Crossing the floor: from Walford to Weatherfield (and vice versa)

As Walford favourite Michelle Collins joins Corrie, here's a few other soap defectors...

You know her best as Cindy Beale, the scheming wife of Ian who hired a hit man to have him shot, but from tomorrow, Michelle Collins will begin a new life in Weatherfield as the pint-pulling Stella Price.

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Although the idea of a true EastEnder (she’s from Hackney and worked on the BBC soap for a decade) behind the bar in the Rovers Return may unsettle the more conservative soap fan, perhaps some comfort can be gleaned from the knowledge that such Walford-to-Weatherfield transfers (and the other way around) aren’t as uncommon as you may think.

Remember Tricky Dicky? You know, Richard Cole, Walford’s answer to Casanova…he slept with a 17-year old Bianca… Yep, that’s the one. Ian Reddington played the lothario between 1992 and 1994, but EastEnders was not enough for the actor it seemed, as 11 years later he turned up on Coronation Street as Vernon Tomlin, Liz McDonald’s on-off musician boyfriend.

But Reddington’s not the only defector – Jill Halfpenny went the other way. At the turn of the century her Corrie character Rebecca Hopkins was happily having it away with Martin Platt behind Gail’s back. She scarpered, leaving the Platts’ marriage irreversibly damaged in 2000, only to surface again in 2002 as Kate Mitchell – one of several seemingly sane women foolish enough to marry EastEnd egghead Phil. Jill enjoyed a three-year tenure in Walford before her character slept with Dirty Den and ran away to rejoin the police in Brighton.

And they keep coming… A year before Shobna Gulati got the gig as Sunita Alahan (and the privilege of working with the world’s most annoying character, Dev), she appeared in EastEnders. That’s right, folks, in 2000, Gulati was seen in Walford playing Sonia Jackson’s social worker – a career highlight, I’m sure.

Now, many of you may assume June Brown and Dot Branning are the same person – but wait, there was life before the launderette for June. Long before EastEnders was even a twinkle in Julia Smith or Tony Holland’s eye, Ms Brown was strutting her stuff on the Manchester cobbles (albeit for a short time) as Mrs Parsons.

In fact, her on-screen husband, Jim has done the same thing. Veteran British actor John Bardon played Ernie Lumsden for two episodes of Corrie in 1990 before heading down south to play the Branning patriarch from 1996 until 2011.

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OK, one more, then I really have to go. Nicholas Bailey, best known as Anthony Trueman in EastEnders (2000-2005) was in five episodes of Corrie as Lee Middleton in 1996 and 1997.