One of the most interesting things about interviewing groups of Corrie cast members for the Coronation Street Blog is observing the relationships between them as actors. This week I was lucky enough to travel to Manchester for a chat with Ben Price, Jack P. Shepherd and Helen Worth about what lies ahead for the Platts.
It was the most natural thing to see Helen seated in the centre with on-screen sons Ben and Jack on either side as she declared “Well, may I say that my boys are brilliant” with a lovely broad smile and a twinkle in her eye. You can feel that there is a strong bond between them, and Helen is very definite when asked if she feels maternal towards them. “Yes of course I do, these are my boys” she smiles, “it’s family, it’s a unit, nothing and no one can come between the Platts.”
With David set to be locked in the Bistro cellar by his family in attempt to foil his suicidal revenge mission, Helen gives an insight into what the experience of filming on either side of a door in this purpose built set was like. “It did actually feel very special and we all remarked on the fact that we were talking through walls and yet focussing on each other. I knew where Jack was in the room, I knew where his eyes were, I could actually talk to him although it was through a wall.” Ben agreed, adding “it becomes a bit like radio, all you can do is listen to what that character is saying. You have to listen and you have to create something just from that, you’ve got nothing else visually to help the audience and that actually is really lovely.” Helen continues, “All the years that we’ve worked together hopefully come to fruition on scenes like that. There’s a kind of code, we know what we’re doing, we know what we’re thinking, and hopefully it works.”
With regard to Nick and David’s relationship, Ben notes “it’s not older brother and younger brother talking anymore. It is one man saying to another man, ‘you have children now, and that is where we are. And I love you, but you have children, so you can’t do this’.”
Helen is amused at having been the one to mastermind the scheme. “The brains of the family” she laughs, “As I’ve said, I can’t quite believe how I managed to persuade [Nick] and Sarah to actually do it with me. I mean, nobody said, ‘no Gail we can’t do this. No Mam, this is a really bad idea, let’s think of something else’.”
Jack has had a consistent run of emotionally charged scenes, and we’re told the ones to come will be similarly fraught. “Yeah, they were very emotional” he reveals. “The scenes in the cellar with me, Helen and Ben, they didn’t read that emotional when I first read them, but then, as Ben says, when you get in that environment, and you can’t see someone, then you do just have to listen to them. Yeah, they were nice.” With the direction and the script receiving high praise, Jack adds, “I think that’s the stuff that I really look for in episodes, just the dialogue between two actors really rather than, you know, stunts and things like that.”
Such was the intensity of his scenes in the build up to Kylie’s death that Jack found it hard to sleep or eat. He explains, “I’ve never taken it home before, I’ve always done the scenes then walked out of the building, and I’m fine. But with them scenes, it did affect me for about a week, which is a very very long time, for me anyway.” Explaining why, he continues, “Just because they were so harrowing and because, was it about two weeks we were filming them scenes? About a week?” Helen answers, “Yeah, and the particular scene on the street, the last one that you did, was for me one of the most amazing scenes I’d ever seen and I’ve been here a long time. Sometimes you can’t walk away from it, I mean, we do walk away from it all the time, but I think there occasionally are times when you can’t.”
Ben adds, “Jack has got to put himself in the place as an actor saying goodbye to a character, and saying goodbye to a friend. She leaves as a friend, she leaves him as a character, she dies. That’s a painful place to put yourself. You’re seeing a character emerge from a childhood where he had a wayward father, and didn’t get on with his mother and could kick back, but then things start to get a bit more harrowing, don’t they, you’ve got a wife, she’s stabbed, you’ve got kids – big stuff.”
We’re used to high drama, but we also have normality running alongside it and for Ben, this is the point of soap. “The family can go from extraordinary drama, extraordinary places, to coffee and some toast in the morning, and Audrey talking about the Renshaw twins” he explains. “That’s what people jump into, that’s what they love to see. And that’s the skill, that’s what you have to bridge.” This prompts Jack to burst out laughing at the mention of the Renshaw twins, followed by everyone else.
With Les Dennis due to depart the show, Gail is set to be alone once more. “I’m not sure they’re going to be able to cast anybody else because I don’t think anybody will do the job” she laughs, “I think I’ll just look after my boys, I think I’ll just live through them and stay in my annex.”
The possibility of David falling in love again is a source of one of the biggest laughs of the day when Jack declares “He should explore the street, I think”, and this proves very amusing to Ben Price. When we’ve all collected ourselves, we’re on to the subject of Peter versus Nick. Ben is looking forward to coming to inevitable blows with his arch-nemesis. “Yeah, can’t wait. I mean, it’s brilliant” he enthuses, “Chris comes back; obviously, I like Chris in real life, I hate Peter Barlow. And I don’t need to say anything. I just look at him, physically, and it’s like ‘argh’. That’s why the show works. The drama is set up. So, yeah it’s great, it’s fantastic, we’re so lucky to have Chris back.”
This was a very enjoyable interview, rife with laughter and insight, and all that remains now is for us to sit back and enjoy watching their performances in what promises to be another gripping week on Coronation Street.
Read more about David Platt’s revenge.
This interview was conducted on behalf of the Coronation Street Blog.