Actress Victoria Ekanoye is a busy women. Not only is she making her Coronation Street debut tonight, but she's also mixing life in Weatherfield with another job stalking the corridors of power on E!'s The Royals.
On Corrie, she's playing the Angie Appleton, daughter in law of the wonderfully eccentric Mary. But away from her role on the ITV soap, she's paired with a matriarch of a very different kind, playing secretary to Elizabeth's Hurley's Queen Helena Henstridge.
"I find I'm working a lot harder and faster here on Coronation Street," Ekanoye admits. "The turnaround is so much quicker. My script pile for Corrie is huge! So it's a big change. And because I'm filming both at the same time, I'm back and forth to London, making sure I get the accents right. Angie is originally from the North West, but Rachel on The Royals has received pronunciation. So it's a completely different headspace."
And it seems that the pressures of working for high society (at least in a fictional sense) is nothing compared to hitting those Coronation Street cobbles for the first time: "I grew up watching Coronation Street, so it's such a surreal scenario to see it suddenly becoming my reality. It's mind boggling, but you just have to get your professional head on and do your job."
Making a mark on the Street might well be a dream come true for Ekanoye but - as it turns out - her character Angie initially has no intention of sticking around in the UK. As fans will see this evening, Angie, husband Jude and baby son George have flown in for Mary's wedding to Norris. What she doesn't expect is to be making a home for herself in the neighbourhood.
"Angie met Jude at university and they moved out to South Africa to start a new life together. But now Jude has met his mum, which is a big thing for him and something he's really happy about. However, for Angie, moving to Weatherfield isn't what she expected or wanted to happen."
And could this feeling of apathy have something to do with Mary who, objectively speaking, might take a bit of getting used to? What kind of mother in law does she turn out to be? "What kind do you think?" she laughs. "Mary is definitely pushing for Jude to settle close by because she wants her family around. So you will see her clashing with Angie quite a bit. But, in time, they might become quite a formidable force. If they can just get past their differences, there might be happier times ahead."
Of course, another bone of contention could prove to be the fact that Mary's nuptials to Norris are a sham, an idea dreamt up in order to win a competition. While many of their friends have questioned the union, it's Angie who really starts to get suspicious about what's going on:
"Jude is so taken with being at his mum's wedding that he's feeling overwhelmed. He's really happy for Mary, but it's Angie who picks up on all the micro expressions and between Norris and Mary. She keeps noticing their body language and quickly becomes convinced that all is not as it seems."
What Angie doesn't know though is that subterfuge not only surrounds the wedding, but also the details of Jude's past. As show devotees know, Mary was left pregnant after being raped as a teenager and had to give up her son. But upcoming episodes will see Mary confide what happened to a sympathetic Angie.
Says Ekanoye: "Angie is devastated for Mary. She really feels for her on a woman-to-woman level. But, at the same time, she knows that Jude has to be told, even though it's going to break his heart. So she's juggling a lot of emotions. And it's not going to be plain sailing. It's a big thing for Mary to have kept to herself and Jude will also feel betrayed. Angie will have to be there for both of them."
All of which sounds like there's plenty of drama on horizon - a prospect that Ekanoye relishes, especially seeing as it means sharing many a scene with Corrie luminaries Patti Clare [Mary] and Malcolm Hebden [Norris]:
"It's great coming into this unit. Patti and Malcolm are such a great duo and we laugh all the time on set, even when we shouldn't be. Connecting new characters with people who are already established really works. And Mary and Norris are such fan favourites. I feel very lucky that the two of them in particular are my foundation blocks. I love it. There's nothing about it that I don't like!"
You can see Victoria Ekanoye make her Coronation Street debut tonight at 7.30 and 8.30pm.
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