It’s a major time for Corrie viewers as Pat Phelan’s reign of terror is set to come to an end. But, whether he will lose his life or his liberty remains to be seen. One thing I can be certain of is that no departure for Pat would be complete without the involvement of Gary Windass. After all, he played a crucial part in Phelan’s opening story, having teamed up with Owen Armstrong to obtain money owed from the dodgy developer, only to pay dearly for their actions. I was therefore delighted to discover that, in next week’s crucial set of episodes, we’ll see Gary gear up to take on the man who destroyed his family and has, in the intervening years, proven himself capable of monstrous acts of villainy.
We met Mikey North, who plays Gary Windass, in Manchester to find out about this exciting storyline, what it’s like to play Gary, and to work alongside Connor McIntyre. Those not wishing to read any spoilers should look away now.
So, can we blame Gary for bringing Phelan back to the street then? “It’s always Gary’s fault because he is always getting into these scrapes!” Mikey says. “He does have a habit of causing mayhem, somehow. With the best will at heart, he does seem to mess up.” Might Mikey have any idea why he has this habit of getting into trouble? “He’s just a bit stupid probably!” he says, laughing. “It’s done for the right reasons, but I just don’t think he sees the consequences.”
Having all agreed that that there is indeed a pattern on that front, we wanted to know what Mikey could tell us about how it all unfolds. “He gets wind of the fact that Phelan might still be alive and he tracks him down to a caravan park in north Wales and he goes there with his friend Joe, from his army days, to drag him back.” Mikey explains.
We know that they do manage to bring Phelan back to Weatherfield where a hostage situation ensues, and Mikey describes how scary it was to be face-to-face with Connor McIntyre performing the role of Pat in those moments. “He’s scary enough and then when you put a gun in his hand it makes it ten times worse!” he says before praising Tina O’Brien for an amazing performance as Sarah. “The scene took about three days to film” he says. “It was quite intense and quite dark in there.” Viewers will have to tune in next week to see the outcome of the gripping action which unfolds.
Mikey had high praise for Connor when asked what the actor is like to work with, saying “He’s great. He’s an amazing actor. I suppose he has become one of the all time Corrie greats really.”
I asked Mikey if he could have envisaged just how huge all this would become when their characters first met in 2013. “Not at all. He came in for, like, two episodes to start with because Gary and Owen go and steal his motorbike and that was it really, and they must have seen something off those two episodes that made them think they would bring him back.” he says, adding, “some of my favourite times on the show were working with Ian and Connor at the mill. There were some really nice scenes there over a really cold winter, I remember. I learnt a lot from watching those two top actors together.”
Asked why this particular story has grabbed people so much, Mikey says “I think because he is just really believable as that character. He is genuinely the right person for that part. You could never see anyone else playing that role. He is so villainous in the way that he goes about it.”
Of course we have to ask if he would go to see Connor and Les Dennis in pantomime this Christmas. “I’ll have to, definitely. I can’t wait.” he enthuses.
Mikey has been on the show for ten years now, and I asked him what is his favourite thing about his character is. “I still like the ‘bad lad’ and doing all that sort of stuff and having fights” he grins. “I love doing fight scenes. I think I might be a fight director in another life!”
It is true, there’s nothing quite like a riled Gary Windass. He’s one of my favourite characters on the show, and as I said at the start, I am as glad as Mikey that Gary plays such a central role in these huge episodes. It was a pleasure chatting with him, and all that remains now is to tune in to see how it all plays out.
This interview was conducted on behalf of the Coronation Street Blog.