Tracy Barlow’s ex-husband Robert Preston arrives back next week and declares that he’s still carrying a torch for his former love.
Robert – who hasn’t been seen in Weatherfield since 2003 – will return on the day of Deirdre’s funeral in order to pay his respects. But pretty soon, he’s also admitting to Tracy that he hasn’t stopped thinking about her since the day they parted.
So what is it that attracts Robert to Tracy? After all, she can be a dangerous customer who tends to alienate all those around her.
“Some people are attracted to broken people,” says actor Tristan Gemmill, who has taken on the role of Robert. “Tracy’s very volatile and maybe that’s what does it for him. Maybe he likes the danger and thinks he can fix her. For Robert, there’s an element of thrill about being with someone who’s a bit unpredictable.”
But how much of Tracy’s case history is Robert aware of? “He knows about her prison past and that the charges were eventually thrown out. He doesn’t know about the fire, obviously. But he does know that Tracy has this tendency to get herself in these tricky situations.”
Scenes to be broadcast on Monday 13 July will see Tracy seek solace in Robert’s arms following her mum’s funeral, only for Ken to catch them in the act. But Gemmill believes that Ken will come round to the idea of a reconciliation between Tracy and Robert.
“Ken remembers Robert fondly from the old days and he sees him as a chance of stability for Tracy. So Ken isn’t against the idea of Robert, although he’s not happy when he first finds them together on the day of Deirdre’s funeral. And he is a bit alarmed by how quickly it picks up pace.”
For Gemmill – who previously played Dr Adam Trueman on Casualty – the prospect of taking on a major role in Corrie could have been a daunting one. But it was a relief for him to make his debut as part of the storyline surrounding Deirdre’s funeral.
“Quite rightly, so much of the attention was on the funeral and giving Deirdre the send-off that she deserved. So I was able to slip under the radar. For me, personally, it worked out quite well as those first few weeks weren’t about me being the new guy.
“They were about this big event that was happening and I was skirting around the edge of it while finding my feet at the same time.”
But surely there must have been some nerves when he filmed, say, in the Rovers Return for the first time? “Well, my first scene was in the Rovers and literally a succession of people kept coming up to me and asking, ‘are you nervous?’ And then saying, ‘This is so iconic.’
“So I wasn’t nervous at the beginning but by 10 o’clock in the morning I was gnawing my nails off!”
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