“I get to slap Tracy Barlow,” says new Coronation Street star Sarah Harding

The former Girls Aloud singer arrives next week to play Joni - the secret wife of Tracy's ex-husband Robert Preston

Singer Sarah Harding is to make a big impact during her guest stint on Coronation Street when she comes to blows with Tracy Barlow.

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“I got to slap Tracy during my first day on the show,” says the former Girls Aloud star. “Kate Ford, who plays Tracy, is the complete opposite of her character, so I’d be giggling every time they shouted cut because Kate is so lovely. And it’s not a real slap – it’s all choreographed to look nasty, but I didn’t actually touch her.”

Harding is to make her Corrie debut next week when she is revealed to be Robert Preston’s secret wife Joni. Her arrival looks set to scupper Tracy’s plans to reconcile with her ex-husband following his return on the day of Deirdre’s funeral.

“He is still holding a torch for Tracy, so I play a woman on the edge! But she is very vulnerable at the same time. She comes across as very angry and feisty, but if you’d caught your husband having an affair you would be wouldn’t you!”

Harding may be in the Street for a limited time only, but there’s no denying that she harbours the desire to reappear as Joni should the writers give her the opportunity. 

“In a way, it’s not just about whether I would like to do it. It depends on whether the storyline would work for Joni to return and also my schedule as I am very busy with my music now across the summer,” she says. “Obviously, I would love to come back and do some more bits and bobs, but we will have to wait and see. Though it isn’t something that could happen in the near future.”

Having been in the public eye since 2002 when she earned a place with Girls Aloud on talent show Popstars: the Rivals, Harding is realistic about what the reaction  will be when her episodes of Coronation Street are broadcast.

“I know it’ll be mixed because people are going to be expecting high standards. As long as I’m prepared for that, I’ll be OK.

“The producer Stuart Blackburn has said that both myself and Shayne Ward [coming in to play Aidan Connor] will be under a lot of scrutiny, so you have to be prepared for that. It’s one of the nation’s most-loved soaps and it’s been a massive honour to be on it. I just hope I’ve done it justice.

“I’m just looking on the positive side. I’ve done something I love doing and I’ve had a blast doing it. I’ve met some really lovely people too – northerners are so friendly. I’ve even started talking with the accent now, despite my character not actually being northern!”

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

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And visit our dedicated Coronation Street page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.