Coronation Street has hosted its fair share of guest appearances over the years, but the news that Jim Moir was to join the cast had me particularly excited.
Much like Corrie, Jim has been a constant in my life since I was a kid, having watched Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out, The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer and Shooting Stars growing up. House of Fools, co-written with Bob Mortimer, is a recent firm favourite of mine and I found his stand out performance in the role of George Bartholomew in Eric & Ernie to be sublime. In fact, Jim has a habit of popping up in many things I enjoy, such as Toast of London, The Life of Rock with Brian Pern, and now Coronation Street.
Bearing all that in mind, imagine you’re invited to ITV Studios in Manchester to interview Jim about his upcoming role as the mysterious Colin Callen. Then, imagine getting there, and realising that, before you interviewed him, you would be brought to the set of the Rovers Return for a hotpot and a Corrie themed table quiz, hosted by him. As I sat, pencil in hand, while he asked the nationality of Tracy Barlow’s donated kidney, I wondered if this was actually happening while somehow expecting nothing less surreal from my first encounter with Jim Moir.
Our knowledge of cobble-based marriages, murders and medical ailments firmly tested, we retired to the Bistro to hear all about Jim’s foray into the world of Coronation Street. The spoiler-averse among you should probably look away now.
One thing every Corrie fan wants to know when someone new arrives on the street is why they chose to join and what it means to them. “Cos I’ve been a big fan.” Jim tells us. “There’s only one programme that I’ve ever watched me whole life I think, and it’s Corrie. So it’s a great privilege.” He continues, “It’s a great institution and I’m in it. It’s just another part of my adventure in me life.”
With Corrie no stranger to cameos, it’s always interesting to know how they come about. Jim reveals it took about two and a half to three years to finally happen after he was asked initially by Stuart Blackburn at the TV Choice Awards, “he said would I ever consider being in Corrie and I said yeah, of course I would” he tells us. “Then he left and Kate took over and I got a sticker on me dressing room door at Hammersmith Odeon saying would I like to be in Corrie again, so I gave her a ring, and I said yes.” Jim feels genuinely privileged to have a profession where he can say, “that sounds like good fun, I’d like to do that.”
I asked Jim if it was surreal to be stepping out on to the cobbles as part of the show. “It’s great” he tells me. “I remember the first time I went to New York and I was thinking, ‘oh look, this is where they make films,’ and it’s like that when you see the street. I mean, I’ve been on the street before a few times, you know, scrounging my way in, but it is great to see that iconic street in real life.”
So how has the experience been for him so far? “Well I suppose when I first stepped on, it’s a bit like your first day at secondary school or big school, you know? Which a lot of kids will relate to right now, my two included” he explains. “I said to ‘em, ‘are you nervous going to your big school?’ and they said ‘no’, and I said when I went to my big school recently, Coronation Street, I was. But then all of a sudden it kind of disappears ‘cos everyone’s so nice, and you make friends pretty quick and it’s a great environment to be in.”
I asked Jim if learning his lines for soap is different to anything else he’s done because of the fast pace. “It’s a bit quicker than anything else, yeah. It’s kind of the same, but you don’t really run any lines with anyone so you just know all your lines and go in and do it, ‘cos it’s kind of like a factory” he tells me, adding “I find if I learn my lines about three weeks in advance it makes it easier to learn ‘em the night before ‘cos it all comes back to you.”
So, what of his character Colin Callen, the over enthusiastic, flamboyant organiser of the Mr & Mrs competition in which Norris and Mary are participating? We’re told that Colin may not be all that he seems, and while viewers might enjoy watching Colin, they may not necessarily like him, per se, and may even be somewhat suspicious of him. Larger than life, he apparently makes himself known on the cobbles.
“He had a string of newsagents which he lost when he got divorced and his wife turned them into a string of yoghurt shops” Jim reveals. “So, he works for NewsCo, which is an umbrella company for a lot of newsagents in the north-west and he wants to get his string of newsagents back.”
I asked Jim if Colin is a comedic or a dark character. “There’s a bit of both” he tells me, “there’s some very good comedy lines in it, but he’s a very odd character.” Could we compare him to any other Corrie characters past or present? “I don’t think you can, no” he says. “He’s a strange character, I can’t think of anyone who’s quite like him, so that’s a good thing.”
With regard to who Colin has appeared with on the street, Jim tells us, “I did me first scene with Roy last week, which is good, and I’ve got some more with him. I’ve got a good scene with him next week, I’m looking forward to that.” Based on what we know of both characters, so am I.
Asked if he’s had the opportunity to contribute any lines, Jim tells us, “I’ve not wanted to do anything with any of the lines because they’re so well written.” The field of movement, however, is another story. Genuine laughs abound at Jim’s account of a Nicholas Cage inspired, but self-learned, pointing technique, complete with demonstration. Viewers are assured that this does not restrict itself to hands and we can also look forward to some pointing of the foot in due course.
Meeting Jim was a genuine and absolute delight, and Colin sounds just the type of character I love to see on the street. What he’s up to is anyone’s guess, but I’m happy to sit back and enjoy whatever it might be, confident that watching Jim in the part will be a pleasure.