Coronation Street: Ted Robbins on playing Mary’s new love interest – but what’s Brendan’s big secret?

Is Mary heading for heartache when the man of her dreams turns out to be not all he seems?

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Lovelorn Mary Taylor is to be left smitten next when she encounters the lothario editor of a cult magazine about the paranormal. Mary, an avid reader of the Inexplicable – finds herself falling head over heels for Brendan, but it soon transpires that he’s hiding a few mysterious secrets of his own. Actor and funny man Ted Robbins reveals all about his arrival in Weatherfield and discusses why Corrie regulars such as Norris and Dev are right to view Brendan with suspicion…

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So, tell us about your character?
Well, his name’s Brendan Finch and he arrives on the Street as a bit of a mystery man. We first see him in the Kabin, delivering a magazine he edits called the Inexplicable. It’s a small, niche magazine.

The feeling I get for Brendan is that he gets about town a fair bit – he goes to many different places, and perhaps that sometimes puts him into contact with several ladies! He fancies himself as a bit of a ladies’ man. But the thing about him is is that he’s married! And yet he doesn’t wear a wedding ring, put it that way. He likes to wear blue suede brogues and snazzy jackets. And he probably wears a fake version of an expensive aftershave. 

And how does he end up in Weatherfield?
Brendan is a man who knows most places – he travels as far and wide as Hebden Bridge over to the outskirts of Liverpool. He’s always out on the road delivering his magazine, which covers topics that he’s interested in, like UFOs and unexplained phenomena

So what does he make of Norris and Mary when he meets them?
Norris has been in touch with the magazine’s HQ and been very officious. So the first thing Brendan does when he comes into the Kabin is put Norris in his place! Mary isn’t unimpressed by that. He has a bit of backbone and Mary likes that because she’s also quite feisty when she wants to be. I think she’s instantly taken by Brendan and he’s well aware of that. 

Why does he go to such lengths to track down the issue that Mary is missing?
Mary is fanatical about the magazine and has almost every issue. And Brendan sees her as a ‘fellow mind’ in that way. He knows exactly which issue she’s missing and wants to go out of his way to make sure she has it. It’s a very rare issue that she’s after and he’s quite taken by the fact that she’s as interested in it as he is. 

And is he aware that Mary is smitten with him?
Yes, I’d definitely say so. He spies it very early on and thinks he could be in for a bit of fun. There’s certainly an attraction between them. Mary doesn’t know that he’s married and she’s very quick to build things up. Norris smells a rat and is very wary of him – as are Rita and Dev. They all want to look out for Mary as she’s been hurt before. They’re really not sure about him.

Do you think she’s the type of woman he’d go for?
Brendan fancies himself as a bit of a lothario and he likes attention from the ladies. He definitely fancies Mary and he likes that they have a shared interest. I think it develops into genuine feeling and affection, It won’t always be just a bit of fun. Brendan will surprise himself when he realises that he does have genuine feelings – and he will question whether this will just be a little fling and whether he’ll be able to go back to his wife at the end of it.

Mary – the character is so wonderful and Patti Clare is a superb actress. She’s so intelligent and inquisitive. It’s good fun and the way the story works out is classic Corrie – it’s warm, it’s humorous and it’s got a bit of everything.

So, do we know much about his marriage?
The way I see it is that he doesn’t mind marriage, it’s just the hours are so long! Perhaps his wife has become a bit of a security blanket – he goes home for his tea and he likes that stability and security. But, perhaps, outside of his marriage he’s looking for excitement. I think his wife is quite a redoubtable figure – I imagine he’s a little bit scared of her. 

How has your time on Corrie been so far?
An absolute delight so far. I’ve always been a Granada boy. And then following what happened earlier this year  to my health [Robbins had a heart attack back in March] it’s just fantastic to be here at Corrie. My life was saved and now I have this glorious job – and it doesn’t feel like a job.

The actors and crew I’m working with – many of whom I have known for years from other jobs at Granada – are an absolute joy to work with. The problem with knowing so many people from Granada was that it took me 20 minutes to walk down the corridor when I first started, as I’d see so many people who I wanted to catch up with!

My first scene, which was in the Kabin, was on my 60th Birthday. I couldn’t believe it when I got my first filming date and realised it was on that date. After I’d finished, I walked over the bridge to a restaurant over at Media City and met my family for a birthday meal. And Peter Kay came to surprise me! I felt so lucky to have had such a fantastic birthday. How everything has happened this year has been astonishing.

Is Coronation Street a show that you’ve always wanted to do?
I have always been a huge fan. I vaguely remember the show starting as a child. It has always been there, that music, that familiarity. I grew up in the north of England and then, later years I came back to work at Granada a lot. I used to see a lot of the Coronation Street actors in the building. People such as Bill Roache – who it has been lovely to see again. I’ve known him for years, as well as Barbara Knox.

My family were brought up in show business, so I’ve always known Corrie. I had a little part in Corrie a few years ago as the prison officer during the John Stape storyline. So I always hoped I’d be back one day. You hope the call comes and that you’ll do it service. I’ve done lots of different things but I’ve always loved drama and Corrie has an ability to make you both laugh and cry. I love that about it.

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

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