When it comes to soap mistresses, there’s one name that eclipses all others: Wendy Crozier. Forget Jan from EastEnders or Natalie Horrocks, Wendy lingers longest in the memory, mainly because her affair in 1989 with Ken Barlow was so destructive, leading as it did to the breakdown of his marriage to Deirdre and a thwarted suicide bid.
Now, over two decades later, Wendy is heading back to Weatherfield and Roberta Kerr, the actress who is reprising the role, reveals how she happens to come face to face with old flame Ken:
“Wendy’s vice chair of Bessie Street governors and, unbeknown to Wendy, the head [Brian Packham] has asked Ken to be on the governing body. She rushes into the meeting late and she’s shocked to see that there he is.
“It gets worse because she’d assumed that, as vice chair, she would automatically replace the chair, who has died. But the head has got other ideas and he wants Ken in that position.”
So the stage is set for a showdown between Ken and his former lover, a head-to-head battle for the job of chair. But when Ken wins the vote, it means that the pair must then put past history aside in order to work together.
Of course, Ken and Wendy’s professional partnership in the 1980s became something entirely more personal when passion exploded over the desks at the now-defunct Weatherfield Recorder. So is Kerr prepared to get some flak should Wendy try to come between Deirdre and Ken again?
“There might be some who are pleased to see her back, there may be others who are worried that it’ll upset Ken and Deirdre’s marriage again. But it adds a bit of spice to Ken’s life, so who knows? Her reappearance has certainly opened up a hornet’s nest!
“It’s much more interesting playing a character who’s bad as there’s more conflict and drama. But, to be honest, last time I didn’t have a problem at all – the fans are generally very nice and love the drama.”
And how was it working with William Roache again after all these years?
“It was lovely to see Bill again, absolutely fantastic. I haven’t seen him for years so it was really nice. He’s amazing.”
It remains to be seen whether the romance between Wendy and Ken will be rekindled, for at the moment their priority is the future of the school. But despite this being a meeting of minds, does Kerr feel that there is that old spark between them? And how would Dierdre react if she found out?
“Yes I do, but at the moment it just feels like they’re testing each other out. I think Deirdre though would feel insecure and angry with Ken for putting her through it all again. Undoubtedly she’d think the worst. Even if there is nothing going on, Deirdre will assume there is, especially because he’s not being upfront about it.”