Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Happy Birthday, Wendi Peters

WENDI PETERS (our Cilla Brown)

Born: February 29, 1968 in Blackburn, Lancashire, England

Since Wendi’s next official birthday isn’t until leap year 2008, let’s celebrate it today.

Before landing the part of Cilla Brown on Coronation Street in 2004, Wendi played the role of "Pam Jolly" in "Bad Girls."

She met her husband, actor Kenny Linden, when they appeared in Hello Dolly! together in 1988. They married in 1993 and daughter Grace Peters-Linden was born in 2001.

In real life, Wendi could not be more different to her character Cilla.

From a 2004 interview with The People:

"Being a mother myself makes playing Cilla harder because I really can't understand why anyone would be so horrible to their kids."

Gracie has started saying, 'Sister, mummy?' because all her little friends have got brothers and sisters. But I've tried to explain to her the reasons and am always joking with her that she's got Chesney so she doesn't need to worry. She hasn't met him, but thinks he's the bee's knees from watching TV."

After 20 years of living in or near London, the Blackburn-born star has lost her Lancashire accent.

She said: "I'm amazed when people recognise me. Even when I was in the swimming pool with my goggles on and hair scraped back, someone shouted, 'There's Cilla'."

Wendi made a great impact in Corrie from her earliest appearances. In her debut storyline, Cilla falsely took Rita Sullivan to court for bashing her son.

Now the character is such a hit with viewers that Wendi's contract has been extended. It is an amazing turn-around for a woman who was planning to pack it all in just a year ago.

Wendi confessed: "There have been so many times I've thought about giving up acting.

"It's a really hard business and the moment I became a mum, my priorities changed. I was being challenged in other ways."

Then came the chance to audition to play Cilla.

Wendi said: "I really went for it on the day.

"I piled my hair up and went to M&S and bought a padded bra because the brief said Cilla was buxom. I'm a big girl but not that big up top.

"I stuffed three pairs of socks down each one and wore a tight denim skirt and low-cut top. I drove up from London as Cilla and in the car park I put on blue eye shadow and blusher.

"It was so embarrassing tottering through Manchester. People were looking at me like I was about to tout for business."

But there are downsides to playing Cilla. Wendi explains: "I cringe when I see myself on TV.

"The wardrobe department buys me clothes a size smaller so everything rolls out. It really is quite hideous."

And she has to kiss Les Battersby, played by Bruce Jones.

Wendi giggled: "My husband jokes that he doesn't need to worry about me having an affair at work.

"The romance between Les and Cilla is all done tongue-in-cheek. Bruce and I hatch little plans behind the scenes on the silly things we could do.

"He always pulls me really close so my chest pops out. We have a good laugh."

Wendi has also built a close bond with Jennie McAlpine and Sam Aston, who play Fiz and Chesney.

She said: "I feel so guilty when I'm horrible to Chesney. In some scenes I have to get really close to his face and scream at him.

"Sam's little eyes twitch and then the tears start and I think, 'Don't do this to me, Sam'. I have to give him a big hug because I feel so bad.

"In one scene I hit him and afterwards he said, 'That hurt me'. I felt terrible."

Wendi added: "I pinch myself sometimes. I have the family I've always dreamed of and a fantastic job. But I've got to be careful I don't tell Gracie off in public - I don't want people thinking I'm like Cilla."

Then she proves there's little chance of any confusion.

Glancing at her watch, she said: "Sorry, I've got to go. I'm hosting a mums and tots group."


Addy said...

What a great interview with Wendi Peters. Les and her are favorites of mine they never fail to get me giggling over their antics! She's a very convincing actress.

GoBetty said...

Cilla is a great favourite in our house because she's so over-the-top (same for Blanche).

And by the way - I'm the same age as Cilla.

Addy said...

Blanche is also a favorite of mine her one liners and comebacks are priceless and usually true!