Coronation Street: Michelle Keegan - I'd love a role in Downton Abbey

The Corrie actress on surrogacy, her NTA nomination and a love for period drama

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Coronation Street: Michelle Keegan - I'd love a role in Downton Abbey
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These last 12 months have seen non-stop drama for Tina McIntyre, what with evil Terry Duckworth and abusive Kirsty Soames both doing their best to make her life a misery. And now Tina's at the centre of a surrogacy storyline that finds her facing fresh drama as she carries a baby for friends Gary and Izzy. So here's actress Michelle Keegan – who has played Tina since 1998  – speaking to us about her life in Weatherfield, Corrie's latest nuptials and her nomination at the National Television Awards:

So, Michelle - first of all, is it true that all the actors hate filming church scenes? And if so, were you glad to be based in the Rovers during Tyrone and Kirsty’s wedding?
Oh yes, church scenes are so tedious. So we do dread funerals, weddings and christenings. They usually take three days to film and you sit there in the freezing cold looking at your own breath, just waiting for the scenes to be filmed. If you haven’t got any lines, then it’s even worse. They do give you these big coats to wear but you obviously have to take them off for the take. So yes, I was very glad to be in the pub!

And how is the surrogacy storyline currently progressing? Do you think Tina will end up not wanting to part with the baby once she’s given birth?
It might happen because it is a natural thing to give birth and bond with the child. But she’s gone into this with the mindset that this is not her child. She knows how much Gary and Izzy want this baby and she’s going to give them the gift. So, if I’m honest, I can’t see Tina wanting to keep the baby because of her friendship with Gary and Izzy.

Are you still enjoying wearing the prosthetic pregnancy bump?
It’s just been upgraded, actually. I’ve now started using the five-and-a-half month pregnancy bump and I love it for a couple of reasons. One: it keeps me warm because it’s freezing in Manchester. And two: when I’m having my dinner I can rest my plate on it.

Did you have any contact with surrogates before you started filming the storyline?
Yes, I spoke to a woman called Jo who’s had two surrogate children plus children of her own. And I did ask her about her feelings regarding the surrogacies because it felt like such a taboo subject. She said that when she was carrying her own children, she felt attached to them and was constantly touching the bump. When she was being the surrogate, she didn’t do that. She said she was very detached and let the mum touch the bump a lot. So every time I’m on screen, I try not to touch my belly and you see that when, for instance, Tina goes for the 12-week-scan, she doesn’t look at the screen.

And how does Tina cope with what happens with Tyrone when, in the coming weeks, he gets accused of being violent towards Kirsty?
Tina finds it so frustrating because she’s known from day one what Kirsty’s like. Even before Kirsty hit Tyrone, Tina knew she was a bad’un. So when all the abuse was happening, Tina couldn’t understand why Tyrone wouldn’t speak up. And then, obviously, Kirsty isolated Tyrone from his friends and she had no alternative but to back off. So she finds it extremely frustrating when Tyrone is seen as the hate figure because she knows the truth and nobody believes her. A small handful of them – her, Tommy, Tyrone and Fiz - know what Kirsty’s like, but it’s the four of them against the rest of the Street.

So how does the National Television Awards nomination for Best Serial Drama Performance feel?
When I found out I was on the longlist, I couldn’t believe it. I was on the phone to my mum and I got so excited. So to be in the last four is unbelievable. I just feel really flattered. But I genuinely don’t think I deserve to win. Alan Halsall [Tyrone] deserves it.  I’m not even going to think about an acceptance speech because Alan should win. I’ve said that from day one.

And how do you feel about continuing your career at Corrie?
I’m very happy there now because it’s like my second home and I’ve been very lucky with the storylines. I obviously want to continue acting and I don’t want to look back in ten years’ time and think ‘what if?’ So, I think I’ll know when the time’s right, if I ever do want to leave. But it’s not something I’m even thinking about.

Now, I spoke to Julian Fellowes last year around the time of Rita’s wedding to Dennis on Corrie. He's a huge fan of the show and he said that Tina is the pretender to Rita’s throne as Queen of the Street. If you got a call to be on Downton Abbey would you do it?
Oh my God, I’d be there! That’s my favourite. I love Downton Abbey. Big fan. I’ve always wanted to do a period drama.

Is that the kind of TV show you like to watch then?
I’ve always been obsessed with history and it was always one of the subjects that I loved in school. When I was younger, I used to go camping so I could visit castles because I was amazed at how people used to live. So yes, I do love period dramas: The Tudors, that kind of thing. I’m also enjoying Mr Selfridge with Kate Kelly. I’d also like do something really gritty, like the kind of dramas Suranne Jones does. So, who knows? Maybe one day! 

Michelle Keegan is nominated in the Best Serial Drama Performance category at this year’s National Television Awards. To vote for her, please head to www.nationaltvawards.com