One of the most rewarding and interesting aspects of interviewing any actor for me, is gaining an insight into how they approach their craft. It was therefore a joy to chat with Kerri Quinn, who plays Vicky Jefferies, at Coronation Street studios in Manchester on behalf of the Coronation Street Blog. Those not wishing to encounter any spoilers may wish to look away now.
As we know, Kerri’s character Vicky is pregnant with Robert Preston’s baby, and along with his fiancée Michelle Connor, continues to be a victim of his lies as he navigates his double life with surprising efficiency. With Robert failing to commit, and ex Jed back on the scene offering her a fresh start with him in Ireland, Vicky is weighing up her options, which isn’t going down well with the chef who wants to have his canapé and eat it.
To my mind, Vicky is one of the best characters to come on to the street in recent times. We first encountered her through a bullying storyline which involved her son Tyler harrassing Simon Barlow, and Vicky taking up employment at Underworld. She then reappeared months later on learning that Amy Barlow was pregnant, and Tyler was the father. We got to see more of this mouthy, headstrong, individual as a result, and her interaction with Tracy in particular was, and continues to be, a delight. It was in securing a short term job at the Bistro for Tyler that she came into contact with Robert. Months after her departure, I was as shocked as anyone to discover they had been having an affair, and that she was pregnant.
Kerri had no idea that her initial stint on the cobbles would result in a return visit with a big storyline. Her response when asked how she felt about it is a testament to her investment in her work. ‘It was mixed emotions,’ she replies, ‘because I’m team Robert and Michelle. I think they’re a great couple. But the actor in me was like, yes, brilliant. I was thrilled. I was ready for it as well. I really wanted the opportunity to make something of Vicky, because we’d seen her being boistrous and fighting and argumentative. So I really wanted to have a play with the character, and really tease out those nicer qualities, if she had any.’
Kerri has such a great handle on her character, and it shows when asked, in Vicky’s ideal world, what she wants. ‘I really don’t think Vicky would be a very demanding person to be with,’ she tells us. ‘Yes, she’s got her flaws. But what struck me about Vicky is she’s really, really lonely. She doesn’t have any friends. She doesn’t have any family. So the only people that she interacts with are Robert and Tyler. There’s stuff coming up where you do see that real vulnerable side of Vicky, where she has no one to talk to. I don’t think she wants the complete fairytale with the big house, I think she just wants someone to love her and to commit to her. And have that reassurance and the stability. She’s not a complicated person, she’s just a very damaged woman. That’s my take on it.’
His original appearance as a bully, and his initial treatment of Amy during the pregnancy storyline, didn’t exactly show Tyler to be an upstanding young kid. But his maturity when he and Amy had a heart to heart in the community garden showed a glimmer of hope for his character, and a recent award at the ‘Thug Oscars,’ in the words of his mother, is enough to demonstrate his potential. I asked Kerri if he proves to be a good support to Vicky in the coming months. ‘Tyler’s holding down a job, and you definitely get to see the change in him, which is interesting, because I was very precious about not creating two monsters that live together,’ she says. ‘It’s Tyler and Vicky against the world, and what I really wanted to see was how they behave with each other in their own home environment. They love each other, and if you fight with one you fight with both of them. So you do see this beautiful, endearing quality about Tyler. He adores his mother, and he would kill for her.’
Acknowledging that, given the nature of her character before now, Vicky is unlikely to be popular with the public, Kerri says, ‘I have a very difficult job which is to take someone who, when she came on the street, was incredibly unlikeable, and now try and find some humanity and common ground where people can go, alright, so she’s not all that, she’s got a heart, there’s a nice person in there somewhere. But I feel that needs to be justified, why she’s so damaged, why she’s so front footed, and I think this storyline with Jed will hopefully clarify a bit of that.’
Kerri adds, ‘She’s definitely got a chip on her shoulder. We’ve seen her ponytail and her leggings and loads of make up. I think that’s her armour, as in, I’m not to be messed with. But I think in there is a sweet girl who’s really just looking for an opportunity for a good man to love her.’
Being a big fan of the character, I noted Vicky’s really strong start. ‘Someone like that is good,’ Kerri tells me. ‘Especially with the fights and the factory. You need someone like that. But she also needs to have likeable qualities if you want to have longevity. You can’t just have someone there who’s going to punch the head off someone every day for no reason. It needs to be justified. I think hopefully this storyline will redeem her a bit.’
Kylie Platt and Becky Grainger are examples of two characters who had tough, abrasive starts, but who revealed softer qualities that led to them remaining on the street. Asked if she feels there might be this potential for Vicky, Kerri says, ‘Yeah, I do. I think the difficulty there is how, because she has no links to the street. Nobody really likes her. She has no friends. She’s been sacked. So it’s how you do it. I think that’s maybe why this storyline, when you see someone in a very vulnerable position and being screwed over by Robert, it does leave it open to people maybe having a wee bit more empathy for her. Again, that’s it being justified. So yeah, I would like to think that they could bring her in for a longer period.’
In revealing that Vicky’s ex, and Tyler’s father, Jed, left her for someone else, Kerri is confident that her character would do the right thing by Michelle if she knew that Robert was still with her. This doesn’t mean, however, that Robert would get off lightly if the truth came out. ‘Vicky and Michelle are both quite strong, fiery women,’ Kerri says. ‘I would be terrified if I was Robert. But I also feel really sorry for him because you’re just going, be honest, just come clean and it probably will fix itself.’
While she thinks it would be lovely if Michelle and Vicky were to come together in the event they find out about one another, Kerri is conscious that the show will likely go for what makes the best drama. ‘Vicky’s pregnant, so I suppose killing each other’s not really an option,’ she says, adding, ‘And we still don’t know. Nothing’s set in stone, so I don’t know how it’s going to play out.’
What we do know is that Tristan Gemmill who plays Robert, and Kym Marsh who plays Michelle, are leaving the show, but what this will mean for Vicky is anyone’s guess at the moment. We did have some fun speculating and teasing out some possibilities that might give Vicky the link to the street which would allow her to remain – a job at the Bistro while bringing up the future heir? Stirring things up back at Underworld? A love interest? At the suggestion that she could end up living happily ever after with Robert, Kerri acknowledges that would mean her departure from the show. In the event that was to happen, however, her response is a pragmatic one. ‘I would just have to embrace the exposure of the storyline and go, cheers, thank you so much, and hope that it opens up other doors. At this moment in time, I’m going at the end of the storyline, and whatever happens beyond that will be a bonus. But I’d love to stay.’ This writer would love to see that too.
Thankfully, Vicky won’t be going anywhere for the moment. We’re told that in the coming days, there will be a bust up between Robert and Jed, and she decides to set out for Weatherfield to confront Michelle. But it’s not clear if she’ll manage to go through with her plan. In the event that Michelle was to find out about Robert’s betrayal, Kerri is asked if she would like Vicky to be the one to break the news. ‘I would love to be that person,’ she says. ‘But for me, I feel a bit like I have to protect Vicky, because she’s already got a bit of a bad rep. So if Vicky was the person to do that, I think it would have to be like taking one for the team, and saying, I’m really sorry, I have to sit you down and tell you this; I don’t think it should be the two of them ripping each other’s heads off. I think it’s more interesting to see a common ground. And that would work better for my character, because then you would see a different side of Vicky, where she says, I’m so sorry I didn’t know about you, I’m trying to do the right thing.’
Kerri, who is commuting from Belfast to Manchester for the role, is clearly a passionate, committed actor, and I ask her what has motivated her across her career. ‘I’m a real homebird,’ she tells me, ‘and I’ve done theatre for years and years. I chose to stay in Belfast because I wanted to. And I just felt like I was a bit of a late starter to explore other elements of acting, like TV and film.’ She continues, ‘I had to get a bit proactive. So this is a new venture for me. It’s early days in the whole TV thing. I just want to keep trucking and make new relationships further afield from Ireland, so that’s what I’m trying to do.’ And I wish her every success with it.
Interesting, funny, engaging, insightful – I could go on about Kerri, and her positive, enthusiastic attitude towards her role, craft and career. I love the character of Vicky and what Kerri has brought to it, and I too really hope that Corrie find a way to keep her in the show. No matter what storylines would come her way, there is no doubt that she would continue to bring something special to our screens, whatever the drama might entail.