Todd Grimshaw is back in Weatherfield this evening as a changed man: gone is the nice guy torn over his sexuality and in his place is a conniving manipulator prepared to pull the wool over mum Eileen’s eyes.
It’s all a far cry from those days in 2003 when a confused Todd made his move on Nick, a naïve pass that was certainly not reciprocated:
“It had been done in other soaps, but it was a first for Corrie back then,” says actor Bruno Langley. “I did feel a lot of pressure at the time, but that’s something I’ve now overcome. I don’t mind the male attention, However, a gay magazine did ask me to do a naked shoot, but I don’t think it’s very classy. A sexy shoot is fine, but not without clothes!”
Such ‘opportunities’ are obviously part and parcel of being involved in a high-profile storyline, but does Langley generally look back on that period in Coronation Street’s history with affection? “I was quite young at the time [Langley was 20 in 2003], so the media interest was hard for me to deal with. I took the decision to leave the following year and I wouldn’t change that.
“But I rewatched some of those episodes before I started back, in particular the one where Gail and Eileen fight in the street. That’s a great scene, it’s classic Corrie. And Andy Whyment always says that his favourite line is when Kirk comes up to Todd and asks, ‘are you deffo sure you’re a bender?’”
In the years since his original stint, Langley has had a guest part in the revival of Doctor Who in 2005, as well as roles in Night Sky at London’s Old Vic and a touring production of A Taste of Honey. But he’s also the first to admit that there have been hard times since he quit the cobbles:
“It was tough after I left. I’ve had periods of not working. I’m just not very good at auditions,” he laughs ruefully. “I’ve had to support my son and my girlfriend and it’s really hard when you can’t do that. It really hurts. But that’s the game we’re in. At one point, I was doing bar work in London until the Daily Mirror came in and introduced themselves, so I had to quit that. There’s nothing wrong with working in a bar, of course but I spoke to my agent and he didn’t think it was a good thing to do.”
Aside from two brief reappearances on Corrie – first in 2007 and then again in 2011 – this is the first time that Todd has had an extended stay. And for Langley it couldn’t have come at a better time: he’s recently moved back to Manchester and the regular hours mean that he can spend time with six-year-old son Freddie (the child he had with beautician girlfriend Victoria, from whom he split 18 months ago).
“My boy is in Bolton, so it means a lot to me that I can take him to school. That in itself is amazing because actors are always here, there and everywhere. Corrie is the closest thing to a nine to five. We work Monday to Friday and I’ve got weekends with Freddie, so at the moment it’s a dream job for me.
“It’d be nice to stick around on the show for a couple of years. Our producer Stuart Blackburn has said he’s keen to have me around while he’s here, so he’s obviously got confidence in me and the character.”
However, it’s doubtful that Todd is going to win himself many supporters from his neighbours after turning up on the doorstep of number 11. Having stolen £500 from his latest boyfriend and lost his job at a law firm through laziness, Todd looks set to quickly tarnish his golden boy image.
“He’s definitely changed. Whatever’s happened in London has made him a bit jaded and more confident about his sexuality,” agrees Langley. “He’s basically being a bastard to everybody. He knows Sean fancies him, so he starts leading him on, which is awful. We did some scenes today where poor Sean went off crying upstairs.”
Langley, on the other hand, was grateful for co-star Antony Cotton’s assistance on his first day back (“I had to get used to the cameras again and he really helped me out”) and to have the support of his screen family:
“I didn’t stay in touch with the Corrie people when I left. Antony used to text me occasionally, but that was it. I think it’s an actor thing. Yet when you see everyone again, you greet them as though they’re long-lost family. It’s now a total bromance between me and Ryan Thomas [who plays Todd’s brother Jason]. A real hugathon. I just wouldn’t let go.”
So does their friendship now feel a world away from the days when the pair of them were promoted as heartthrobs on the cover of teen mags? “Things have moved on,” he smiles. “We’re both parents now so we just have playdates with our kids. There’s not a lot of drinking going on!”
Bruno Langley returns to Coronation Street as Todd Grimshaw this evening at 7.30 and 8.30pm on ITV