“PEOPLE come, people go. And the Street goes on.
“The Street is the star. That’s how it should be.”
One of the other real stars of the Coronation Street Trafford Wharf reveal was another national treasure – Sue Nicholls.
The actress who has played Audrey since 1979 gave countless interviews to the media on the day and kept smiling in the face of hundreds of questions.
Looking much younger than the 70th birthday she had celebrated just six days before.
As is the way at these events, I waited patiently to speak to Sue as she was interviewed by yet another TV crew.
After a few minutes I was joined by one or two other media colleagues also wanting a word.
And by the time Sue was free to talk I had been joined by around a dozen others.
Which makes the “exclusive” tag in a national newspaper today on a story about some of her quotes in this group interview rather surprising!
Good-humoured Sue was such good value and a joy to speak to on the day that I thought some would appreciate reading what she said in full.
So here’s my transcript of that interview with one lovely, classy lady who, yet again, did Coronation Street proud:
Q: (From me as it happens) You’ll have been asked this many times today: What are your feelings about leaving the old Quay Street set in Manchester and coming here to Trafford Wharf?
“I am sad to leave the old set and I will hold up my hand and say it, because it’s been part of my life and everybody’s life for a long time. I think it’s part of Manchester. But, having said that, this is fantastic and time moves on and you have to go with it and I’m very, very happy to go with it. But I have fond memories of where we are still at the minute and I always will have. You can’t take that away from me!” (laughs).
Q: There must be a lot of ghosts and memories in the old set?
“Yes, loads. And it is quite sad at the minute because everything has stopped, almost, apart from us – and we’re slowing down a bit. And it is quite sad when you walk through the building at Quay Street that there’s nothing going on now…it’s a bit like when you move house and when you’ve taken all the furniture out and everything is there…all those things…you can actually see it’s just a shell and therefore all the feeling and the fun and the warmth has been transposed to here. But it’s still got fond memories…for Manchester, really, because you have to remember all the shows that were done there. You’ll never forget that history because that’s there.”
Q: What was your initial reaction when you heard several years back that the Street was moving?
“I won’t say what I said! (laughter) You would have to edit it. And there’s a bit of me too, I’ll be honest…I only live at the minute a hop and a skip, literally, another street away from where we are. I’m not the best at getting up in the morning and I know I have now got to pull my socks well and truly up, and my tights, because I’m going to have to re-think the whole early morning programme. I just hope maybe they don’t put the Salon scenes on first. (laughter) But that’s one of the things. That’s a big thing in my life. But I’ve got to grow up and I have – age-wise I’ve grown up but not mentally. And I’ll have to face it and get in there and battle on.”
Q: How did you feel when you first walked on to this set?
“Well, we were all in a line like The Tiller Girls. It was lovely. It was bigger. It is wider. That’s lovely, it’ll look good. But it’s hell to walk on those cobbles. I don’t wear, like all our gorgeous girls wear these heels that are like stilts. How they manage I don’t know. I fall over ever in flats. So we’ve got now a hundred thousand more cobbles to get over. But apart from that I think it will look the same and it will be lovely. I can’t wait to see the inside of the sets which we haven’t seen today. I’ll be looking at that. That will be fun. And I’m very fond…me, me, me again, selfish, selfish, selfish…I’m very fond of my Salon and I’m a bit of a bossy boots in real life. And if things aren’t neat, I don’t like it.”
Q: Were there niggles on the existing set with Audrey’s Salon and things that when they moved, you said, ‘Could you sort this out and could you make that work?’
“No. I wish I’d met you before. (laughter) I didn’t think of that. Oh gosh. I’ll write it down. Thank you. Well I’ve still got time to do that! Thank you for that little hint. When I go in I’ll take my pad! The appointment book has seen better days, mainly because the appointment book…if you know who works for me, and she looks such a sweet beautiful girl…Maria…Sam (Samia Ghadie), and then my terrible but gorgeous grandson David…Jack (Jack P. Shepherd), the things they write in that appointment book! And the pictures have to be seen to be believed.”
Q: They’re X-rated are they?
“I wouldn’t even dare tell any of you. It’s absolutely…never mind what you’ve all written on the garage doors. I’m suddenly booking in Mrs Smethurst or something and I open it, in the middle of a scene, and I can’t tell you – Jack P. Shepherd is dreadful.”
Q: So are there are lot of outtakes with you laughing?
“I’m afraid so, yes. They’re terrible. And the pictures. My God.”
Q: Can you tell us some of your favourite memories from the old sets?
“The old set – I’m talking 100 years ago when I was married to lovely Alf…Bryan (the late and much loved actor Bryan Mosley), I loved being in the corner shop. Because he owned that. Were you born then? So I loved that. I think I like that period. I married Alf…poor Alf, but thank God I did. I probably wouldn’t be in the show if I hadn’t married the main man.”
Q: Because it was 1979 when you arrived?
“When I arrived. For Gail’s wedding. ‘Hello luv.’ That was terrible, wasn’t it? ‘Hello luv!’ That was my first scene. I was very flightly. Do you remember that? And look what happened there. She used to lay her head, Audrey, anywhere that she possibly could.”
Q: Do you wish she was still a bit like that?
“I think it’s in me, really. (laughter) They’re always trying to palm you off, to get you together with someone, aren’t they? I think having grown up myself a bit I suppose you do change a bit. I don’t know whether I want to be involved with somebody. Not after Lewis (Archer – played by Nigel Havers). That was a failure. I mean a lovely failure. Yes, I think the corner shop funnily enough. And I don’t really go in there a lot anymore. I don’t know why not because I quite fancy Dev…(laughter) Maybe I have grown up, I don’t know. He’s lovely.”
Q: What are some of your favourite memories of the family you work with?
“Oh, I just think seeing them all grow up, the kids. When Jack arrived, David, and then funnily enough when Nick was tiny…I’ve seen all these little ones change, actually, a lot of them. I just think it is like a family. And then poor Gail seems to have so much trouble. I don’t know, I try and counsel them all but it doesn’t really work, in my back room. But I wouldn’t have it any other way because if they were all an ordinary family there wouldn’t be any drama there, would it? Sometimes there’s a bit too much drama but there we go.”
Q: Have you seen your new dressing room yet and do you know where it is?
“No. But I have been talking to three young men that were building the dressing rooms and asking them about that. And bless their hearts, they looked sheepish and said, ‘We’re just having to rip them out again.’ I said, ‘Where are the dressing rooms boys?’ And they said, ‘Well, up there but we’re just having to rip them out again because there’s something wrong.’ I said, ‘You mean you’ve built them?’ He said, ‘Yes, but we’re having to rip them out because there’s something wrong with the sound.’ The sound, it didn’t kind of relate. So it might be a tent!”
Q: Will everybody get their own dressing room now?
“I hope so. To be honest, I don’t know the ins and outs of that. I hope so. And I pity anybody that has to share with me. So I think I probably would have a tent.”
Q: Do you share with anyone now?
“No. They wouldn’t cope with it. Mainly because everybody that’s been in over the years, like Alma, Amanda Barrie, and everybody, made their dressing room look really lovely. They had a lovely little rug…they’re only like rabbit hutches anyway. Mine is like bedsit land when I used to tour in shows…things on the wall, pictures, I can’t tell you what’s in the drawers. And I’m trying to not take anything with me, if and when I get a new dressing room, so they can start from scratch. But I don’t know that that’s going to happen. I’m dreading packing it all up and a bit of me thinks, ‘Just take it out and shove it in a sack.’ But I know I won’t. I know I won’t.”
Q: Could you tease Christmas a little bit for us because it’s not going to be very happy for the Platts, is it?
“No, Christmas is not brilliant. I can’t tell you about the other people in the Street because ours (storyline) is pretty full on. Yet again problems. Let’s say it’s not a swinging Christmas, really. Stuff happens, as somebody said.”
Q: Audrey has sympathy for David out of everybody?
“Yes. I think Audrey – and I quite like that – tries to look after David and try and understand him. But I think…this is me now being rather kind of method…I think you find grandparents sometimes connect with…however troubled the son is or the granddaughter, they try and connect. Maybe it is that generation thing. It happens to be that I absolutely adore Jack P. Shepherd and therefore I obviously love David and I think he is a brilliant little actor. That helps. And he’s also very funny and he makes me laugh. So that helps. But before Christmas I try and do my bit for him.”
Q: What’s happened with your house?
“I had dry rot. What happened there? I was with Maria for a while and that fizzled out. It’s all sorted. But they had to take the roof off. it was hell.”
Q: Do you give advice to the younger members of the cast?
“I wouldn’t dare. No. I learn from them. Because they’re so sweet. And we all do our own thing in our own way. I don’t think I’ve ever given advice to a young person in my life. Perhaps I should? (laughter) No I haven’t, funnily enough.”
Q: How do you feel about the future of the show. Kieran (executive producer Kieran Roberts) was saying that obviously ITV are investing in the show. It’s 53-years-old and they’re building a new set?
“Well, I’ve always thought this anyway…it’ll go on, won’t it? There’s never a star – I know we all have our favourites and the public have their favourites. Of course they do and that’s right. But people come, people go, people sadly leave or they’re ill. And the Street goes on. The Street is the star. The cobbles are the star. That’s how it should be.”
Q: There are obviously some extensions to the set…we see the back of Maudsley Street..?
“That will be fun.”
Q: So would you like to see more characters..?
Q: …the back gates from the other street open as Deirdre is having a fag or whatever?
“Well you probably will, yes. But at the minute there’s quite a lot of us and I feel maybe…why am I putting actors out of work..?(laughter) No, it’s absolutely wonderful. If they do, they do. You have to just go with it.”
Q: What about your own future? Are you happy to stay?
“I’m institutionalised. (laughter) I am a bit of a fixture. I thought someone meant like a light bulb! No I am. And it’s lovely. And I just said earlier to someone, the funny thing is, and I don’t like to admit this because it makes me sound a bit mental, whatever happens in the Street and the stories in this, I love doing it. And when I then have some time off, I feel the real world really kind of very difficult to cope with. Whereas here, the murders, the rapes, the attacks, you kind of come in and do it…bankrupt, dry rot…but just facing the real world…so it’s an escape as well as anything else. Really, I’m very pleased to be working. Not just that. I love the show. And I don’t really have any ambition to say, ‘Ooh gosh, I’ve got to go and try that.’ Apart from trying to hit a top C. I want to sing. But not for you. Just for myself. Before I drop dead. I just want to drop dead singing a high C again.”
Q: (From a Spanish journalist) Could you explain for a Spanish audience what is the secret of a so lasting series?
“I think it identifies with…it’s tried to keep up with issues of the day and decades. So we change. If you saw the earlier ones of the very early days in the Sixties, it fitted into that era. Then if you go through the Seventies and the Eighties, we try and keep the stories that apply in today’s world. On a lighter level, perhaps, sometimes. Also I think it’s to do with the stories. It has a huge fanbase now of people who have watched it since 1960 and then they’ve watched it with their daughters and then the daughters have watched it…and I meet people all the time in Sainsbury’s, which is my second home…Salford Sainsbury’s…that have watched it and know the stories better than me. And they really identify, hopefully, with the characters in the show. We try and keep it a bit real. Sometimes you can get a character that is, perhaps, ‘big’. But for the most part I think as long as you can believe in the characters, you have to believe that that character exists. Does that make sense? And as long as we can keep that up. And as I say, the stories. Hopefully the acting has a bit to do with it. But it’s just generally keeping going.”
Q: (Spanish journalist again) So do you really think it can last another 50 years?
“Yes, I do. Not with us, necessarily. But I don’t see it not lasting. I can’t see why it wouldn’t last. The viewers are always very loyal. And I’m surprised – you get it in Spain?”
Q: (Spanish journalist again) You mean Coronation Street? We know it but no. It’s not very popular. It’s just that I would like to explain to people why can a series be so lasting.
“I don’t know. Well, if we knew the secret then I suppose every director, producer, television executive would put it on. To be honest, nobody knows the secret and you can only think that’s probably why.”
Q: (Spanish journalist again) It is the oldest series in the world, ever?
“Yes. Apart from The Archers. Da, de, de, doo, da, doo, doo…”
Q: (From me again as it happens) Not to be flippant, Sue, but do you think Audrey might take the opportunity of this move to put her prices up? Even though viewers won’t notice the difference on screen?
“That’s a very good idea as well. Thank you both very much for saying that. (laughter) Two good tips. Yes. I’m quite genuine. I’m not too bad because we have a lot of older clientele, as you know. And so I have special offers for them. I won’t even ask you to come in because you don’t qualify for that. And I might start doing other things, perhaps in the back room. We’ve kept to hair mostly. We used to do massages.”
Q: (From me again) Would you like Audrey to move back into the Street or are you happy where she is?
“I love Grasmere Drive. When you’ve seen Audrey’s lovely house. It’s a semi-detached. It’s about Ashton-under-Lyne. But in real life I think it’s meant to be just around the corner. Because the times I’m staggering home. Or I can’t stagger home because I’ve been in the Rovers. So I don’t know how I get home. I get a taxi or something.”
Q: On the last day of filming on the old set, what would you like to take as a souvenir?
“Oh gosh. I wish I could think on my feet.
“Do you know, I’m going to be really kind of cheesy and say…
“Just my memories.”
You can see my full set of 48 photos here.