Josh Tucker seems just the kind of bloke you’d like to have around. Affable, funny, cheeky and good company, he’s seldom without a group of enthusiastic hangers on, despite being new to the street. Of course, it helps that he has positioned himself at the centre of things with a job at the garage, and as the organiser of and trainer for Luke’s charity boxing match. Those who haven’t read the recent spoilers concerning Josh may wish to look away now.
As these previews have revealed, we know that he isn’t all that he seems, and it is through Josh and his relationship with David Platt that Coronation Street will cover the issue of male rape. Indeed, as next week’s previews show, it seems we’ll begin to see the real Josh.
I travelled to ITV in Manchester on behalf of the Coronation Street Blog for an interview with actor Ryan Clayton about the story to come, and to meet the man behind his character.
It was evident from the start of our conversation that Ryan fully believes in the importance of portraying this storyline, and spoke with conviction about how male rape is unrepresented. He spoke of the traits in Josh that we have yet to see, but which the character shares with other male rapists; we’re told he’s opportunistic, a manipulator, seeks to exert power and is a calculating and dangerous individual.
Ryan has spoken in detail about the storyline and character, and how both he and the writers worked with Survivors Manchester to understand and ensure a faithful representation. You can read all about that here, so I thought I’d focus this interview on getting to know the actor behind Josh.
The set of Roy’s Rolls was the venue for our interview, which seemed a perfect match for what was a friendly and enthusiastic chat over a cuppa. It has to be a daunting prospect, not just joining Coronation Street, but playing such a character. While Ryan seems to be savouring every moment as he takes it in his stride, he’s endearingly humble about it while at the same time deservedly confident about his ability to portray Josh.
On playing a bad guy, he says, “I’ve played a lot of villains, I think it’s something to do with my hair or my eyes, maybe, yeah. I seem to get cast in those roles” he laughs. “But they are really interesting sorts of people, and how they work and how they go about things.” He continues, “you can come into telly, and a lot of jobs, and you can go a long time before you’re playing these real interesting characters. A lot of the time you could just be playing yourself. So, to come into something like Coronation Street and play a really interesting, very complex guy is great.”
In terms of gaining insights from other villainous characters, Ryan says, “I think you’re always taking inspiration from villains. The way Connor plays Pat is absolutely brilliant.” He continues, “just not playing the comic book villain, and just playing it in a much more interesting way and trying to be as likeable as possible ‘cos that’s what’s going to mess with an audience’s head much more.”
While playing a villain clearly requires a departure from his own personality, the fact that he has been boxing since he was 11 year’s old makes that aspect of his characterisation easy at least. “I toured a play called Gypsy Queen before this and it was a boxing play” he says.
Ryan reveals how he is a fan of one Corrie writer in particular who we’re told has written the aftermath scenes. “I’ve always loved Jonathan Harvey who wrote those scenes, I’ve always been a big fan of him, and done his plays at drama school” he says. “One of my favourite plays is written by him called Guiding Star. So it felt very strange, ‘cos I was waiting to do a bit of Jonathan Harvey and then it happened to be those particular scenes, which was great.”
Ryan tells us how he auditioned for his first job the day after he finished drama school and found out he’d gotten it the very next day. While he’s mostly worked in theatre, he’s been interested in television since he started acting aged 17. Speaking of how he came to be an actor, he says “I was always good with impressions and accents and taking people off and being the class clown basically, and I was persuaded to do it. I was like, yeah, go on, I’ll have a crack and chose very different options when it came to college.” He continues, “I’m glad I did, definitely. And I think people who’ve taught me since then have helped me carry on this.”
He’s a fan of British film and drama and grew up around Coronation Street. He says, “I was only looking back at old videos from when we were younger the other day, at Christmas, and you can hear Coronation Street in the background. So, I think growing up a Mancunian, it feels right, it fitted.”
He cites Suranne Jones and Sarah Lancashire as former Corrie actors who are “great inspirations” to him in their career paths. He’s also inspired by John Simm and Stephen Graham, adding “I’m a big fan of This is England”.
In terms of possible negative Twitter reactions to his pending infamy, Ryan says while he’s aware nothing can prepare you for it, he’s anticipating it, whether it happens or not. “I’ll just accept it, and it’s fine” he says. “I guess it’s just nice to know that they’re involved in it, and watching it and invested. I guess it shows I’m doing a good job, so if anything, it’s a compliment.” He adds, “I think the way that Connor deals with it is a great way, and he’s a great people person and as soon as you show your real side, then I think that’s the best way to deal with people.”
Asked if he is worried about being hassled in the street, he says, “that’s something I’ll take as it comes really, but it’s great to be telling something that is an important story that needs telling and is going to represent people.” Ryan related some fond and funny accounts of being recognised so far and said, “It’s nice, it’s lovely. Again, it’s just nice to see people so invested in the show.”
He’s received a very warm welcome from the people on Coronation Street too, and is genuinely appreciative of how they’ve made him feel part of it all. “It’s a lovely place to work. It is like a big family and everyone’s just really welcoming and has made me feel welcome.”
His family are delighted for him to be on Corrie, and being a City fan, we’re told he’s making a small dent in the red to blue ratio in the Corrie building.
Ryan saved the best laugh til last when, having given serious consideration to which of the cast he’s most excited to meet he told us, “I’ve just always loved Kirk. He’s mint isn’t he? Even though he’s a red. Kirk is definitely up there. My mate was like, ‘you’ve gotta get him out for a pint with us’. So, possibly Kirk.”
While Josh Tucker may not be a character designed to win fans, I can most definitely count myself as a fan of Ryan Clayton after our interview which was engaging, interesting, fun and rather lovely throughout.
This interview was conducted on behalf of the Coronation Street Blog.