The Barlow family is about to get bigger to the tune of one grandson and a son in the forms of Adam Barlow and Daniel Osbourne. I travelled to Manchester to hear all about what’s to come, and am delighted to bring you a trio of interviews with Rob Mallard, Sam Robertson and producer Kate Oates.
Here, I chat to Rob who will be playing Daniel to find out what it’s like to be joining Coronation Street and what might lie ahead for his character, as well as gaining some additional insights into the return of Ken’s son from Kate Oates.
It has been nine years since we last saw Daniel when Ken went to visit him and his mother Denise. Kate explains that, up to now, he has continued to live with his Mum but, like his nephew Adam, returns to see Ken after his stroke. However, there maybe other reasons why both boys are back.
So what is Daniel like? “In true Ken fashion, Daniel is a student, he’s an academic” Kate explains, “so he’s still at university”. With regard to who he’s likely to get involved with on the street, she reveals, “Daniel has yet to get to know Peter and Tracy and even his father really, you know, he’s never had these relationships before, so he’s building all of those from scratch. Daniel is a bit more shy [than Adam] I think, and we will be growing some nice relationships for him as time goes on, but I might keep those a secret.”
I asked Kate how Tracy was likely to receive him. “She thinks that Daniel’s really weird and really nerdy and really bookish” she told me, “and like a mini-Ken, which she doesn’t think is necessarily a good thing”.
Kate remained tight lipped on whether there were any plans to bring his Mum Denise back. “You’ll have to keep watching” she grinned before making reference to actress Denise Black’s role in Emmerdale adding “She’ll be bringing Zack Dingle with her and you’ll be really confused, and no one will know what’s happening. It’s that soap cross-over that everyone’s always saying we’re going to do. Jamie/Denise.” Kate is certainly a witty woman with a wry smile and a good sense of humour, and interviews with her are engaging.
So, was Rob nervous about joining an iconic soap family like the Barlows? “Yeah, very nervous, but excited at the same time because the audition process (with Chris Gascoyne) was so enjoyable, it was a lot of fun, that it didn’t seem like something that I thought ‘I’d love to get this, but I won’t ever want to have to be responsible for joining in with that family, or anything’. I really wanted to do it.” He continues, “So, yes, I am nervous about it, but more excited.”
Rob appeared in three episodes of Emmerdale last year, which gave him a flavour for working on soap. “They were the first sort of consistent blocks that I’d done on something and I was working with someone like John Bowe, for example, who was great.” Kate adds, “He was working with a director called Tracy Rooney at the time and I was obviously working on Emmerdale at the time, and when we were in the viewings Tracy said to me, ‘watch him, and if you don’t cast him in something, someone else will’. So she spotted you first” she told Rob, “she was always a champion of him, really enjoyed working with him obviously.”
Considering Rob will go from being relatively unknown to appearing in front of an audience of millions, has he received any tips on coping with the recognition and stardom that comes with that? “Yes,” he confirms, “Chris took me out for a drink and I basically just got to see how he handled it. I don’t know whether it’s one of those things – I think everyone probably does it and responds differently to it. I don’t know, I mean this is new for me, I’m still anonymous, so I have been thinking about it.” Asked if Chris had many people coming up to him when they were out, Rob confirms, “Yeah, but I mean, all nice people just recognising him and saying ‘I love watching the show, can I have a picture?’ He’s just really courteous about it.”
Rob studied drama in Birmingham and graduated in 2014, but is originally from Oldham. His family are very excited and proud to see him joining Corrie, particularly his 89 year old Grandma who has watched from the first episode, never misses it and always told him that’s what he should be going for. Rob himself has always watched the programme and has viewed some back episodes in taking on the role.
We’re told that Daniel’s main interest on his return is his relationship with his Dad which puts paid to the possibility of any immediate love interest for the character. Rob explains, “I think it feels important that Daniel is single for a while. Because of his history, there are certain points in development where he would be stuck, it would be a bottleneck, so it’s important from those positions that he’s not got an eye on the field for that kind of thing.”
This interview took place at the same time as those concerning my David’s entrapment in the Bistro cellar. For a bit of fun, the people at Corrie brought us to Breakout Manchester where small groups of us were locked in rooms and had an hour to escape. I was on Rob’s team, and we had a great afternoon trying to figure our way out of a Madchester themed room. While David Platt had more success in rather more dramatic circumstances, it was lots of fun. As I did at the time, I’d like to again wish Rob the very best of luck as he embarks on this new role, and I look forward to seeing the Barlow dynasty come to fruition.
This interview was conducted in Manchester on behalf of the Coronation Street Blog.