maybe she's just not used to taking compliments. When everyone in the Coronation Street office remarks on how good she looks in our photo shoot Sally's response is a sarcastic, "I know, but it's not fair on the other girls, they won't be able to show their faces at work once they see these pictures in the paper." Defence mechanism maybe, but very funny nonetheless.
She's equally self-deprecating when you mention the fact that Shelley became the youngest-ever landlady of the Rovers when she took over after the summer. "Aw, I only got it because there was no one else around," she says. "There were no other busty blondes so they just said," Give it her for a week and see what she's like". It's the best gig on the show though. If there's a scene in the Rovers I'm usually in it." Sally should also be getting a lot of scenes outside the Rovers over the next few months. Surely it can only be matter of time before Shelley finds out Peter is two-timing her big time with Lucy, played by Katy Carmichael. "Shelley will find out eventually but I think it's going to be a while yet," Sally admits - rumour is Shelley actually goes through with the wedding in July. "I'm actually having a bit of a dilemma over how to play it when she does. I think the old break down in tears, on yer knees, banging on the hearse is a bit old hat. "It's never happened to me in real life - or at least I don't think it has. If a bloke cheated on me I'd feel like I'd been stabbed through the heart. But one thing's for certain, there would be another funeral...his! " "Thing is, what Peter's doing is so meticulously planned I can't see Shelley forgiving him. It's not like it's a drunken Christmas snog.
"I'm not into revenge myself, I don't see the point. It might make Shelley
feel better to hide rotten prawns in his curtains and cut up all his clothes.
But she will be heartbroken. She's built her world around him."
Which is all good for the sympathy vote with fans. For his part, Chris Gascoyne who plays Peter is already getting abuse in the street. Before long he will become more loathed by the viewers than Richard Hillman. "Chris gets shouted at all the time," says Sally. "It can't be easy for him." On her love rival, she says: "It's really weird that even though Katy and I are both part of this massive storyline we've hardly ever worked together on screen. So it'll be interesting to see how it goes when we're finally in a scene together because a lot of hair-pulling may ensue."
Sally's not so sure whether things will get easier once the affair is revealed, but she's sure Shelley won't be running away from Weatherfield to nurse her broken heart. "I love it here. Shelley's a fantastic role and I'm staying for the foreseeable future. But the thought of it being over one day doesn't fill me with dread. It wouldn't break me in two. I get offered other stuff all the time. During my break at Christmas I did two weeks of The Vagina Monologues in Dublin and really enjoyed it. "The Street's a bit restrictive but Shelley's such a great part I'm not gonna complain."
At least she's getting paid well. Her first showbiz gig only earned her a
50p book token. Sally was part of the St. Winifred's School Choir who had a
Christmas No. 1 in 1980 with There's No One Quite Like Grandma. If you ask me
Sally I'd say you were overpaid, love. By 50p.
Tracy marriage on rocks
23 March 2003
FORMER Corrie star Tracy Shaw has told friends that husband Robert Ashworth wants a divorce from her. The actress was devastated when she learned Robert had approached a solicitor about getting a divorce. But the couple, who wed just 21 months ago, have decided to give it one last go before they head to the courts. The marriage has been under strain since Tracy, 29, quit the ITV1 soap and toured the country in exotic play The Blue Room. The friend said: "The marriage has been suffering since Tracy left Corrie. Tracy was upset when there were reports that it was her seeking the divorce when it was Robert who spoke to a lawyer."
Soap spot - Samia Ghadie
23 March 2003
CORRIE babe SAMIA GHADIE isn't as sweet as she looks - especially where boyband Westlife are concerned. Samia, who plays maneater Maria, says: "I can't stand to hear them or even see their unattractive faces. I hate Westlife so much that if I'm at a friend's house and spot one of their CDs I leave."
DIY project for Street's
23 March 2003
For five years, Ken Morley was one of Coronation Street's most successful characters. As Reg Holdsworth, soapland's most eccentric supermarket manager, he won the hearts of the nation. The role made him a millionaire but, by 1995, he had decided enough was enough and quit the world's longest running soap to concentrate on other projects.
Now he's back from a successful series of pantos and stage shows to appear in Hardware, a new Sunday-night ITV1 sitcom penned by Men Behaving Badly's Simon Nye. "It's basically a series of satirical comic pieces about the old Do It Yourself industry," remarks Morley. "As you will see, it turns out not to be as simple as you may imagine. I can speak from experience, having drilled several of the wrong holes and drilled through the wrong pipes and nearly electrocuted myself."
Ken Morley, 60, still lives in his home county of Lancashire with wife Sue. He developed a passion for entertaining at an early age and eventually appeared in a string of comedy shows. The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, 'Allo 'Allo and Red Dwarf kept the wolf from the door before Coronation Street made him a household name in 1989. He's had more than his fair share of TV offers in the seven years since he left but while many were sub-standard, he found there was more to the Hardware script than met the eye. "I've never worked with Simon Nye before and like most people, I thought Men Behaving Badly and Wild West were a real treat. I think he's a comic genius."
The show follows the trials and triumphs faced by the staff of Hamway's Hardware, a traditional DIY store manned by best friends Mike (The Office's Martin Freeman) and Kenny (Peter Serafinowicz), manager Rex (Morley) and student Steve (Ryan Cartwright).
Millions of people are wondering if he has any plans to return to the show
which made his name. While Hardware is keeping him busy for the moment, he doesn't
rule out the return of Reg Holdsworth.
on the telephone line
22 March 2003 by Paul English
From Bettabuys to DIY, former Corrie legend Ken Morley tells about straight bananas, Rocky Horror and high-heeled shoes...
English: Ken, how on earth are you?
Fine thanks Paul, I've just watched the tapes of Hardware for the first time and it's very funny. So that's...
(Line goes dead.)
(10 minutes later)
Ken, that was almost the shortest interview in the history of time there.
I know, I've no idea what went wrong. Anyway, as I was saying, I just got the tapes from Thames TV today and I'm really pleased.
This looks like being your highest profile TV role since leaving Corrie?
True, but when I left Corrie I went and did a Paul Nicholas by going into theatre and maximising the potential as they say. After I left, I went touring with Jason Donovan on the Rocky Horror Picture Show. It sold out everywhere, and we ended up extending the tour circuit for months. I didn't get bored once.
Bored? That's the last thing you'd be on that show surely? Especially
with all those costumes. We hear you got trussed up?
Absolutely. And you should have seen some of the costumes the audience came in. In towns across the country blokes over six- feet tall were turning up in size 11 high-heeled shoes. I want to know where they found them.
Sounds like a riot...
It was. I remember one night in Leeds and this big guy in a blonde wig and bra was in one of the boxes with a gorgeous woman. They got a round of applause from the audience as they took their seat, but the applause continued longer than normal and we realised the couple were getting frisky on the floor.
Good grief. Anyway, back to Hardware. Your new character Rex works in
a local DIY store. Is the show a poke in the eye for the big DIY outlets?
Absolutely. You have to go into these big places and suffer first, because you hope the staff can tell you what you want. Half the time they can't, because they haven't been trained to deal with the questions of the average punter.
You're teaming up with Martin Freeman, who was Tim in The Office. Did
you see much of it?
Yes, some. I thought it perfectly showed the condition that exists in the British worker's mind. Americans go wholeheartedly for the business ethic with no guilt complex. With the Brits, I think we have a feeling we should be doing something heroic, like wandering through the wilds of Canada shooting moose and taming the Indians. Not selling toilet paper to old ladies.
Have you been watching Corrie recently?
Sure have. Richard was gripping, wasn't he? Brian Capron carried the whole show for weeks. There's been such huge tension.
How would you see Reg fitting in with all this mayhem on the street?
I think Norris is closest to what Reg would be - concerned, pontificating yet incapable. No one would take him seriously in all of that. But they had a really good idea a few years ago to do a spin- off with Reg and Bet Gilroy. The idea was that Reg was in Calais flogging dodgy wine and cheese, while Bet was in Majorca where she's married a rich German, with both of them ending up back in Weatherfield.
Do you think Corrie is too serious now?
Not really, it was a conscious decision to change things. Jack and Vera are in it more again, which is good for the comedy side. The great thing about acting in Corrie was you'd be doing comedy one minute, and something emotional the next.
Will you ever go back?
You have to go back with something better than you left with. The idea of Reg coming back from Calais to a supermarket with all the EEC regulations about straight bananas and pink apples would be hysterical. We'll see.
Hardware, Sunday, ITV, 10.05pm
love be in the air for tragic Ashley?
21 March 2003
HE has suffered the heartache of his wife being murdered - but just weeks later there is a new woman in Ashley Peacock's life.
Coronation Street favourite single dad Ashley decides to hire a nanny for baby Joshua. And Ashley (Steven Arnold) chooses Claire Casey, played by soap newcomer Julia Haworth, as the best nanny for the job when he sees her with Josh. But scriptwriters will keep us all guessing if butcher Ashley will fall head over heels for Claire. An insider revealed: "Viewers will be left wondering whether love is in the air for him so soon after Maxine's death."
A source at the ITV1 soap said: "Claire will bring a bit of baggage with her, which Ashley doesn't know about, and there will definitely be a few emotions ahead for him." Street fans have seen Ashley struggling to cope since evil Richard Hillman murdered Maxine (Tracy Shaw).
Street's Tracy 'to try blackmail'
21 March 2003
Coronation Street's Tracy Preston is reportedly about to try her hand at blackmail. It's set to help scheming Tracy, played by Kate Ford, land a top job.
It all starts when Tracy puts pressure on her stepbrother Peter Barlow (Chris Gascoyne) after he marries and then loses bride Lucy Richards (Katy Carmichael). Lucy leaves Wetherfield when she realises Pete still can't ditch his official fiancee Shelley, played by Sally Lindsay. Lucy closes her flower shop, which means her assistant Tracy is out of a job. Tracy pesters Peter for work, threatening to reveal all to unsuspecting Shelley.
A Street insider told the Daily Star: "Tracy has become the biggest soap minx in Corrie. She's the girl the viewers love to hate and blackmailing her stepbrother is a new low. "Pete's relieved that she wants something from him though."
He hopes that giving Tracy the job will ensure she stays silent and his secret
Tricky Dicky in new role
21 March 2003
ITV is looking to cash in on the success of notorious Coronation Street killer Richard Hillman aka Tricky Dicky, by finding a new role for actor Brian Capron on the network.
Both Granada, producer of Coronation Street, and ITV have been talking to the 54-year-old actor since his character Hillman's murderous antics massively boosted ratings. Capron met Granada Content chief executive Simon Shaps last week to discuss ideas. However, ITV director of programmes Nigel Pickard is keen to get Capron back on screen quickly and he could take a role in existing returning dramas.
Capron, who rose to fame in BBC1's children's serial Grange Hill, has also
reportedly been wooed by the BBC. He has featured as an evil serial killer who
bumped off Maxine Peacock and attacked Emily Bishop. The storyline climaxed
when he kidnapped wife Gail and the children and attempted to drown them all
by driving into the canal. They survived but he didn't, bringing his Coronation
Street career to an end.
Corrie crime wave
20 March 2003
Coronation Street's young mechanic Tyrone Dobbs finds out that crime doesn't pay when he clashes with Mike Baldwin. Hapless Tyrone - played by Alan Halsall - finds himself in trouble when he gets caught using factory boss Baldwin's flat and car to woo his teenage sweetheart Katy Nelson. And, in a twisted bid to avoid going to jail, he tries to commit a second offence.
Tyrone thinks his luck is in when Baldwin goes on holiday and leaves his car - and house keys - at the garage. He invites pretty Katy - Lucy-Jo Hudson - to join him at Baldwin's penthouse,and the pair are soon enjoying the high-life - sharing cosy meals at the flat and using Mike's motor to drive to Sheffield. But the game is up when Baldwin - actor Johnny Briggs - comes back two days early and catches them at his place.
And things go from bad to worse when he tells them £1,000 in cash has disappeared and he wants it back by the weekend - or the couple will face jail. After desperate Tyrone has pleaded with friends to lend him the cash to no avail, he decides the only option left is to steal a car and sell it. He targets a motor and is on the verge of breaking in when his mobile rings and the owner chases him down the street.
And just when Tyrone thinks the only option left for him is jail, Baldwin
reveals it was all a wind-up to teach him a lesson.
ahead once more
20 March 2003
Coronation Street has raised the stakes in its claim to being Britain's best-loved soap following another major prize success. BBC News Online looks at how it did it.
Its honour for best soap at the Royal Television Society awards on Tuesday night crowned a recent rebirth for the ITV1 drama. It is riding on a wave of public and critical acclaim following the storyline involving evil Richard "Tricky Dicky" Hillman. At least 17.5 million people tuned in to see the serial killer played by Brian Capron confess his crimes to wife Gail. Audiences are up to an average of more than 15 million per episode - a million more than EastEnders.
The show has emerged from the shadow of its Albert Square rival to regain its status as the UK's most popular TV programme. Last week it was named best soap at the Television and Radio Industries Club awards. And judges at the Royal Television Society said it had "found its touch again" to regain top spot. Now producers are hoping it can take the Bafta for best soap from EastEnders when the two go head-to-head in the industry's most prestigious awards ceremony next month.
Critics say its re-emergence is due in part to the writing talents brought together by the show's producer Kieran Roberts. He had come to Weatherfield from Emmerdale at the end of 2001 on a mission to reverse its declining fortunes against EastEnders. Roberts, Emmerdale's producer at the time of its Bafta win for best soap, replaced Jane McNaught in the hotseat.
His first move was to re-sign writers John Stevenson, Jan McVerry and Ken Blakeson - all of whom had previously left the show - in an effort to sharpen up the scripts. Roberts also brought in John Fay - the man behind the main Tricky Dicky plotline - and Carmel Morgan, known for her writing skills on dramas such as BBC One's Clocking Off. Between them they managed to arrest the programme's ratings decline and - perhaps more importantly for the cast - gain a psychological advantage over EastEnders.
Programme-makers Granada admit to a sense of well-being in the Weatherfield camp following its recent triumphs over its BBC rival. "It's a friendly rivalry - it's created by the media - but you can't help but get embroiled in it," said a Coronation Street spokeswoman. "No one wants to be in second place." She said strong writing and characterisation was paying dividends and attracting back "lapsed" viewers.
Coronation Street is now on four nights each week - Sunday, Monday, Wednesday
and Friday - often doubling up with two episodes on Mondays. However, the spokeswoman
dismissed reports that it was due to be aired over five nights.
killer in Heaven and Hell
19 March 2003
SOAP villain Richard Hillman, the Coronation Street killer who came to a watery end last night, is to be resurrected in Huddersfield.
Viewers saw his wife, Gail, and her children cheat death as Street psychopath Richard, played by Brian Capron, drove the family car into the icy waters of the canal. But Richard, the most dastardly villain in TV soap history, died in the storyline, which attracted millions of viewers.
Brian, however, will be shaking off Tricky Dicky's death and will make a personal
appearance at the Heaven and Hell nightclub in Huddersfield on Friday, March
Top award for Corrie
19 March 2003
Coronation Street has been named Best Soap in this year's Royal Television Society Awards held in in London. The prize marks a remarkable turnaround and a return to form for the northern soap. A year ago, it failed to even make the short-list, but this year triumphed over fellow nominees Emmerdale and Doctors.
The Street is currently enjoying a huge ratings success with the storyline featuring Richard Hillman and his on-screen wife Gail. Nearly 20 million viewers tuned in to the soap as Tricky Dicky's killing spree reached its climax this year.
Executive producer Kieran Roberts paid tribute to the "crews and wonderful actors who work very hard in Manchester to make Coronation Street week in, week out". He added: "This award is for all of them."
Jealous Steve lashes out
19 March 2003
Corrie Casanova Joe Carter is set to get the hiding of his life. Jealous husband Steve McDonald (Simon Gregson) lashes out when he becomes convinced that Joe's having an affair with his wife, Karen (Suranne Jones).
For weeks insecure Steve has been worried that Joe (Jonathan Wrather) could be trying to steal his wife. So far Karen has resisted his charms. But Steve will finally lose his self-control, burst into the knickers factory and punch Joe.
A Coronation Street insider told the Daily Star: "It's up there in the great fight tradition of the show. "Steve really goes for Joe hammer and tongs. You can see the pure venom on his face as he lashes out. He fully believes his wife has already committed the dirty deed behind his back."
But the paper says Joe isn't going to give up his quest for Karen. He persuades
Karen to go to a trade fair in Wolverhampton when Mike Baldwin pulls out. He
tries to make a move when they stay overnight in a cosy hotel. Karen faces a
crisis of conscience while Steve feels certain that his marriage is heading
for the rocks. In the depths of despair, Steve finds himself looking elsewhere
New battleaxe for Corrie
18 March 2003
Coronation Street is to get a new battleaxe, and her arrival could well make Peter Barlow (Chris Gascoyne) quake with fear. Bev Unwin, played by Susie Blake, is the fire-spitting mum of Shelley Unwin (Sally Lindsay).
According to the Daily Star, she'll have locals cowering with her acid tongue. She'll have plenty of things to get worked up about.
News is soon to leak out that Peter is marrying bit on the side Lucy Richards
(Katy Carmichael) and not her daughter. It seems Peter's problems are only just
beginning as he is torn between the two women.
Five nights a week Corrie
18 March 2003
Coronation Street could be broadcast five nights a week. The soap, which is currently on air four times weekly, is stepping up its ratings battle with EastEnders. Street producer Kieran Roberts told the Daily Star: "It's entirely up to ITV. If it wants five a week, we'll supply five a week. We wouldn't stand in the way of an extra half-hour if ITV wanted it."
Mr Roberts, who joined the Street 15 months ago from Emmerdale, is one of the bosses credited with transforming the soap's fortunes. The saga involving serial killer Richard Hillman (Brian Capron) has proved a massive ratings success. Mr Roberts told the paper: "I probably avoid getting too close to my actors. Who knows which of our characters that I think is irreplaceable might come to the end of the line in terms of their story?"
Mr Roberts is confident the soap will carry off a string of awards, which is a far cry from when he took over. He added: "A lot of people felt Corrie was in crisis. There were times when EastEnders appeared to be on top and there were certain awards ceremonies where it was very much on top. "I remember coming back from the Soap Awards when it got 10 and we got one. I shared the sense of despondency. "Now the viewing figures have arrived and hopefully the awards will this spring."
Deayton returns on ratings
17 March 2003 by Jason Deans
Just five months after he was ignominiously sacked following tabloid sex and drugs revelations, Angus Deayton has made a spectacular return to the BBC. Deayton presented BBC2's Comic Relief University Challenge on Friday night, which proved a big success, attracting nearly 6 million viewers, according to unofficial overnights. Deayton has not presented a BBC show since he was sacked as host of Have I Got News for You in October, after BBC bosses decided revelations about his private life made his position untenable. On Friday night 5.9 million watched Deayton's return on BBC2 between 10pm and 10.35pm as host of Comic Relief University Challenge. Deayton's comeback more than doubled the channel's average audience share, to 26%.
Comic Relief University Challenge easily beat Channel 4's V Graham Norton, which could muster only 1.3 million viewers. BBC1's Comic Relief Big Red Nose Night also proved a big ratings winner on Friday night, with more than 11 million viewers sticking with the fundraising extravaganza for three hours. The audience for Red Nose Night peaked at 13.9 million viewers at 8.15pm, when viewers found out that none of the six contestants taking part in Celebrity Driving School had managed to pass their driving test. Overall BBC1's Comic Relief programme was watched by 11.6 million viewers between 7pm and 10pm. That was 1.6 million up on the audience for Comic Relief two years ago, when it was last broadcast. On Friday night Comic Relief attracted an impressive 46% audience share over three hours from 7pm.
BBC1's Comic Relief show undoubtedly put a dent in the audience for the denouement of Coronation Street's Richard "Dick Dastardly" Hillman story line. At the end of the previous episode Hillman had driven his people carrier, containing wife Gail and her three children, into a canal. Friday night's Corrie featured Hillman's body being pulled out of the canal, while Gail and her kids survived, and was watched by 14.7 million viewers. This is still a bigger audience than any other show - including EastEnders - gets on a regular basis at the moment. But by Coronation Street's recent high standards, with previous episodes featuring Hillman's murderous antics watched by more than 15 million viewers, this was slightly disappointing.
Emmerdale fails to make
17 March 2003
Emmerdale has failed to make the soaps shortlist for the BAFTA television awards for the second successive year. The shortlist is the same as 2002, with EastEnders battling it out against Coronation Street, Doctors, and Hollyoaks.
Over the past year all the major soaps have tried to win viewers with dramatic storylines. Coronation Street has been dominated by the murderous villainy of Richard Hillman (Brian Capron). Over at Albert Square, viewers were gripped by the tragic death of Jamie Mitchell (Jack Ryder). Hollyoaks has featured a bonfire party that got out of hand and a guest appearance from Boy George. Doctors has built up a loyal following among daytime soap fans. Emmerdale fails to make the shortlist despite featuring a number of shock storylines. Perhaps the most surprising was the revelation that schizophrenic lesbian vet Zoe Tate (Leah Bracknell) had become pregnant.
In other categories, Asian comedy The Kumars at No 42 has proved it's streets ahead with three nominations in the shortlist. The BBC2 show, where celebrities are subjected to an unscripted grilling by the Kumar family - granny Sushila, mum Madhuri, dad Ashwin and son Sanjeev - has proved a hit since it was launched in 2001.
Anne Robinson will host the awards ceremony on April 13.
Licensed to thrill
16 March 2003
She's hot on screen. And she's just as hot off. Whether the Corrie cracker is having a pint of bitter in the Rovers, or attending a star studded bash in real life, Suranne Jones just can't help but live up to her sex-siren image.
Nominated as sexiest female for the British Soap Awards last year, the raven-haired beauty may have been pipped to the post by EastEnders' Jessie Wallace, but she certainly pulled admiring glances from onlookers in her chic black suit with a red and black bead encrusted bra. Now she's drawing admiring comments for her electrifying portrayal of factory-flirt Karen McDonald, whose antics rival even those of Richard Hillman. In fact, there's even talk that the 24-year-old actress and her co-stars might return triumphant from the British Soap Awards this year. "It's so exciting at work at the moment, as everyone's so pleased with how well everything is going," she says. "Brian Capron, who plays Richard, deserves every single bit of praise he gets. "I won Best Bitch at the Inside Soap Awards last year, and it's nice to gain some recognition. They're great fun to go to and yes, it'd be lovely to pick up a few awards this year. Fingers crossed!"
It's no wonder Suranne can't stop smiling - not least because her computer- programmer boyfriend, Jim Phelan, 28, proposed to her on Christmas morning in the most romantic fashion. "He made me close my eyes, walked me into the lounge, and when I opened them he was on one knee among hundreds of beautiful candles and he just went: `Suranne, will you marry me?' "It's an amazing feeling that the man I'm in love with is as committed to me as I am to him. I'm looking forward to the rest of my life with him."
The pair met at a celebrity soccer match where Jim was playing on the Coronation
Street team with his best mate Chris Bisson, who played Vikram Desai in the
soap. But it took them six months to pluck up the courage to kiss for the first
time. "It was Valentine's Day, two years ago, and I went out for a meal
with friends. Jim was there, too, and being the perfect gent he bought Valentine's
cards for me and my good mate Mikyla. "Mine had a big pair of lips on it
and the slogan `Kiss me if you dare!!'. And as Mikyla's just said `Happy Valentine's
Day', I decided to take him up on his offer. After loads of flirting, he grabbed
me and snogged me by the fridge at Chris's house afterwards. "Jim is a
real romantic and he often surprises me as he's a lads' lad. He doesn't mind
me being a big flirt on screen; he just laughs."
While Surane is blessed by romantic bliss at home, her on-screen character's marriage to Steve couldn't be stormier. In fact, ever since Karen tottered on to Weatherfield's cobbled streets three years ago, trouble and strife have followed her. Now she's torn between love for her husband and lust for her boss. Fans of the hit ITV soap are already aware of the sizzling sexual chemistry between the saucy seamstress and her ruggedly handsome boss, Joe Carter (Jonathan Wrather). Mutual loathing turned into mutual attraction at Christmas after a steamy mistletoe moment. And the will-they, won't-they plotline has been running ever since. "Karen is such a minx: and I love reading the script to find out what she's getting up to next, but I think this time she's really confused," reveals Suranne. "She loves flirting with Joe. But she just wishes her hubby wasn't so possessive as she'd never do anything about her lustful feelings."
Or would she? Trouble is Joe's on a mission to seduce the feisty Karen, and old mates Janice and Fiz waste no time stirring it up with Steve (Simon Gregson). In fact, the green-eyed monster gets such a firm grip of Steve that viewers will see him punch Joe in a jealous rage. "Steve doesn't know whether she's slept with Joe, but imagines all kinds of things." But Steve unwittingly drives his wife straight into her boss's arms. "When she goes to apologise for her husband's violent behaviour, she ends up giving Joe a steamy kiss," admits Suranne.
So could this be the end of the road for the Street's most passionate couple? Suranne admits: "I was devastated that they're splitting up. But that's what happens. You get a good partnership and then the writers don't know what to do with them so they split them up." Whether or not Steve will take his wayward wife back, Suranne's not saying, but she warns that she could never put up with a cheating partner in real life. "No, I couldn't forgive them," she states firmly.
Not that there's any chance of that happening with Jim and Suranne. Suranne
says she couldn't be happier. "I've just got engaged, I've got another
contract with Corrie and my home life is great. Life doesn't get much better."
16 March 2003 by Sara Nuwar, James Weatherup And David Hudson
CORONATION Street star Jimmi Harkishin is an even bigger love-rat than the mother of his two children knows. Jimmi, 39, who plays bed-hopping shopkeeper Dev, has already been caught out three times cheating on long-term partner Susan Beaton.
But the Sunday Mirror can today reveal he had ANOTHER fling - with a girl half his age. Jimmi picked up 20-year-old travel agent Kim Lee in a nightclub and took her to bed. But the party lifestyle seems to be catching up on the star - he boosted his performance in bed by sniffing the sex-aid drug amyl nitrite. Kim said: "I was shocked and a bit insulted. He took two sniffs, one in each nostril. Then he jumped back into bed, but it was all over very quickly. I wasn't impressed."
The pair's fling started more promisingly when they met last December. Kim, who lives in Blackpool had gone to a Manchester nightclub with two friends. She said: "I knew who he was at once but that's not why I was attracted. He's just my type - tall, dark and handsome. He was wearing a terrible flowery shirt and dark Gucci glasses but I was still drawn to him." Kim, who on the night was wearing a short black skirt, knee-high boots and fishnet stockings, said: "He came over and we sat together. He's charming, confident and has a gorgeous voice. He's also very flirty and touchy feelie and his hand would brush my knee or leg."" They exchanged numbers before Jimmi asked: "Can I get a kiss too?"
Kim says: "We started kissing and his hands were on my thighs and bum. He's a great kisser and has lovely soft, full lips. I left the club with him and my two friends tagged along."" Jimmi walked round the corner to his red Jaguar and drove the friends to another club. "It was a gorgeous car with cream interiors and he was showing off trying to tune the TV in," said Kim."
They continued drinking with Kim sitting on his lap. "As we talked he was pinging my fish-nets playfully. He was getting turned on and asked me to go to the bathroom to take my tights off but I said no."" At the end of the evening he begged Kim to stay the night with him but she wouldn't. "I didn't want to sleep with someone I'd just met," she said. To Kim's surprise Jimmi called the next day. "He told me 'I'm so missing you' but we couldn't meet over Christmas."
So Jimmi sent her text messages signed with his nickname Nino. One sent at 4.16am on December 22 reads: "Always. Merry Christmas baby". One sent on New Year's Eve at 22.18 says: "Wishing you everything. Lets make it a good one! Luv Nino x x x xx " At 20.16 on January 22 he wrote: "Big fat wet Mwaaaa! for you"
On January 11 the pair met up again and went back to Jimmi's hotel room. Kim said: "He stripped naked and strutted around before getting in to bed. He's obviously proud of his body. He did look great and has a lovely hairy chest. Plus, he's got a very large supporting actor if you know what I mean. "For a man of his age he's in good shape and he knows it. He's the sort of bloke who walks past a mirror and can't resist having a sly look at himself. I climbed in next to him still wearing my red dress. He said he loved my slim figure and bum. Then he leaned forward and starting kissing me. He kissed every inch of my body before we made love." Kim added: "He was adventurous trying lots of positions. We made love four times and I barely got a wink of sleep."
In the morning, they made love again. "He's got so much stamina and a huge sex drive. I think he would have gone on all day if we could have stayed in the room. "After I got dressed I was standing at the window when Jimmi put his arms round me and starting hitching my skirt up. He was begging me to have sex with him right there. I'm sure people going past on the trams could see in. I eventually moved him, but then he started asking me to have sex in front of the mirror. "He was touching me all over and didn't seem to want to take no for an answer but I was absolutely exhausted. He wore me out."
Last week the Sunday Mirror revealed Jimmi's affair with TV producer Hayley Smith. He had already been exposed for cheating with 25-year-old shop assistant Caroline Jones. And before that he was caught with a beautiful Asian actress who had his child. However, he was happy talking to Kim about his family. She said: "He said he had five kids - one who lived in America. He also mentioned his 'ex-wife' Susan, the mother of three of his children, but he never told me they were still together."
Kim said Jimmi's partying had also been noticed by his Street bosses, who were furious when he once failed to turn up for filming after a big night out. The star admitted he did not get on with some fellow actors, including Simon Gregson, who plays Steve MacDonald. "But he gets on really well with Shobna Gulati, who plays Sunita," said Kim. "Once she left a message saying she really needed to meet for a coffee and chat. "He likes Kate Ford (who plays Tracy Barlow) too. He said she was under a lot of pressure and found the pace of the Street hard to adjust to."
After their night at the hotel, Jimmy took Kim for a pub lunch but all he bought her was a cheese sandwich and a drink. He said he couldn't see her very often because he spent most weekends travelling to London to see his family. But at the beginning of February he got in touch and asked if she would spend a weekend with him. "I don't drive and was hoping he would offer to pick me up in Blackpool but he told me to take the train," she said. Jimmi, who was drinking with friends, kept Kim waiting for 20 minutes, before arriving at the station and then driving her to his home in trendy Salford Quays.
Kim said: "It only had basic furniture. The TV wasn't working properly and there was no video. "It was around 9pm and I hadn't eaten, but he didn't offer any food. My head was splitting, so I asked if he had any painkillers. He made me look for them myself. "It's hard to imagine Dev from the Street acting that way. "Then he got started asking me what I wanted to do with my life. He was comparing me to his 'ex-wife' Susan and asking why I wasn't going to university instead of wasting my life as a travel agent. He said Susan was a teacher, helping people and I should do the same. But I enjoy doing what I'm doing."
They ended up kissing on the sofa and then taking a shower together. It was very cramped and a bit uncomfortable but we lathered each other and starting kissing and rubbing each other down. He was complimenting me on my boobs, but I was too squashed so we moved back next door. He laid me down on the bed and we made love for an hour." It was then, in the middle of love-making, that Jimmi took the poppers and they had sex again. He rolled over and went to sleep, snoring loudly. But the next morning they made love again.
"He's got an unstoppable sex drive and it the only thing he seems to think about," said Kim. "As Jimmi showered he insisted she tidied the living room for him. Then he then took her out for another sandwich lunch - and began dropping hints about her leaving. She said: "He asked if I wanted him to check the train times and I was disappointed he wasn't going to drive me home." The couple went into a music store and he spent £5 on a budget Marvin Gaye CD, which he handed to Kim in the plastic bag. They were due to meet again nine days ago, but Jimmi cancelled it.
Kim was amazed when she read our story about his cheating last week. "I
felt used and stupid. I fell for his smooth-talking when all the time he was
lying. I'm just another notch in his bedpost." Last night a Coronation
Street spokeswoman said: "Jimmi denies all aspects of this story."
Gail's ordeal ends with hug for children
15 March 2003
Coronation Street's Gail hugs her family as their nightmare ordeal at the hands of her evil husband Richard reaches its dramatic end. Viewers were left fearing the worst after the crazed killer tried to take them with him to a watery grave by driving their car into the canal. But his plan failed as Gail and the children - son David, daughter Sarah-Lou and granddaughter Bethany - all survived.
In last night's nail-biting episode, Martin Platt and neighbour Tommy Nelson arrived at the canalside moments after the car plunged into the water. David and Sarah-Lou, with baby Bethany clutched in her arms, managed to battle their way to the surface and Martin pulled them to safety.
But Richard was determined that Gail would die with him and grabbed hold of her as she tried desperately to escape from the car. She appeared doomed - until Tommy dived into the freezing depths to save her. Tommy went back to rescue Richard but he was nowhere to be seen. Police later recovered his body from the water. As a shell-shocked Gail struggled to take in the enormity of what had happened, she had to take one final look at her husband as she identified his body.
A Coronation Street spokeswoman said: "These are some of the most dramatic scenes in the history of the Street. "The shockwaves will reverberate around Weatherfield for a long time to come and Gail now faces the hard task of trying to rebuild her life."
15 March 2003 by Nicola Methven and Brian Roberts
THERE will be more bloody scenes on the mean streets of Weatherfield after Coronation Street bosses decided to go for stories with sex and violence. They want to capitalise on the success of the Tricky Dicky plot and have told their writers they want storylines that will shock.
Evil Richard Hillman's efforts to wipe out his family, gassing them in their car before plunging it into a canal pulled in 20 million viewers trouncing soap rival EastEnders. Now Corrie fans are set for two new violent and gripping tales.
The first involves the Nelson family who have been secretly living in the street under a witness protection programme. The second sees Les Battersby and love rival PC Mick Hopwood battle it out in the bloodiest punch-up in the show's history.
A source said: "Coronation Street is going to be cosy no longer. The bosses have realised that it has to come bang up to date with adult stories to be able to compete with EastEnders." He added: "It's crucial to the success of ITV1 that the Street is the most popular show in Britain and the writers have been told to come up with more sex and violence. "The Richard Hillman story was the turning point, but now we are going to see a much tougher and more relevant Street."
The new Corrie kicks off next month when a pair of thugs arrive in Weatherfield determined to bump off key court witness Angela Nelson (Kathryn Hunt). Armed police surround the Nelson's home and there's a siege. Daughter Katy (Lucy-Jo Hudson) is grabbed at gunpoint. But her brave dad Tommy (Thomas Craig) breaks through the police cordon and rushes to save her. Two shots ring out and Tommy lies bleeding. The rest of the Street discovers that the family was in a police protection scheme. Some are outraged.
Meanwhile Les Battersby (Bruce Jones) is in trouble. Taxi driver Les jumps a red light and is pulled over by PC Hopwood and colleague Curly Watts's wife Emma (Angela Lonsdale). Les, furious that his ex-wife Janice (Vicky Entwhistle) has moved in with Hopwood (Ian Gaine) believes he's been targeted. There's a horrific brawl choreographed by fight co-ordinators hired to make it as realistic as possible.
A source said: "A violent fight ensues, arguably the most vicious ever
and certainly the worst since the Jim McDonald wife-beating scenes years ago.
"Mick thumps, knees and boots Les about while he is helpless on the ground.
He's like a snarling dog and Emma manages to pull him off fearing he is going
to kill Les." Later she is persuaded to lie to protect Hopwood who arrests
Les for assaulting him. The source said: "These are exciting times and
those who have read this scenario reckon it's one of the all-time great plots".
to Tricky Dicky is murder
15 March 2003 by Frances Traynor
WE were breathless with anticipation. We had sweated from Wednesday to Friday over whether the Hillman avenger had committed the ultimate horror and taken innocent babes in arms (and Gail) to a watery grave. For one heart-stopping moment, as the silver people carrier sank beneath the inky blackness of the Weatherfield Canal, we wondered if anyone would emerge alive.
But, come on, this is Coronation Street. Having a serial killer who butchered a young mum, offed his ex-wife and was generally the baddest, meanest mutha in town has used their quota of shocks for the next decade. So, no surprise to anyone that the good guys survive - hurrah (yeah, even for Gail) - and boo, hiss, the ultimate soap bad guy dies.
Gail, her toby jug chin quivering with emotion, had bravely returned to the canal banks to identify her now- deceased mass murderer of a man. Earlier, she'd been hauled to shore by reluctant hero Tommy Nelson.
Actually, he was a lot less reluctant than Martin Platt, dad of one submerged wean and stepdad of another. Martin looked as though he didn't want to get his sweater wet as he gingerly plopped into the canal and looked at Tommy for help.
Plaudits to cast and crew for the underwater scenes, which were realistic. The actors - Brian Capron, Helen Worth, Tina O'Brien, Jack Shepherd and two- year-old Emily Walton - performed their own stunts. Of course, the production team brought along some dummies just in case.
But no gripes - this was a fantastic climax to one of the best-ever Corrie
plots. What a pity that Tricky Dicky had to die. It would have been fantastic
to see him rampage around Weatherfield like a sneering Grim Reaper, despatching
those cast members who have outlived their usefulness. Instead it's RIP, Richard
- but thanks for the memories.
Corrie climax to bring Britain
14 March 2003
Supermarkets are planning to install special screens to ensure customers doing their Friday shop don't miss the thrilling Coronation Street climax. Britain is expected to grind to a halt as a predicted 22 million viewers tune in to watch Richard "Tricky Dicky" Hillman get his comeuppance. Roads, pubs, restaurants and shops across the country will be virtually deserted as viewers make sure they are safely at home to find out who dies in Richard's car plunge into the canal.
But those who don't make it home for 7.30pm don't need to worry. Staff and shoppers at Asda's 24-hour branch in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, won't miss a second of the action as Corrie is beamed in at the check-outs. And almost all television sets at Heathrow Airport will be tuned in to the soap.
Elsewhere, punters hoping to catch the latest sporting action will be disappointed at the giant Sports Cafe chain, which will have retuned to Corrie at its flagship branches in London, Manchester and Birmingham. And police forces are getting ready for one of the quietest Friday nights they have had in years.
On Wednesday, fans saw evil killer Richard drive his car - with wife Gail,
her children Sarah and David, and Sarah's daughter Bethany - into a canal. And
this vital cliffhanger episode - which has left the nation on tenterhooks -
will reveal who lives and who dies in what Richard planned to be his final killing
is up there with the best
14 March 2003 by Frances Traynor
IT has been the greatest Coronation Street cliffhanger of them all - who will survive Richard Hillman's death plunge into the Weatherfield Canal? On Wednesday, we saw serial killer Tricky Dicky drive his car, with his family bound and gagged beside him, into the canal. And tonight's rescue scenes are guaranteed to have millions of viewers on the edge of their seats.
So today, we look at 10 famous Corrie cliffhangers of the past:
THE CLIFFHANGER: In 1967, the Street was already an institution when it was
decided a tragedy would boost the ratings. A train crashed and the apparently
lifeless body of gossip Ena Sharples was found nearby.
THE OUTCOME: Fans were relieved when Ena was found to have suffered only cuts and bruises.
THE CLIFFHANGER: Emily Nugent (now Bishop) organised a bus with nearly all
of Weatherfield on board. The coach's brakes failed and it ploughed off the
road into a tree.
THE OUTCOME: The driver died, but Jack and Annie Walker, Ena Sharples, Stan and Hilda Ogden and Minnie Caldwell survived. Ray Langton was temporarily paralysed.
THE CLIFFHANGER: A lorry crashed into the Rovers while Tracy Barlow was in
her pram outside in 1979. Thinking her baby was dead, Deirdre went off to commit
THE OUTCOME: The police discovered the toddler had been taken for a walk by Deirdre's friend.
THE CLIFFHANGER: In 1983, femme fatale Deirdre had to choose between husband
Ken or love god Mike Baldwin. Oh decisions, decisions.
THE OUTCOME: Deirdre dragged it out for two episodes, before plumping for our Ken.
THE CLIFFHANGER: Brian Tilsley was living it up after divorcing Gail in 1989
- then he was stabbed after a night on the tiles.
THE OUTCOME: Brian died on the cobbles.
THE CLIFFHANGER: Deirdre had fallen for conman Jon Lindsay, who convinced
her he was a pilot. He worked in the airport's Sock Shop. She signed up for
all manner of credit while he made off with the cash. Several fraud charges
later, Deirdre was in the dock and going down in 1998.
THE OUTCOME: Even Tony Blair felt obliged to intervene in the case of the Weatherfield One. Deirdre got released early when old lover Mike discovered the truth about Jon.
THE CLIFFHANGER: Sworn enemies Mike Baldwin and Ken Barlow made it up during
an armed raid on Bettabuys in 2000. One of the robbers was Linda Sykes's brother.
THE OUTCOME: Curly's cop wife Emma shot dead Linda's wee brother while the rest of the hostages ran free.
THE CLIFFHANGER: In 2001, Sarah Louise Platt got a date with a teenager after
meeting him in an internet chatroom - but he turned out to be a sinister older
THE OUTCOME: Mum Gail rushed to the pervert's house, aided and abetted by nice guy Dennis, to save Sarah from the beast's clutches.
THE CLIFFHANGER: Les Battersby, crushed that wife Janice had fallen for Dennis,
tried to kill himself in his cab in 2002. Dennis rode to the rescue. As the
pair drove to Weatherfield, a drunk driver smashed into them. Les had few injuries,
but Dennis was rushed to hospital and put on a life support machine.
THE OUTCOME: Dennis managed to tell Janice he loved her as ex-girlfriend Eileen hovered outside. Then he died, robbing the Street of a hero.
THE CLIFFHANGER: Killer Richard Hillman, taking the "till death do us
part" bit of his vows too seriously, packs wife Gail and the kids into
a car. Chased by a Weatherfield posse, he plunges the car into the canal.
THE OUTCOME: All will be revealed tonight.
TOP OF THE PLOTS
Tricky Dicky takes the plunge
IS this the end for Dick Dastardly? Will a plunge into the Weatherfield Canal kill Richard Hillman AND his adopted family? The tension is almost unbearable as Corrie's mad, bad and dangerous to know serial killer finally cracks.
Richard - Brian Capron surely guaranteed every soap gong going this year for best baddie - has already made clear his intentions to wife Gail. He's packed her and the kids - Sarah, David and Bethany - into the back of that expensive people carrier and taken them on a murderous mystery tour. Richard has no intention of going to jail because he reckons he won't be able to live without his ready-made family. So it's destination canal.
Corrie chiefs have filmed four alternative endings to tonight's grand finale, so we'll all be on the very edges of our seats until the last possible moment tonight.
Stay tuned to ITV for Tonight With Trevor McDonald which tells the story of
the real Richard Hillman. The programme meets Eunice Chapman who lived with
a murderer and conman for more than a decade before discovering the truth about
scheme to help soap stars
13 March 2003 by Joanna Taylor
Soap stars stand to benefit from a new scheme set up by Granada designed to combat the pressures of gruelling schedules, traumatic storylines and excessive public exposure.
The initiative is in direct response to discussions with Equity in which problems faced by actors in regular series, particularly those who are young or new members of the cast, were highlighted. Programme producers will now have routine meetings with the cast of Granada soap Coronation Street and new members will be given regular medicals. Specific guidelines on the use of child performers and the particular needs of young actors have also been issued.
A Granada spokeswoman said that although the scheme is in its early stages it is hoped it will help prevent cases similar to that of Michelle Ryan, who plays Zoe Slater in BBC soap EastEnders. In June last year the actress was granted indefinite leave after suffering from extreme nervous exhaustion. Her illness was blamed on her workload.
Equity's head of television Andy Prodger praised Granada, saying he was delighted
it had treated concerns about the pressures on soap actors with such seriousness.
victim Gail chills out after Tricky Dicky horror
13 March 2003 by Nicola Methven
IF anyone needs to get away from it all it's Coronation Street's Gail Hillman. Actress Helen Worth relaxed topless on holiday, looking for all the world like the latest victim of evil screen husband Richard. The soap star is taking a well-earned break in Mauritius with her family.
In the Street, Gail went through hell this week when she and children Sarah-Lou and David were kidnapped and terrorised by the demented Tricky Dicky. But last night his reign of terror ended when he drowned after his people mover plunged into the Manchester Ship Canal. The fate of Gail and the kids, who were with him in the car, was not revealed.
And Helen, snoozing on her beach lounger, looked in no state to spill the
Pete the cheat ditched by
13 March 2003
Heartless Coronation Street Romeo Peter Barlow gets his come-uppance when new wife Lucy leaves him just days after their wedding. The pregnant Mrs Barlow goes wild with anger when she discovers her love rat husband still hasn't told his fiancee Shelley Unwin that their engagement is off!
Heartbroken Shelley leans on Peter for comfort after the shock death of her sister, with the two-faced ladykiller even attending the funeral on the day of his wedding. Corrie's Casanova (Chris Gascoyne) then goes on honeymoon with his new bride (Katy Carmichael), who is blissfully unaware he is regularly phoning Shelley. But each time he calls, he loses the nerve to tell grieving Rovers manageress Shelley (Sally Lindsay) his shock news.
Inevitably Lucy finds out about the calls and goes ballistic with rage, especially when on their return home, bitchy Tracy lets her know Shelley has no idea Peter has left her and got married! Ignoring Peter's pleas, Lucy decides to move away from Weatherfield and bring up the baby on her own.
It will be no surprise if the callous Mr Barlow then re-focuses his attentions
back on Shelley in an attempt to worm his way back into her affections. Whatever
happens, it's going to be a rough ride for Peter Barlow and the ladies in his
life over the next few weeks.
Corrie killer's final smirk
12 March 2003
Coronation Street killer Richard Hillman lies grey and lifeless in the last scenes viewers will see of him. The murderous conman is zipped up in a body bag after being fished from the canal after his bid to wipe out his family. Tonight viewers will see him take his kidnapped wife and children on a terrifying high speed chase before plunging his car into a canal.
The killing spree has put Corrie back at the top of the ratings, drawing huge numbers of viewers. On Monday night, Richard was seen returning to his home in the Street where he took hostage wife Gail, her children David and Sarah-Louise and granddaughter Bethany. Their lives will be in his hands as he takes them on a white knuckle ride, tearing through the streets of Weatherfield.
Hillman's final scenes will be seen on Friday after helpers are seen frantically scrambling to reach the stricken vehicle. Capron said of his swansong: "I have had a ball playing Richard but it is time for him to go. I was thrilled with the exit storyline because it surpasses everything he has done before. "But getting into that bodybag was a really gruesome and terrifying experience."
Following Friday's edition of the soap there will be a Tonight With Trevor
McDonald special profiling The Real Richard.
stars in blue show
11 March 2003 by Tom Bourton
If anyone thought Tracy Shaw would follow the well-trodden path from soap opera to C-list obscurity, she has proved them wrong so far. A few months after quitting Coronation Street, the actress is not assessing her panto options, but is half-way through a gruelling national tour with one of the most talked-about plays of recent years.
The Blue Room, which features full-frontal nudity, shot to notoriety in 1998 when Hollywood superstar Nicole Kidman - under the direction of Sam "American Beauty" Mendes - starred during its West End run. "I was very nervous at first with the thought of having to do it, but the play is about sex and relationships," said Shaw, as the play nears Cardiff's New Theatre. "Now it is just part of what we do onstage each performance to make the show work," she added.
The play, which features a series of sexual liaisons in pursuit of love and lust, has attracted controversy since it began. At its debut in Germany in 1921, La Ronde - the original Arthur Schnitzler play - was shut down by police and the actors were put on trial. And this latest adaptation by David Hare, which co-stars Jason Connery, is proving no exception.
The opening night saw a herd of photographers leap up during Shaw's first nude scene, taking their pictures and then running out, with the results plastered over the next morning's tabloids. And last week, Shaw walked into a set, suffering concussion and cutting her eye-brow, forcing the cancellation of two shows.
Connery and Shaw, who each take on five characters each, had actually tried to rearrange the play in an attempt to shift its emphasis away from the nudity. "We thought, if the audience is able to see us both naked early on, it makes the play more about the search and the characters," said Connery. "People were so in anticipation of Nicole Kidman being naked, it altered the dramatic impact," he added.
And Connery, who praised Shaw's bravery in agreeing to follow Nicole Kidman, is not worried that the attraction of seeing a former soap star and a former Robin of Sherwood naked is keeping the turnstiles spinning. "People are coming in a voyeuristic nature - as long as they are coming to see it," he said.
The play runs at Cardiff New Theatre from Monday 10 to Friday 15 March.
Corrie escapes rap over teenage sex story
11 March 2003
Coronation Street producers have been cleared of breaching TV guidelines with a controversial storyline about teenage sex.
TV watchdogs received nine complaints over scenes in which Sarah Lou Platt celebrated her 16th birthday by making love to boyfriend Todd Grimshaw. But the Independent Television Commission praised the programme for the way it handled the subject.
Scriptwriters were commended for the build-up to the episode - shown last
month - and for getting the couple to talk sensibly about their actions. In
their judgment, the ITC said: "We could understand some viewers' concerns,
especially parents of teenagers, who may question the appropriateness of a sexual
relationship at 16. "However, having viewed the episodes, the ITC took
into account the development of the relationship between the characters. "Both
had shown some maturity by deciding not to sleep together as they were too young.
Now that legally they can have sex, they do so in the context of a loving and
committed relationship. "Given the lack of any sexually explicit behaviour
or language, the ITC believed that the concentration on the emotional aspects
of the issue made the episode suitable for transmission during family viewing
Street stars back City of Culture bid
10 March 2003
Coronation Street stars have showed Manchester's support for Liverpool's European Capital of Culture bid by abseiling down the Granada Television building to unveil an 82ft banner. Simon Gregson and Suranne Jones, who play married couple Steve and Karen McDonald in the hit show, unfurled the banner bearing the message "Manchester supports Liverpool".
They were cheered on by fellow cast members and joined by Philip Olivier (Tinhead) and Suzanne Collins (Nicky Shadwick) from Brookside and members of both city councils. After abseiling down the 100ft building a shaky Suranne said she had felt "sick" when she first looked down. "My stomach went," she said. "I didn't realise how much I loved Liverpool." Simon said it was important to support Liverpool's bid and he "loved every minute" of the abseiling. "We are neighbours," he said. "The one thing that stops us getting on is football, so it's time to put that aside."
Liverpool is one of six British cities bidding for European Capital of Culture status in 2008. The decision will be made in June. Sir Bob Scott, chief executive of the Liverpool Culture Company spearheading the bid, said Manchester and the North West had "a huge amount" to gain by supporting Liverpool's renaissance. "Liverpool has phenomenal potential to be a major European city and is investing £2 billion in its cultural facilities and infrastructure for 2008 to achieve that vision," he said.
The region is already benefiting from the partnership between the two cities.
More than six million visitors have flocked to museums, galleries and theatres
in the last 12 months, up four million from the previous year.
Corrie killer contacts us
10 March 2003
IN this astonishing plea for mercy, Coronation Street murderer Richard Hillman exposes his delusions over the killings of ex-wife Patricia and Maxine Peacock. The deranged fugitive tells in his letter to readers how he did the crimes in the name of love. Love for his wife Gail and her children. He says he regrets his actions and would love to turn back the clock. But with chilling words that will have Gail reaching for the wine rack in despair, Tricky Dicky, back in Corrie on TV tonight for a thrilling finale, declares the couple will be together in heaven.
Dear Mirror Readers
I'M aware of the police effort to hunt me down, the photographs in the papers, the lynch-mob condemnation of Richard Hillman, and I hope through this newspaper I can at least recount the awful sequence of misfortunes that led to my crimes. Duggie Ferguson was a friend, or so I thought until I realised he was ripping me off. But his death was an accident, he fell. I panicked. I needed money.
So I robbed him. I'm not proud of it but I can't help thinking he would have done the same to me. I did wrong, I know that, but Duggie got his posthumous revenge with that bail hostel and I plunged into financial hell over that business. I could've coped with that, after all I'm a financial adviser - I could've dug myself out.
What I couldn't put up with was my ex-wife Patricia causing trouble for my family. I was married to that woman long enough to know how to handle her. But when she threatened to upset Gail and the kids something had to be done. It wasn't premeditated, I didn't go to the Ridings to kill Patricia, I went there to explain how much I loved my family, to beg her to leave us alone. But she wouldn't listen, she made threats, said bad things about Gail. And I snapped. I didn't want to kill her, I didn't MEAN to kill her. If that shovel hadn't have been there she'd still be alive. And so would my marriage. Because if I hadn't done that awful thing I could have clawed my way out, made everything good.
But what happened to Patricia sent me on this downward spiral, ending with the death of Maxine Peacock. I hate myself for that, for killing a beautiful young woman, for making her little kid grow up without his mum. These are not the words of a madman, they're the words of a loving husband and father. I know how important it is to have a family, and though it's hard to understand, I did what I did for mine. I love Gail, Sarah, young David, little Bethany. I'm not asking forgiveness, I'm a guilty man deserving punishment.
All I'm asking is for a bit of understanding, for people to realise I did what I did for them. And I'm being punished by the nightmare of how it all went wrong, the images in my head of bashing Mrs Bishop then taking a young woman's life. I know I was evil, yet I was still the loving husband and father, desperate to cling to his dream of a happy family in a happy home. I fell in love with Gail not long after I first set eyes on her at Alma's funeral. So on the surface it looks like death brought us together and death tore us apart. But it was love that tore us apart.
I did what I did out of love. I hear you asking what kind of love is it that drives a man to try to kill his wife's mum? It's the kind of man who loves his wife enough to do it. Don't think I wouldn't do anything to turn the clock back. Don't think I don't want to go back and say sorry to Audrey, Ashley, Gail, Sarah, David, little Beth, for putting them all through hell (and if you're kind enough to print this I hope Norris Cole is the first person to read it when the editions land on the Kabin floor).
The one thing that's keeping me going through all this is the hope I can turn my nightmares into dreams of being together again. And while I can't profess to be a religious man I hope that we WILL be back together again, some day, in heaven.
TV soap Crossroads axed
10 March 2003
Daytime TV soap Crossroads has been axed over poor ratings less than three months after its relaunch, it has been announced. It will be dumped from the schedules after its current run ends in the summer.
ITV bosses pulled the plug after the soap's audience slumped to a low of 1.3 million viewers despite a revamp. Staff at Carlton, which makes the programme, were told the news at its Nottingham offices. Director of programmes Nigel Pickard said: "Carlton and ITV have worked extremely hard to establish Crossroads but despite the best efforts of all concerned it has attracted disappointing audiences since its return earlier this year."
Crossroads returned to TV in 2001 after a 13-year absence and pulled in an average two million viewers. ITV bosses decided to boost ratings by giving the show a glitzy revamp in January this year, masterminded by former Soap Stars judge Yvon Grace who promised to transform it into a "Dallas for teatime" which would appeal to gay audiences. Jane Asher played the new hotel boss and John Major's daughter-in-law Emma Noble was signed up to give the show some added glamour. But the camp new look and over-the-top storylines proved a turn-off for audiences and ratings have been averaging around 1.5 million, with a low of 1.3 million recorded last week. The soap will move from its current 5pm slot to a new time in the early afternoon in the next few weeks.
Corrie's scream team
9 March 2003 by Donna White
THIS is the chilling moment when Coronation Street baddie Richard Hillman attempts to take his family to a watery grave. Our heart-stopping images show Gail and her children battling for life after the killer drives the family car into Weatherfield canal. But will Tricky Dicky - actor Brian Capron - succeed in taking anyone with him to the murky depths? Soap insiders are staying tight- lipped but promise one of Corrie's most exciting plots ever.
The actors did all their own stunts for the underwater scenes, filmed at a naval training base in Fleetwood, Lancashire. It was an amazing achievement - particularly for non-swimmer Helen Worth, who plays Gail. She had to take lessons before the cameras started rolling.
Helen, 52, told the Sunday Mail: "I'd never even got my hair wet in a swimming pool before and next thing I knew I was fully submerged in this tank, fighting with Brian Capron and having to hold my breath for a minute at a time. "We were all terrified at first. But once the adrenalin started pumping it turned out to be a fantastic experience. "I loved it so much that I've booked to go on a scuba-diving holiday."
In tomorrow night's double episode viewers will see Richard returning to the Street, where he kidnaps Gail, her kids Sarah and David Platt and baby grand-daughter Bethany. On Wednesday, fans will witness the madman drive into the canal. The underwater scenes will feature in Friday's episode, when fans will finally discover if Richard's killing spree claims more victims.
He's already murdered his ex-wife and hairdresser Maxine Peacock, left business partner Duggie Ferguson to die and tried to bump off his mother- in-law Audrey Roberts and pensioner Emily Bishop to get his hands on their money. During Friday's dramatic episode he grabs hold of Gail as she struggles to get out of the vehicle. Sarah battles to rescue Bethany as water fills every inch of the people carrier. And young David desperately grapples to get out - but finds his door is stuck.
Corrie had one of its biggest audiences for years when nearly 20 million viewers
tuned in to see financial adviser Tricky Dicky finally confess his crimes to
Gail. She memorably dubbed him: "Norman Bates with a briefcase." And
almost 17 million viewers tuned in to see the conman kill Maxine. The sensational
storyline has shot Corrie back to the top of the ratings over BBC rival EastEnders.
A TV Times poll voted Richard as the top soap villain of all time - beating
EastEnders wife-beater Trevor and JR from Dallas.
My underwater car terror... by Corrie's Sarah-Lou
9 March 2003
CORRIE star Tina O'Brien told last night of her real-life horror at filming soap's most sensational scenes. Tina, who plays schoolgirl mum Sarah-Lou, said she was TERRIFIED after being driven into a freezing canal by evil Richard Hillman. She told The People in an exclusive interview: "There was so much tension. "We did our own stunts and were plunged underwater for real. We had to swim free...and I was petrified."
The dramatic scenes unfold on ITV1 this week as serial killer Hillman takes his family on a chilling journey. But Tina, 19, revealed the dramatic story behind the cameras, including how:
In Friday's episode, panic-stricken Sarah-Lou, mum Gail, brother David, and little Bethany struggle to escape the sinking vehicle. Tina revealed: "We spent three days filming under water. I've been lucky enough to get some big storylines on Corrie, but this is without doubt the most dramatic I've done. "At one point during rehearsals we were all plunged into the water from a replica helicopter and we had to try and swim out. "When we started filming for real they plunged the car 2ft into the water and we had to dive under and film all the scenes. I was petrified. "Helen Worth had learned to swim especially for the storyline. She did so well and we were all really proud of her. "After each take we swam to the top and looked at the recording. We were shocked with what we saw. I thought how amazed viewers will be with the final edit. "Because we wanted to do our own stunts, we had to get special training at a naval centre. Stunt experts who worked on the James Bond film Die Another Day were also drafted in."
Emily Walton, two, who plays Bethany, did her own stunts along with the rest of the cast. Tina said: "She was fantastic. She even did the gasps for breath. "I had to keep hold of her, but we had a giggle because Emily loves swimming and she kept shouting 'Again, again' when the director shouted cut. Then she kept wriggling from my arms because she wanted to show me how she can swim on her own." Tina added: "Quite apart from anything else, the sound effects of the cast gasping under water are really chilling."
The high drama starts on Monday when Hillman (Brian Capron) returns to Coronation
Street after going on the run. By Friday, fans will be left wondering if Sarah-Lou
and the others escape or drown. But it will be the end for Hillman. Tina said:
"We''ll miss Brian - he's been a lot of fun, even if it doesn't look like
it on screen!"
9 March 2003 by David Hudson And Emma Cox
LIKE his Coronation Street character, love-rat Jimmi Harkishin just can't help himself. The handsome star, who plays bed-hopping Asian shopkeeper Dev, is cheating on the mother of his two children...again.
This time Jimmi is having a fling with Hayley Smith, a pretty 25-year-old TV producer. Now the 39-year-old actor is dividing his time between Hayley, who lives near the Coronation Street studios in Salford, and his partner Susan Beaton, who lives in London with their children. Jimmi has recently moved in to Hayley's three-bedroom flat - although he has told Susan that he is simply helping her out by paying the rent because she has lost her job and they don't live there at the same time.
Hayley's neighbours, however, say she was around until a few days ago and Jimmi had been seen coming and going "for several months". And the couple have been spotted cuddling on a string of dates and when they are apart they speak constantly on the phone to each other. Last night a Street insider revealed: "Tongues have been wagging for ages. "They've been out on the town a lot and are accepted as a couple."
It's not the first time Jimmi has been caught playing away. Three years ago Caroline Jones, a 25-year-old shop assistant, told a newspaper how she had stripped to only her red thigh-high boots for a sex session with him. Jimmi denied it. Before that he was caught cheating on his long-time partner with a beautiful Asian actress. She had his child, but he eventually dumped her to move back home with Susan.
Assistant producer Hayley first met Jimmi three years ago while working on the satellite TV channel Men and Motors. When confronted about his tangled love life by the Sunday Mirror he claimed he had only moved in to her flat last week after she went to stay with her parents in Newcastle Upon Tyne. But her mother Shirley told the Sunday Mirror: "I don't know where she is." She refused to talk about her daughter's relationship with the actor.
Last night Jimmi admitted that he knew Hayley - but insisted they were just friends. "I've known Hayley for a while. She worked for Granada on Men and Motors and was made redundant," he said. "She's basically found herself in a really tough predicament. "Her family and friends are in Newcastle, but she's got no job and can't pay the mortgage."
Jimmi and Hayley's lovenest is a former council flat in Langworthy - a far cry from the upmarket pad he once shared with fellow Street star Brian Capron (murderous Richard Hillman) on the city's stylish Quays. Jimmi said: "The lease on the place where I was living in Salford Quays was up and I just didn't think I could sit by and let something like that happen to a friend. "If you are saying you've seen me with my arm around her, all right. She's a good friend. It could have been because she was upset or I could have just been saying, 'Hello'."
He went on: "If I wasn't in Coronation Street no one would question it. I used to share a flat with a guy who was gay - but no one then suggested we were a gay couple. "It's not like I'm living with her. I've got family in London. I'm trying to do the right thing here." He insisted: "She's never been a girlfriend, she's just a friend I met at Granada. If she was here (at the flat) I wouldn't be. As soon as she gets a job I'm out of here. "The flat wasn't being used, she had no one to take it over. I thought I'd pay the rent and help her out. "If I really wanted to have some sort of illicit relationship I would buy a place of my own. I can afford to do that. I've visited Hayley here. I've known her for three years, so I can't say I haven't been here. "If I say, 'Do you fancy going to a movie or something?' then I'd come and pick her up. "People can say whatever they want. If I wanted to carry on I wouldn't have made it so obvious. I haven't hidden anything. "I told my wife I was living here and she's comfortable with it."
Yesterday Jimmi was at his North London home prepare to celebrate his son's
birthday tomorrow. "I suppose I will have to put up with three days of
it if my wife reads this in the papers," he said.
Barmaid Shelley: I can't pull!
9 March 2003
SHE has pulled more than a thousand pints, but Corrie favourite SALLY LINDSAY still can't pull her perfect man. Sally, who plays besotted Rovers barmaid Shelley Unwin, DREAMS ofsettling down with her Mr Right and starting a a family. But she FEARS that she may end up being left on the shelf. I can reveal the bubbly actress - about to have her heart broken on screen by two-timing fiance Peter Barlow - consulted palm readers and Tarot experts in her search for happiness.
Sally, 28, tells me: "Settling down would make my life complete. I recently visited a palmist who predicted I would marry and have a baby soon. "But the trouble is there is no Mr Right on the horizon, and at times I think I'll never find him. "I think you get choosier as you get older. I've definitely got more and more selective. Nowadays I'd rather not have a boyfriend then have the wrong one. "Whenever I do find a fella I like, I start wondering what our children would look like. If he's got big ears or a funny nose, I worry our kids would have them too."
Sally confides that she had her first boyfriend - "who shall remain nameless" - when she was just TWELVE. She says: "I had my first snog at the pictures when he took me to see Ghostbusters - but 16 years later I've still got a lot to learn. "I'm not lonely, though. I enjoy going out with my girlfriends from school - Jane, Charlotte, Clare and Katie - to the Comedy Store or a bar. "But I don't like clubbing - that's too noisy for my liking."
Here are a few tips for fellas who fancy their chances with this really funny lady. Sally prefers Pimms to pints, and country pubs with real open fires to dingy backstreet boozers. Her ideal man would be "a cross between Richard E. Grant and Bryan Adams". Sally insists that she would NEVER consider placing a lonely hearts advert, but if she had a change of heart she would describe herself as "funny, considerate, outgoing and down to earth."
On screen, Shelley is planning her wedding to boyfriend Peter Barlow - blissfully
unaware he is also engaged to Lucy the florist, who is pregnant with his child.
CORRIE stunner SURANNE JONES has no plans to wed in real life.
Suranne, who plays sexy Karen McDonald, says: "I've watched my screen
wedding a few times and it's scary seeing someone put a ring on my finger. At
22, I don't feel ready for that."
Rovers and out
9 March 2003
Former Coronation Street siren Tracy Shaw has tested the goodwill of car firm MG after trashing the £17,000 sports car they loaned her.
But all those sexist pigs out there who will be quick to say that MG were asking for it by giving a 130mph car to a girlie should hold fire. It wasn't the actress who was at the wheel - it was her TV producer husband Robert Ashworth. Thankfully Robert, who wed Tracy almost two years ago, walked away unscathed from the smash. But from now on MG would prefer it was only Tracy - currently touring Britain in the raunchy stage play The Blue Room - who sits behind the wheel.
My insider told me: "They have indefinitely lent Tracy the car so they could get publicity for it. "In return for the loan car Tracy had to pose for a couple of photos with it. The idea is to make it look like a cool car that celebrities drive so that plebs like us want to part with our hard-earned cash for it. "Obviously the exercise turned out to be a little more expensive than they'd planned."
Until the crash MG had really got their money's worth out of Tracy after she
posed for a paparazzi-style shot last year. The publicity seemed to have worked
as the car became Britain's top-selling sports model.
Jason is torn between mum
7 March 2003
Young Jason Grimshaw is faced with a stark choice after spotting a familiar face in The Rover's Return. Should he re-establish contact with his charming but unreliable dad, or stay loyal to mum Eileen who has always spoken bitterly about his father?
Jason's father, Tony Stewart, breezes into Weatherfield complete with flash Rolls Royce and much younger girlfriend and his arrival can only mean family upset for Eileen, played by Sue Cleaver.
Tony's face is not only familiar to Jason - many viewers will recognise him too. He is played by Alan Igbon, who has appeared in Auf Wiedersehen Pet and GBH.
Jason, played by Ryan Thomas, initially sides with his mum when she storms out of the pub and he refuses to have a drink with Tony. After all his mum has always been there for him while his father has been off doing his own selfish thing. But later he relents and meets Tony and the two get along famously.
Ryan told Inside Soap magazine: "Jason is really happy that his dad has
turned up - he just can't believe it. They have a laugh together and enjoy each
other's company." And Ryan revealed a fact that made it easier for him
to play the part of Tony's son - Alan Igbon looks like his real-life dad.
Perfect holiday for Gail
- scuba diving!
7 March 2003
It is the last thing you would expect from a woman who has narrowly escaped a watery grave at the hands of her maniac husband - booking a scuba diving holiday! But that what Helen Worth, who plays Gail Hillman, decided after filming the top secret scenes involving the demise of her on-screen partner, serial killer Richard.
The dramatic storyline involves Richard, played by Brian Capron, kidnapping Gail and the children and attempting to kill them all by driving into the canal. The stunt required help from the special effects team behind the latest James Bond movie and needed some tricky underwater filming.
This proved especially tough on non-swimmer Helen who plays a major part in the scene. But according to Coronation Street insiders the actress took to it like a duck to water becoming a proficient free-diver in a matter of weeks. She enjoyed the experience so much that she has now booked a scuba-diving holiday - but somewhere a bit warmer than the Weatherfield canal!
The Street's production team have filmed several endings to the Tricky Dicky
storyline and refuse to say which one will be shown. What is clear is that Richard
dies - Brian has already announced he is leaving the soap. But the big question
for all Corrie fans is - will Gail and the children survive?
Hunt is on for new baddies
7 March 2003
The hunt is on for new soap baddies after recent plot lines featuring evil characters produced a dramatic boost to ratings. Both EastEnders and Coronation Street are believed to be developing plotlines featuring charismatic bad guys in an bid to replicate recent triumphs.
First EastEnders scored a runaway success with episodes featuring nasty Trevor Morgan, played by Alex Fearns, who terrorised Little Mo (Kacey Ainsworth) until she attacked him with an iron and was jailed, despite being the victim of his beatings for years. Then Coronation Street killer Richard Hillman had viewers gripped as he attacked Emily Bishop and murdered Maxine Peacock before going on the run. Other notable soap baddies have included Dallas oil baron JR, EastEnders hard man Phil Mitchell, Trevor Jordache who ended up buried under the patio in Brookside Close, Emmerdale's Kim Tate and Cindy Beale, who hired a hitman to kill husband Ian in EastEnders.
The latest character you love to hate will be a dodgy property developer who
wants to re-develop Albert Square, according to the Daily Star. The new villain,
as yet un-named, has gangland links and wants to buy up property and re-populate
Walford with yuppies. He's not a killer in the Tricky Dicky mode, but does turn
violent when people thwart his plans.
killer is cop in own TV series
6 March 2003 by Nicola Methven
CORONATION Street star Brian Capron has landed his own TV series after proving a hit as evil Richard Hillman. But Capron, 55, is swapping his role of serial killer for life on the right side of the law.
ITV bosses are planning to cash in on his popularity with a series in which he will play a police officer. It will also help Capron fulfil a lifelong ambition. The former Grange Hill star, who played Mr Hopwood in the early 80s, has long dreamed of being the next Inspector Morse or Taggart. He said: "It would be great if someone gave me series. "That would be nice. I would love to play a detective - I think that is certainly my drop. And I could get back to a nice London accent."
Capron is negotiating a deal for at least one major series with Granada. A Granada spokeswoman said: "We are actively pursuing new projects for Brian and several ideas are being considered. "Things are in the early stages but are progressing well and Brian is likely to start filming in the summer."
Next month, Capron plans to marry girlfriend Jacqueline Bucknell, with whom he has a six-year-old son Louis. But first Tricky Dicky will return to Coronation Street for one final act of terror as he kidnaps wife Gail and her children. Last month the storyline attracted record audiences of 21 million.
A Granada insider added: "We'd be mad not to create a series for Brian
now that his role as Richard is over. He proved immensely popular with the viewers
and he is a talent we don't want to lose."
Cinema saves Corrie fans from missed episode misery
5 March 2003
A cinema has come to the rescue of hundreds of viewers who missed a dramatic episode of the ITV soap Coronation Street because of a power-cut.
Around 700 homes in Cambridge lost power during the screening of an episode in which serial killer Richard Hillman confessed his crimes to wife, Gail, last week. This weekend, the Cambridge Arts Picture House will stage a special screening of the episode so fans of the soap can catch up on the missed episode.
Chris Peters, general manager of the cinema, said he had read how the power-cut prevented hundreds of viewers from seeing the episode and decided to help. "I read about what had happened in the local newspaper, the Cambridge Evening News," said Mr Peters. "So we contacted Granada, which makes Coronation Street, and asked if they could let us have a video which we could show at a special screening. "They agreed and we're going to show it for free at 11am this Saturday. "We've had a screen set up for 100 people and it will be on a first come, first served basis. "I'm not a fan of Coronation Street myself, but I gather this was a crucial episode that people did not want to miss," he said.
Corrie killer voted worst soap villain ever
4 March 2003
Coronation Street serial killer Richard Hillman has been voted the top soap villain of all time. His evil crimes shot him to the top of a list which included EastEnders' Trevor Morgan and Trevor Jordache from Brookside. He was even voted a bigger soap baddie than JR Ewing from Dallas in the TV Times poll.
Hillman, played by Brian Capron, murdered Maxine, bludgeoned Emily with a
crowbar, killed ex-wife Patricia and left business partner Duggie to die. An
audience of 17.5 million tuned in last week to see him finally confess his crimes
to shocked wife Gail. But his reign of terror has not ended yet - Hillman heads
back to Weatherfield this week and takes his family on a terrifying drive which
ends with their car plunging into the icy waters of the local canal.
The poll, in which a panel of TV Times experts voted, rated soap baddies according to the wickedness of their crimes. TV Times's Great Soap Baddies Ever include:
charity's book deal
4 March 2003 by Steve Smith
A CHARITY for kids with a devastating skin disorder are being probed over their fund- raising. The inquiry centres on address books produced by DEBRA, who raise cash for children who suffer from epidermolysis bullosa. The condition leaves children's skin so brittle they cannot be touched or cuddled in some cases.
Yesterday, the Charity Commission confirmed they were investigating DEBRA, who are backed by celebrities including Anthea Turner and former Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh. A spokeswoman for the commission would not give details of the probe, only saying: "The Charity Commission currently have an inquiry open into DEBRA due to concerns about the charity's fundraising policy."
She said no more details would be released while the investigation was still going on. But the Berkshire-based charity's director John Dart said it involved a deal DEBRA had struck with a Manchester company to produce address books for sale in their charity shops. He added the Charity Commission had received a complaint from someone claiming to have been unfairly pressured into advertising in the address book. Dart said: "The investigation is about a particular arrangement we had to produce 500 address books for sale in our charity shops. "The Manchester company involved would sell advertising space in the book to cover their costs of producing it. Someone complained to the commission that the company had put some pressure on them to buy advertising. "As soon as we were notified by the commission of a complaint, we suspended the arrangement." He said the commission had been investigating the matter since July and were expected to issue their report in the next few weeks. Dart added: "We expect they will tell us to take more care in checking our sales arrangements and we would not disagree."
DEBRA were formed in 1978 by a parents whose children were affected by EB, to boost medical research and raise cash for sufferers . Groups have been formed in 32 countries, with around 5000 people diagnosed with EB in Britain and an estimated 500,000 worldwide. Scottish director Robin Hood's work on behalf of the charity was featured in a BBC documentary last week. His 13-year-old daughter Alex suffers from the condition. Robin gave up his job organising shooting and fishing holidays near his Galloway home to work full-time for DEBRA. He hopes research carried out at Dundee University could find a cure for the rare condition, which affects only one in 17,000 Scots.
The DEBRA web site is at: http://www.debra.org.uk/
ITV dominance turns back
4 March 2003 by Jason Deans
ITV rolled back the years last night with A Touch Of Frost and a double helping of Coronation Street, bringing ITV1 nearly half of peak time viewing on all channels. Monday night's ratings figures for ITV1 brought back memories of the mid 1990s, when plain old ITV, as it was then, regularly clocked up audiences of more than 10 million viewers for its peak time shows. Last night the only ITV1 programme to fall below the 10 million mark was Tonight With Trevor McDonald, which was up against BBC1's EastEnders.
Coronation Street led the way, with the continuing fallout from Dick "Dastardly" Hillman's admission of his murderous ways bringing big audiences to both editions of ITV1's flagship soap. The 7.30pm outing of Coronation Street was watched by 15.3 million viewers, while 14.5 million tuned in again at 8.30pm for a second helping of the latest goings on in Weatherfield. Both editions of Coronation Street attracted more than half the available TV viewers, with the 7.30pm instalment clocking up a whopping 61% audience share.
BBC1's Celebrity Driving School provided very meek opposition at 8.30pm, attracting just 4.8 million viewers. On Friday night the BBC1 Comic Relief special launched in the same slot with 9.3 million viewers. David Jason returned to ITV1 at 9pm for a new instalment of A Touch of Frost, with his grumpy police detective investigating the death of a security guard in a two-hour drama. A Touch of Frost was watched by 11.4 million viewers and attracted a 47% audience share. It hammered BBC1's movie repeat, Under Siege 2, which could muster only 3.9 million viewers between 9pm and 10pm.
ITV1's 10 million club was completed last night by Emmerdale, which was watched by 10.7 million viewers - also a 47% audience share - from 7pm. BBC1's Holiday attracted 5.9 million viewers in the same slot. EastEnders provided BBC1's only peak time success last night, watched by 14 million viewers between 8pm and 8.30pm. The BBC1 soap was up against ITV1's Tonight With Trevor McDonald, which attracted 4.1 million viewers. Overall, ITV1 had a 44.9% share of viewing in peak time, between 7pm and 10.30pm. BBC1 had a 23.3% share during the same period.
One funeral and a wedding?
4 March 2003
Corrie love rat Peter Barlow finds himself in a sticky situation when his two-timing antics look in danger of being exposed. The Street's Casanova, played by actor Chris Gascoyne, finds he has been double-booked by the two women in his life. Peter's cheating looks set to be revealed when his fiancee Shelley Unwin tells him her sister's funeral has been arranged on the very day he is due to marry his second bride-to-be Lucy Richards.
So far, Peter has not found the courage to break the news of his affair to Rovers' barmaid Shelley, played by Sally Lindsay. But it looks like pregnant lover Lucy - actress Katy Carmichael - is also being kept in the dark.
Now a slapstick chain of events proposes to reveal Peter's deceitful ways.
Florist Lucy is expecting to wed the lying bookie at 1pm in a Weatherfield register
office. But when Shelley drops the bombshell that she needs him at sister Sharon's
funeral at 11am, 50 miles away in Bradford, cowardly Peter cannot refuse. Peter
dutifully makes the trip to West Yorkshire to be Shelley's shoulder-to-cry on.
But he is left in a cold sweat when Lucy rings to make sure he'll be on time
for the service.
Showbiz pressures split
4 March 2003
Coronation Street star Shobna Gulati has revealed she is as unlucky in love as her soap character, with her real-life romance coming to an end. Mother-of-one Shobna, who plays shopgirl Sunita Parekh, admitted that fame had ruined her four-year relationship with ex-Emmerdale star Gary Turner. The split happened after Turner, who played chef Carlos in the Yorkshire TV soap, left Emmerdale and moved to London, while Shobna stayed in the north to concentrate on Corrie.
Shobna, 29, said: "It can be hard finding time to see each other." But she added that the split was totally amicable and the pair were determined to remain the best of friends. Friends of the star thought the celebrity couple would marry in the near future and said the break-up had left Shobna "very tearful".
Shobna's on-screen character has had her fair share of relationship disasters.
Sunita's love-life took a turn-around when she snared sugar-daddy businessman
Duggie Ferguson. But the relationship ended in tears when evil Richard "Tricky
Dicky" Hillman left Duggie for dead after he fell from a landing in the
doomed flats. Then, after despairing that she would never find love again, she
became involved with Irish heart-throb Ciaran McCarthy, only for him to be arrested
for going AWOL from the Navy.
3 March 2003 by Brian Roberts
CORONATION Street bosses shocked two stars by axeing them from the soap. Jonathan Wrather, who plays Weatherfield factory boss Joe Carter, was yesterday coming to terms with his bombshell exit from the show. And Dean Ashton - Street bad-boy Ade Critchley - was also given his marching orders.
Wrather was said to be "devastated" at the sacking. His two-year contract with Granada still had more than 12 months to run. But, on Friday afternoon, just as he was preparing for a big Corrie knees- up farewell for Tricky Dicky actor Brian Capron, he was summoned by show producer Kieran Roberts. He told a shellshocked Wrather: "Sorry - but we're letting you go." Roberts also broke the bad news to Ashton, but the 17-year-old has been told the door will be kept open for him while he returns to his studies.
A Street source said: "The real shock news was for Jonathan. He really did think his character had a massive future in Weatherfield. "Only two days before the axe he was happily talking about his future at Granada. "He gave the impression he was a major player in things to come - but clearly the bosses thought otherwise."
Wrather joined the cast last May and his roguish character Joe Carter quickly
impressed factory boss Mike Baldwin, who eventually took him on as his number
two. Since then Carter has been a big hit with viewers and the actor himself
thought he was doing well. Production staff privately had him earmarked as the
perfect "next big baddie". According to fellow guests at Capron's
leaving do, Jonathan was "moping about all night". One onlooker said:
"He looked completely gutted."
Dicky's fairwell trash!
2 March 2003
TRICKY Dicky had a killer of a farewell bash - a roomful of sexy schoolgirls and an award of the crowbar he used to murder Maxine! And Coronation Street actor BRIAN CAPRON was "thrilled" at the party to mark the end of his role as Richard Hillman.
More than 20 cast members dressed up to thank the 55-year-old star for giving the soap its highest-ever ratings. KATE FORD, who plays Tracy Barlow, led the raunchy sights on view in tennis gear. Others stars at the bash at Manchester's trendy Barca club on Friday were: TINA O'BRIEN, his TV stepdaughter Sarah Lou. His real-life girlfriend JACQUI BUCKNALL. SURANNE JONES (Karen McDonald) and SALLY LINDSAY (Shelley Unwin), and LUCY-JO HUDSON (Katie Nelson). Screen wife Gail (HELEN WORTH), didn't go along with the theme to mark Brian's days in Grange Hill.
But Brian loved it when ANDREW CHAPMAN - husband of Janice Battersby star VICKY ENTWHISTLE - presented the crowbar. One party insider said: "Andrew wore the black parka outfit Richard was in when he battered Maxine. "And when Brian was given the crowbar he was in stitches. He had a fantastic night."
Brian, sporting an "I'm Famous" badge, took the mike to joke: "Richard Hillman has been sleeping on a park bench for three weeks and none of this has happened." He left pals such as SIMON GREGSON and KEVIN KENNEDY guessing about his future by saying: "I'm off to Hollywood - or should that be Hollyoaks?" Then, with four endings to the Street saga in the can for Monday's climax, he hinted there may be a shock in store - by adding: "I'll be back!"
CORRIE cutie TINA O'BRIEN would love her character Sarah-Louise to have a wild rock chick image. She says: "I'm going to ask the producers if I can have curly hair and dye it bright red." Most of us think you look great as you are Sarah Lou.
Tricky killer makes shock Street return
2 March 2003 by Suzanne Kerins
JUST when everyone thought they were safe again Corrie's Mr Nasty - Tricky Dicky Hillman - makes a dramatic return to the Street. Nineteen million people tuned in last week to see serial killer Richard, played by Brian Capron, go on the run after confessing his evil crimes to his wife Gail. But the show's most notorious villain is forced to return to Weatherfield when he discovers he's left his passport at home. And in typical Tricky Dicky fashion there's more terror in store for his long-suffering wife and her children, Sarah-Louise Platt and David, the minute he's back on the Street.
An insider said: "It's pretty explosive stuff. Richard breaks into the marital house and lays in wait for the children to return. "Gail, David and Sarah-Louise are all lost for words. "Just when everyone thinks they have seen the back of him, he strikes back. "And he has no intentions of letting them get away from his grips this time. His big plan is to take them as hostages."
The first person to have to face the wrath of Tricky Dicky is young David. Richard wastes no time in threatening him as he tries to scream for help. Poor David has to look on in horror as sister Sarah-Louise returns home minutes later with her baby Bethany. An insider added: "Gail's kids are lost for words. They have no idea what Tricky Dicky has in store for them this time."
Tricky Dicky's reign of terror has smashed all the soap's rating records.
The dramatic new scenes will be aired on Monday March 10. A Granada TV spokesman
said: "This story will be the talk of the nation on Tuesday morning. "It's
one of the best storylines the Street has ever had - and we guarantee the fans
won't be able to wait for the next episode."
I'm worm out by Corrie scenes
1 March 2003 by Rod Chaytor
CORRIE star Helen Worth told last night how filming the Tricky Dicky murder scenes have left her emotionally drained.
The actress, Gail Hillman in the ITV soap, said she has never felt so much pressure in her 30-year Street career. Helen, 52, said that working with actor Brian Capron - evil husband Richard - has been "sensational". But she added: "It has tested my resolve as an actress. When you think millions of people are watching you it is the most pressurised plot I've had. "I have come home from work feeling tired and emotionally drained, but it has been an absolute joy. I cannot believe my luck. "There are hundreds of actresses who would love to be as tired as I am and have those storylines. "To have the plot revolving around myself and Brian has been absolutely brilliant."
Monday's episode in which Richard confessed he had killed his ex-wife and bludgeoned Maxine Peacock to death, drew 19.4million viewers. And Helen said that topped all her storylines. She added: "There was the murder of my first husband Brian and my daughter Sarah's teenage pregnancy. They've all been fantastic. But this has been the most exciting."
Corrie stars last night threw a farewell party in Manchester for Brian. They dressed in school outfits for the Grange Hill night. He starred in the kids' drama in the 80s.
Street's Peter faces dilemma
28 February 2003
Coronation Street's Peter Barlow fears his affair with Lucy Richards could become public knowledge. Peter, played by Chris Gascoyne, had asked his ex-lover Lucy (Katy Carmichael) to marry him when he discovered she was pregnant. She turned him down but Peter still had to consider how he would break the news of Lucy's pregnancy to his fiancee, barmaid Shelley Unwin (Sally Lindsay). Things become even more fraught when his stepsister Tracy (Kate Ford) spots Peter leaving Lucy's flat and puts two and two together.
Chris told Inside Soap magazine: "When Shelley asks Peter to move in with her he tries to explain about Lucy. But she's bouncing off the ceiling, telling Peter how much he means to her and how he's changed her life. He takes a deep breath and agrees to move in. But when she leaves the room he's there sitting with his head in his hands." Tracy's interference doesn't help. Chris added: "Tracy is a real thorn in Peter's side. She tells him if he doesn't tell Shelley, then she will. She's not threatening him because she particularly cares about either Shelley or Lucy, she's just doing it because she's a meddler."
Peter can't find the courage to tell Shelley the truth. Chris said: "It's
an incredibly unfortunate position for Peter to be in. He loves both women,
but his priority now is to at least try and have a relationship with Lucy in
order to be a good dad to his baby...I think he's being weak, but he thinks
he's being too nice."
Corrie star's jumbo delivery
28 February 2003
Actress Helen Worth, who plays the wife of Coronation Street serial killer Richard Hillman, is taking delivery of a JCB digger on behalf of an elephant sanctuary. The soap star, a patron of the Born Free Foundation, was visiting the excavator giant's headquarters in Rocester, Staffordshire, to accept the eight-tonne machine on behalf of the charity.
JCB chairman Sir Anthony Bamford agreed to donate the £35,000 JCB 3CX Backhoe Loader for use by the Foundation in Sri Lanka, where it supports a sanctuary caring for orphan elephants. The 3CX - the most famous of JCB's product range - will be used for a variety of tasks including the removal of invasive exotic plants, which take a stranglehold on large areas of the sanctuary. It will also be used for digging waterholes and trenches and for on-going construction projects.
Helen, who plays Gail in the long-running ITV1 series, said: "We are really
grateful to JCB and Sir Anthony Bamford for the kind donation. "The removal
of these plants is a war of attrition and is very expensive to do by hand because
it takes lots of people lots of time. "The JCB will allow us to remove
the plants on a more regular basis at less cost."
plot 'boosted cancer checks'
28 February 2003
A soap opera storyline triggered a surge in cervical smear tests, costing the NHS an estimated £4m for the extra checks, researchers have claimed.
In the Coronation Street plot, the character Alma Sedgewick developed cervical cancer, dying from the disease in June last year. Health experts writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) estimate around 14,000 extra cervical smear tests were carried out in the North West as a result of the storyline, costing the NHS an estimated £500,000. They say if that pattern was repeated across England, the storyline could potentially have cost the NHS around £4m in extra smear check costs.
A helpline run by the charity CancerBACUP received around 300 additional calls per week because of the storyline. Though it expressed concern some women may have been unnecessarily worried by the storyline, the charity welcomed the fact that awareness of its work rose dramatically during the period it was on screen.
Around 2,000 of the women who came forward in the North West had never had a test, or should have had one sooner. But the remaining 12,000 were women who were already in the system and came for extra or early tests. The researchers welcomed the fact that women who might otherwise not have had a smear test came forward, but said the large increase in demand led to a significant strain on local health services. The extra demand led to increased waiting times for results - potentially increasing women's anxiety.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, the researchers, led by Dr Andy Howe, said: "Television programme makers should realise the power of such stories, not only to achieve maximal viewing figures, but also to cause fear and anxiety, as well as the consumption of scare healthcare resources. "Those responsible for promoting health need to engage programme makers in a full ethical debate." Dr Howe told BBC News Online: "We saw women who had come who had never had a smear before, and that was a huge benefit of the story." But he added the demand for extra smears placed a huge burden on the health service. "The NHS has limited resources. That £4m could have been spent in a different way. "If we work together better, we could help get to the right women."
Rachel Hardyman of CancerBACUP said TV programmes were an important method of getting messages across. She wrote in the BMJ: "The trend for giving information at the end of potentially delicate television programmes seems not only responsible but necessary. "In our study making such information available led to the use of a cancer helpline by a broad and, in part, previously untapped group."
CancerBACUP's helpline can be contacted on 0808 800 1234 on Monday to Friday,
9am to 7pm.
message at killer Richard's funeral
27 February 2003 by Brian Roberts
THIS is the moment shattered Corrie widow Gail Hillman arrives to see her murderous husband Richard sent to hell. The devastated mum only turns up at his funeral to make sure he has really gone forever after wrecking her family's lives. With just undertaker Archie Shuttleworth at her side, Gail breathes a sigh of relief as Tricky Dicky's coffin disappears behind the crematorium's curtain. She had originally vowed not to go to see the killer off.
In scenes described as tremendous, Gail, actress Helen Worth, finds herself having to discuss arrangements with Archie (Roy Hudd) for the cremation. At first she tells him she wishes she could leave his body on a tip. But then she decides: "Get him cremated as soon as possible. I don't want the stench of the man around a day more than I need to."
The funeral scenes were filmed amid tight security yesterday at Swinton Cemetery on the outskirts of Manchester. A production source said last night: "The scripts are magnificent. At one stage Gail herself can't face going to the funeral. "She tells Archie: 'He can go to hell on his own after all he's done.' "But in the end she has a change of heart to make sure she sees him gone once and for all. "Helen has done brilliantly. Her role will go down in Corrie history. We're just waiting for the ratings to soar once more."
The Tricky Dicky murder story has won ITV's long-running soap some of its highest ratings. During his trail of terror he killed his ex-wife, left businessman Duggie Ferguson for dead after a fall, bludgeoned hairdresser Maxine Peacock to death and plotted to finish off Emily Bishop to get his hands on her cash. Around 19.4million tuned in on Monday to see him confess his dirty deeds to horrified Gail.
Richard, played by Brian Capron, then went on the run. But he returns to Weatherfield
next month to kidnap his wife, her children Sarah Lou and David and granddaughter
Bethany. He takes them bound and gagged on a terror trip in his car before plunging
into a canal during a police chase. Viewers are then left wondering which of
the killer's family will survive.
27 February 2003
THE violence in Britain's top two TV soaps has gone too far, watchdogs ruled yesterday. They condemned murder and brutality being broadcast before the 9pm watershed. The criticism came as they upheld complaints about the Little Mo and Trevor climax in EastEnders and the murder of Maxine and attempted murder of Emily by Richard in Coronation Street.
With a ratings war in full flow, the verdicts show how far the two soaps will go to outdo each other. But it also shows watchdogs feel the boundaries of acceptability have been crossed as the soaps are broadcast when children are watching. Channel Four have long shown violent scenes before the watershed in their soaps, as well as exploring taboo subjects such as male rape. Callum Finnegan, played by Gerard Kelly, tried to rape Lindsey Corkhill (Claire Sweeney) in 1999. And a year later in Hollyoaks, Luke Morgan, played by Gary Lucy, was gang raped in an episode that had to be screened late at night.
Coronation Street's double bill in January involving evil Richard Hillman, played by Brian Capron, prompted 21 complaints which were upheld by the Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC). In the 7.30pm episode, he attempted to murder Emily and in the 8.30pm episode he killed Maxine. Broadcasters Granada said the murders were edited not to feature graphic detail and that there had been on- air warnings about the plots.
The BSC also upheld 13 complaints about the EastEnders episode in which Trevor, played by Alex Ferns, took his wife Mo (Kacey Ainsworth) and their daughter hostage and threatened to burn down the house where they were held. The complaints were about verbal and implied violence rather than physical abuse, which had featured earlier when Mo hit Trevor with an iron.
But the BSC were "concerned by the unrelenting nature of the violence". Both soaps were condemned by the watchdogs for showing so much violence so early in the evening.
In a statement to the BSC, Granada said they "wanted to ensure that viewers who would be upset by violence were aware that the episode involved a murder". It added: "Consideration was given to how the balance could be maintained between not shocking people with violence and yet not sanitising murder."
But viewers were upset by the way the scenes were edited after Maxine's attack. The camera panned away to show a bloody joint of meat on a table. Granada said: "The use of cutaways ensured the violence and shots of injuries were kept to a minimum." The BSC said: "We were concerned by the domestic context of the violence in this pre- watershed soap." But Granada branded the BSC's ruling as "ridiculous". A spokesman said: "Maybe the BSC would prefer it if we weren't to kill off any characters, but that's not a view shared by 17million viewers."
Coronation Street got on the wrong side of a watchdog two years ago over the rape of Toyah, played by Georgia Taylor.
Meanwhile, the BBC also defended the way they dealt with the relationship between wife- beater Trevor and Little Mo which saw him die in a blaze he started. They told the BSC: "The physical violence was limited to pushing and shoving." The BSC said they "appreciated the important issue that they were exploring". But they added: "We were concerned by the nature of the violence at a time when large numbers of children could be watching."
The BSC have no powers to punish broadcasters. They rely on an agreement with
TV stations that they will pay attention to rulings.
20m watch Coronation Street
25 February 2003 by Claire Cozens and Ciar Byrne
Nearly 20 million people tuned in to ITV last night to watch the dramatic moment when Coronation Street's "Dastardly Dick" Hillman confessed to murder, giving ITV1 its highest audience in three years. The double episode averaged more than 17 million viewers but peaked at 19.4 million during the second instalment, when Hillman finally came clean to wife Gail about his many bloody misdeeds. The nail-biting episode, the culmination of weeks of suspense for fans of the soap, only just fell short of the 17.9 million who tuned in to discover who shot EastEnders' Phil Mitchell nearly two years ago, the most watched soap episode in recent years. And audience levels are expected to top the crucial 20 million mark once video recordings are taken into account.
The Hillman storyline has given Coronation Street a huge ratings boost and last night's denouement will go down as one of the best performing episodes of the soap for years. The murder of Maxine Peacock, a crime Hillman finally admitted to his wife last night, drew an average audience of 17.5 million people in January and pushed rival soap EastEnders from the list of top five shows during the week of the murder.
Almost 20 million viewers are estimated to have tuned in to watch the nail-biting climax of a Coronation Street double bill last night, sparking a massive electricity surge across Britain as viewers sought to calm their nerves with a post-show cup of tea. A surge measuring 1,200 megawatts was recorded after viewers saw serial killer Richard Hillman, played by Brian Capron, admit he was a murderer.
At the end of last night's second episode of the ITV1 soap, the power surge was equivalent to around 450,000 kettles being switched on, according to a National Grid spokesman. This was only slightly less than the record 1,500 megawatt increase caused by an earlier episode of Coronation Street in which Hillman murdered fellow character Maxine Peacock, played by Tracy Shaw. That episode achieved record viewing figures of more than 17 million. And last night's surge was almost enough to rival the aftermath of England's World Cup football victory over Argentina, which also caused a 1,500 megawatt increase, the equivalent of 600,000 kettles being switched on.
Official figures from Barb show Coronation Street took all the top five places for individual shows in that week. Just over 17 million people watched the first half-hour episode last night, giving ITV1 a 64.8% share of viewing. But that rose to 17.6 million for the 35-minute second episode, peaking at 19.4 million.
But although last night's episode was a top ratings performer into today's
terms, it falls well short of soap performances of the 1980s and early 1990s.
More than 30 million viewers tuned in to a Christmas special of EastEnders in
1986 to watch Dirty Den serve wife Angie with divorce papers.
Street double bill sparks power
24 February 2003
Coronation Street fans sparked a massive power surge across Britain - making cups of tea at the end of a nail-biting double bill.
A surge measuring 1,200 mega-watts was recorded after viewers saw serial killer Richard Hillman, played by Brian Capron, admit he was a murderer. At the end of the second episode of the ITV1 soap, the power surge was equivalent to around 450,000 kettles being switched on, a National Grid spokesman said. He said the surge reflected the number of viewers who resumed normal activities including making cups of tea and switching lights on. Viewing figures will not be known until later.
In the double bill, Gail, played by Helen Worth, discovered the terrible truth - that the husband she loves is a murderer. And as he pinned her to the sofa with his hand over his mouth and his evil face inches from hers, she realised that she could become victim number four.
Richard's confession came after Gail discovered that murder suspect Ade Critchley, the teenager whom Richard framed for Maxine Peacock's killing, could not have committed the crime. A chain of events led Gail to confront Richard - who finally confessed to Maxine's murder. To her horror, her husband went on to admit all his crimes one by one.
The double bill was the nailbiting climax of a storyline which has had millions of viewers glued to their TV sets.
Watchdogs clear Corrie over
24 February 2003
Coronation Street has been cleared by TV watchdogs after Maxine Peacock's murder at the hands of serial killer Richard Hillman prompted dozens of complaints. In the dramatic double episode last month, Hillman first attacked pensioner Emily Bishop then bludgeoned Maxine to death after she stumbled in on his crime. Afterwards distraught husband Ashley cradled Maxine's body in his arms and was left drenched in blood.
The Independent Television Commission received 41 complaints from people who believed the scenes were too upsetting for family viewing. But the complaints were rejected by the ITC, which said viewers knew what to expect because the episodes were preceded by a warning and the storyline had received widespread publicity beforehand.
A spokeswoman said: "The ITC believed this gave parents a good indication of what to expect and so make an informed decision of whether to watch with their children." The ITC ruled that the soap had shown "suitable restraint" in the episodes - Hillman was not seen hitting his victims and shots of Emily's injuries were not graphic.
The all-time top soap dramas
24 February 2003
Dirty Den's divorce, Deirdre's jail sentence, and now the Corrie killer have all sent ratings for soaps soaring. Coronation Street fans have been preparing for the terrifying moment when serial killer Richard Hillman threatens to make wife Gail his next victim. Gail, played by Helen Worth, discovers the terrible truth, that the husband she loves, played by Brian Capron, is a murderer. It has been one of the most exciting plots in the Weatherfield soap in recent years - but it's up against some tough opposition.
In 1998 Deirdre (Anne Kirkbride) was given a shock jail sentence after being duped into a mortgage fraud by fiance Jon Lindsay (Owen Aaronovitch). An extraordinary campaign to free her gained the support of Prime Minister Tony Blair and then Conservative leader William Hague, Mr Blair insisting it was clear to anyone "with eyes in their head" that Deirdre was innocent.
Deirdre also figured in one of the most gripping Street sagas 15 years earlier when she was cheating on husband Ken Barlow (William Roache) with factory boss Mike Baldwin (Johnny Briggs). On the night of February 22, 1983 almost 20 million people watched Deirdre decide between the two. At Old Trafford, Manchester United were playing Arsenal in the semi-final of the Milk Cup. Midway through the first half, a message went up on the electronic scoreboard: "Deirdre and Ken re-united. Read tomorrow's Daily Mail for an action-replay..."
Other major dramas included the death of Valerie Barlow (Anne Reid) after being electrocuted by a faulty hairdryer plug in January 1971 - watched by 22 million viewers - and the murder of Ernie Bishop (Stephen Hancock), employed as wages clerk in Mike Baldwin's factory, by masked gunmen during an armed robbery in 1978.
secret is out for terrified Gail
24 February 2003
This is the terrifying moment when Coronation Street serial killer Richard Hillman, played by Brian Capron, threatens to make wife Gail his next victim.
In tonight’s dramatic episode Gail discovers the terrible truth – that the husband she loves is a murderer. And as he pins her to the sofa with his hand over his mouth and his evil face inches from hers, she realises that she may become victim number four. Tonight’s double bill is the nail biting climax of a storyline which has had millions of viewers glued to their TV sets.
Actress Helen Worth, who plays Gail, said: “The viewers have seen what is going on but all Gail sees is a loving family man who has made her happier than she has been in a long time. “I knew that inevitably the day would come when Gail found out what he was really like and I have been dreading that moment for 18 months. “Richard hasn’t finished his dirty work yet and we have got some more very dramatic scenes coming up.”
In the first of tonight’s episodes, Gail finds out that murder suspect Ade Critchley, the teenager who Richard framed for Maxine’s killing, could not have committed the crime. Her mum Audrey tells her that Ade was drugged at the time of the killing - with the very drug that Audrey left at the Hillman’s house. This sets off a chain of events which ends with Gail confronting Richard – and he finally confesses to Maxine’s murder.
To her horror, he doesn’t stop there and goes on to admit all his crimes
one by one. With her children Sarah and David asleep upstairs, a terrified Gail
begins to fear for all their lives. The revelations come tonight in a double
bill of Coronation Street, which is expected to smash all the soap's rating
records with an audience of more than 17million. A Coronation Street spokeswoman
said: “This is Coronation Street at its best - and it’ll be the
talk of the nation tomorrow morning.”
Captain crook coming in for
23 February 2003
Please ensure your seat belts are fastened Corrie fans as there are more turbulent times on the horizon in Weatherfield. It seems the prospect of the soap losing arch-baddie Tricky Dicky Hillman has got TV bosses desperately looking for a replacement. And unfortunately for Deirdre Rachid love-rat "captain" Jon Lindsay is going to be making a comeback, reports the Mirror.
A Corrie insider has said Lindsay (Owen Aaronovitch) will be back on our screens this Summer after completing a five year stretch in prison. Apparently the phoney airline pilot is intent on making his ex-fiance's life a living hell in revenge for getting him banged up. The Street source said: "His initial plan is to kidnap her. But then he decides that moving back to the area and torturing her mentally would be much more fun." "And it's not only Deirdre he desperately wants to destroy, but her husband Ken Barlow too. "He tries to convince people on the Street that Deirdre was in on the scam which eventually put him in jail - and people start to believe him."
For Deirdre Rachid it will be like living the nightmare of five years ago all over again. Back in 1998 she was involved in one of the soap's most popular ever storylines when she was wrongly jailed for fraud. Her lover Jon Lindsay - who claimed he was a pilot when in fact he was married and worked in a tie shop at Manchester Airport - had illegally amassed huge debts. But thanks to his ice-cool cunning he convinced the authorities that Deidre was the mastermind behind the financial plot and she sent down for his crimes.
So strong was the public's desire for Deidre to be released that newspapers
ran "Free Deirdre" campaigns. Even Tony Blair called on the soap's
makers to save the "Weatherfield One". Eventually justice prevailed
and she was able to return to her normal life - at least for a few years.
William Roache on Stars In Their Eyes
23 February 2003 by Gary Bushell
WHAT about William Roache on Stars In Their Eyes? If Mogadon could sing, it would sound like this. Bill didn't try to take off Como. He didn't even come out of character. It could have been Ken Barlow doing karaoke at the Rovers with something pressing on his mind. Like whose round was it next? (Have you noticed Ken has a pint when someone else is buying but when he's in the chair it's always a half?)
STEVE ARNOLD, who plays Corrie's Ashley Peacock, says working with baby Joshua has made him broody. He tells me: "I've got six godchildren. They're so cute and always make me laugh and make me forget all my troubles. I can't wait to have children of my own."
Tricky Dicky set to make a killing
22 February 2003
The actor playing Coronation Street killer Richard Hillman is set to make a killing when he leaves the soap - by becoming pantoland's biggest baddie. Theatre insiders have said Brian Capron could "name his price" for appearing on stage. Scripts could even be re-written just for him, reports the Daily Star.
With the nation gripped by the lastest Corrie story line involving the scheming serial killer, experts say he could earn as much as £30,000 a week for playing an evil character in a panto.
In the soap suspicion is mounting after Hillman bludgeoned hairdresser Maxine
Peacock to death and nearly killed Emily Bishop in a bungled robbery designed
to frame Aidan Critchley. But determined not to go quietly, Hillman - who fans
have already seen murder his ex-wife and leave his business partner to die following
a building accident - appears to be set on adding his closest family to his
killing spree. But Coronation Street bosses are remaining tight-lipped about
how the callous conman will leave the soap. To keep viewers in suspense programme
makers have filmed several alternate endings - including one in which he drives
his family into a canal.
won't look me in the eye
21 February 2003 by Frances Traynor
SHE'S married to the most evil man in Britain, so it's no surprise that people are turning away from Helen Worth in the street.
Only it's not Helen who is hitched to Richard Hillman, soap's first serial-killer - it's her Coronation Street alter-ego Gail. And while fans usually can't wait to rush up and chat to her about life on the Street, since tricky Dicky began his murderous spree a year ago, few of her fans are willing to look Helen in the eye.
The actress laughs: "I'm certain that some of them are actually avoiding me." It's a whole new experience for Helen, who has played Gail for 29 years. Having had two cheating husbands in the past, usually she's accosted by fans who can't wait to spill the beans on what her men are up to.
This time it's different - and that might all be down to just how scary murderous financial advisor Richard actually is. Helen, 52, says: "I'm used to people coming up for a chat or an autograph or a photo. "Through the years, they have been very quick to let me know what Gail's men are up to behind her back. "But this time it is very different. I have noticed a real change in the fans' behaviour. "They may stop to say hello, but they don't stop for long and I am certain that some of them are even avoiding me. "I can see them looking as if they are weighing up how to tell me that I am married to a murderer, but they can't bring themselves to say it. "They are probably worried that I will react the way Gail has been with her mother Audrey."
What's probably worrying fans more is that Gail can't see through the man she thinks is Mr Right. Viewers cannot believe that Gail hasn't got a clue that Dick Dastardly has had a hand in three deaths. All that will change on Monday when the guilt-stricken killer confesses all to his loving wife in a dramatic episode.
But Helen isn't surprised that Gail is so naive and trusting. She says: "Gail loves him. Remember, the viewers have seen what is going on, but all Gail sees is a loving family man who has made her happier than she has been in a long time. "Women don't know if their husband is having an affair, so why would Gail know what Richard is up to? "You read all the time about women who have been married to criminals and they never had any idea about what was going on."
Helen is certainly speaking from the heart on the subject of wives not knowing what their husbands are up to. Eight years ago, her husband, actor Michael Angelis, confessed to her that he was having an affair and that pictures of him and his mistress were about to be splashed all over the tabloids. It was a shocking blow to Helen and a break-up that stunned the showbiz world. Helen and Michael - who starred in the classic Boys From The Blackstuff and was recently seen in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet - had been together for 21 years but had only been married for four. Theirs was seen as one of the strongest relationships in showbiz and it took Helen years to get over the break-up.
OF that time, she said recently: "I can fully understand why some women go under when their marriage ends and they are facing the rest of their lives alone. "At my worst point, I felt as though I was drowning. I was being dragged down and down and I couldn't see any way out. "I couldn't think straight, couldn't function. I was lost for the first time in my life."
Eight years on, she and Angelis are on good terms and even meet socially. That's not a scenario that's ever likely to happen for Gail and Richard. An affair can be forgiven - but three murders, an attempt to drive your mother mad and embezzlement on a grand scale? While Richard has been whispering sweet nothings in Gail's ear and winning over her kids Sarah and David, in his spare time he has left a trail of death and destruction across Weatherfield.
Crime No.1 came when business partner Duggie fell in the house they were renovating. Rather than help him and call an ambulance, Richard robbed him and left him for dead. Then when ex-wife Patricia turned up demanding her half-share in his business, he committed crime No.2 - Patricia got whacked over the head with a shovel and was buried in the foundations of the luxury development. And still Gail was oblivious to his extra-curricular activities.
When Richard tried to drive his mother-in-law Audrey mad and set fire to her house so that he could get his hands on her cash, Gail stood by him when her mother revealed what he was up to. Thwarted by Audrey and her cohorts Norris and Archie, Richard turned his murderous attentions to elderly widow Emily Bishop, so that he could inherit her house. But his plan came unstuck and he ended up bludgeoning loudmouth hairdresser Maxine Peacock when she caught him in the act.
It is the soap storyline to end all storylines and is Helen's favourite in all her years in the Street. And that really is saying something - during her 29 years in Weatherfield, Gail has been through more than most. She has been married three times - twice to Brian Tilsley - and been left a widow when Brian was murdered. She had an affair and married a toyboy who then cheated on her and she's also endured the psychotic antics of a deranged nanny, found out her 13- year-old daughter Sarah was pregnant and then rescued her from an Internet pervert, only to then nearly lose her in a joyriding accident.
It's certainly not been a quiet life for Gail, who thought she was about to live happily ever after with Richard. Helen laughs: "Gail has been happy for 18 months or so now, so I suppose it is about time she had the smile wiped off her face. "Soaps are not real life - you can have happy moments, but people never live happily ever after. "This storyline has been one of my favourites, along with the Sarah Lou pregnancy storyline."
By Monday night, the penny is starting to drop for Gail, who begins to see her husband in a very different light. The second episode of the double bill will feature just Gail and Richard, with only very brief appearances by Sarah and David. And as the truth dawns on Gail, she realises she and her children and grand-daughter are in a house with a nutter.
Helen says working with actor Brian Capron, who plays Richard, has been a lot of fun, despite all the bloodshed. She reveals: "We have an absolute ball. "We have had such a fantastic time, but it has been a bit of a problem sometimes because Brian and I are both terrible gigglers. "We only need to have one of Richard's hysterical double-entendres to set us both off. So far, though, we have managed to pull back and get our faces straight at the crucial point. "And we didn't have any problems filming Monday's episode. It is extremely dramatic and fantastic to play. "Brian, myself and the director Ian Bevitt put time aside to rehearse to try and get it just right."
FOUR different endings have been shot for the grand finale when Richard finally gets his comeuppance next month. Street bosses are staying tight-lipped about how the killer will go, but insiders reckon he will drive his car, with his gagged and bound family inside it, into the Weatherfield Canal. It will be his final act of terror and, at the moment, no-one knows who - if anyone - will survive the death plunge.
Helen, who splits her time between her home in Cheshire and a flat in London, is looking forward to some time off once the dust settles on Hillmania. She says: "We still have some more very dramatic scenes to shoot this month, but it will be nice to try and catch up with my friends and indulge my passion for the theatre. "I have been concentrating so hard on this storyline that I haven't had time to get down to London - and I miss it. "But I am certainly not complaining. The public reaction to this storyline has been fantastic. "I only hope that the fans will start speaking to me again once Gail has found out the truth."
Helen is still single - and she says it's likely Gail will be in a similar
position if she can survive Richard's murderous attentions intact. She laughs:
"Who knows what is in store for her after this? But I am pretty sure Gail
won't be interested in men for some time to come."
Tricky Dicky pockets Duckworth
19 February 2003
Not content with taking three innocent lives Coronation Street's Tricky Dicky is set to leave Vera Duckworth fuming when he pockets her life savings too.
Street killer Richard Hillman - who is on the run after confessing all to devastated wife Gail - managed to swindle Â£20,000 from the luckless Duckworths. Fugitive Hillman (played by Brian Capron) had promised Vera and Jack that the cash would be ploughed into one of his profitable businesses - from which they would reap cash rewards. But the investment plan never even existed and the gullible pair are left financially ruined.
But loudmouth Vera (Liz Dawn) isn't the sort to let sleeping dogs lie and in an attempt to settle scores launches a verbal attack on innocent Gail (Helen Worth). Vera accuses Gail of using Duckworth cash to fund her family's expensive lifestyle and unable to contain her rage she bellows: "You've ruined our lives - I hope you and your family rot in hell."
There is little Gail can do but take the increasing amount of abuse levelled
at her by fellow Wetherfield residents who find it hard to believe she wasn't
privy to Tricky Dicky's criminal deeds.
Teen trio set
sights on the charts
18 February 2003 by Rick Fulton
A TRIO of rival soap glamour queens are ready to launch a bid for pop stardom. Emmerdale star Sammy Winward, 17, who plays Katie Addyman, Nikki Sanderson, 18, who plays Coronation Street's Candice Stowe, and Gemma Atkinson, 19, who plays Lisa Hunter in Hollyoaks, have secretly decided to form a pop group to rival Sugababes and Atomic Kitten. Nikki has proved she can hold a tune. She won last year's celebrity Stars In Their Eyes as LeAnn Rimes. And this Saturday, Sammy will perform as Christina Aguilera in another Stars In Their Eyes celebrity special.
The girls have big plans for their group, although they have yet to decide on a name. Sammy said: "I would love to achieve the kind of success that the Spice Girls had. And it would be great if I could make the sort of money that they make, too." 192 understands a record company has already signed up the gorgeous trio and they are discussing possible tracks for their first release.
They would be competing against Brookside's Jennifer Ellison, who has just quit the Close to become a pop star, and other soap stars-turned- singers such as Kylie Minogue, Martine McCutcheon and Holly Valance. Some critics will say they are cashing in on their TV roles, but Sammy insists she has every right to be yet another soap star turned pop wannabe. She said: "I'm a good singer and would like to bring out a record. It's just waiting for the right time."
The trio are now considering how and when they will leave their respective soaps (or indeed whether they have to), but they have already decided on a title for their first album - Harmony. As well as wanting to be as successful as the Spice Girls, it looks as though Sammy has taken another leaf out of Posh Spice's book - she has been linked with Blackburn and England football star David Dunn.
Sammy has been in the soap for 15 months and left school last year to concentrate
on her role. She passed nine GCSEs and hasn't ruled out going back to her studies
to take her A-Levels. However, that seems unlikely as she has been a hit in
Emmerdale and is now aiming for chart success. During her short stint on the
soap, she has caused a stir with her teenage miscarriage storylines. And the
sizzling soap stunner made such an impact on viewers that she got a nomination
as soap's top newcomer in the National Television Awards.
Gail discovers the
18 February 2003 by Derek Robins
Corrie star Helen Worth says fans have been avoiding her since her character Gail's screen husband Richard Hillman became a serial killer. Helen, 54, says: "I have noticed a real change in fans' behaviour. They may stop to say 'hello' but they do not stop for long and I am certain that some of them are avoiding me. "I can see them weighing up how to tell me that I'm wed to a murderer but they can't bring themselves to say it."
The actress says she has been dreading discovering the truth about Gail's murderous husband for the past 18 months. Helen, whose character finds out on Monday that he is a killer, says: "Once he started killing people I knew that inevitably the day would come when Gail found out what he was really like. "I want to do the plot justice and I feel the pressure but fortunately the script is just superb."
Helen says the Richard Hillman murder plot has been one of the best storylines in the 27 years she has appeared in Corrie. "She has been happy for 18 months so I suppose it's about time she had the smile wiped off her face," she says. "Soaps aren't real life. You can have happy moments but you never live happily ever after. This storyline has been one of my favourites, along with the Sarah Lou pregnancy."
The murder plot often leaves Helen and co-star Brian Capron in stitches. "It's an absolute ball. We have such a fantastic time but it has been a bit of a problem sometimes as Brian and I are terrible gigglers," says Helen. "We only need one of Richard's hysterical double entendres to set us both off. So far we have managed to pull back and keep our faces straight at the crucial point though."
Viewers should understand why Gail hasn't discovered the truth about killer husband Richard until now, says Helen. "She loves him and while viewers have seen what he's done, Gail has only seen a loving family man who has made her happier than she has been in a long time," she explains. "Women don't know if their husbands are having affairs - so why on earth would Gail know what Richard is up to?"
Gail will discover what her husband is really like when he confesses his crimes to her in Corrie on Monday. He will tell her how he battered Maxine to death after attacking Emily, and how earlier he killed his ex-wife with a spade, and left Duggie for dead and robbed him. Helen says: "It was extremely dramatic and fantastic to play. Brian and I put time aside to rehearse to try and get it just right."
The plot has been one of the most eventful storylines involving Helen in her 27 years in Coronaton Street. Gail's been married four times, twice to Brian Tilsley who was murdered. She also had an affair with toyboy Martin Platt who she later wed and divorced. She has also endured the antics of a psychotic nanny; discovered her daughter, 13, was pregnant and then nearly lost her in a car crash.
But while Gail finally finds out the truth next week, the plot still has a few more twists and turns. Richard is due to die in the soap at Easter after he goes on the run. Several endings are being filmed, including one in which Richard drives into a canal after kidnapping Gail and her family. But bosses haven't decided which one will be screened.
Helen says: "I hope fans stop avoiding me now."
Corrie actor is Perry Como for celebrity special
18 February 2003
Coronation Street's William Roache will become Perry Como for a Stars In Their Eyes celebrity special.
The actor wore a pastel yellow cardigan and perma-tan for his transformation into the 1950s crooner. "I chose Perry Como because he's very laid back, doesn't sing too well and is always half asleep, so I thought 'that's me'," he said.
The Corrie star confesses he is tone deaf and has been having singing lessons in preparation for his performance. "Singing is a nightmare for me. But I'm a fan of Stars In Their Eyes so when this opportunity came up I wanted to take it. I don't turn down a challenge."
Saturday night's ITV1 soap special is hosted by Davina McCall and features
another line-up of soap stars. Deena Payne and Anthony Audenshaw, better known
as Emmerdale couple Viv and Bob Windsor, become country and western duo Dolly
Parton and Kenny Rogers. Emmerdale's Sammy Winward, who plays Katy Addyman,
is transformed into pop bad girl Christina Aguilera. Bernie Nolan, formerly
of Brookside and the latest recruit to join The Bill, is Anastacia. Lesley Joseph,
currently starring in Night And Day, walks through the famous doors as showbiz
legend Ethel Merman.
Tricky Dicky's Red Nose date
17 February 2003
Tricky Dicky's final scenes on Coronation Street could put a crowbar in the works for fundraisers at BBC's Comic Relief night. Because one of the biggest soap ratings-winners of recent years - the Richard Hillman saga - will end just as Red Nose night is getting into swing.
Hillman - aka Tricky Dicky - has plotted, bludgeoned, schemed and killed his way into the ratings with his sneering eyes and double deals. The latest killing spree saw Hillman, played by Brian Capron, smash new mum Maxine Peacock over the head with a crowbar.
Coronation Street producers claim the clash with Comic Relief on the schedules is "just a coincidence" but the event is bound to cause friction. A BBC spokeswoman told the Daily Star: "It could mean people don't dig into their pockets because they're watching Corrie. It's not very sporting."
Red Nose Day is being held on March 14 this year and has raised more than £250million for charity since its launch in 1985. And while the likes of Ruby Wax, Gareth Gates, Lily Savage and Jo Brand will be going all out for charity on BBC1, Richard Hillman will be going all out for murder.
His final antics are being kept closely guarded, and it is rumoured that FOUR endings have been filmed. One will see Dicky try to knock-off his entire family by locking them in a car and driving it into the local canal.
Sarah Lou is a cheat on the Street
16 February 2003
CORRIE'S gymslip mum Sarah Louise Platt will break boyfriend Todd's heart - by cheating on him with tearaway Aidan Critchley.
This is just one shock element of a tidal wave of infidelity being lined up as the Richard Hillman storyline runs its course. As well as Sarah Lou and Aidan, Karen McDonald will be getting it on with Joe Carter - and Curly Watts' copper wife Emma will have a fling with a fellow officer.
My source in the Weatherfield green room says: "The bosses have decided that the only way to follow the Dirty Dick storyline is bucket-loads of sex. "On top of everything else, there is a fall-out from Peter Barlow's affair with flower girl Lucy.
But the most dramatic story is Sarah Lou's love triangle." The plot starts developing next month when Ade (DEAN ASHTON) is cleared of murdering Maxine - and is released from jail. Sarah Lou (TINA O'BRIEN) has been dating Todd (BRUNO LANGLEY), while former boyfriend Ade awaited trial - and even slept with him on her 16th birthday.
At first Sarah Lou plays hard to get when Ade begs for a second chance. But my source says: "She weakens because she's always had the hots for him." It ends with a punch-up between clean-cut swot Todd and bad boy Ade. And Sarah Lou's mum Gail (HELEN WORTH) is devastated when she realises her daughter is back with the boy who left her for dead in a car crash. Todd is also left gutted by Sarah Lou's betrayal. My source adds: "He goes to pieces when he finds out she has cheated on him. He begs Sarah Lou not to dump him and then retreats into himself and becomes a recluse wallowing in self-pity."
SURANNE JONES wants her character Karen McDonald to go upmarket. "I`m hoping the writers will smarten her up a bit now she's been promoted to supervisor," Suranne tells me. "I love her to bits, but she really hasn`t got much style. She just throws things on and either looks like a slob or a tart."
CORRIE babe SAMIA GHADIE - who plays man-eater Maria Sutherland - on the small pleasures of fame. She says: "I'm hooked on curry and my favourite restaraunt is the Shere Khan in Manchester. The last time I ate there they took my picture and now it's hanging on their wall of fame."
Sarah to be Sally
16 February 2003 by Ben Dowell
CORONATION Street star Sarah Lancashire is to play freed cot death solicitor Sally Clark in a drama about her wrongful conviction. Sarah, who shot to fame as dizzy Rovers barmaid Raquel, is on the verge of signing up to play Sally, who spent three years in jail after being found guilty of killing her two sons. The pregnant actress is in discussions with ITV to film the role in the autumn. Her baby is due in March.
Sarah, 38, who is married to TV executive Peter Salmon, is thought to be especially suitable for the part because she has two children of her own from a previous marriage. A production source said: "It is an amazing story of triumph over adversity. Sally's husband Stephen always believed in her and stuck by her through all those terrible years."
Names being touted for the part of Stephen include Our Friends in the North star Mark Strong and Captain Corelli actor David Morrissey. The drama will be made by Company Pictures, responsible for the recent ITV hit Sons and Lovers in which Sarah starred as matriarch Gertrude Morel.
Sally, 38, and her husband Stephen are aware of the plans but are refusing to have any input. She says she will not speak publicly about the miscarriage of justice until she is "ready", according to friends. One said: "Sally, Stephen and their son are spending time getting to know each other again after all these years and it will be some time before she talks to ITV about this." After being freed last month Sally, who lives in Wilmslow, Cheshire, with Stephen and their four-year-old son declared: "There are no winners here. We have all lost out."
Stephen had to sell their £300,000 home to pay legal fees and lost a partnership in a Manchester legal practice when he moved south to be near his wife's prison. Three Appeal Court judges ruled that Sally's conviction was unsafe because key medical evidence was kept secret at her trial. The couple are considering seeking damages for the ordeal from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.
Briggs treated me like a piece of meat
16 February 2003
THE girl groped by the son of Coronation Street star Johnny Briggs last night branded her abuser "a slimy pervert". Petite Jemma Mondon, 19, said estate agent Michael Briggs, 22 - found guilty on Friday of grabbing Jemma's breasts in a packed nightclub - used his dad's fame to treat her like a piece of meat.
Bravely waiving her right to anonymity, Jemma said: "All through the trial Briggs treated the whole episode like a joke. "The night he grabbed my breasts he was playing the big-time Charlie who thought that just because his dad was Mike Baldwin in a famous show it allowed him to treat women like pieces of meat." Jemma added: "Who the hell does he think he is? I might just be a bit of 'skirt' to him but no man should be allowed to grope a woman's breasts like he did. "He's a slimy pervert and I I want to warn other women just what he's like."
Briggs, who denied indecent assault, was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay Jemma £500 compensation. He was also ordered to pay £1,000 costs. Judge Mark Eades told him at Wolverhampton Crown Court: "You are a brazen, rude and arrogant young man who flaunted himself in a public place without shame or regret."
In the same court last week Jemma's boyfriend, university student Oliver Waring, 19, was found guilty of head-butting and hitting Briggs over the head with a bottle in a revenge attack. He was sent to a young offender's institution for nine months. Jemma added: "I know what Oliver did was wrong but none of this would have ever happened if Briggs had just kept his slippery hands to himself. "I was robbed of my boyfriend on Valentine's Day but I will stand by him."
Call centre worker Jemma was attacked at the trendy Bar Rumba nightspot in Brierley Hill, West Midlands, last June. She recalled: "I was dressed very casually in a pair of jeans and a vest-style top - nothing tarty. "I was talking to one of his friends at the bar when he came over and introduced himself. "Then he went on to tell me he was Johnny Briggs' son and I thought he was really arrogant. "He'd clearly been drinking because his speech was slurred and his eyes appeared glazed. "I talked to him a bit about how I wanted to go travelling and then he walked off to talk to someone else. "A few minutes later he came out of nowhere and squeezed my boobs with both hands. "I was horrified and I got really angry. I pushed him away and told him to f**k off. He saw I was upset but just laughed in my face. "Then, instead of just leaving it there, he did it again so I pushed him again and told him to f**k off again. "All he did then was laugh again and again. I couldn't believe it. "Everyone around was shocked then his mate pulled him away. "I'm no longer the happy-go-lucky person I was and won't go into packed bars or nightclubs any more. "Some nights I can't sleep without waking up in a cold sweat thinking about what happened."
Jemma, of Stourbridge, West Midlands, didn't report the assault until her boyfriend was arrested for attacking Briggs in a bar three weeks later. Clutching the hands of her mum Amanda, 40, and sister Jodie, 16, she added: "Oliver was just sticking up for me, he is very protective of me all the time, wherever we go. "One moment of madness will stay with him for the rest of his life now. "I doubt a couple of grand will make much difference to Briggs because he has his wealthy dad to fall back on. The man's simply pathetic."
Briggs told the court he only touched Jemma's breasts by accident. He insisted: "It was a non-event. It's not like I went honk, honk." Briggs then made a groping motion with both hands as he explained to the jury: "Honk, honk is a laddish expression from the programme Men Behaving Badly." He claimed he had only drunk two pints of lager and a bottle of Budweiser before the incident.
It's not the first time Johnny Briggs, 67, has seen one of his children in trouble with the law. In July 2001, his drug addict daughter, Karen, 35, was jailed for three years for her role in two armed robberies.
star's son fined for sex assault
15 February 2003
The son of Coronation Street actor Johnny Briggs has been fined £1,000 after being found guilty of groping a teenage nightclubber's breasts.
Michael Briggs, 22, of Dingle Road, Stourbridge, West Midlands, was also ordered to pay £1,000 prosecution costs and £500 compensation after being convicted of indecent assault. Judge Mark Eades, sitting at Wolverhampton Crown Court, told Briggs that the sex attack had been the act of a brazen, truculent and arrogant drunk. The jury, which took one hour and 33 minutes to return its unanimous verdict, had been told how Briggs twice squeezed his 18-year-old victim's breasts after chatting to her at a nightclub in Brierley Hill, West Midlands, last June
Judge Eades told the defendant: "Your counsel when he addressed the jury said to them that if they convicted you they would find that you were a brazen, rude, arrogant young man who flaunted himself in a public place without shame or regret, causing obvious concern and distress to your victim - and that's exactly what you did. "On that night, in drink, you were truculent, arrogant and behaved in a way for which you should be deeply ashamed."
Addressing Briggs, the judge added: "It's a matter of regret to me that looking at you now you show very little regret." The judge added that the indecent assault had been "relatively transient" and involved the defendant touching the A-level student through her clothing, meaning the offence did not warrant a custodial sentence. "I am satisfied that this arose out of immature, truculent behaviour when you were drunk," he added.
Giving evidence in his defence, Briggs, whose father plays Mike Baldwin in the ITV1 soap, claimed that he had made accidental contact with the woman as he tried to attract her attention.
Corrie fans left guessing over Tricky Dicky
15 February 2003
Coronation Street fans will be left guessing when serial killer Richard Hillman drives his family headlong into a canal.
Having confessed to wife Gail about his latest killing, he appears to be intent on taking her and his stepchildren, Sarah and David, to a watery grave. But bosses have revealed the scene is just one of several endings planned for the killer.
The dramatic scenes were shot on location in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, with the help of the same stunt specialists who worked on recent James Bond films, Die Another Day and The World Is Not Enough.
Several alternative cliff-hanger endings are still to be filmed, all of which would see the serial killer meet a grisly end and the lives of his family placed in serious danger. Plans for each finale - due to be shown on ITV1 next month - are being kept under wraps and a Coronation Street spokeswoman says the final decision about how Hillman dies will not be made until the last minute.
Julie Goodyear privacy complaint
14 February 2003
A complaint by former Coronation Street star Julie Goodyear that The People newspaper intruded into her privacy by publishing photographs of her in her back garden has been upheld by the Press Complaints Commission.
The photographs, taken with a long lens, showed Ms Goodyear, who played barmaid Bet Lynch in the soap, sitting in her back garden. The PCC said the pictures breached the Code of Practice, which all newspapers are supposed to adhere to, because the former Corrie favourite clearly had a reasonable expectation of privacy in her own garden.
The newspaper's editor said the garden was not hidden by trees or bushes, and it was possible to see Ms Goodyear from public places bordering her property. The newspaper also produced copies of contracts it had previously agreed with Ms Goodyear concerning payments for stories and features concerning her home. Ms Goodyear, the editor argued, could not now complain that her privacy had been invaded when she was previously willing to use similar photographs for her own purposes.
On the argument that Ms Goodyear could be seen from public places bordering her home, the PCC said a long lens was needed to photograph her with any clarity. It considered that it was unlikely in these circumstances that passers-by would have been able to identify Ms Goodyear, even if they had been able to see into the garden. Ms Goodyear clearly had a reasonable expectation of privacy where she was sitting.
The commission also rejected the argument that Ms Goodyear no longer deserved the protection of the Code of Practice because of the extent of her previous co-operation with the press. While its previous decisions had made clear that people might limit their rights by selling information or pictures, it had also made it clear that people did not lose all their rights to protection under the code.
The PCC said: "The Code is extremely strict about the use of long lens photography to take pictures of people in private places and the Commission did not consider that the previous publication of mutually agreed feature stories was a sufficient reason in these particular circumstances to breach it."
Don't mess with Samia
13 February 2003
Anyone who messes with soap star Samia Ghadie could be in for a good kicking - quite literally. Samia, who plays sexy man-eater Maria Sutherland in Coronation Street, has taken up kick-boxing lessons. The high octane sessions are an ideal way to keep fit, and also give her the skills to deal with over-eager males fans.
Her kick-boxing teacher is Paul Hughes who is also the personal minder of Manchester United and England star David Beckham.
Samia, 20, joined the soap as kennel maid Maria in 2000. In her early appearances she quickly fell for Tyrone Dobbs who was looking to mate his greyhound, Monica. Their affair blossomed and Tyrone eventually plucked up courage and proposed on the top of Blackpool Tower. They moved in together, lodging with the Duckworths, but things turned sour after Fiz Brown made a play for Tyrone.
Since then Maria has become one of the bitchiest man-eaters on the box. Coronation
Street bosses are hoping that since the exit of Tracy Shaw as Maxine Peacock,
sexy Samia can give the show a real kick in the pants.
Watery end for Tricky Dicky?
12 February 2003
A hefty bill for hiring out a giant pool could be the strongest clue yet to serial killer Richard Hillman's fate. Coronation Street bosses have hired out the special training pool at a nautical college in Fleetwood, Lancashire to shoot scenes involving 'Tricky' Dicky. played by Brian Capron.
The production crew are filming multiple endings to keep fans - and even the cast - guessing as to how Hillman gets his well-deserved comeuppance. The plans are a closely guarded secret known only to a few Corrie insiders. But the £5,000 rental cost for the pool suggests Dicky could be heading for a spectacular watery end.
The storylines involving Hillman have given Corrie its biggest rating boost for some years. He battered Maxine Peacock to death after she disturbed him attacking Emily Bishop. He is also responsible for killing his ex-wife Patricia and businessman Duggie Ferguson. He even had the cheek to deliver an oration at Maxine's funeral while husband Ashley wept nearby.
But after he admits his killing spree to his wife Gail, his days are numbered.
She knows she must do the right thing and tell the police, but Richard is determined
not to be taken alive.
on love, babies and looking sexy
11 February 2003 by Sue Crawford
MOUTHY Coronation Street disaster magnet Toyah Battersby has suffered more than her fair share of heartbreak. The distraught student left Weatherfield last week after five troubled years during which she was the victim of a shocking rape and found out that her lecturer boyfriend had slept with her flatmate.
But actress Georgia Taylor can thank her lucky stars that her own life is very different from her character's harrowing existence. She is in love and settled with the man she wants to marry. And she credits musician boyfriend Mark Eyden with giving her the confidence to go through with the decision to leave the show. He was the only person she confided in when she first thought about quitting a year ago. " Having that support makes everything that much easier," she says. " I'm really ambitious, but if someone said to me: `You can lose Mark and never see him again or you can have a brilliant career' I wouldn't even think about it. It puts everything in perspective. He means everything to me."
The couple met almost three years ago and it wasn't long before Mark, 22, who
plays in a band called The Jackdaws, moved into her Manchester flat. Georgia,
also 22, says: "We were introduced by chance in a nightclub and I thought
he was beautiful. I thought someone that gorgeous would be an absolute swine
but he wasn't - it was amazing. " He was quite shy, but there was an immediate
attraction and I realised within weeks that I was in love. " He's unlike
anyone I've ever met, yet if you'd asked me at 15 to describe my ideal man he
would fit every single criteria. I adore dark, rugged, manly guys - I don't
really go for that clean-shaven, waxed-chest look. " He's also really creative
and talented and like me he's a bit of a perfectionist. He makes me laugh and
feel very protected. " It's not a question of if we'll get married but
when, although we've not actually sat down and discussed the details. It will
happen one day, but we're not in any rush."
The couple have also talked about starting a family. Georgia says: "When I was at school I was really ambitious and thought that I didn't want a man or a baby, but I think when you are in love with someone you start to think differently. Now I'm always banging on about feeling broody. I want to concentrate on my career at the moment, but I definitely want children one day. " I love babies, which is why I recently got two cats, because I needed something to mother. In five years' time I would like to be living in a nice house with Mark and have a CV behind me that includes some interesting jobs."
She knows it's time she got her teeth into some unToyah-like roles. " Toyah has got on my nerves at times because she could be so naive, but I'm quite protective of her," says Georgia. "She has a very romantic view of love and falls in love very easily, but she's a bit too trusting and never seems to be in control in her relationships. " I used to wish she could be a bit more clued up sometimes. I'd open the script and read what she was doing next and think: `Why are you being so stupid?' " At the same time she's a very decent person and she is very loyal to her friends. I'd like to think I was like that, too, but hopefully that's where the similarities stop." Now she's looking to the future. " I'm excited rather than scared," she says. "I've only had one wobbly day, when I was in the flat on my own all day. I started thinking: "Am I going to be all right?' and looking around the flat and thinking how much I liked it, hoping that I would still be able to afford to live there. Luckily it was a one-off and I feel fine now. I'm really looking forward to the future."
She would love to star in a TV drama, films or theatre, but she has turned down an offer to be in the next series of I'm A Celebrity - Get Me Out Of Here. " I'm not sure it would bring out the best in me," she admits. "I'm generally quite non-confrontational, but if someone got on my nerves in that environment I think I'd flip out."
She is also adamant that she will not follow in the footsteps of Corrie co-star Tracy Shaw, currently appearing naked in the stage play The Blue Room. Georgia says firmly: "If that had been offered to me I wouldn't have taken it. I'm just not comfortable with nudity. I don't turn up at premieres in revealing dresses - in fact, I think I've only been to one premiere in my life. " For me, being naked is a very private and personal thing and the only person I'm happy to see me naked is Mark."
When Georgia joined Coronation Street in 1997 it was as a chubby, sulky teenager. Today, she is sleek, attractive and two stones lighter. " Some people assume it was puppy fat that just melted off me, but it was sheer hard work," she says. "I swam 50 lengths a day and cut out fatty foods. " Because I have a chubby face I don't carry weight well. Being on television makes you look even bigger, and, playing Toyah, I didn't get to wear the most flattering clothes, so when I was 18 I decided I wanted to look and feel a bit better. I was around 10 stone and a size 12-14, but over the course of two years I went down to a size 8-10."
Unlike others who have joined soaps at a young age and gone off the rails,
Georgia remains refreshingly down-to-earth. She doesn't like champagne and prefers
quiet nights in with her friends to showbiz parties. She says: "I believe
some people have addictive personalities, and having the money and fame and
opportunity makes it easier for them to go down that road and maybe brings things
to the fore. " But I have never found it that hard growing up in the spotlight.
It's all been great fun."
Changed the World
11 February 2003
POPULAR programmes including Coronation Street, Big Brother and even the Teletubbies have been voted among the 24 most influential TV shows of all time.
Others included heavyweights like Life on Earth, and The World at War, as well as Monty Python's Flying Circus and Parkinson. Radio Times writer John Naughton drew up the list by interviewing TV controllers, producers and writers. He said: "That Was The Week That Was, for instance, changed the rules for what could be said on TV."
I had to quit after rape story
10 February 2003 by Sue Crawford
GEORGIA Taylor, like her alter-ego Toyah Battersby, has reached the end of her tether. Since joining Coronation Street as the loud-mouthed younger daughter of the family from hell, she has suffered five years of broken hearts, an horrific rape and the nightmare of discovering who had committed the crime. In emotional scenes on Wednesday night, viewers saw Toyah finally quit the Street after deciding she could take no more heartache, following her discovery that her lecturer boyfriend John had made her flatmate Maria pregnant.
And speaking exclusively to The Daily Mirror, 22-year-old Georgia admits her own reasons for walking out are not dissimilar. " I really felt I'd gone as far as I could with Toyah and, if I'm honest, I was starting to get a bit frustrated," she explains. " I remember in the first few years I was so dedicated to learning and I'd always worked really hard, but I suppose the passion and the zest I had for Toyah gradually disappeared. " It wasn't anybody's fault. " I just wasn't destined to play the same part for the rest of my life. I wasn't as happy in my work as I had been and in my heart of hearts, I knew I had to go. " Also, I felt that I'd had my turn and I probably wasn't going to get it again. New people were coming in, such as Samia Ghadie who plays Maria and Jennie McAlpine who plays Fiz and it felt fair that it was their turn now. I've had a fantastic time but for the past couple of years I've been watching period dramas and comedies such as The Office and thought, 'I'd love that part. I'd love to have been able to audition for that'."
Georgia's moving portrayal of Toyah's traumatic rape won her a British Soap Award in 2001, but ironically she believes the gripping drama also signalled the beginning of the end for her character. " I felt I was never going to top that and, of course, it changed Toyah's character," she explains. " I would never take back the dramatic storylines I've had, but the repercussions of her rape were that the writers took her in a direction which meant there was always going to be this emotional shadow hanging over her. " I know that can be the case for some people who are raped, but a lot of people do pick themselves up and dust themselves off. Maybe part of me wished that they could do that with Toyah and get a bit of that old life back into her. " She completely lost her spark. But I'm not complaining about the writers because, if I'm honest, maybe I lost a little bit of mine as well. Maybe I just couldn't get that old spark back into her because I'd had enough of playing her."
Georgia joined Coronation Street as 15-year-old Toyah when she was only 17. A few months earlier she had auditioned for the part of tearaway Zoe Tattersall, but missed out on the part. She became hooked on acting after taking part in school plays and joined a local theatre group in her home town of Wigan, Lancashire. She was studying for her A-levels when her drama coach got her an audition for the part of the younger daughter of Les and Janice Battersby. " It was only the third audition I'd ever been for and I was completely overwhelmed. But it was something for my mum to tell the neighbours so I went for it and to my amazement I got the part," she recalls.
Georgia's mum Caroline, a housewife, her financial adviser dad Geoff and her 20-year-old brother David - who is currently travelling in Australia - are all immensely proud of her amazing success, even though she no longer shares the same surname. When Georgia joined Coronation Street she was told that another actress was already registered her real name of Claire Jackson with Equity, so she would need to choose something else. She says: "I went to a book shop with a male friend of mine and we bought this book of baby names. " We were both really young and stood at the counter waiting to pay for it while pretending I was pregnant. " We both kept talking about the baby and rubbing my stomach. We thought it was really funny but I'm sure nobody paid us the slightest bit of notice. " I picked the name Georgia at random and I chose the surname Taylor in memory of my grandad who had died a few months earlier. " It was sad that he never lived to see me make it in Coronation Street, so it seemed like a really fitting tribute. I know he would have been really proud of everything I've done."
Although she has left the show, Georgia says she will always keep in touch
with some of the close friends she has made in the cast, including Samia Ghadie,
Jennie McAlpine, Bruce Jones who plays her screen dad Les and Vicky Entwistle
who plays her mum Janice. She says: "I know it sounds like a cliche, but
Coronation Street really is one big happy family and leaving behind everyone
was hard, but I know I will always keep in touch with my friends there. "
And because of the way Toyah has been written out I guess there is always the
chance that she could return one day."
Belly good advice
9 February 2003
SEXY SAMIA GHADIE, who plays Corrie man-eater Maria, gets career guidance from fortune tellers. But she is puzzled by her last consultation.
Samia says: "The lady advised me to have my belly button pierced. She said it would bring good luck and guarantee me wealth and happiness."
Street temptress stars as Holly Valance
8 February 2003
Coronation Street's Samia Ghadie goes from brunette to blonde as Aussie beauty Holly Valance in tonight's Stars In Their Eyes special.
Samia, who plays Maria Sutherland opted not to wear the skimpy outfits which are a favourite with the Neighbours star. " I'm wearing combats and a vest top, which is a relief as I thought I might have to wear a nude-coloured body stocking," Samia said. " I can't get used to my wig and just don't recognise myself when I've got it on. I've never seen myself blonde before so it's really strange." She added: "I've always wanted to do Stars In Their Eyes but I never thought I would because I don't think I can sing!"
The Stars In Their Eyes Coronation Street Special also features Shobna Gulati, who plays Sunita, as Diana Ross. Bruno Langley, who plays Todd Grimshaw, appears as Robbie Williams - complete with fake tattoos - and says he found it a breeze. " My singing voice is not that different to Robbie's so it's not been too difficult to imitate him," he said.
Andy Whyment, who plays Maria's brother Kirk, is Eagles singer Don Henley while newcomer Lucy-Jo Hudson (Katy Nelson) chose to be Kelly Osbourne.
Tonight's show, the third Coronation Street special, is presented by Davina
Street's Karen faces Valentine
8 February 2003
Coronation Street's Karen McDonald is torn between two men as Valentine's Day approaches. Suranne Jones, who plays Karen, is relishing the gripping scenes featuring her feisty character. There's already the hint of romance between Joe Carter, played by Jonathan Wrather, and flirtatious factory girl Karen. All this is likely to cause friction with Karen's husband Steve (Simon Gregson).
Suranne told the Daily Express's Saturday Magazine: "Karen definitely fancies Joe and she knows he fancies her but she can never do anything about it because of Steve." She obviously adores Steve and he adores her. They argue like cat and dog but they've got a real passion between them. If Corrie was X-rated they'd be at it all the time."
Things are set to come to a head on Valentine's Day. Steve arrives at the
factory to take his wife out for dinner, only to find her working late with
a huge bunch of roses on her desk. Suranne added: "But they're actually
for Janice (Battersby played by Vicky Entwistle) and Karen manages to pacify
Steve and promises him the next night will be special but, once again, Joe
manages to spoil things without meaning to. " Just as Karen and Steve
are preparing to enjoy a Valentine's meal, Joe turns up on their doorstep and
Karen invites him to stay for dinner. As you can imagine, that doesn't go down
too well with her jealous husband!"
Street's killer faces the end
7 February 2003
In a bid to keep fans guessing as to how Coronation Street serial killer Richard Hillman meets his maker, four alternate death scenes have been written. Over the next couple of months the soap's producers will decide whether he dies in a high-speed crash, in an explosion, by drowning or in a car full of exhaust fumes.Two of the endings have already been recorded.
Street producers decided that such an evil character deserves to be killed off in style. The soap is keen to build on the success of recent episodes which saw the triple-killer brutally murder Maxine Peacock (Tracy Shaw), ex-wife Patricia (Ruth Young) and businessman Duggie Ferguson (John Bowe).
A Coronation Street insider told the Daily Star that the alternate plots are just as dramatic. " All four endings are pure dynamite," the source said. In the minutes before Hillman's demise he kidnaps wife Gail (Helen Worth) and her children. It's not known whether any of the hostages die in the mayhem.
Perhaps even more intriguingly, one of the endings leaves doubts as to whether
Hillman actually dies at all. In the fourth version Hillman - played by actor
Brian Capron - plunges his car into a river, taking all on board with him.
But when the wreck is removed his body is not to be found - leaving a paranoid
Gail wondering whether she has seen the last of her vicious husband.
letter from Miss Julie Goodyear MBE
6 February 2003
Former Coronation Street star Julie Goodyear has written to The Daily Mirror. Her letter, which we received last week, appears here exactly as she wrote it:
From Miss Julie Goodyear
I am just writing to you to complain about Brian Reade's piece in today's Mirror headlined "Bet's a loser, I appreciate that Mr Reade is entitled to his view's, although it will not surprise you to know that I find his comment's about me today very hurtful. What I cannot accept is the publication of critical view's that are based on an inaccuracy.
Following report's in some newspaper's last week that I left Granada studio's in tear's after the recording of Celebrity Stars in their Eye's, I put out a statement making clear that this was not true.
I faxed this to tabloid newspaper's, including yours, and the Press Association. To the credit of the newspaper's, the inaccuracy has not been repeated - until today. I would be most grateful if you could therefore correct this as soon as as I am concerned about leaving it uncorrected and in the public domain.
If the matter can be sorted out quickly I will not take any further action. I look forward to hearing from you shortly
Julie Goodyear MBE
Maxine's death helps Corrie
5 February 2003 by Jason Deans
The murder of Coronation Street's Maxine Peacock drew the biggest UK TV audience for nearly two years, according to figures released today. The storyline involving the dastardly Richard Hillman gave EastEnders a beating by pushing the rival soap from the list of top five shows during the week of the murder. Official figures from broadcasting ratings body Barb show Coronation Street took the top five places for individual shows.
The January 13 edition, in which serial killer Hillman (played by Brian Capron) attacked hairdresser Peacock (Tracy Shaw) with a crowbar drew an average audience of 17.5 million people. It was highest rated show for 21 months and pulled in more than 3 million viewers more than the top-rating edition of EastEnders that week. It is the first time Coronation Street has taken the top five places in the Barb weekly ratings league.
Viewers are still gripped by the storyline - on Monday 15.5 million tuned in to see Peacock's husband come to terms with the fact her son may have been fathered by another man. The Coronation Street producer, Kieran Roberts, said: "These figures prove Coronation Street is the most popular programme on British television. " They're also a tribute to all the skill and hard work put into the programme by our writers, cast and production teams."
The news follows that of Monday's bumper audience for Martin Bashir's Living
With Michael Jackson, which drew an average of 14.1 million viewers to ITV
and was the highest rated documentary since 1999.
Street life provides further
5 February 2003
Coronation Street man-eater Tracy Preston is set to discover new friend Lucy is carrying her stepbrother's child - with devastating results, actress Kate Ford has revealed.
Tracy learns the news when she starts working at Lucy's Florist, which is run by Peter Barlow's mistress. The two quickly become friends and Tracy is shocked, first to find out that Lucy is pregnant then to discover the father is her enemy Shelley Unwin's (Sally Lindsay) fiancé, Peter.
Speaking at the launch of a new studio complex, which will include several new sets at Granada's Manchester base, actress Kate Ford said she really enjoyed playing the bitchy Tracy. She said: "The new set with the shop is nice because I have been able to show a different side to her. She didn't have a single friend before Lucy. " Tracy respects Lucy because she's very similar to her, but she can't stand Sunita because she just works in a little shop. " Yet deep down she does know that she's the same. She's not better than anyone else. Deep down she's very unhappy."
Remaining tight-lipped on the developments of her relationship with street romeo shopkeeper Dev Alahan (Jimmi Harkishin) she promised that the sparks will fly when Tracy hears the latest gossip to rock her family.
Granada has invested £5.5 million on the new studio space which considerably
extends the existing facilities available to the production and story team.
From this month viewers will be able to watch their favourite characters eating
out at Valandro's, an Italian restaurant where Janice Battersby and new lover
Mick will enjoy a romantic meal on Valentine's day.
4 February 2003 by Kevin O'Sullivan
FOR more than seven years she delivered some of the most wooden performances ever seen on TV. Critics went so far as to suggest you could see Tracy Shaw blinking after her screen alter-ego Maxine Peacock met her maker at the hands of Coronation Street killer Richard Hillman. " She can't even play a corpse," they said. Nevertheless more than 17 million fans tuned in to see the bed-hopping hairdresser crowbarred two weeks ago.
Last night the plucky Ms Shaw bared her talents before a few hundred theatregoers. In fact she bared much more in David Hare's legendary risque play The Blue Room.
And she wasn't half bad. I came to the theatre convinced I was in for a night of disappointment. How could a 29-year-old Corrie girl hope to match up to Nicole Kidman? In 1998 Kidman launched Hare's examination of human sexuality in a West End performance described as "pure theatrical Viagra".
Aided in a series of explicit erotic liaisons by Sean Connery's son Jason, Tracy plays five women caught in coital circumstances. She is the street whore who pathetically gives it away to a passing taxi driver. She is the au pair who gets down and dirty with her employers' randy son. And she's realistic as a coke snorting model going at it hammer and tongs with a politician.
Last night was the first performance of a 16-week UK tour. Given that it is early days, we must forgive the nervous Mr Connery for stumbling on too many of his lines. But I am not prepared to forgive him for his dismal singing voice. Each bedroom scene is amusingly undermined by scoreboard informing the audience how long the act lasted.
Good luck to Ms Shaw. I do believe that for Tracy there's life after Coronation
Street. Clothed or otherwise.
Rich tricks for Dicky
3 February 2003
Coronation Street's resident serial killer will turn into Mr Nice Guy as he tries to cover-up his murderous tendencies. Tricky Dicky - aka Richard Hillman - will even spread his kindness around the street as he buys presents for friends. And the psycho crowbar killer will try and convince his unknowing wife Gail that they should move away - and gets as far as throwing a farewell do in the Rovers.
The moves come after Tricky, played by Brian Capron, starts to rake in the cash from finally selling his flats for £80,000 each. " Richard believes that if they leave Weatherfield after making so many people happy, he won't be linked to the murders," a source said. Richard thought the flats were going to bankrupt him after the council revealed plans to put a bail hostel next door, slashing their value. But when the plans are dropped, things start to look up. " As soon as that happens, they start selling like mad. It dawns on him that he's well on the way to becoming a millionaire," added the street insider.
But things will get even trickier for Dicky who will spend weeks with one
eye out for detectives investigating the murder of Maxine Peacock.
Janice in pint fury
3 February 2003
Janice Battersby is set to show her EastEnders rivals just how it's done when it comes to throwing a pint over someone's head. Because Corrie producers have completed filming a scene in the Rovers where Janice, played Vicky Entwistle, gives co-worker Karen McDonald a good soaking.
Karen, played by Suranne Jones, is never one to mince her words, but she rubs Janice up the wrong way with one her comments and gets a pint full in the face. " Karen looked pretty shocked - and pretty bedraggled too. She was wet through," a street source said. And poor Suranne had to undergo the soaking ordeal in filming twice, just so that producers could get the right shot.
EastEnders fans have already seen Albert Square siren Kat Slater chuck a pint
over one unlucky customer's head. Kat was struggling to cope with the fear that
she was pregnant and later confided in new Queen Vic boss Alfie Moon.
2 February 2003
TODD Grimshaw's crush on Sarah-Louise grows stronger and he rejects his family in favour of the sexy gymslip mum. But can they live happily ever after in Weatherfield? Could anyone?
Mike Baldwin has a major bust-up with his sleazy factory manager Joe Carter, Ashley decides to have a paternity test to try to prove once and for all that he's Josh's dad - and Toyah Battersby leaves Weatherfield.
SEXY Corrie barmaid SAMIA GHADIE makes a great HOLLY VALANCE on Stars In Their Eyes this Saturday. Samia donned a blonde wig to perform Kiss Kiss and, for once on the show, probably looked prettier than the pop star she was imitating.
Big Ron's a TV legend
2 February 2003 by Ian Hyland
HALFWAY through Celebrity Stars In Their Eyes: Legends (ITV1, last night) and I'm wondering if there could possibly be anyone on the planet more tanned than Big Ron Atkinson. The answer arrives almost instantly when the cameraman - now my all-time hero - pans to Ron's missus in the audience. Has she got a better tan? Very much so.
Just one of the highlights of quite possibly the best Celebrity Stars there has ever been. It had the lot. Big Rhona Cameron wearing Judy Finnigan's flesh-coloured tights, Big Ron wearing a dead man's (George Burns) syrup and - and I think this is a TV first - Tony Blackburn wearing two wigs at the same time. Then there was Julie Goodyear. But more of her later.
Sadly, the only person who could have improved things couldn't be there. He'll probably have to make do with watching it all on video. That's if he's still got a video player, of course. It didn't take long to work out why ITV picked Davina McCall to stand in for Matthew Kelly. She's the only person who can shout as loud as him.
But where Matthew's big boom adds to the whole camp spectacular Davina's just smacked of trying too hard. She was simply out of her depth. Perhaps her lack of a theatrical background was to blame. Even more worrying was the fact that she appears to be turning into Cilla Black. She even did Cilla's trademark hand-clasp. But enough of Davina. Big Ron was in town. His Jimmy Tarbuck-doing-Bobby Robson-doing-Frank Sinatra routine was the stuff of legend.
But, and not for the first time in his life, he was robbed. Because Jane Danson won it as Madonna (or as Davina would say "MADONNA!!!!!!"). This despite looking and sounding more like Michael Jackson circa Earth Song. Rhona Cameron doing Hayley Cropper doing Judy Garland rightfully bombed, but not before she admitted "usually before I go on stage I get dread and doom". Nice to have something in common with the audience, eh, Rhona?
Davina then told how it can sometimes be difficult for the contestants having to deal with "the odd clothes, the strange vocalising and the weird hair". So how apt that Tony Blackburn was next up. A man for whom all those things are a daily mountain.
Now, The Goodyear. Possibly the only contestant who thought the "Legends" in the show's title referred to her. Her introductory film was a joy. Loads of close-ups of horses on a farm complete with luvvie voiceover. I was just trying to work out which horse was speaking when I realised it was Julie. Then a farmer pal told how good she was at "muck-spreading" - something her old friends at Corrie know all about. You can't deny she put her all into her performance (and her dress). If you closed your eyes you could almost imagine it was Marlene Dietrich - Julie certainly did. As Ron would say she was a "stick-on" winner.
But even if defeat, she got her revenge. She may have been congratulating
Jane through gritted teeth at the end. But was that a vicious and petulant
shove as Jane headed to the stage for her encore? Very much so...
All fright on the night
2 February 2003 by Gary Bushell
FRIGHT sight of last night: Julie Goodyear's Marlene Dietrich on Stars In Their Eyes.
She looked more like Annie Walker auditioning for 'Allo 'Allo! (possibly as The Fallen Madonna With Ze Big Boobies by Van Clomp). ITV promised us "five huge stars" but delivered Tony Blackburn as Cliff (Mike Read, surely?), Jane Danson as Ozzy Osbourne (sorry, Madonna), and celebrity lesbian Rhona Cameron as Judy Garland (OK, we liked her in the jungle but this is getting silly). Rhona should have done someone more challenging, like Chas Hodges. She'd have had to look a lot less masculine, mind.
Big Ron appeared as Sinatra too, although I prefer to think I dreamt that
after eating too much cheese.
The Blue Maxine
1 February 2003
FORMER Coronation Street star Tracy Shaw will be revealing her bare talent when she takes to the stage in The Blue Room. The actress, who played hairdresser Maxine Peacock in the soap, will strip naked for the play which opens in Cambridge on Monday. Her co-star is Jason Connery, whose dad Sean certainly appreciated the female form in the Bond films.
Triple whammy for tragic Ashley
31 January 2003
Coronation Street is heading for a dramatic tale of heartbreak that will almost destroy Ashley Peacock. Poor Ashley, who is devastated by the loss of his wife - murdered by evil Richard Hillman - will come close to losing the rest of his nearest and dearest.
First, he finds out his baby son Joshua, the one thing he has left of Maxine, is not even his but was fathered by Matt Ramsden, the Street's sleazy doctor. And when Ashley's Dad, Fred Elliot, learns the truth about little Joshua, he refuses to have anything to do with the tot - leaving unfortunate Ashley reeling. First his wife is taken from him, then his son, followed by his Dad, making Ashley, played by Steven Arnold, one of the unluckiest members of Corrie.
The triple whammy rocks Ashley's world and he gives Fred an ultimatum - either accept Joshua as your grandson, or get out of our lives forever. But if there's one thing Fred has, it's stubborness.
An insider said: "Fred just can't even bring himself to even look at
Joshua... Fred has such strong principles."
I'm a killer Richard tells
30 January 2003
A Coronation Street special will finally bring Tricky Dicky Hillman's killing spree to an end. The episode to be shown at the end of February features just two characters - Hillman, played by Brian Capron, and his unsuspecting wife Gail (Helen Worth).
In it Richard finally confesses to all his hideous crimes, leaving Gail reeling in shock. Gail struggles to come to terms with the awful truth about the man she loved and married. But she knows she has to put personal loyalties aside and do the right thing. The question is will Richard let her?
Coronation Street bosses are delighted with the success of the current storyline which has had fans tuning-in in their droves. Seventeen million viewers watched Richard murdering hairdresser Maxine Peacock after attacking Emily Bishop - one of the most watched episodes in the soap's 42-year history.
Richard Hillman has been hailed as one of the great all-time baddies alongside the Street's Alan Bradley and EastEnders' Dirty Den Watts. An added twist came in recent episodes when Richard was required to deliver a speech at the funeral of the woman he murdered.
After months of top-secret plot conferences Coronation Street bosses have
now devised an explosive storyline that brings Richard's one-man crime wave
to an end - one way or another.
Give us a Tanner
29 January 2003
Their legacy had a fairy-tale ending alomst 20 years ago, as Elsie Tanner was swept away in the arms of latest love Bill Gregory to run a wine bar in Portugal. But Coronation Street bosses look set to resurrect one of the most notorious families in Coronation Street history - the Tanners.
Elsie Tanner, played by the seductive Pat Phoenix, was the hardiest and most memorable of the clan. She was in the Street on and off from 1960 to 1984 - knotching double figures in her bed post in the process. " Elsie and her feuding clan were great characters in the 1960s and she went on to become one of the great enduring icons of British TV," a source told the Daily Star.
Street bosses are desperate to keep up the ratings momentum gained from the murderous antics of Tricky Dicky - aka Richard Hillman. " We always have room for a new family in the right circumstances," the source said.
The last street fans heard of Elsie's grandsons Paul and Martin, sons of Linda,
they were living in the Midlands. The source added: "Linda's son Paul
in particular could now have teenage children of his own. " Let's face
it, fans would love to see a return for the Tanner clan and it would not be
at all implausible."
Tara to Toyah
29 January 2003
Coronation Street actress Georgia Taylor has filmed her final scenes for the soap - and it's been emotional for her as well as her character. She will leave the show next week after five years as the only sane member of the Battersby family. " It was really emotional filming my last scenes with people I've worked with and been so close to for so many years. " But I'm looking forward to playing other roles," she said.
Toyah will find out that her new love - the college lecturer John - slept with her best friend Maria, and got her pregnant. Devastated, Toyah will put the past behind her and head for London with old flame Spider to make a new start.
Georgia told TV Times: "She has trust and affection for Spider, so when he offers her a free ticket out of Weatherfield, she knows its the right thing to do and hitches a lift with him."
Toyah will follow her sister Leanne away from the street, leaving the Battersby
family depleted to just father Les and mum Janice.
Rivals for Dead
29 January 2003 by Frances Traynor, TV Editor
CORONATION Street's serial killer storyline is helping the soap bury its rivals. More than 15million viewers tuned in on Monday night to pay their last respects to Maxine Peacock - actress Tracy Shaw - and watch her killer's emotional eulogy. Audience figures matched those of a fortnight earlier when Richard "Dick Dastardly" Hillman - real name Brian Capron - whacked the hairdresser with a crowbar.
Almost 15million stayed tuned to ITV for Monday's second instalment as Audrey
Roberts (Sue Nicholls), a previous target of the killer, accused him of Maxine's
murder at the graveside. EastEnders on the same night had 14.8million watching
Mark Fowler - actor Todd Carty - come to terms with the news that the drugs
don't work for his HIV any longer.
Inside Corrie killer's
29 January 2003 by Jonathan Donald
Corrie killer Richard Hillman has been the focus of some of the most powerful and gripping scenes in the soap's 43-year history. His bludgeoning of Emily, killing of Maxine and appearance in the guise of a mourner at her funeral have seen ratings soar to more than 15m.Audiences are fascinated by the evil character, played by Brian Capron.
With the help of crime experts, TV Plus goes inside the mind of the Corrie
killer. Crime professor Gary Slapper believes Corrie scriptwriters and Brian
Capron should be proud of the murderer they've created in Richard Hillman. " Richard
is a convincing killer," he says. "The terrifying thing about most
killers is their ordinariness. " They look like someone you might stand
behind in a post office queue. " They are essentially ordinary people
who have cracked under the strain of some part of their lives."
Richard is a charming and devoted family man.
Killers can possess these characteristics, says psychologist Victoria Littlejohns. " We don't spot serial killers before they commit crimes," she explains. " Fred and Rosemary West seemed like a normal married couple on the outside. " It wasn't until police dug up their garden and basement that they realised their pathology."
So what has turned Corrie's Richard Hillman into a killer? " We don't really know much about his background but an obvious theory is that something must have damaged him during his childhood," says Littlejohns. " The behaviour and attitudes of parents can be carried through to adulthood. And a major motivation with Richard seems to be greed. He does what he does because he is desperate for money." Richard's crimes have been horrific but he's not a monster, says the psychologist. " He's not just purely evil and killing for the sake of it," she argues. "Part of him does know the difference between right and wrong, and that's why he's cracking up. " He's motivated to do these things out of his love for Gail and her family. He doesn't want to lose them."
Maxine's funeral saw the killer endear himself to her family. " Ingratiating conduct of this sort is not unknown," says Professor Gary Slapper. "The culprit camouflages himself in the trust of the victim's family. " In recent years, there was a bus driver who got close to the family of an abducted boy," adds Littlejohns. "It later emerged that he was the killer. This is what Richard has been doing."
There have been signs that Richard is cracking up in Corrie - but he also seems to believe that he's innocent of any crimes. " Such self-delusion operates as a psychological survival mechanism and is not unknown among killers," says Professor Slapper. " If you can really convince yourself of your innocence, you'll be more convincing in presenting your story to others. It's like a form of method acting."
Critics have derided Corrie's Richard as a pantomime villain, but Littlejohns
is full of praise. " They have struck a good balance," she says. "When
Corrie has tried to do something hard-hitting and controversial in the past,
the public and press have hated it. " Toyah's rape was badly received.
But over 15m watched Maxine's murder. I think Richard has worked well because
he has both light and dark moments."
Ciaran making more waves
27 January 2003
Mischief-making looks to be turning into a habit for Coronation Street's latest bad boy Ciaran McCarthy.
First the AWOL Navy man, played by the former Boyzone hearthrob Keith Duffy, tried to break up his best mate's marriage. Next he was getting cafe owner Roy in a sweat after grabbing himself a cooking job while Roy was abroad.
But street sources have revealed he will be getting into more hot watrer - and will break the heart of the corner shop girl Sunita Parekh in the process. " For her, it's another dose of severe heartache - and she really doesn't deserve," a street source told the Daily Star.
Ciaran has told his best mate Peter Barlow that he is on the run from Navy
chiefs after bedding the captain's wife. And it won't be long before the Navy
catches up with Ciaran and sling him behind bars, leaving Sunita heartbroken. " She
thought she'd stumbled on a decent guy. She couldn't be more wrong," the
Karen plays away with jailbird Joe
26 January 2003
STEVE McDonald's sexy wife Karen is about to break his heart in Corrie - by jumping into bed with Joe Carter.
And it won't be so much behind Steve's back as above his head, I can reveal. Because the cheating pair will spend raunchy lunchtimes in jailbird Joe's flat - on the first floor of cab boss Steve's office. My Corrie insider tells me: "Steve is gutted when he finds out what has been going on behind his back. " He kicks out Karen and threatens to kill Joe. Then he hits the bottle and spends weeks wallowing in self-pity."
The sexual chemistry between Karen, played by SURANNE JONES, and her Underworld manager Joe (JONATHAN WRATHER) ignites next month. They've fancied the pants off each other for months and even shared a kiss outside the Rovers before Christmas. But Steve's money worries since his business partner Vik scarpered with loads of cash is what drives Karen into Joe's bed. She reckons his problems have made him dull - and that's the one thing in life fun-loving Karen won't tolerate. In contrast, Joe can give her attention, fun - and excitement.
At the start of the affair Karen covers up by "working late". But soon she progresses to steamy romps in Joe's flat. The crunch comes when suspicious Steve (SIMON GREGSON) follows them and catches them at it.
So is it the end for the McDonalds? I doubt it. They may have married for
a bet but Steve and Karen are a popular couple. My mole says: "Viewers
love to see them argue and then make-up. They'd never forgive us if we split
them up for good."
Corrie Judy dying to be serial killer
26 January 2003 by Steve Hendry
FORMER Coronation Street star Gaynor Faye wants to follow in the bloody footprints of Weatherfield serial killer Richard Hillman.
Gaynor, 31, who played Judy Mallett in the soap, stars beside Spandau Ballet star Gary Kemp as a reformed gangster's wife in the new series of BBC1 drama Murder in Mind. But all she wants to do is start bumping off as many people as possible.
Gaynor said: "I would love to play somebody really wicked and leave a
pile of victims behind me - an out-and-out baddie like Evil Richard or Jez
Quigley. " Maybe Judy can return to the Street to haunt Emily." " When
people think of me for a part it tends to be about nice girls with babies who
laugh and cry a lot. " I want to be like Richard. I must have tuned in
15 times thinking this was the night he would bump off Maxine. " Corrie
certainly know how to hook an audience."
Tracy's home alone
26 January 2003
CORRIE babe KATE FORD may be a slapper on screen as man-eating Tracy Barlow but in real life she goes to bed alone - and hasn't even got a boyfriend.
Kate, 25, whose character has already slept with her mum's ex Dev since she burst back on the scene at Christmas, says: "I'm nothing like racy Tracy. " I'm quite reserved and I'd never wear her clothes. You can be sexy without being 'in your face' sexy. " Tracy wears leather tops and tight trousers. I love jeans and boots. " But I'm no wallflower. When I first left drama school I partied every night. " That's something I can't do as much now because I have a big role to play."
She confesses that, like Tracy, she has a thing for men with dark curly hair like JIMMI HARKISHIN, who plays Dev. Kate, the fourth actress to play Tracy, adds: "A man with a talent is very sexy to me too - someone passionate about their job. I love that. " I can't stand men with massive egos - in real life Dev would be horrendous for me."
Meanwhile she's getting used to fans mixing her up with Tracy and calling
her a slag. She says: "It wasn't really the attention I was hoping for
but maybe next time it'll be a nice man with dark, curly hair - fingers crossed!"
CORRIE star PRUNELLA GEE - a revelation as Maxine's mourning mum Doreen - fancies a break from the killing fields of Weatherfield. And can you blame her with all the tragedy? "I'd love to host a holiday programme," she tells me. "Or a nice home improvement show like Carol Vorderman."
CORRIE'S JOHNNY BRIGGS, 65, on the secret of Mike Baldwin's youthful appearance: "Drink in moderation, never have your heart broken and take plenty of vitamins."
EVERY time Street star BILL TARMEY stays in a hotel, he takes home a sewing kit. Bill, who plays Jack Duckworth, says: "I've got kits from all over the world including posh ones in expensive leather cases."
Julie in tears? Don't
bet on it
25 January 2003 by TV Plus Reporters
Former Corrie star Julie Goodyear has issued a statement denying tabloid stories about her bursting into tears.
Two papers said she was exhausted and tearful after failing to win the celebrity edition of Stars In Their Eyes, filmed recently. But in a statement issued to TV Plus Julie said: "I'd like to put the record straight following reports in some papers... the whole experience of working on the show was fantastic from start to finish."
Julie, 60, did an impression of siren Marlene Dietrich but was beaten by actress Jane Danson as Madonna. She said: "The audience reaction to my performance on the night of recording was tremendous. After the show I thanked the crew, the make-up department and costume department."
In a statement issued to Teletext she said: "Of course I was disappointed
not to win but that's showbiz. " At no point was I in tears about the
result. In fact I was, and still am, on a high from the experience. " I'm
sure when the show goes out, on February 1, the viewers will love it."
Tricky Dicky confesses!
25 January 2003
Evil Richard Hillman will have Street fans on the edge of their armchairs when he tells the startled congregation at Maxine's funeral: "I confess." But he isn't about to come clean about the fact he murdered her and instead goes onto say: "When I heard what happened to Maxine I confess I stopped believing there could be any good in this world."
Hillman, played by Brian Capron, comes under incredible pressure during the funeral and at several moments looks like he is about to crack up. Audrey even confronts him directly saying: "You killed her didn't you?" But everyone assumes she is overcome by grief and suffering from mental problems.
Certainly Ashley has no idea that Richard murdered his wife. In truth Richard killed Maxine after attacking Emily Bishop but most in the Street believe Ade Critchley is the culprit.
Meanwhile Ashley reacts furiously when he gets a call from Dr Matt. He is
terrified Maxine's former lover will return to claim baby Josh and is forced
to admit to Fred that Matt may be the real father.
Gary Mallett all at sea
25 January 2003
Ian Mercer who played Gary Mallett in Coronation Street has landed a new role in a movie alongside Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany.
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World tells the story of Ship Surgeon Stephen Maturin (Bettany) and Navy Captain Jack Aubrey (Crowe) who sail out to see the richness and strangeness of life on the far side of the world against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars. Directed by Peter Weir of Picnic at Hanging Rock and the Truman Show fame the movie is in post production phase and will be released to UK cinemas later this year.
It is the latest film role for Ian who also featured in the comedy drama Re-Inventing
Eddie and also alongside Kenneth Branagh in Shackleton. Oldham-born Ian was
a natural for Gary Mallett and played him for five years alongside load-mouthed
wife Judy. The couple were hailed as the new Jack and Vera Duckworth and enjoyed
many fine comic moments before both decided to quit. Ian went on to concentrate
on his burgeoning film career. But he remembers his days on the Street with
fondness: "I have to thank Coronation Street for a lot of things - not
least because the programme made me financially secure. That allowed me to
come out and choose what I wanted to do next," he said.
Corrie star collects degree
24 January 2003
Coronation Street star William Roache has picked up an honorary degree and said he could finally stop feeling inferior to his character Ken Barlow.
The actor, who is in the Guinness Book of Records as Britain's longest-serving soap star, said he was delighted to receive a Master of Arts degree from Derby University. He also gave some words of advice to the hundreds of students at the ceremony, saying their biggest efforts should be working on "kindness".
The actor, from Ilkeston, Derbyshire, received the accolade in for his significant contribution to performing arts. He said: "My alter-ego Ken Barlow has a BA from Manchester University and I have always felt the intellectual inferior. " Now fortified by my MA from Derby it's yah boo to him."
He said he was absolutely delighted to receive the degree. He then told the
students that life was always about cause and effect and they should work on
being kind to other people and the rewards would come back to them.
Ashley cracks under the pressure
24 January 2003
Ashley Peacock has an explosive confrontation with Ken Barlow as he struggles to cope with life without his murdered wife Maxine. Ashley is furious when Ken dares suggest that Ade Critchley, falsely accused of the brutal killing, may not be guilty. Street fans of course know that Ade is entirely innocent and the real killer is Tricky Dicky Hillman, played by Brian Capron.
Steven Arnold, who plays the devastated widower, said: "Ashley is unsure if Ade is responsible but he uses Ken as a bit of scapegoat. He's furious and has a go at him in the street." Ashley is not only facing life without Maxine he has to cope with being a single dad to son Josh, and friends and family fear he may be close to breaking point. " He doesn't really lean on anyone's shoulder," said Steven, "he does his grieving alone." Now he has to find the inner strength to cope alone.
Meanwhile Ashley and most of the Street have no idea that Richard is the real
villain of the piece. " Ashley has no suspicions about Richard whatsoever," added
Steven. "He has a drink with him on the night of the murder and even thanks
Richard when he steps in and makes a speech at the funeral. " So it will
come as a massive shock if he ever finds out the truth."
Star's a TV
flop as Marlene
24 January 2003 by Frances Traynor, TV Editor
THERE were tears not cheers for Corrie legend Julie Goodyear when she flopped in a celebrity edition of Stars In Their Eyes.
Julie - who will return as Bet Gilroy in the soap this year - broke down when her performance as 30s screen icon Marlene Dietrich failed to win over the audience. She was beaten by another former Street star, Jane Danson. Jane, who played Leanne Battersby and is now in The Bill, was a big hit as Madonna.
A Granada insider said: "As soon as the result was shown, Julie was the first out of the building with a face like thunder." A spokeswoman for the show said: "When it goes out, people will see that she was very close to tears by the end because she was exhausted after working so hard getting into her portrayal of Marlene. The way she looked when she left the studio was probably down to tiredness."
Her makeover was certainly one of the most spectacular seen in the history
of Stars In Their Eyes. The 60-year-old actress - like Dietrich, she has dabbled
in lesbian affairs - was made to look like the German- born chanteuse to sing
Falling In Love Again.
Angela's top BBC role
24 January 2003
Former Coronation Street hairdresser Angela Griffin is set to star in a popular BBC drama series. She will take a top role as country wife Frankie Brewer in Down to Earth, taking over leading lady duties from Pauline Quirke.
A BBC source told the Daily Star: "Apart from Sarah Lancashire, Angela
is surely the most successful female star to leave Corrie in recent years."
Heart-throb is new Mr Nasty
24 January 2003
Pop heart-throb turned soap star Keith Duffy is about to become Mr Nasty in Coronation Street.
Irish charmer Ciaran McCarthy, played by ex-Boyzone star Keith, turns on Roy and Hayley Cropper (David Neilson and Julie Hesmondhalgh) when they turn down his offer to buy the cafe. He threatens to set up in competition, leaving the couple fearing for their livelihood. " There's a nasty side to Ciaran which people don't see very often," a Street insider told the Daily Star. " But this time it surfaces, and it's not so nice. He wants his own way and, if he doesn't get it, there's going to be big trouble."
Ciaran is also going to be cooking up more trouble for Rover's Return manageress Shelley Unwin. He's already made an enemy of her by trying to seduce her away from his best friend Peter Barlow. Ciaran may appear to have moved on and found his own girl but he knows Peter's dark secrets.
So what's the future for the Irish rogue? The insider said: "He can't
really stay around indefinitely because he has gone absent without leave from
the Navy. " If the authorities find out somehow, then a squad of Navy
police will come to round him up. He'd be treated as a deserter when all is
said and done."
Spider nets Toyah!
23 January 2003
Broken-hearted Toyah Battersby seeks solace in the arms of eco-warrior Spider Nugent after her romance with cheating lecturer John Arnley ends in tears.
Toyah, played by Georgia Taylor, is devastated when she discovers Arnley (Paul Warriner) has deceived her. He's been having an affair with Street tart Maria Sutherland who is pregnant with his child. After a furious confrontation Toyah abandons plans to move in with Arnley and vows to make a new life away from Weatherfield.
Spider (Martin Hancock) provides a shoulder to cry on after he returns to the Street to keep an eye on Aunty Em after Tricky Dicky Hillman tried to kill her. The two grow increasingly fond of each other and when Spider announces he is off to continue his travels, Toyah says she wants to go with him.
It's not the first time Toyah's life has been turned upside down. She is still
haunted by a brutal rape. The latest story line could provide the happy ending
Street fans had hoped for.
Police complaint over Corrie
23 January 2003
Greater Manchester police have complained to Coronation Street bosses over a story line they fear could cause trials to collapse. They say the portrayal of the witness protection scheme could put people off testifying against gangland criminals.
In the soap Tommy Nelson (Thomas Craig) and his family have turned up in Weatherfield in mysterious circumstances. It turns out they are on a witness protection programme after Tommy's wife Angela gave evidence against a notorious gangster. But police say witnesses would not be dumped without adequate police protection. They fear potential witnesses may be put off from helping police because they feel they may be treated like the Nelsons.
A Coronation Street spokesman said: "The story has some way to go and
we will continue to research."
23 January 2003 by Yvonne Swann
IT WAS the moment that had millions on the edge of their seats. But where does actress Tracy Shaw go now that murder victim Maxine has made her dramatic exit from Coronation Street?
Tracy left the soap two weeks before Christmas, so she started the New Year with a new life as a freelance actress. Her first job is in the theatre. She will be starring in The Blue Room, in the role formerly played in the West End by Nicole Kidman. The play's UK tour begins in Cambridge on February 6. Tracy has also just brought out her second fitness video, Salsacise For Hips And Thighs, a follow-up to last year's hit workout video. The actress and her husband Robert Ashworth, a producer/director, live in Manchester. Here, Tracy tells Yvonne Swann all about her career.
MY EARLY YEARS
I GREW up and lived in Derbyshire until I went to the Arden School Of Theatre in Manchester to study for my drama degree at the age of 20. I had danced professionally from the age of 14 in local shows. That was going to be my career. Then, as part of a performing arts course, I was offered either six months' dancing work on a cruise ship, or an audition for drama school. I went for the audition, got in and fell in love with acting.
MY FIRST JOB
IT WAS in ITV's September Song with Russ Abbott. It was only a small part but I was in the whole series, playing a dancer. Then I got a very small part in All Quiet On The Preston Front for the BBC.
MY BIG BREAK
WITHOUT doubt getting the part of Maxine at 22. The producers had seen all my performances during my last year at college. But also, during the whole of my last year at drama school, I sent off my CV to everybody I could think of. I was only meant to be in for eight weeks - it was a struggle at first to get used to the techniques of television acting but it was good to be thrown in at the deep end. Amazingly, the producers changed the story-line so I could stay on.
MY WORST JOB
THAT'S easy - being an usher at a theatre when I was at drama school. It was so exhausting after a long day of drama studies to be on my feet for hours, carrying ice creams around, checking the ice cream takings, ushering people in and out. I'd never get home before 11.30pm.
I'D BEEN in Coronation Street for seven-and-a-half years when I left. I'll be 30 in July, and I knew it was time to move on. If I was going to do anything new, I had to do it now and get it out of my system. My role in The Blue Room is not the easy option. I had many interesting offers, including Chicago and other musicals, and I wouldn't mind doing things like that eventually because I'll love the dancing. But for now my challenge is The Blue Room. I don't know what made me choose the most difficult role of all. Sometimes you've just got to be brave. I really don't want to plan to do anything until I've got going with the show.
I'D TELL any budding actor always to keep your feet on the ground, no matter how successful you are. Remember why you went into the business. It was not to be famous, but to do something you loved and were trained to do. I was lucky to have been in the right place at the right time, but I also worked very hard to get where I am. While I was at drama school, I was anorexic and I had to fight to cope with those problems at the same time as my studies. Counselling helped me get through, and it helped me again when I was coping with Press interest in my private life while I was in the Street. Fame can bring an awful lot of pressure. It did to me and to my family. I was very young, and it was scary to be followed everywhere by the paparazzi. I didn't understand what anorexia was, but now I think the illness was a blessing in disguise. The counselling has and made me much more grown up and stronger. Talent and ambition often go hand-in-hand with insecurity so staying grounded and close to loved ones you trust is really vital.
Voice like an angle... grinder
22 January 2003
Coronation Street's helium-fuelled butcher's boy Ashley Peacock is finally going to hear his voice break, at 22 years old. Steve Arnold, who plays newly-widowed Ashley, is fed-up with being teased in the pub over his squeaky street voice.
But Corrie bosses have decided they will let Steve, who is actually 28, use his real, and much deeper, tone. " It is the growing up curve and Ashley will be allowed to mature and develop," a street source said in the Daily Star.
Steve told a morning TV show that when he joined the show he thought his own voice didn't fit well into his character's 16-year-old YTS shoes - especially next to the booming Fred Elliott. " The trouble is it's not hard to keep up - in fact it just comes natural now. But I am trying to lose it bit by bit. " I do get it in spades sometimes when I'm out in the pub," said the former schoolboy boxer Steve.
The street insider added: "We were aware speaking as though he had just
inhaled a helium balloon was doing his head in. But as a character he had become
Street teen mum in bed again
22 January 2003
Coronation Street's teen mum Sarah Louise Platt is all set to dive into bed with her new man - but she won't make the same mistake twice. Producers are ruling out a second pregnancy for 15-year-old Sarah Lou, played by Tina O'Brien, who gave birth to her first child when she was just 13.
But she will at least wait until her next birthday before going all the way with 18-year-old boyfriend Todd Grimshaw, played by Bruno Langley. " It's done in the best possible taste. It must be obvious to viewers that these two young people are in love. " They don't want to break the law by having sex when Sarah is under age. They have been restraining their desires," a source told the Daily Star.
The new storyline is bound to stir-up yet more controversy for the soap, which
in recent years has tackled rape, adultery and serial killing. But one who
is certain to lose her cool will be mum Gail Hillman. "Like any mum, Gail
will be up in arms. " She will soon be going through enough when killer
hubby Richard is unmasked, without Sarah piling on the agony. " Gail sees
the bad side of what might happen. After all, she's often been left holding
baby Bethany when Sarah's been out having a good time."
Time to get Carter
21 January 2003
Coronation Street detectives could soon be calling "Get Carter" as the show's producers look for their next villain. Mike Baldwin's hunky sidekick Joe Carter looks set to become part of the show's ratings arsenal after killer Richard Hillman's demise. The move comes after street bosses realised the huge potential in having a resident villain to build plot lines around.
" A number of characters are getting the big build-up in the wake of Tricky Dicky's exit. Joe Carter will be one of them, " a show insider tells The Daily Star. " Let's stress that he is not going to become a killer or anything like that. " But some very unpleasant aspects of his life before Coronation Street are going to be revealed."
Deeds in the pipeline include adultery, dodgy business scams and an attempt
to cut-in on his pal's woman. The character, played by Jonathan Wrather, apparently
went to jail for fraud. But there could be further questions about his past,
the newspaper claims, when an old aquaintance of Joe's makes an appearance.
Tricky Dicky taking the strain
21 January 2003
Coronation Street actor Brian Capron is feeling the strain of playing a psychotic crowbar killer. But the 54-year-old actor hinted that fans haven't seen the best - or the worst - of the street's killer just yet,
" Playing Richard has been like a concentration of four years into one-and-a-half and I don't want him to get stale." " Everything that happens next, until his demise, will trump what happened before," actor Capron told the TV Times. " When I first came to Coronation Street there was no dark side to Richard. I decided to make him menacing in a quiet way, a king of don't-mess-with-me attitude."
But it's not just the stresses of playing the murderer that the actor and
father-of-three is feeling. Filming in Manchester has kept Capron away from
his family home in Sussex and has also put his marriage to actress Jacqueline
Bucknell on hold. " Jackie and I were going to get married last year but
Corrie got in the way," he said, adding he hoped for a small simple wedding
in the spring.
I'm sorry for stabbing Street star, says knifeman
21 January 2003
The man who stabbed Coronation Street's John Savident says he is sorry for everything he has done. He says he was "scared" to think he could have killed the actor.
Michael Smith is now serving life in prison for two other violent robberies he committed since attacking Savident, better known as TV butcher Fred Elliott. He was speaking for the first time of how he attacked the actor, leaving him bleeding profusely in his luxury Manchester home in December 2000. And the 30-year-old father-of-one, who has more than 60 previous convictions, apologised for all his crimes. " I'm really sorry for what happened, for everything that has happened. " At the end of the day, I have got to address my problems, my alcohol and my emotions. I could not control myself."
At his trial, the court heard how Smith stabbed Savident twice in the throat, narrowly missing the main artery in his neck, before stealing valuables and escaping. Smith, from Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, admits filling his pockets while Savident lay on the bed, losing almost two pints of blood and fearing for his life. Speaking from his prison cell in Forest Bank prison in Salford, he said: "It scares me to think that John Savident could have died. I'm glad that it wasn't worse."
Smith was arrested but absconded from court at the start of his trial, committing
two other violent robberies while on the run. On the night he stabbed Savident,
Smith said he had drunk half a bottle of vodka, nine bottles of beer and several
brandies following an argument with a former partner.
Playing Dicky was scary...
19 January 2003
...I WAS SO PSYCHED UP FOR MURDER I COULD HAVE KILLED EMILY FOR REAL
CORRIE villain Brian Capron has told of the incredible strain he faced psyching himself up to act out Tricky Dicky's murder rampage. He revealed how for one horrific moment the role took him over and he felt he could batter his co-stars for REAL. " Even I was shocked when I watched last Monday's episode," said the shaken actor - who was left retching after the gruesome scene when evil Richard Hillman bludgeoned Emily Bishop with a crowbar before killing hairdresser Maxine Peacock.
In an exclusive interview, Brian, 53, told The People: "The moment when I crept up on Emily and tried to kill her left me feeling shocked. " I went through what it would be like, I felt all the emotion - and it was quite disturbing. " I had this heavy crowbar and had to pound it down on Emily. Eileen Derbyshire, who plays Emily, was sitting there and just moved gently to one side as I did it. " But if I had got the timing wrong I could have hit her for real...I really could have done. I was concentrating so hard on getting it right. " When I watched the episode I thought, 'My God! He's horrible'."
Father-of-three Brian called on his 32 years of stage and TV experience to make the murder scene watched by 17 million Corrie fans as realistic as possible. But despite his cool professionalism the role has taken an emotional toll on him as he:
Still, Brian says he loves being known as TV's vilest villain despite the strain - and is overwhelmed by the public's reaction to his role. He said: "He is just the most powerful character I have ever played. 'It's hard to switch off and I hardly ever do. The character is with me all the time. " This character does impinge on you. I have had to do some awful things. But I wouldn't have it any other way. There is nothing better than playing a baddie. I have had a relentless storyline. Richard has been on TV constantly. " Even on holiday I have taken scripts with me and when I'm not learning lines, I find myself constantly trying to make decisions on how to play him. " It's difficult to leave him behind. Richard is the most disturbing character I have ever played."
Brian, who lives in Brighton, East Sussex with actress Jacqueline Bucknall and their five-year-old son Louis, told of the unexpected and harrowing nightmare brought on by the murder scene. He recalled: "It was a very bizarre experience. I hadn't had a nightmare since I was about five. I dreamt a woman was walking towards me. She looked like a witch and was opening the door. I couldn't speak and was trying to move. Jacqueline was woken by my shouting and lashing about. " She tried to wake me up because I was crying out. It took me 15 minutes to get over the nightmare. It was awful, really vivid."
And Brian really had to steel himself to act out monstrous Hillman's murderous scenes. He said: "The worst bit was that I really like Eileen and we've become really close. She is one of the sweetest people I have ever meet. " As I brought the crowbar down it was very tense and the weight of it made everything so much more realistic to me."
Brian then had to psyche himself up for the murder of Maxine - played by Tracy Shaw - who walked in as Hillman attacked Emily. And Brian's performance was so horrifically convincing that Corrie bosses decided to show ONLY ONE of the four blows he rained on Maxine. Brian said: "There was a lot of blood. There had to be because there would have been in real life." He also told how when viewers saw him retch after killing, it was actually for real and not in the script.
He added: "I was concentrating so hard on getting it right. It made me retch. Everyone has commented on how realistic that was and how it was a clever thing to do because it made it look like Richard was horrified by his own actions. " But what they don't realise is that it wasn't in the script."
Brian who, besides his little boy, has two grown-up daughters from a previous marriage, discovered that playing a screen villain has advantages in real life. When his mobile phone and a bag containing vital scripts were stolen from his car he followed the four culprits through a grim estate in Salford, Manchester. He said: "They saw me and ran away. I think they saw Tricky Dicky and thought I must have a spade in the back of my car. They chucked the bag, which still had the scripts inside. Then everyone in the street came out to offer me a cup of tea."
Brian is constantly amazed how soap fans warm to him despite his scary presence on screen. He said: "All actors who play villains want to be loved. I was ready for people to hate me but that hasn't happened. When I boarded a plane the other day a stewardess jokingly did the sign of the cross and said, 'You're not coming on'. " I've also had scissors taken off me at the airport. They asked if they could keep them to say they had Richard's scissors. And people shout 'Richard' at me from across the street."
Although he has thoroughly enjoyed his time in Coronation Street, Brian now wants to try his hand at comedy and Richard will be killed off in April. But until then viewers can be assured that Tricky Dicky will be at his evil, sneering best. Brian said: "I know Richard very well now - and there are some big episodes coming up."
Showdown for villain
TRICKY Dicky is about to plumb even greater depths of deception and evil in Coronation Street. Viewers will see him attending Maxine's funeral, where he pays a moving tribute to the haidresser HE bludgeoned to death.
In another astonishing performance by Brian Capron, the killer delivers a moving five-minute speech to a packed church. Richard Hillman opens by admitting: "I have a confession to make..." as Maxine's sobbing hubby Ashley, played by Steven Arnold, tries to comfort son Joshua. The latest twist in the Corrie saga comes in a double episode a week tomorrow. Battered Emily Bishop is also in church, unable to remember that it was Richard who clubbed her and Maxine.
But Richard cannot hide the awful truth for long. His mother-in-law Audrey Roberts - actress Sue Nicholls - realises he is the killer. And his wife Gail - Helen Worth - is horrified when Audrey accuses him. The strain of his guilt has Richard heading for a psychological breakdown.
A Corrie insider promised: "These cracking scenes are guaranteed to get viewers going. They will see the start of the killer's demise as the facts come out."
Tricky Dicky's a TV sicky
CORONATION Street has been blasted by TV watchdogs for last week's pre-watershed violence. Seventeen million - including kids - saw Richard "Tricky Dicky" Hillman (Brian Capron) kill Maxine Peacock with a crowbar and batter Emily Bishop.
There were just 12 complaints. But Family Focus said: "Such graphic scenes have no place on early TV."
I'm not really a mouthy tearaway
19 January 2003 by Billy Sloan
WHEN Coronation Street star Lucy-Jo Hudson got a telling off from her mother, the actress knew she'd nailed her role as stroppy teenager Katy Nelson. " My mum is very proud I've become a member of the Corrie cast but she hates the fact my character Katy is really cocky," revealed Lucy- Jo, 19. " If she watches me giving my screen mother Angela a mouthful, she'll say: `I don't like how you speak to her'. " But that's Katy. She is so stroppy and mouthy... that's just not me."
Lucy-Jo's life has been turned upside down since last October, when Corrie's newest family moved into No.6. The Nelson clan - dad Tommy, played by Where The Heart Is actor Thomas Craig, mum Angela, Fat Friends actress Kathryn Hunt, and brother Craig, played by Richard Fleeshman - are keeping a dark secret from their neighbours. Unknown to busybodies such as Blanche Hunt (Maggie Jones) and Vera Duckworth (Liz Dawn), the family are living in Weatherfield as part of a police witness protection scheme. They've had to conceal their real identities because mum Angela was a key witness in a brutal murder in a pub in Sheffield.
Lucy-Jo, landed the dream part of Katy after being spotted as a fairy dancing in the pantomime Jack And The Beanstalk in Leeds. And her first appearance on the famous Coronation Street cobbles was a real baptism of fire. Lucy-Jo told me: "Last September, I went for a casting as a character who at that time was called Amy Nelson. " All I knew was that she was the daughter in a new family who were moving into the Street. " Within a few days, I'd got my blonde hair dyed dark brown. The first few times I looked into the mirror it felt so weird... it just didn't seem like me. " Before I had time to draw breath I was filming my first ever scenes. I'd never been in front of a television camera before."
The last family to move into Coronation Street were the Battersbys in 1997 - and they made an immediate impact. But when the Nelsons seemed reluctant to make friends or mix with regulars in the Rover's Return, they managed to ruffle a few feathers. Mum Angela - who got a job as a machinist at Mike Baldwin's knicker factory Underworld - was soon given a rough time by the other girls because she kept herself to herself. Dad Tommy was sacked by Kevin Webster from his job as a car mechanic after being accused of stealing a wallet found lying on the garage floor. It actually belonged to Tommy... but as the union card inside was made out in his previous name he couldn't spill the beans or he'd blow his cover. The only person who knows the family's real reason for moving to Coronation Street is knicker stitcher Hayley Cropper (Julie Hesmondhalgh). She has vowed to workmate Angela that she won't reveal their dark secret.
In the middle of all this strange behaviour the Nelson kids Katy and Craig constantly have to watch everything they say in case it gives away their true reason for moving to Weatherfield. While Lucy-Jo enjoys playing the role, she concedes she'd never be able to carry off the pretence in reality. She told me: "The Nelsons are basically a good, decent family. The problems they have are not of their own making. " There must be real families dotted around Britain living in those exact circumstances. " I can't imagine going through what the Nelsons are going through. You'd have to watch your back 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The strain would be unbearable. I'd keep slipping up - forgetting what I could and couldn't say - and drop the family in it. " If it was down to me, the Nelsons would be dead by now."
Lucy-Jo explained: "In many scenes the Nelsons are on the receiving end of such hate. " All the people who should be friends and neighbours are giving them the cold shoulder and having a go. Nobody likes us. " It was funny filming those scenes because later in the studio Green Room the same people who were giving the Nelsons stick in the script couldn't have been more friendly or welcoming."
Lucy-Jo admits she still has to pinch herself to make sure she's not dreaming about her success in the top- rated soap. And she's having a ball playing Katy - a character Lucy-Jo feels great sympathy for. She said: "Katy always seems to be on a bit of a short fuse but that's just because of the circumstances she finds herself in. " After all, she's only 16 and resents the fact her life has been completely turned upside down. She wants to hang out with her mates, not a bunch of strangers. " Katy does have a heart of gold - although we've not really seen that yet. But she is a bit of a cocky cow who likes to get her own way."
Lucy-Jo made her stage debut as a dancer at the tender age of four when she appeared in the musical Are You Lonesome Tonight, in Bradford. She studied various forms of dance including ballet, tap, jazz and pop and the actress still lives at home in Leeds with mum Jill, dad Paul, sister Amy- Lou and brother Ryan. But Lucy-Jo isn't the only star in the Hudson household. Big brother Ryan plays rugby for Castleford Tigers and is also an England international. " He's a great player and is captain of the England Under-21s," she said. " He's really proud of me because he's always been a huge Coronation Street fan. All the guys in the team have been winding him up about his little sister being in the Rovers." Lucy-Jo now hopes the Nelson clan settle in Weatherfield and become the focus for a few more juicy storylines.
Slowly but surely, the teenage actress is coming to terms with being a member
of the cast of television's longest-running hit show. She admitted: "The
first day I arrived on the set it was magic. Walking down the Street cobbles
seemed unreal. " Before that, I'd been like millions of viewers - sitting
at home watching the show. It felt so freaky to actually be there. " The
first guy I saw was Michael Le Vell who plays Kevin Webster. " I was trying
to be cool but I said: `Hello Kevin'. That's who he was to me. " Since
then, I've got to know members of the cast, including Samia Ghadie - who plays
Maria Sutherland - and we've become really good mates. " I can't believe
how lucky I am to be part of such a television institution."
19 January 2003
CORRIE babe SAMIA GHADIE has a tip for young fans who write to her for advice. Sexy Sam, who plays barmaid Maria, says: ""I get loads of letters from youngsters asking about love problems or staying out late. I always tell them to listen to their parents because nine times out of 10 they are right."
HELEN WORTH wants to play Corrie's Gail Hillman for ever. She says: "I've been in the show for 27 years, but I only feel old when people say, 'My mum used to watch you when I was little and now my own children are watching you'."
I knew she'd come to a very Dicky end
19 January 2003 by Ian Hyland
MURDER week kicked off in Coronation Street with Mopey Dick sneaking up behind Emily on the cobbles. I wish I could say I resisted the temptation to shout, "He's behind you". But I didn't. Because for some reason, and despite Corrie being wonderful for the last few months, it all went a little bit panto. It began with Dick dressing up in Aiden Critchley's clothes to become The (Furry) Hooded Claw (worth mentioning here that Aiden is surely the first bombed-out-of-his-face young man to take his coat AND trainers off before crashing out in his sleeping bag).
Then there was Dick's theatrical slipping on of the black leather gloves with all the confidence of a man who thinks he's committing the perfect crime...yet hasn't read his "DNA And The Advancement Of Forensic Evidence" booklet. It continued with his choice of murder weapon. Ah yes, the crowbar. Small, portable and easy to dispose of. Not.
Then there was the magic blood. Now you see it, now you don't. For someone who'd had her head stoved in Maxine was surprising bloodless. Likewise Emily. The only evidence of any injury was a red line on the side of her head, which could easily have been a continuation of her lipstick. Yet Ashley still managed to have gallons of blood on his shirt. And Emily's pillow was fair sopping when the paramedics carried her out.
Conclusions? Dick is clearly also a vampire. Or Corrie were worried about upsetting viewers - in which case why bother with such a violent storyline in the first place?
The most upsetting thing about the whole episode was the writers' inability to avoid writing it like a panto. One subtle wink to the audience is OK. Two is slightly galling. One every five minutes is just self-indulgent. So thank you for Doreen's "I'm stood at death's door", Maxine's "I don't want to ruin Mum's night", Ashley's "Maxine's gone home, she's got a headache", Gail's "violence doesn't solve anything" and, the best one this, Dick's "Gail, I'm just nipping out to smash that awful hairdresser's head in, no-one liked her anyway". OK, I made that last one up.
Not that I didn't enjoy it just as much as the other 17 million viewers. Who could fail to spot the double meaning of Maxine's words, "No one'll even notice I've gone."? And how about the rank stupidity of Maxine walking in, seeing Dick standing over Emily with blood (not much blood, admittedly) dripping from his crowbar and saying: "Richard, what are you doing?" Er, decorating? But full marks to Tracy Shaw for managing to look in the camera when she was dead. Still, it might be the last time she gets to do that. I have to admit though, great send-off from Ashley: "She wasn't some girl who slept around and only cared about money." He was talking about Maxine, by the way.
My biggest gripe of the week is that Corrie missed out on a glorious piece of comedy. Remember at the height of the drama when Norris switched the telly off? I'd have loved it, really loved it, if Emily had suddenly sat up and said: "Hey, I was watching that." Oh yes I would.
Corrie's a comedy of errors
19 January 2003 by Gary Bushell
CORRIE had a cracking week, zipping from the hilariously bad to the genuinely moving. Didn't you love Maxine's blinking corpse? Tracy Shaw couldn't act dead if her life depended on it. Still at least Richard Hillman delivered. For weeks now Dirty Dick has reminded me of Audley Harrison. He kept putting those gloves on for no apparent reason.
But didn't he batter poor old Emily? If it wasn't for her hair lacquer, she'd be as stiff as Maxine (was when she was alive). I don't know what Emily sprays on her barnet but I swear it bent his crowbar. She didn't even need a head bandage (mind you this was Weatherfield General where they performed brain surgery on Sarah-Lou without having to shave off any hair). No wonder property prices are so low on t'Street. They've had four deaths in 12 months (Duggie, Dennis, Patricia and Maxine) - three of them down to Richard. Someone ought to tell him this is not what financial advisers usually mean by making a killing. Only a curmudgeon would point out the ways ITV cheated, so here goes: Emily didn't see Richard coming up behind her because the settee had been moved - she was sitting where they normally have breakfast. Maxine couldn't escape him because she ran towards a brick wall and not back towards the front door. And wasn't it lucky Ade's cap and trainers fitted so well?
Yet despite all that, it was a week when Corrie left DeadEnders choking in their dust. Steven Arnold was a revelation as Ashley, you really felt his grief. And Prunella Gee excelled playing distraught Doreen without make-up. Even if she did look like a stray Bodyworks exhibit. All Ashley has to remember Maxine by now is someone else's son and his own live-in mother-in-law... Was this the best ever Corrie? Of course not. That was the Deirdre love-triangle. Richard isn't even their nastiest villain. That was Jez Quigley. ITV mustn't forget that Corrie's core strength is character comedy. The Ogdens are our all-time favourites. But a little melodrama never hurts. Especially when there's an outside chance that Gail could still cop it.
HOW can Gail live under the same roof as that evil satanic swine and not know there's something wrong with him? Make allowances, David is her son.
Few tears at Tracy's big leaving bash
19 January 2003 by Carole Malone
AFTER the longest, most tedious, most drawn-out storyline in the history of Coronation Street, Richard Hillman did what we've all been wanting to do for years - and clobbered Maxine Peacock with a crowbar. And was it worth waiting for? Was it worth the months of suspense and leering TV ads where only someone who'd had a lobotomy (well he is married to Gail) wouldn't have sussed Hillman's mind was on murder?
Everyone in that hammy scene - Maxine, Ashley, Fred Elliot, and Maxine's mum Doreen, turned in performances that wouldn't have been acceptable at the local am dram. Maxine, sharp as a tack, sees Richard with a crowbar in his hand, standing over a bloodied Emily and asks, "What are you doing Richard?" Ashley, looking like one of his dead carcasses, obviously thought he was still down the butchers shop, judging by how much of Maxine's blood he managed to smear on himself. Doreen, who could only manage a scream in a voice that sounded like a cat being castrated with a rusty knife, kept babbling, "My baby, my only baby". While Fred Elliot's emotional contribution to the massacre was, "Don't touch anything, I say, don't touch anything."
I suspect the truth is that not even the meagre acting talents of the cast could mask their delight at finally getting shot of Tracy Shaw.
Corrie killer pays tribute to victim Maxine - at her funeral
19 January 2003
Coronation Street serial killer Richard Hillman delivers a moving tribute to his latest victim Maxine Healey - at her funeral. The callous conman steps in to give a speech at the church to stand in for the late crimper's father, Derek. And viewers will be left wondering, during a moving double bill on January 27, whether Hillman (actor Brian Capron) is about to confess all.
The brutal businessman, who beat Maxine (Tracy Shaw) to death with a crowbar when she got in the way of his plan to bump off Emily Bishop, begins to lose his grip over the next few days. And he will leave fans on tenterhooks when he tells mourners: "Ladies and gentlemen, I have a confession."
Maxine's family and husband Ashley mingle with Hillman at the funeral, unaware he is the source of their misery. " It's a bizarre and surreal situation where the man who murdered her is seen talking about what a wonderful woman, wife and mother she was," said a spokeswoman for the show. But during the service Audrey - who was herself almost a victim - and Norris begin to wonder whether Hillman might actually be the killer.
The gripping storyline has been a huge boost for the ITV1 soap, drawing its
biggest audience for a year.
Maxine's death left actress
18 January 2003
Former Coronation Street actress Tracy Shaw has revealed that three different versions of her final scene were filmed. Seventeen million people watched her character Maxine Peacock being murdered by Richard Hillman (Brian Capron).
Tracy revealed that Maxine's unexpected demise left her in tears. But she says her final days on the soap were a bit of a let-down. She added: "Leaving was a bit of an anti-climax. I'd started feeling slightly detached from everyone for a few months, a bit like an outsider. Plus, my last weeks were on a closed set as we did my final scenes in three different ways, so no one - including me - knew what would be used. " Until last Monday I didn't know what was going to happen. It was freaky."
She says she broke down when she cleared out her dressing room on her last
day. But Tracy, who is 30 in July, says she knew it was the right time to move
on. She told Daily Mirror's The Look magazine that she won't miss the public
interest that comes with being a soap star. Tracy added: "I didn't go
into Corrie to be famous, but that's what happened. I was a gift to the papers
because I was a bit of a Bambi, I did everything I shouldn't have done." But
Tracy says she has developed a thicker skin and is looking forward to her stage
role in the Blue Room, which involves stripping off.
Tricky Dicky hailed as top
16 January 2003
Jubilant bosses at Granada have hailed Tricky Dicky Hillman as one of the the best soap baddies of all time. Storylines featuring the evil killer have rescued Coronation Street from the doldrums and helped it deliver a Christmas ratings coup. Certainly the Street has not produced such a compulsively watchable baddie since Alan Bradley was knocked over and killed by a tram on Blackpool Promenade in 1989. Producer Kieron Roberts said: "I don't think any other soap has such a great villain.".
The tense storylines continue in coming episodes as Richard, played by Brian Capron, has to deliver a funeral oration to the woman he murdered, Maxine Peacock, who was played by Tracy Shaw. Richard is convulsed by anxiety when his wife Gail (Helen Worth) offers Emily Bishop (Eileen Derbyshire) a lift to the church. He attacked Emily before turning on Maxine and fears she may recall that he is the real culprit.
At the funeral Maxine's dad Derek is too upset to give the address and Richard
has to step in. After the service mother-in-law Audrey Roberts (Sue Nicholls)
confronts Richard and accuses him of being the killer, but he convinces other
mourners that she is mentally unstable.
by Danielle Cable role
15 January 2003 by Jonathan Donald
Actress Joanne Froggatt has spoken of the massive challenge she faced playing Danielle Cable - who witnessed her fiance being murdered by Kenneth Noye. Froggatt, 21, plays her in new ITV1 drama Danielle Cable: Eyewitness.
The ex-Corrie star, who finished filming last month, said: "It's her story of the event and what followed. " It's been such a challenge playing a real person - even more so because of what she has been through."
Cable was just 17 when she witnessed her fiance Stephen Cameron being stabbed
to death by Noye on the M25 Swanley junction in 1996. Noye fled to Spain but
was imprisoned after Cable flew there to identify him and was the trial's key
witness. Cable, who's had input in the drama, now lives under a different identity
in the witness protection programme.
Dastardly Dick horrified
15 January 2003 by Jonathan Donald
Corrie's Brian Capron - who plays evil Richard Hillman - has spoken of the revulsion he felt filming the killing of Maxine and bludgeoning of Emily. " The final bit when I crawled up behind Emily (Eileen Derbyshire) was horrible," he said. " We had three crowbars for the scene and I chose the heavy one. And when I crawled up behind her, Eileen ducked and I whacked the sofa. " I saw Eileen with some brain showing and I thought 'this is horrible'."
The scene was toned down by Corrie bosses at the last minute, revealed Capron. The actor told This Morning: "They re-edited the scene on Friday night because they didn't want to make it too brutal. " Originally I gave her four blows but they cut it to one. I think the balance was good."
The two episodes broadcast on Monday were watched by an audience of 17m, the show's best audience for two years. They were seen by a peak of 17m - 60% of all viewers at the time - trouncing regional documentaries and Airport on BBC1.
A Corrie spokeswoman said: "Tricky Dicky not only killed off Maxine but
he killed off the opposition. Corrie is back to number one where it belongs.
We're delighted." Rival soap EastEnders - shown between Corrie's episodes
- drew 14.6m viewers.
love evil TV
15 January 2003 by Nicola Methven, TV Editor
IN the most gruesome scene in Coronation Street's 42-year history, poor Maxine Peacock was clobbered to death with a crowbar. And 17 million viewers were gripped by every gory moment in Monday's double episode.
Serial killer Richard Hillman, played to perfection by Brian Capron, had struck again - and landed another ratings blow for the veteran soap in the process. But what is it about Hillman and all the other twisted, evil men who infest our favourite series that has us glued to our sets? The answer is simple: as a nation, we love to hate. Sure, we love to laugh and be kept in suspense as well, but there's nothing quite so unifying as some good old-fashioned fury. In fact, it seems that a rotten rogue is the most crucial element for a soap's success. At any one time, all the soaps have at least one baddie on the go - whether it's an angry Mitchell brother, a philandering Mike Baldwin or Tricky Dicky. And they are getting nastier all the time.
All the greats, from Den Watts to JR Ewing to Nick Cotton, have had us shouting at our TV sets - and you can guarantee that around half of the rest of the population are doing the same. Which spells bumper ratings. EastEnders revelled in the soaring viewing figures last year when Phil Mitchell was shot after he'd terrorised so many characters that the list of would-be murderers was seemingly endless. And who can forget the other classic baddies: Trevor Jordache and Barry Grant in Brookside, Alan Bradley and Mike Baldwin in Corrie, Trevor Morgan in EastEnders, Graham Clark in Emmerdale? They are always at the centre of the major plots. And there has to be a reason why we find them so riveting.
John Altman, who still reappears from time to time to spread mayhem in Albert Square as nasty Nick Cotton, thinks it's in our genes. " I think it's something that has been inherent in human beings for hundreds of years," he says. " In the past, if there was a hanging at Marble Arch, a couple of thousand people would turn up to see the bad highwayman meet his end. " It's the mixture of voyeurism and a fascination with evil - which is in all of us. It's just the way we are. You've got to have the dark side in soap. It counteracts the love stories. It's basic drama, really - all the same themes as Shakespeare used, in a modern cloak. " Sometimes the baddies have a bit of charm about them. I think with Nick Cotton there was a bit of black humour. He was so awful that it became funny sometimes. " The viewers enjoy it, it makes a good talking point and it creates huge excitement."
Capron, who will bow out of Corrie after finally getting his comeuppance in the spring, credits Hillman's success as a character on his ability to mix badness with banter. He says: "What I love about Richard more than anything is the dark humour they put around the character, like when he mutters: 'Where there's a will, there's a way.'" But before the character was established as a rising baddie, Capron felt lost. " I felt really cheesy and uncomfortable when I started, I thought: 'I don't belong on this programme at all,'" he says. "For a while I didn't know who Richard was." But as soon as we made some progress in the relationship with Gail, and then I went over to the dark side, I felt happier. " I decided to make him very cool, very quiet and very calculating. I hate it when villains on television overact. " It's been a fantastic year and a half - I've loved playing TV's most hated villain. I've done four year's worth of storylines in one year."
Naturally, there is a down-side to being soap's man of the moment. Capron admits: "I'm not one of these actors who takes everything home with him, but I have woken up with nightmares and it does impinge on me. " Richard is the most disturbing character I've ever played, though I was once a murderer in Taggart who got beaten up for two days."
Coronation Street producer Kieran Roberts has been involved in the incarnation of many a bad guy, but says there's never been one better than Hillman. " Richard is the first proper serial killer," he enthuses. "He is the biggest, best, most incredible soap villain. " There is a strange, perverse delight in watching a baddie do his absolute worst, and it has the added bonus of making the viewers realise how much they love and care about some of the other characters. " I'd taken Emily Bishop for granted as a viewer for many years, and suddenly, in the past few months, I care about her enormously now that I've seen her under threat. A good baddie has that effect on other characters. " Richard's success comes down to three things. " The first is his rounded character - he is driven by a need to make things right for the family and he has a huge fear of failure. " He will stop at nothing to provide a secure future for Gail and his new family, and so we understand what lies behind his rash actions. " The second is that his behaviour has a huge effect on some of the characters who have been around for years - Gail, Audrey, Emily and Ashley, to name a few. " He is at the centre of a story that touches almost everyone in the community. " Third, the story has been building up over many months. We've not rushed it, it's been 11 months in the making and it's by no means finished yet." Now Roberts is already preparing for Tricky Dicky's demise. He says: "You like to think that at any stage in your cast you've got two or three apprentice baddies. Now Richard will meet his comeuppance and we'll be looking to see who can fill his shoes."
Some viewers complain that there are too many disturbing storylines gripping
the soaps - a charge which seems ludicrous considering so many of us love to
watch them. But TV-land would be a poorer place if we'd never seen Den forcing
the divorce papers on Angie on Christmas Day or Alan Bradley's mental torture
of Rita. Without the baddies driving the shows they would be boring. Maybe
the characters would live in nicer places, but they'd be damned dull to watch.
Roberts has an answer for those who moan about the number of angry soap storylines. " We
get complaints from some viewers asking why there has to be so much conflict," he
says. "I understand their point of view, but actually without it there
is no drama." Quite.
Street's killer draws 17 million
14 January 2003
An audience of 17 million tuned in to see Coronation Street killer Richard Hillman claim his latest victim. They watched him bludgeon hairdresser Maxine Peacock to death in last night's gripping second instalment of the ITV1 soap. The 8.30pm episode drew a peak audience of 17 million and an average of 15.6 million, according to unofficial overnight figures.
There was a huge power surge across Britain fans got up to make cups of tea after it finished. A surge measuring 1,500 mega-watts swept the nation. A spokesman for the National Grid said: "Obviously, there was a huge audience, which meant at the end of the programme people were getting up, turning lights on, going to the toilet, opening fridge doors and boiling kettles. " There was a surge of demand for power for anything between three to four minutes to seven to eight minutes. It's that concentrated period when a programme finishes and millions of people around the country go and do something else other than watching Coronation Street." But it was not enough to eclipse EastEnders, which managed to generate a power surge of 2,600 mega-watts at the end of the "Who shot Phil Mitchell?" storyline last year.
The first Corrie episode at 7.30pm, which ended with Maxine stumbling in on
Richard attacking Emily Bishop, had 16 million viewers at its peak and an average
of 15.3 million. It was the highest audience for Coronation Street since January
2001, when 15.6 million saw Deirdre tell Mike Baldwin he had a secret son.
Meanwhile EastEnders, which was sandwiched between the two Coronation Street
episodes, drew a peak 14.6 million viewers and an average of 13.7 million.
A Coronation Street spokeswoman said: "We are delighted with the figures.
Tricky Dickie has killed off the opposition." The highest-rated Coronation
Street episode ever was at Christmas 1986 when 26 million tuned in to see Hilda
Ogden leave Weatherfield.
Ashley under suspicion as street's serial killer strikes again
13 January 2003
Grieving Ashley Peacock becomes the prime suspect in the murder of his wife Maxine after she fell victim to Coronation Street serial killer Richard Hillman. Richard bludgeoned Maxine to death in Monday's double episode of the soap after she stumbled in on him attacking Emily Bishop.
Ashley came home minutes later to find Maxine lying dead on the floor in a pool of blood. But when police arrived at the scene to find a blood-soaked Ashley cradling his wife's lifeless body, he was arrested and led away in handcuffs. Viewers will see him being interrogated by detectives who suspect he is responsible for Maxine's murder. His ordeal only comes to an end when police transfer their attentions to bad boy Aidan Critchley, who Richard has framed for the murder.
The scheming conman slipped out of a party at the Rovers to bump off Emily as she was babysitting for Ashley and Maxine's young son Josh. Disguised in clothes he had stolen from Aidan, he broke into the house and sneaked up on Emily from behind before beating her around the head with a crowbar. But before he could escape, hairdresser Maxine came home to check on Josh - and met the same grisly fate. Richard then ransacked the house to make it look like a break-in and dumped a bagful of stolen goods in the empty shop which Aidan has turned into a squat.
The killer, played by Brian Capron, is eventually rumbled by wife Gail and
goes on the run, sparking the biggest manhunt in the Street's history.
Power surge after murder on the street
14 January 2003
The Coronation Street serial killing double bill generated a huge power surge across Britain. As millions of viewers watched the latest murder by serial killer Richard Hillman a surge measuring 1,500 mega-watts swept the nation.
A spokesman for the National Grid said: "Obviously, there was a huge audience which meant at the end of the programme people were getting up, turning lights on, going to the toilet, opening fridge doors and boiling kettles. " There was a surge of demand for power for anything between three to four minutes to seven to eight minutes." But it was not enough to beat EastEnders, which managed to generate a power surge of 2,600 mega-watts at the end of the "Who shot Phil Mitchell" storyline last year.
Grieving Ashley Peacock was led away by police as the prime suspect in the murder of his wife Maxine after she became the latest victim to die at the hands of serial killer Richard Hillman. Richard bludgeoned Maxine to death after she stumbled in on him attacking Emily Bishop. Ashley came home minutes later to find Maxine lying dead on the floor in a pool of blood. But when police arrived to find a blood-soaked Ashley cradling his wife's lifeless body, he was arrested and led away in handcuffs.
In the next episode, viewers will see a distraught Ashley being interrogated
by detectives who suspect he is responsible for Maxine's murder. His ordeal
only comes to an end when police transfer their attentions to Aidan Critchley,
who Richard has framed for the murder. The killer, played by Brian Capron,
is eventually rumbled by wife Gail and goes on the run, sparking the biggest
manhunt in the Street's history.
gets the choc of her life
14 January 2003, "ShelleyVision" column
Storylines involving crime haven't exactly been Coronation Street's forte recently. The Toyah Battersby rape and the "have-a-go-grannies" car-jacking were widely derided as sorry attempts to take on EastEnders at its own game. Richard's attack on Emily Bishop and Maxine last night though was terrific. Maxine was murdered for a start (hurrah!) while Emily won't be getting up to anything interesting for a bit - though when did she ever?
The B-Movie double bill opened with the declaration that the attacks were going to be sponsored by Cadbury: "Real chocolate. Real feelings" not to mention "The chocolate for real murderers." " Hello!!" Emily waved cheerfully to Richard, in a way that made you want to murder her yourself. " I'm sure you'll get your reward in heaven," he purred, fondling a bottle of Malibu and diazepam - a bottle, like all other alcohol in soaps, he presumably bought over the counter of his local pub.
Richard later nipped out of The Rovers to polish off Auntie Emily about as discreetly as Anthony Perkins going into the shower - committing the murder(s) disguised as Liam Gallagher in Ade's baseball cap and parka. It may be hard to believe that Richard could have sneaked away from Gail, who has the eyes of a hawk (and the rest of its face too when it comes down to it) and has committed the perfect murder several times now. But this only illustrates why the Richard Hillman storyline has been so successful: realism didn't come into it.
Tricky Dicky has crept around the Street snapping on his leather gloves and rubbing his hands fiendishly with all the subtlety of Dick Dastardly. Belting Emily with a crowbar and giving a wide-eyed stare to rival the Boston Strangler, it was all Richard could do to resist howling at the moon and cackling. Unluckily for her (but luckily for us), Maxine walked in on the crime scene and met with the same fate, though sadly not with the sound that resounded when Richard walloped his ex-wife with a shovel. (CLANGGGG!) Having bludgeoned Maxine's brains in (or what passed for her brains), the next shot cut to meat being chopped up. Subtle. No wonder that, back at The Rovers, they were all celebrating. (OK, so it was several minor characters' birthday too.)
Maxine has contributed little to Coronation Street except a lot of pink. So as Doreen blew out the candles on her 50th birthday cake, Richard snuffed out at least one of Corrie's most familiar, but least popular, characters - one half of probably the least convincing couple in soap - leaving poor Josh to be raised single-handedly by a Smurf. Ashley knelt on the living- room floor poetically cradling Maxine's head, like a squeaky version of Othello. Lying there lifelessly, a final, blood-shot of Maxine's back capped what was possibly the finest performance of Tracy Shaw's over-long, over-paid career. Doreen took it all rather well I thought - so perhaps she was glad to be rid of her too.
Emily appeared to sleep all the way through it. Either that or she was dead. With the vitality of her performances lately, it was not surprising no one could tell. The police arrived and with typical insight arrested Ashley - presumably thinking he was some sort of crazed psycho who had been on the chloroform or helium a la Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet. " He's smeared in blood," PC Emma explained, "and not making any sense..." Well that's Ashley for you.
Let's hope they throw away the key. Richard, one feels, must stay in Coronation
Street for as long as possible. His work there is not done. For one tantalising
moment yesterday for instance, placing a necklace round Gail's neck, he had
the perfect chance to THROTTLE her, heroically resisting the voices in his
head and chants from the viewers alike to "KILLLLLL HER!!!" Come
on Richard. You know you want to.
Corrie killer has no regrets
14 January 2003 by Derek Robins
Brian Capron, who plays Corrie serial killer Richard Hillman, says he'll have no regrets when the hugely popular character is killed off in the spring. The 53-year-old, who's played him for 18 months, says: "It's been a great experience as an actor and finding out how you cope with fame. " I always wanted him to go out with a bang and I said I only wanted to play him for one-and-a-half to two years. It was a difficult decision but you cannot flog a storyline to death."
Hillman, aka Capron, will die in the spring, but the actor has no worries about being typecast. He says: "I was a jobbing actor for years before Corrie came along, and I run a company which, ironically, arranges murder-mystery weekends with my partner Jacqueline Bucknell. " So I will keep busy. I don't need the money but I love acting and I will probably do theatre in the middle of nowhere."
Missing his girlfriend and son is one of the main reasons why Capron has few regrets about leaving Corrie. For the past 18 months he has spent much of his time filming the soap in Manchester while his partner - who stars in ads for Flash - and their son Louis, six, have been at home in Brighton. He says: "I have missed them a lot as filming schedules for my character Richard's plots have been relentless since last Easter."
Capron is modest about his part in Corrie's revival in the last year. His plots as the scheming killer have seen the ITV1 soap overtake EastEnders in the ratings. He says: "It was perceived that Corrie was in a slump when I joined but I don't think it's going to flop after I leave. " The writing has been fabulous and that is going to continue with other characters. We have come back so strong and it's a good show which will win awards."
The actor says he persuaded Corrie producers not to make Hillman too much of an evil killer. He says: "There was an idea that he should hit Gail's son David but I told them that he shouldn't be all bad. He has a ruthless, schizo side but he cares for his family. " He is menacing, almost like someone from a Victorian melodrama, but he is very real. He has a very dark side, he's cold and caluclating but he is a three-dimensional character."
Capron has revealed that he's had a chilling letter about a real-life Richard Hillman. He says: "It was about how a guy, who is now in jail, drugged his wife so she started to forget things. While she was asleep he'd burn her fingers with cigarettes and she thought she was mad. It sounds just like Richard. " Richard's like the Yorkshire Ripper in a way as Gail doesn't know what he is really like - and neither did Sonia Sutcliffe."
The serial killer will go to pieces in the next month, says Capron. Already responsible for the deaths of Duggie and his ex-wife, Richard will crack up after claiming his third victim and confess all to wife Gail. He says: "He will break down in the street and vanish after he receives £23,000 and realises he didn't have to kill again. I don't know how he is going to die but maybe he'll save someone and then perish. I hope so."
Capron says he will be remembered as the Corrie killer for the rest of his
days. Previously, he was best known as dishy Grange Hill woodwork teacher Mr
Hopwood, who he played for three years. He said: "He (Hillman) is definitely
the most successful character I've ever played. " The recognition has
been crazy as I have been spotted even in Mauritius and Italy. People are nice.
But it is bad being stuck in a long queue."
murderer Richard goes on the run as he admits brutal past to duped wife
13 January 2003 by Frances Traynor, TV Editor
THE biggest manhunt in British TV soap history will be launched next month when Coronation Street serial killer Richard Hillman goes on the run. Tonight, viewers will see dastardly Dick butcher his THIRD victim in less than a year when he bludgeons hairdresser Maxine Peacock to death. Richard then frames runaway teenager Ade Critchley for the crime in one of the most shocking plots in the Street's 42-year history.
But it all begins to unravel for soap's worst serial killer when he confesses all to wife Gail next month. Actor Brian Capron, who plays the sick killer, said: "He has had a good run, but even he can't keep going until he's wiped out most of Weatherfield." In a special two-handed episode to be screened next month, unsuspecting Gail will finally learn the truth about the husband she adores. Crippled by guilt after committing the most needless crime of his murderous spree, conman financial advisor Richard will admit that:
He robbed business partner Duggie Ferguson and left him to die in the building they were renovating.
He battered ex-wife Patricia to death with a shovel and buried her under the foundations of the flats he owns.
He tried to drive mother-in-law Audrey mad, then set fire to her house in the hope of inheriting £250,000.
He tried - and failed - to kill Emily Bishop three times to get his hands on her house and save his business from going under.
He killed Maxine when she was in the wrong place at the wrong time, then framed Ade for the murder.
Brian said: "Richard starts to fall apart after the latest murder because he realises it was totally unnecessary. " One of his elderly clients had died and left him enough money to get the bank manager off his back. But the client's family were too late in letting him know. " The guilt is too much for him. " I have to say that if viewers think the murder is shocking, the aftermath is even more dramatic."
As a shocked Gail comes to terms with the awful truth and realises she may become victim No.4, Richard goes on the run, sparking that manhunt. Brian said: "For the last year, this has been a relentless storyline and the writers have never let up. " I always wanted Richard to go out with a bang and that's exactly what will happen. " He's the nicest schizophrenic, serial-killing family man on telly. And I've loved every minute of playing him " But I always said that I would only want to be in the Street for a couple of years. This will work out perfectly for me."
It's been a rollercoaster ride in Weatherfield for both Brian and the sinister but charming killer he has brought memorably to life. In just over 18 months, he has met and wooed divorcee Gail Platt, conned several residents into handing over their life savings to him and, of course, embarked on a murderous spree unprecedented in British soap history. American soaps have often featured outlandish characters who commit dreadful crimes and get away scot-free. For the first time a home-grown soap has done the same, but there's no chance of villainous Richard Hillman avoiding the long arm of justice.
Exactly how and when he gets his comeuppance is still in some scriptwriter's mind, but Brian has his own preference. He laughed: "I'd love to see him die as a flawed hero - maybe saving David from the canal, but losing all his limbs in the process. " As far as I'm concerned, he has to die and I'd love him to go out in a blaze of glory."
Before that, Richard has to deal with the aftermath of tonight's bloodbath. Having discovered that bad-boy Ade is sleeping rough in Sally's old hardware store, he has set the youngster up to be the fall guy. In Richard's warped mind, it's simply payback time after the teenager went joyriding in Ken Barlow's car, crashed it and left his step- daughter Sarah unconscious in the wreckage.
After mum-in-law Audrey cottoned on to his evil plan, he had switched his murderous intentions to Emily, whose house he will inherit. But all his plans were foiled and Brian said: "Emily has more lives than a cat. She's a hardy old soul." While Emily's luck is in tonight, Maxine's is not. As the Street residents come to terms with her brutal death, no one suspects caring Richard. But he struggles to hold himself together and that prompts the confession to Gail. Even that isn't enough to stop Richard plotting even more deaths as he becomes increasingly desperate - and unhinged.
Brian admits playing Richard has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He said: "For a start, I'm a southerner, so I never ever saw myself acting in Coronation Street. " I thought if I did appear in a soap, it would be EastEnders. " But this has been a joy from the very start. I had no idea what they had in mind for this guy at the start - all I knew was that he was a bit of a conman. " Then the production team changed on Corrie about a year ago and they came up with this storyline. " I told them that the story can't ease off as we build up to Richard's exit and it certainly hasn't. " Yes, it's been hard work - I seem to have been at the centre of everything - but it's been incredibly rewarding."
Tonight's episode was being edited up until the last minute. Adding to the suspense, a planned press screening was cancelled on Friday because producers still hadn't completed putting together the shocking scenes. But fans won't see the end of Richard Hillman - and Brian - for a few months. Then the actor who was previously best known for being a heart-throb teacher in Grange Hill plans to take a well-deserved break. He said: "I only wanted to be in the Street for a couple of years because my family are based down south. " I may go back to theatre, which is my first love - I don't know, I'm not thinking that far ahead. " Right now I'm concentrating on making Richard's last few months as dramatic as the last 12."
Coronation Street, tonight, ITV, 7.30pm & 8.30pm.
Evil Richard kills again
13 January 2003
Coronation Street's serial killer is set to spark a massive manhunt after his wife Gail rumbles his murder spree and confronts him in a showdown.
Richard Hillman is set to leave the show in a climactic finale in the coming weeks. Brian Capron, who plays the evil charmer, says he wants to see the character killed off for good. He said: "I would like him to die. I don't want to draw it out. At the end of last summer I had a chat about where the character was going. " I said I don't ever want there ever to be a situation where people go 'he used to be really good that Richard'. I don't ever want to let it slip."
Richard is to be seen covering his tracks by framing Aidan Critchley for his latest death, which he thinks will help him get his hands on desperately needed cash. Show bosses have done their utmost to keep a lid on the victim's identity, although viewers know he hopes to bump off Emily Bishop to get his hands on her home under a business deal. However someone else - possibly Maxine or Toyah - may get in his way. He slips unnoticed from a party at the Rovers Return to commit his crime, returning just minutes later hoping fellow drinkers will provide him with an alibi.
Capron said: "This is Richard's first really premeditated, calculated
killing. He's very clever, he really thinks it through. It's pretty gruesome." After
the killing he is filled with horror and goes to pieces. And in a cruel twist
of fate, Hillman will find he need not even have carried out his evil get-rich-quick
scheme as another of his clients has already died, leaving him with a fortune.
Ex-Street star to appear nude
13 January 2003
Ex-Coronation Street star Tracy Shaw is getting ready to set male pulses racing in a stage role made famous by Nicole Kidman. She will be stripping off on stage at the Millennium Forum in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, during a week-long run of the Blue Room in March. Tracy says she won't balk at her first nude scenes in the show.
The play is an adaptation by David Hare of Arthur Schnitzler's notorious erotic masterpiece, La Ronde, which follows a chain of sexual encounters. When La Ronde was premiered in Germany in 1921 the play was closed down by the police and the actors arrested and put on trial.
The play, which also stars Jason Connery, runs from Monday March 24 to Saturday March 29.
Corrie Brian confesses: I was a killer on Taggart
12 January 2003 by Billy Sloan
A CHILL ran down my spine as I looked into the cold, steely eyes of the Coronation Street killer. At least I lived to tell the tale... which is more than can be said for one doomed regular of the Rovers Return. Tomorrow night, evil serial killer Richard Hillman claims his next victim. Luckily, it wasn't me but in one of the most shocking episodes in Corrie's 42- year history, he bumps off another resident of TV's most famous street.
Richard is brilliantly played by actor Brian Capron and when we met outside the Rovers, he had a shock revelation. " It's not the first time I've killed in a television drama," he said, with that infamous twisted smile. "I played murderer Andrew Donaldson in Taggart two years ago. " I killed a woman and later, when her husband found out, he attacked me. He beat me to an absolute pulp. " It took us two days to film the bloody scenes and was the most complicated and choreographed fight sequence I've ever seen. It was worth it, though, because it was the best beating I've ever had."
In tomorrow's Corrie double episodes, Richard slips away from a joint birthday party at the Rovers and claims his third victim. He has already slain his ex-wife Patricia, whacking her with a spade and burying her body in the foundations of his new flats development. He also has the blood of business partner Duggie Ferguson on his hands. During an argument between the pair, Duggie suffered a fall at a building site. Richard left him for dead when he could have gone for help and saved his life.
So what was it like filming tomorrow's shocking murder scenes? " Quite horrible really because I had to psyche myself up for the killing. I like to make it as real as I can," admitted Brian. " When Richard killed Patricia that was a spur of the moment thing. This is his first cold and calculated murder. " He's so desperate to find the money to save his business from going bust. That's how he justifies his actions to himself. He thinks he's pulled off the perfect murder."
In a cracking Corrie plot twist, Richard tries to frame teenage hooligan Ade Critchley for the killing. Ade's been sleeping rough in Sally Webster's old hardware shop and Richard knocks him out with drugged booze. He then puts on Ade's trainers and coat and heads for his prey. Later, he returns the clothes and makes sure Ade's fingerprints are on the murder weapon.
Thankfully, off-screen Brian, 55, is nothing like his fiendish Corrie alter ego. " It's been terrific playing the man Corrie fans love to hate," he said. "As a killer, Richard is more interesting than most because he does have a softer side. " I felt it was crucial to make his family life totally believable but when Richard switches to his dark side he shows a ruthless streak. " He sees these murders as his way of protecting the future of his family."
Brian's first major TV role was when he played dishy teacher Mr Hopwood in the BBC school soap Grange Hill in the 1980s. He first appeared in The Street in 1981 as Donald Worthington - the social worker who arranged for Sharon Gaskell to be fostered by Len and Rita Fairclough. When Brian is not filming on the Corrie set he lives in Brighton with actress Jacqueline Bucknell, his partner for 12 years, and their son, Louis, six. Previously, he was married to actress Janet Legg and they have two grown- up daughters, Lucy and Ellie.
In 2001, Brian rejoined the Corrie cast as suave accountant Richard Hillman. Back then he had no idea his character would have such an evil streak. He said: "When they came up with the idea of Richard hitting Patricia with a spade I thought, `The viewers are going to hate me for this.' " I think Corrie fans know that Richard will one day get his comeuppance."
Brian hasn't watched his latest murder yet. Like millions of Corrie fans,
he'll sit down tomorrow night and see it for the first time. The killer is
set to continue causing mayhem in Corrie until Spring. So, if Richard Hillman
were to meet a grisly end himself what would be his favourite method of death? " I'd
like Richard to die a flawed hero," said Brian. "It'd be great if
he drowns in a whirlpool saving David Platt."
Samia so tarty
12 January 2003
GORGEOUS SAMIA GHADIE says her tarty outfits in the soap have upset her dad. The 20-year-old (left) who plays barmaid Maria Sutherland says: "My dad doesn't like them. I look like a hooker. But it's fun being bad."
back? by Gary Bushell
DEAR lord, what has Leslie Ash done to her lips? When she popped up on Miserybeat, you expected her first words to be: "Tonight, Matthew, I'm going to be Ivy Tilsley."
Street's Richard tries to frame
12 January 2003
Sinister Richard Hilman, played by Brian Capron, tries to get away with murder by framing Aidan Critchley. Richard will use the joint birthday celebrations of Todd Grimshaw (Bruno Langley) and Doreen Heavey (Prunella Gee) as cover. As the pub gets busier, he slips away unnoticed to set about staging what looks like a bungled robbery.
He plants evidence to implicate Ade (Dean Ashton) and then sneaks back into
the pub to join the friends and neighbours of the person he has just murdered.
Richard is relieved when Ade is taken away for questioning by the police. Richard
hopes nobody will ever discover the real killer.
Life sentence for Corrie actor attacker
10 January 2003
The man who stabbed Coronation Street actor John Savident in the neck has been jailed for life. Michael Smith was sentenced to seven years, last September, for the attack on Savident but has now been sentenced to life at Manchester Crown Court for two other violent robberies while on the run. The court had heard how Smith had gone on the run in June 2001, when due to go on trial at Manchester Crown Court for the attack on Savident - who plays the character Fred Elliot.
Smith ended up in Birmingham, where he persuaded 27-year-old Nazreen Aktah to let him stay at her flat. The court heard he attacked her, tied her up with her own clothes and bundled her into a cupboard. Leaving her gagged and with music turned up, he took her cash card and withdrew £200 from her account. He returned to the flat to cut her free, took the shreds of clothes and left Birmingham.
Then in March last year, he and a 16-year-old accomplice held John McGiffin and Alison Heywood at knifepoint in an attempt to steal their car in Middleton, Greater Manchester. Smith sped away with his teenage victims still inside the car, but crashed into a central reservation before pulling Miss Heywood from the vehicle and pushing her down an embankment. He was arrested as he tried to escape. His accomplice, now 17, later pleaded guilty to two counts of kidnap, one count of aggravated taking without consent and one charge of assault with intent to rob.
Smith entered identical pleas on the first day of his trial last November.
In December, he was convicted of false imprisonment, robbery and theft relating
to the attack in Birmingham. Jailing him for life, Judge Gerard Humphries recommended
Smith should serve at least seven years before being considered for parole.
His accomplice, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was jailed for three
Sparks set to fly on the Street
9 January 2003
Coronation Street's Sunita Parekh is set to start tongues wagging when she ends up in bed with her best friend's biggest enemy. Sunita falls for Ciaron McCarthy's charms when he asks her to help him patch up his friendship with old mate Peter Barlow, according to the Daily Star. The two fell out when McCarthy, played by former Boyzone star Keith Duffy, attempted to seduce Peter's fiance Shelley Unwin.
Sunita was none too happy about Ciaron trying it on with her best friend, and rages on at the randy rogue for coming between Peter and Shelley's relationship again. But Ciaron convinces her he only wants to make things right between himself, Peter and Shelley - and finally ends up enjoying a night of passion with Sunita. The story doesn't end there, however, because guess who catches the pair in a compromising embrace? Yes, none other than Shelley herself.
Watch out as sparks start to fly!
Richard is no match for mum
9 January 2003 by Oliver Holt, Chief Sports Reporter
PLAYING Corrie's Emily Bishop has been a lifetime of drama for actress Eileen Derbyshire. Her devoted son, Mirror Chief Sports Writer Oliver Holt, has seen it all. And here he explains why he can live with the latest threat to his "brilliant mum":
The last time there was a death in the family, it was the mock sympathy that almost drove me to murder. I was a shy teenager back in 1977 when Ernie Bishop caught a bullet in the wages snatch at Baldwin's. It didn't bother me much because I'd always slightly resented the sight of a moustachioed geek fussing around my mum on the telly every Monday and Wednesday.
But for some of the kids at my school in Macclesfield, quite naturally the whole thing was just too good to be true. " So sorry about your dad," they'd say. "It must be terrible for you. Have they got the guys who did it yet?" There was more, of course. "When's the funeral? Can we send flowers? How's your mum bearing up?" If anything, it was more surreal for my dad who was working in a garage in Stockport at the time. " I saw your wife's husband get shot last night," one of the customers told him the day after the night before.
Now, of course, the Grim Reaper's sniffing around the place again but because of everything that's gone before, I feel much better equipped to deal with the trauma of it all. I mean, since the day when Ernie went to meet his maker, it's not as if everything has been sweetness and light in my surrogate household. In the interim, my mum married a bigamist, had a thing with a dodgy vicar and then looked as if she was going stark raving mad. After all that, I can take a demented serial killer like Richard Hillman snooping about and making his sinister faces in my stride.
I haven't been able to follow the story all the way through this time because watching sport for a living doesn't really fit in with soap addiction. But we all watched the Christmas Day episode together and it was funny to see my four-year-old daughter goggle-eyed in amazement when her grandma popped up on the screen. She still runs out of the room in terror during Beauty and the Beast but she sat there transfixed when Richard approached the sleeping Emily with his pillow that night. She couldn't quite get her head round the fact that it was grandma on the screen. She kept turning to my mum and saying: "That lady looks like you."
This time, instead of the mickey-taking, friends have been asking me with genuine concern on their faces whether it's true that my mum's leaving the Street after all these years. It doesn't reflect very well on me as a journalist, but I can tell them honestly I'm always the last to know. She doesn't tell me what's going to happen and I don't ask. I only know what I read in the papers myself because my mum keeps her lips sealed. No exceptions. Not even the 90-year-old woman who was almost beside herself with anxiety when she came round for lunch recently. "You'll have to wait and see," mum said.
In that way, and in many others, my mum is one of the last of a dying breed of old-fashioned actresses who do it for the love of acting, not for all the attendant publicity. I think she's given one interview in the last 20 years. She never goes to any of the Coronation Street parties. In fact, she never goes to parties at all. On Monday, because of the demands of the Emily-Richard storyline, she was up at 4am and not back home until 7pm. The same yesterday. And it will be the same today.
And if once I felt faintly embarrassed by what she did, now I only feel overwhelming
pride at all the pleasure she's brought people in five decades on Coronation
Street. She's a model professional, somebody who's never let anybody down in
her life. And, most important of all for me, she's always been a brilliant
mum. It's only a hunch, but for what it's worth, my guess is that it would
take more than Richard with his mad eyes to keep Emily down for long.
Corrie doc's bid to grab baby
8 January 2003
Corrie's Matt Ramsden is to return to the Street in a bid to seek custody of Maxine's baby. His arrival means that Maxine's husband Ashley Peacock, played by Stephen Arnold, is plunged into a heartbreaking battle to keep baby Joshua.
Dirty doctor Matt (Stephen Beckett) believes he may be Joshua's dad as he had an affair with Maxine - and a DNA test would be the only way to prove who is the baby's real father, the Daily Star reports. " Ashley's world has collapsed," a Street source told the Daily Star. " He thought the episode of Dr Ramsden's sordid fling with his wife was well and truly behind him after Matt left the area. It returns to haunt him and there's a terrific amount of heartache in store."
The insider told the newspaper: "Ashley doesn't suspect anything when he gets a call from him. " But it's not long before Matt mentions Joshua and starts talking about child access rights. It's then that Ashley has to face the music and prepare to fight tooth and nail to keep his little boy."
Ashley will tell his on-screen dad Fred Elliott (John Savident) all about the
affair and Fred will hire a lawyer to help him, the newspaper reports. "
Ashley knows a DNA test - something he has always resisted - could put him out
of his misery."
Street star found love behind
6 January 2003
Coronation Street star Vicky Entwistle, who plays Janice Battersby, has spoken of how she fell in love with a member of the soap's crew. She married props man Andy Chapman in front of 185 guests at Manchester Town Hall after a two-year romance.
Ms Entwistle told the Daily Express that she fell for Mr Chapman after a clairvoyant told her she would find her partner on the soap's set. Mr Chapman said it all began when a scene went wrong. He told the paper: "There was a scene where some money was dropped on the floor. It wasn't going right so I went over to help pick up the money and I just looked into Vicky's eyes and thought, "This is the girl I'm going to marry'."
Ms Entwistle said she was feeling vulnerable because she had split up with her fiance. She added: "I'd also been to see a clairvoyant because I'd had my confidence knocked out of me and I didn't feel very attractive. Not long afterwards the clairvoyant rang me up and said: `Have you met him yet?" I said no and then she added: `The person you are meant to be with is right under your nose. He is not in the cast but he works on the Coronation Street set with you'. So when this thing with the money happened, I thought to myself, `It's you'."
At first, the couple tried to keep the relationship secret because they worked
together. Ms Entwistle added: "I don't know why we thought that people
would have a problem with it because once it was out in the open everyone was
really pleased for us."
Corrie's Tracy is in great sheik
5 January 2003
SOAP babe Tracy Shaw pharoah looks good as she soaks up the sun in an itsy-bitsy cheque bikini in Egypt. And newly-redhaired Tracy, 29 - Corrie's Maxine Peacock - looked so sand-tastic that a desert tribesman offered to exchange her for 40 CAMELS. The sexy star, who's been staying near Premier Tony Blair and his family in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh, covered up when she visited the ancient Sphinx with husband Robert Ashworth. But that didn't stop the tribesman opening bids in a bizarre auction. Fellow-Brit tourist John Davis, of Manchester, said: "He was very animated and pointed a lot at Tracy. The guide, translating, said the man wanted her for his wife and was prepared to offer 40 camels. Robert and Tracy were laughing, but they soon realised he was deadly serious and made their excuses and left."
After her Egyptian break, Tracy - whose Street character is expected to be killed by evil Richard Hillman - will appear nude in a six-month touring production of the hit stage play The Blue Room. We sphinx there will be no shortage of fans...
Corrie's Sally Webster - has banned her children Phoebe, seven, and Sam, five, from seeing her kiss other men on screen. She tells me: "It might upset them. Whenever Sally has a love scene, I switch over the TV."
Corrie's Jason Grimshaw - fancies appearing on the next Celebrity Mastermind. Ryan tells me: "My specialist subject would be Ken Barlow. He's had a really interesting time. I hope my character stays as long as Ken - and has an equally eventful lovelife!"
Street plot will be the death of me
5 January 2003 by Carole Malone
MUCH as I've loved Coronation Street's storyline of murderer Richard Hillman getting ready to pounce on his next victim while his idiot wife Gail keeps insisting what a brick he is (at least I think that's what she's saying) it's time Street bosses got a wiggle on with it.
It's one thing making the most of a good story but this plot is now being milked beyond belief - especially as every time Richard gets near the ridiculously unsuspecting Emily Bishop he leers menacingly at her and says stuff like: "I get the feeling everything is going to go to plan this year" and then smacks his lips like Hannibal Lecter. Someone needs to be done away with - and sharpish!
4 January 2003 by Thomas Quinn
WITH a wicked laugh, Coronation Street's Tracy Shaw reveals how much she is looking forward to taking her clothes off six days a week in her next role."It is a very intense piece and nothing like what we could have done in Coronation Street," she says. "There you are limited by being on TV and because it is pre-watershed."
She's right, of course. Even though her Corrie character hairdresser Maxine was once hilariously caught in the buff by her father- in-law-to-be Fred Elliott, she would never have been allowed to show quite as much flesh as the heroine of the stage play The Blue Room. It's the play that is famous for all the wrong reasons as its technical and artistic merits were overlooked in the headlines created by Nicole Kidman baring more than just her soul during its London run.
Now Tracy, 29, has stepped into the Hollywood star's role, and can expect to come under close critical scrutiny when she steps out on stage opposite Sean Connery's son Jason when the show begins its UK tour next month. She will be playing the roles of 15 sex-obsessed women and taking her clothes off six days a week, including twice on Fridays when there is a matinee. The play arrives in Edinburgh in April.
When she decided to quit Corrie, few expected Tracy's next move would be quite so bold - or so blue. The star - who dramatically bows out of Corrie on January 17 after seven years, is looking forward to the challenge. She said: "I suppose it will be daunting taking my clothes off for a live audience, especially when I'm up in Scotland where I've a lot of relatives who'll be in the theatre."But at least I've got my exercise video to see me through."
She is, of course, speaking about her second `Salsacise' tape, released just before Christmas. However, Tracy does admit to being nervous about stepping into the shoes of Australian beauty Nicole. She said: "I understand that I'm being compared to Nicole Kidman now, but then Jason will get compared to his father, Sean Connery, and the director on our production will be compared to Sam Mendes, who directed Nicole Kidman. So we've all got a lot to live up to. "When I read the script, I knew I just had to do it. The writing is just so good. "I never saw the Nicole Kidman production - and I'm really glad about that now. I want to be able to bring something new to the role and just do it my way. "It's about playing lots of different characters so, instead of Cockneys and Americans, as she did, I want to do some northern characters."
Crucial to her performance will be her relationships with two men in particular - her co-star Jason and her real-life husband Robert Ashworth. She added: "So far I've only spoken to Jason on the phone, but he sounds really nice. And we've discussed what we are going to be doing. "But while we are away on tour, it will mean we'll be eating together, working together, staying in the same hotels, so we'll really have to trust each other, too."
SHE added: "I think we'll get on well. We'll both be missing our homes a lot - he's got kids, and I've got Robert and our dog and cat, so it will be hard for both of us. "I just really hope his dad is able to come and see the play when we are in Edinburgh. I'd love to meet him."
Tracy has come a long way since she joined The Street in 1995 when she was 23. She admitted recently that the money and celebrity the soap gave her went to her head. While engaged to Darren Day, she indulged in a cocaine lifestyle that damaged her health and threatened to reignite her problems with anorexia. But now she insists all that is behind her and that she's now grown up.
Although The Blue Room promises to reveal all there is of Tracy, her fans will still be disappointed that they will be seeing a lot less of her on television. She added: "I'll be 30 next summer and I figured that if I didn't leave Coronation Street now, then I never would. I left at a point when ITV weren't commissioning very much, but they do still want me to remain under their umbrella. "I've been talking to them about two dramas which I might do later in the year. "But I felt I needed to get away for a while and do something different that would give me a bit of a solid grounding when it came to drama. The Blue Room is ideal that way."
Tracy won't reveal much about her exit from the soap, but it's
believed Maxine will be brutally murdered by Tricky Dicky Hillman when she walks
in on him attempting to kill Emily Bishop. Tracy will admit however that she's
delighted with the fact her exit looks like being one of Coronation Street's
most memorable. She added: "It is a cracking episode. We actually made
a number of alternatives, and the set was closed to keep it as close a secret
as possible, and then they chose the one they liked the best. "I haven't
even seen it yet - though I think most people can guess the way it is going
right now. "I'm just really pleased that after seven years I'm not just
driving off in a cab, looking back at the Rovers Return out of the back window.
I think that would be a terrible way to go."
Jennifer's fit New Year
1 January 2003 by Derek Robins
Actress Jennifer James has started a new chapter in her life since turning her back on Corrie in September. Jennifer, 24, who played Rovers Return barmaid Geena Gregory for almost three years, has no regrets about leaving.
The karate black belt has just released new fitness video Jennifer James - Get Fit Quick. Theatre and TV projects are in the pipeline for 2003 and a film with husband Lee Boardman, alias Corrie villain Jez, is also possible. The star says last autumn was the right time for her to quit the soap. "By the end it was time to move on as I want to do other things. It was a joint decision as the makers decided they'd written her into a corner. "I had got sick of saying '£1.50 love' every time I served up a pint in the background."
Jennifer has fond memories of her time at Corrie. It was on the set that she met and fell for husband Lee Boardman - he played murderous baddie Jez Quigley. The couple wed in May 2001after a whirlwind romance and they live happily in Cheshire. She says: "I can't believe how fast it's been since it all happened for us. He is such a lovely guy, he even cooked our Christmas turkey!" The actress says it would take a "very special storyline" to make her return to Corrie.
She bowed out when her character Geena was cheated on, first by love rat Dev, and then new boyfriend Joe who cruelly dumped her. She says: "Geena left with guns blazing so it would have to be very good to make me return. I would never say never again. One thing I want to do this year is a film my husband Lee is writing. That would be great."
Jennifer James says she is living proof that her fitness video Get Fit Quick works. Jennifer, who is a trim size 10 to 12, reckons she lost seven pounds following its routines. It was filmed in October with exercise expert and former Gladiator Suzanne Cox. She says: "I've tried other fitness videos such as one by Cher but the routines were too long. It is quite hard to do the same thing over and over and again. I hope my video has a lot of variety for people." Jennifer says the video is aimed at busy people who want short exercise regimes to get in shape.
The actress, a karate black belt since she was 16, adds: "I have included moves from karate, dancing, aerobics and kick boxing which I love. "It's for mums and people who do not have much time to exercise or go to the gym. It has 70 minutes of 10 minute routines so you can choose how long you want to do."
Jennifer can't believe that she is still often recognised after she bowed
out from Corrie. "Fans have been very kind to me, saying they've missed
me from the Rovers, but the attention can be quite full on. "It's been
mainly in Manchester and it happens even more when I'm with Jez, unless we've
got caps on."