Loudmouth Cilla Battersby-Brown is to return to Weatherfield next week – but will be hiding the fact that she’s suffering with osteoporosis.
Fiz and Chesney’s gobby mum will show up clutching an overnight bag and with her wrist in plaster. But Cilla’s offspring are immediately convinced that she must have an ulterior motive for paying them a visit. Little do they realise that she’s in pain thanks to the disease of the bones. Here, actress Wendi Peters reveals all about why she’s back on Coronation Street and gives us the latest about Cilla’s state of health…
So where has Cilla been all this time?
Wolverhampton! Of all the places to end up, she’s, 100 miles down the road. No better off than she was before, really.
Is she still the same old Cilla?
Yes – she says, “I’m here, I’m back – oh, you don’t look very pleased to see me…’ As if they were going to open their arms and have her running towards them with joy! But she’s not back just to say hello. She’s back for a reason.
Do Fiz and Chesney realise this?
Straightaway! They’re both grown up now and they know exactly what she’s like. They’re going to think that whatever she says is a lie. They just assume she’s back for her own gain rather than to see grandchildren who she’s never met before.
What was your reaction when Corrie said they wanted you back?
It was a bit of a shock. I’d put her to bed, really. Completely. I’d moved on and have been doing lots of lovely theatre and bits of TV and having more time at home with the family and it was something that I had never really considered. So it was a pleasant shock. And it’s lovely just to come back for a short time to find out where she’s been and what she’s up to and again.
What will Cilla be wearing seven years on?
Do you know what? She’s gone a bit more upmarket. I don’t want to say the stores because they’ll be a bit offended. There’s still lots of gold, though, and her clothes are still a little bit too tight for her. But although she still has the essence of Cilla, we did want to just bring her a little bit more back down to earth. So I hope she isn’t quite as brash in the wardrobe department. She’s still got the gold jewellery, which I picked out of my loft.
You took Cilla’s gold jewellery?!
Yeah, they didn’t know I’d taken it! No wonder they couldn’t find it! It was in a box in my loft! I have a Cilla box – I put in a few scripts and I put in my last continuity photos and her jewellery and a little hat from the last scene. And it’s just been up in the loft for the last six years.
Now, we can reveal that Cilla does have osteoporosis – has her medical condition changed her?
I just felt we needed to find a little bit more reality in her. I felt, over the four years I was originally there, she got a bit too much, maybe, at certain times. So she’s now having to face something for real.
Does she feel crushed when her family tell her to get lost?
Well, she’s faked so much before, that’s the thing. but Chesney’s the one that really knocks her for six because he is so hostile towards her and she can’t take the fact her little boy, who she was always completely in control of, has suddenly now cottoned on to her.
How serious is her osteoporosis?
The first thing I found out was that larger ladies could have osteoporosis. That sounds awful, but I thought, ‘look at my bones! They’re not going to snap!’ But I discovered that any women can have it regardless of their size – in fact women who are slightly larger have a greater chance of getting it because of everything associated with bad diet, lack of exercise and excess alcohol. It’s good that Corrie are highlighting this issue. It will make people think and raise awareness. I assumed it was an old ladies’ complaint, but I’ve discovered it can happen from the onset of menopause onwards.
How do you stay fit and healthy?
Well I swim, I eat healthily most of the time and I haven’t drunk alcohol since I left Corrie in 2007. I stopped for a month, realized I didn’t miss it and so didn’t start again. Do I feel better for it? Absolutely! I’ve forgotten what it’s like to have a hangover.
Are you anything like Cilla?
Oh yeah. I think there always has to be a bit of you in a character you play. I’m very impatient, I’m a bit of a control freak. But I’d like to think I’m a much nicer version of Cilla – but who knows? I think there’s a little bit of everybody in anybody that you play, whether it’s theatre or TV.
Would you be interested in returning to Corrie on a more permanent basis?
I have no idea whether Cilla could return once these weeks are up. But “never say never” is what I always say. You can’t say a definite no because you never know what’s going to happen in the future.
Watch a 60-second preview of next week’s Coronation Street drama below: