Chris Gascoyne on Peter’s Coronation Street comeback – I had to say goodbye to Anne Kirkbride and Deirdre

Filming Deirdre's funeral is "strange to comprehend," says the actor

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Guilt and recrimination is flying in the Barlow house next week as Ken, Tracy and Peter argue over the respective grief they each caused Deirdre down the years.

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Peter makes a brief return in the wake of Deirdre’s funeral, but the welcome home bunting is definitely not being hung. Instead, the Barlows are soon descending into acrimony as they row over who was responsible for Deirdre’s death.

Here, actor Chris Gascoyne discusses his Corrie comeback, why he felt that he had to say goodbye to Anne Kirkbride and the effect that news of Peter’s new job will have on an already volatile Simon…

So, Chris, what made you want to return to the show?
Well, I was very close to Annie and I wasn’t on the show when she passed away. And I thought that, for Annie and the show, Peter would come back. So that was the reason. And I was happy to do so – it’s been amazing to see everybody and it’s made me realise how much I’ve missed people.

Obviously, Annie has gone and I was able to go to her funeral. And it will be a poorer place here for a while without her, but I feel I can now put that to rest and accept it. Myself, Bill Roache and Kate Ford have all talked a lot about Annie. At one point, we were filming 26 pages of dialogue in the Barlows’ house. So all that was important for me. I was able to understand and say goodbye.

Was it strange filming at No 1 without Anne?
Yes, so strange. Because I was thinking about when I started on the show 15 years ago and how lovely Anne was to me. Her, Bill and Maggie Jones. It seems no time at all, but then things have changed so much. It felt strange to be doing a scene about Deirdre’s funeral – it still feels strange to comprehend.

So Peter returns for the funeral – has he changed much since he’s been away?
Well he seems pretty together – he’s not drinking and he’s been doing his best. He’s still in touch with Simon and Leanne. He comes back with all the best intentions but the trains are delayed and he misses the funeral, which he’s upset and embarrassed about.

Then he has an argument with Tracy because she’s having a go at Ken and he doesn’t like that. Then Ken’s defending Peter and Tracy’s jealous so straight away you walk back into some very familiar Barlow behaviour. But it all centres round Deirdre, which is the most important thing.

It’s classic Barlows and it was really nice to do – they talk about all the good and bad times they’ve had around that table with Deirdre and Blanche, all the things that have happened, and it was really great to film. It was wonderful to see Bill and Kate and everyone behind the scenes too. Everybody here who’s been so kind and lovely to me – just to see them has been quite moving. 

And what has Peter been up to while he’s been away?
Well, he’s got a job with a chartered boat company and he’s about to go out for a stint in Antigua, so he has that bombshell to drop before he leaves.

Surely that’s not going to go down well with an already volatile Simon?
Simon wants to go with Peter, but obviously he can’t. Peter feels Simon should stay with Leanne  because it would be more beneficial to his upbringing. Peter doesn’t know anything about his behaviour towards Leanne – there are little bits when he sees Simon being rude to Leanne. But he’s been rude to her before, even if these incidents are more aggressive and grown-up.

But does it tug on Peter’s heartstrings when Simon says he wants to come with him?
Oh yes, but Peter’s got a different life now and Simon needs to go to school. He can’t go to sea and he needs to stay with Leanne. That’s what Peter thinks. He’s better off with Leanne and that’s why Peter let him go.

Does Peter run into Carla while he’s back?
There is one scene between them, where he sees Carla on the street. But you’ll have to wait and see what happens. I think there’s still something there for Peter. I can’t really answer for Carla, but from Peter’s point of view yes absolutely, she was his life for so long and he messed it up. It’s always going to be there for him and, of course, if he could have her back, he would in a heartbeat.

Will we see Peter return again at some point down the line?
Yeah, I hope so. I’ve been playing Peter for so long he’s become part of my life and I do miss him. I also miss people – I know it’s a cliche, but it is a big family here, not just the actors but all the crew as well. I’ve missed them probably more than I thought I was going to.

You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of Coronation Street below.

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