Before you were cast in Coronation Street, is it true you worked on a check-in desk at Manchester Airport?
Yes, and one time I saw Jack P Shepherd (Corrie’s David Platt) and his girlfriend in the queue. I was thinking, “Please don’t come to my desk” because I thought I’d be really nervous. But I had to check him in, and then, a year later, I joined Corrie to play David’s girlfriend.
Did you go straight from the airport to Corrie?
I was working in Selfridges by then, on the make-up counter, and going to the Manchester School of Acting for two hours a week. I heard about the Corrie audition and went just for the experience. I didn’t think I had a chance.
Were you starstruck on your first day?
When I came into the green room and saw the cast, I was in shock. I remember Bill Roache [Ken Barlow] saying good morning. I was so starstruck, I couldn’t form words.
Five years on, do you feel you belong?
Yes, though I still look around and pinch myself now and again. When Bill gives me a hug or a kiss, I still think, “Oh my God, Ken’s just given me a kiss.”
Is it overnight fame once you’re in Corrie?
It does start more or less straight away, but it really blows up after six months. That’s when it totally flips. It changes your life.
You broke up with your boyfriend, the Wanted’s Max George, this year – that must have been tough when you’re so well known.
No, everyone has to deal with break-ups. It was just that it was in the public eye and everyone had their own opinion on it.
How did it feel winning sexiest female at the British Soap Awards for the fourth year?
It’s always flattering that people go out of their way to vote for you. They’ve got their own lives but they still think, “Oh, I’ll vote for Michelle.” I get so chuffed with that.
Scott Maslen in EastEnders has been voted sexiest male for four years running – surely sparks would fly if you were in the same soap and the writers put you together…
Oh, I love Scott! I wouldn’t mind if they did!
Tina is currently going through a surrogacy drama. Will she and Tommy be reconciled?
I like Tina and Tommy together. I think they really suit each other. Hopefully the writers won’t split them up for good because the public really likes them together, too. Fingers crossed.
Does the storyline make you feel broody?
Yes, I’ve always wanted to be a mum. And I keep on wanting to rub the baby bump, which is made of sponge. Which is weird. I do need some maternity trousers, though – there’s nothing in the crotch in these low-rise jeans. You can see my knickers. I’ll have to wear leggings!
Will you watch Corrie on Christmas Day?
Yes, it’s a tradition, isn’t it? Open your presents in the morning, get ready, go and see relatives, come home, have Christmas dinner and then chill out round the TV and watch Corrie. That’s just the way it is.
Presumably, when you’re filming, you only have time to read your own part. So do some of the storylines come as a shock?
Yeah! That’s why I love it so much. I’m watching as a viewer. At work, I’ll sometimes see, for instance, blood on a character’s face and think, “Ooh, what’s going on there?” So much of it is a surprise when it comes on TV.