Fiz is back! Yes, Friday’s Corrie (2 March) saw her arrive on the cobbles after an extended spell taking care of ill Mum, Cilla. While Jennie McAlpine makes her return to our screens after a triumphant stint in the I’m a Celebrity jungle, things are set to be less euphoric for her character. I travelled to ITV in Manchester to interview Jennie for the Coronation Street Blog. Those who don’t wish to read any spoilers should look away now.
Before she left, we saw Fiz concerned over behaviour on the part of one of the children, Ruby. But, her problems are about to get a whole lot worse when she learns that not only is it Hope who is the troublemaker, but that Tyrone has cheated on her with none other than Gemma Winter.
Confessing to being sad at the discovery of her on screen partner’s infidelity, Jennie offers some insight as to why Tyrone might have chosen to sleep with Gemma. “Fiz hasn’t been here and Tyrone’s had two – one of them quite unruly – children to cope with. Sean’s been here, and Gemma has been a real help to him, that’s what he says. So yeah, I think she’s been a shoulder to cry on and, well, you know the rest.” She adds, laughing, “Why am I making excuses for him?”
So, how does Fiz feel? “Absolutely devastated” says Jennie. “They’ve been through so much; Fiz says that, and we have quite a lot of scenes where we talk about what we went through to be together. She saw Tyrone at his most vulnerable with the Kirsty storyline and we got through that and she kind of thought they were a bit unbreakable really and, it’s not the case.”
With Fiz not a character you want to encounter scorned, Jennie says, “In absolute Coronation Street tradition, she hates Gemma even more than she hates Tyrone.” She then reveals “There’s a cat fight with a difference.” We do love a good Corrie cat fight. So, can we expect an Eileen versus Gail, an Eva versus Maria…? Not wishing to reveal too much, Jennie says, “It’s a new one. One that’s not happened before, I don’t think, on Coronation Street. It’s in two locations. It spills from one to another. It ends up on the street.” Adding that it was fun to film, she says “we had to put a bit of light and shade into it didn’t we, with all the distress. It’s a bit of a daft one.”
We’re told of the existence of Team Fiz and Team Tyrone, but things look a bit scant on the Team Fiz front. “Quite a lot of people I spoke to have been quite sympathetic towards him” says Jennie. “Chesney is on my team. Rita’s disappointed in Gemma obviously.” Given how closely her brother works with Gemma, he can’t be happy with this development. “Chesney is furious.” Jennie reveals. “They’re close, they’re really good mates, they work together, Gemma’s really helped him through all his troubles with Sinead.” She also spoke of the possibility that Chesney might have had feelings for Gemma. “Fiz has been through her fair share of traumas” she acknowledges. “Chesney does step up and he becomes the big brother. He’s actually quite sensible in a lot of his advice to Fiz.”
I asked Jennie about Sean’s role given that he is living in their home, and she reveals that he’s involved in Fiz’s discovery. “They kind of come to the conclusion that it’s happened together. Between the two of them over a cup of tea at the kitchen table they work out that this has happened. So Sean knows before Tyrone knows that Fiz knows.” She adds, “So Sean’s Team Fiz but obviously Tyrone is his landlord so that’s tricky as well.”
So, what about the second discovery, that it is in fact Hope who is the troublemaking child and not Ruby?
“The two storylines go side by side, so obviously both are kind of heartbreaking, but they go into each other” says Jennie. “And when she finds out that it’s Hope, it’s after we know about his affair, so they’ve fallen out basically.” She continues, “Tyrone lied at the beginning when Fiz first came back. Tyrone said ‘no, Ruby’s not been doing anything, nothing’s been happening, everything’s been fine’. So, Fiz thinks, oh that’s good. Then she finds out that these things have been happening. Then we find out it actually wasn’t Ruby but Tyrone thinks it was. So yeah, in a couple of days, I mean it’s literally 48 hours, she finds out Tyrone has had this one night stand, and she finds out that Hope is pretty uncontrollable really.”
We’re told Fiz doesn’t initially tell Tyrone that it’s Hope, not Ruby as originally thought. “At first, there’s not much sorting out, no, which is not very nice” says Jennie. “She’s been trying to make Tyrone admit it about Ruby, and when it comes to Hope she doesn’t want to admit it.”
So, we’ll have to watch this space as to how this all plays out.
Speaking of her seventeen years on Coronation Street, Jennie says “that’s nothing compared to Bill Roache who’s been here 58 years, so I am a proper newcomer compared to that, I really am and I feel it, I know that sounds stupid, but I do. I think I’ve been in it now as long as Sally and Michael had been in it when I joined, which is bonkers. They were really famous when I got here.”
With regard to storylines she hasn’t yet done and ones she might like to do, she says “There’s loads I suppose. But there’s so much stuff I have done. I mean, I can never think of storylines because we have such great writers here that come up with brilliant characters and brilliant storylines.” Her favourite scenes are those which take place with the kids in her and Tyrone’s house.
Asked if she ever gets bored after so long on the Street, Jennie says, “No, because you get the chance to do so many different things within the one character. I got to go to the jungle. I do feel like I get to do other stuff and have my life.”
Speaking of her time in the jungle, Jennie talked about her hardest challenge being leaving her son, and how happy she was with the people she shared the experience with. “You don’t know who you’re going to get, you don’t know what they’re going to be like, but actually it was so harmonious, apart from a few silly arguments about strawberries” she says, adding “actually, overall, considering everyone was as hungry as they were, it was pretty calm. I was thrilled that there wasn’t loads of arguments, because I would’ve hated that, hated it.”
Finally, while we can’t be sure yet if Tyrone will be forgiven, Jennie wasn’t averse to the idea of a tit for tat love interest with the following jokingly accurate proviso – “We need someone new, nobody on the street, they’re all a bit damaged, don’t you think?”
Jennie is a genuine pleasure to chat with, and her lovely sense of humour made it enjoyable throughout.