Coronation Street Weekly Updates

Coronation Street Weekly Updates

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Exclusive! Interview with Jayne Tunnicliffe (Coronation Street's Yana Lumb)
by Glenda Young


Q: Yana Lumb has become something of an unsung heroine of Coronation Street. She's the tart with a heart that we didn't see enough of. Why do you think Yana was so popular with fans?
I think perhaps because she was so rough and of course the brilliant writers gave her such funny lines to say. That combined with the awful tarty clothes, gobbiness and bird's nest hair made her the prototype Becky in some ways. Also Wendi Peters (Cilla Battersby-Brown) and I hit it off really well, and I think that came over on screen. We are genuinely friends in real life, and had such a laugh in between takes. Corrie has always had great comedy double acts and the scenes in the chippy in particular were always really fun to do. Imagine walking in there for a bag of chips and coming face to face with those two! Scary.


Q: Any plans to bring her back to Corrie?

Well none that I've heard of, but who knows? If new Producer Phil Collinson is a Yana fan perhaps he will resurrect her? I'd like her to come back with a husband. There was talk during the Tony Wood era of Yana and Diggory being the new Alf and Audrey. Gail's mum had a bit of a reputation in her early years. She was a bad mother and went out all the time, and Alf was a safe haven for her. I think that was the idea behind Yana and Diggory. At last a man who would look after her and treat her well. So a husband would be nice. If not Diggory, I always thought Vernon and Yana would make a very well suited 'naff rock n roll' kind of couple. Or maybe just a tattooed rough bloke who would terrorise the street like a human pit bull! She's the sort of bird who would appreciate a tough bloke who'd defend her honour. She did have a boyfriend called 'Big 'H' once, but he stood her up and was never seen on screen. Oh and Billy from Market Harborough, who was mentioned once but never seen. She was a busy girl!


Q: Was Yana based on anyone you knew (god help them!) and are there any similarities between yourself and Yana?

The character was created by Corrie writer Martin Allen, who named her after the large chested 1950s singer of the same name. From my point of view she wasn't based on anyone in particular. Just elements of a lot of working class women I've observed from my Bradford childhood: The Yorkshire bluntness, the sharp tongue and earthy humour.  The brittle front and vulnerability with men are classic Corrie women traits, so I suppose I was also influenced by Bet Lynch and Elsie Tanner. I'm afraid the image though was all my fault! I came up with Yana's signature 'look' at the audition stage. I went along to the casting wearing thigh boots, a mini skirt and a clingy pink top, with a very high up pony tail on the top of my head. I also stuck on a couple of temporary tattoos.  At the recall audition there were five other women there, and most of them were 'Cilla' types. I am six foot tall in heels, so I think visually, that helped me over the competition. The difference in heights meant that Wendi and I looked funny when standing together, like Hylda Baker and her sidekick Cynthia (for those of us who are old enough to remember!)


Q: You're a self-confessed Corrie fan and before you appeared as Yana you starred as different Coronation Street women from its past. How did being such a huge fan translate to acting on the cobbles?

Well, I mentioned that I grew up loving Elsie and Bet, but I also loved Hilda and Ena too, so I wanted to incorporate lots of elements of those classic Corrie women into Yana, scripts allowing of course. I would sometimes try and do little things with a nod to the past, like asking for a milk stout in the Rovers.  Yana's hairstyle in the early appearances was a direct reference to Bet's beehive. I always knew I wanted high hair on the cobbles, but with a noughties twist, hence the extra bits of plaits and feathers and colours added to the barnet. It was at times a work of art! Paul O'Grady and I are Bet Lynch devotees, and both Lily Savage and my stand up persona Mary Unfaithful were heavily based on Bet. She's got a lot to answer for. As a lifelong fan it's especially daunting when you are doing scenes in The Rovers because it's hard not to have flashbacks of all the famous scenes and characters that you've watched. When it's packed with all the cast and you have a line to say in there it does make you go a bit wobbly. The pressure!


Q: How long have you been watching Corrie?

All my life. The closing theme tune is still synonymous with bed time for me!


Q: Who are your favourite Corrie characters - and why?

Bet and Elsie for being tarts with hearts.  Hilda for her malapropisms, her singing and her nosiness.  Ena for being a battleaxe.  Mrs Walker for being a snob.   Ray Langton for being a womanising cad.  Len for being a firecracker. Roy and Hayley for being Roy and Hayley, and I love Audrey: I think Sue Nicholls is highly underrated as a comic actress in Corrie. Her delivery cracks me up. She's also lovely in real life. Her husband Mark Eden as Alan Bradley was also a great character. Tyrone is also underrated comedically. He's very physically funny. I also liked cheeky Dennis Tanner, and Elizabeth Bradley as Maud. I liked the way she would wheel into shot, deliver a stinging line to Reg and then wheel out of shot again.  I must of course finally mention lovely Maggie Jones as Blanche. She was hilarious, bless her, and will be missed. She was from Yorkshire too-see what I mean about the bluntness!


Q: And what have been your favourite Corrie storylines over the years?

Ken, Deirdre and Mike's love triangle. Uncle Albert Tatlock's tears were heartbreaking.  Any story with Hilda and Stan in it.  All of Alan Bradley's shenanigans.  Richard Hillman, obviously. (My husband was story editor during that period and it was a great era. He made me say that!) The earliest storyline I remember was when Val Barlow electrocuted herself. I was only about six years old and it stayed with me for a long time.


Q: What would be your fantasy future Coronation Street storyline?

Len Windass stops eating while he's talking. Dev speaks quietleeeee. Molly and Kevin stop doing the dirty on Sally and Tyrone. Yana comes back with Diggory and they are rich, due to her persuading him to make wheat-free bread, cakes and biscuits. He's had a Dragon's Den kind of success selling his wares to a supermarket chain, and so he and Yana are now suited and booted nouveau riche nightmares. She's the wind beneath his wings. She could even be a businesswoman herself and take over the chippy. Imagine that! 'Yana's Plaice' is what she'd call it.


Q: Your husband Mark is senior storyliner at Coronation Street. Did you meet him when you were working as Yana?  Do you have any script writing aspirations of your own?

Mark and I actually met in August 2005 when he was story editor and I was a potential storyliner. I came to a storylining workshop at Granada that he was running, and I was offered three week's work on the strength of the trial storylines I wrote. I'd previously done some storylining at Emmerdale, so I wasn't a complete beginner. Weirdly, at the same time I had just heard I'd got the part of Yana and so was in the strange position of filming one episode, and then working briefly as a storyliner. There aren't many actors who have also been at the writers conference. It was weird having a foot in both camps. Ultimately though my heart lay in acting, and when my first on screen appearance was well received, I just kept getting written back in. That one off booking ended up being a three year stint, on and off! I take my hat off to the writers, but I have the utmost admiration for the storyliners, who are the real unsung heroes of Corrie. It's a really tough job with long hours and lots of pressure.  Incidentally Mark left the show in May 2005 to be a scriptwriter on Family Affairs, and it was later that year that we got together. We got married two years later in Sydney. He has since written Hollyoaks and is now back in the thick of it at Corrie, where he belongs.


Q: Is there any behind-the-scenes gossip you can share with us from your time as Yana? What were your favourite memories from your time spent as Yana - and where on earth did they buy her clothes?!

Wendi and I would come down to the Green Room from make up and costume, looking like two badly painted exotic birds with skirts up here and chests out there, and Bradley Walsh would saunter in and say 'When are you two going to get into costume?'.  Very funny.  Also Bev Callard (Liz) used to scream with laughter and say 'You two make Liz look refined'. Liz Dawn was always highly amused by our outfits and one or two of the male cast members used to rather enjoy our appearances as well. Shorts skirts, high heels and very low squashy sofas don't make a good combination!


George Michael came to look around the set one day and I posed for a picture with him outside the Rovers. I wasn't sure he would know Yana so I said 'I work in the chippy you know' to him and he said 'Oh, don't worry, I know what YOU do'. It's very weird to think that famous people might know you! I have lots of happy memories of filming with the Battersbys, especially Cilla's wedding, and meeting Status Quo. Lots of laughs, and a real camaraderie in the green room and on set. The crew are great on Corrie, really hard working but with a cheeky sense of humour. I still have friends like Jude who works in costume. Honorable mentions should also go to my friends Ian Bevitt (Director) and (First A.D) John Folkard for being very amusing on set. John used to say into his radio 'Can we have the accomplished artistes on set... and the not so accomplished artistes on set.'  We hoped he wasn't talking about us!


In the early days, the clothes mostly came from me, with a bit of help from wardrobe. I used to trawl charity shops and Claire's accessories for Yana's gear. Cilla's wedding was all their work though! Different producers have different tastes, and so we were toned down towards the end, which wasn't as much fun. I like the campness and bling that goes into dressing up like Yana and Cilla.


Q: You've been a stand up comedian and comedy writer, an artist, and an actress. What's next for Jayne Tunnicliffe? Will we see you on TV again soon?

A: I really hope so. With my stand up and comedy writing background I would really love to be in a sitcom or a sketch show. I'm also a big fan of Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, Jimmy McGovern and Paul Abbott, so to be in anything written by them would be a dream. Shameless next, perhaps?


Q: Tell us three things about you that we may not know.

1. I can play the banjolele very well.

2. I used to be Production Secretary on 'Countdown' (the Whiteley and Vorderman years)

3. My earliest comedy mentor was Bob Monkhouse. I wouldn't have persisted in showbusiness had it not been for him.


You can follow Jayne Tunnicliffe on Twitter
And have a look at her jewellery design website here.


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