Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Corrie's Back And I'm So Glad!

The familiar trumpet strains, Mr. Frisky on the rooftop, some guy who looks like Les Battersby walking along the street from the p.o.v. of a cherrypicker... Corrie's back and I'm so glad!

Me chuckling in my La-Z-Boy, and my husband chuckling from the kitchen at me chuckling... he's in there whipping up his famous ribs for our neighbour's Amazing Race party tonight.

Just when you think agorophobe-Shelly couldn't be more boring, she gets boringer. And what's with that permanent black eye? I've had 'em, they fade in, like, a week to 10 days. This has been like, 3 weeks, yeah?

Just when you think Steve and Tracy are stupid and boring, Miss Magdalene Sister herself, Irish Chick, comes back into the Rovers and into Steve's life.


Scratch, Stretch, Yawn...Post Olympics Warmup UPDATE

(Special Mardi Gras shout out to my girl, MJ.)

Glacia gets her ass off the couch, bends her neck to the left, to the right, scratches her leg, yawns and shuffles towards the kitchen for cup of tea. Once said tea is prepared, she grabs a Dutch bickie and moves slowly back to the couch - careful to step over sleeping German Shepherd.

Still opening her eyes and patting her bedhead - she grabs the remote and clicks on the CBC (whom she still hasn't forgiven for the Wonderland issue)just in time to hear the haunting refrain play as the camera scans over Weatherfield. Glacia wonders why the hell they didn't just replace the cat for the opening shot.

And so it begins, with 24 medals under our belt, Canada resumes its regular schedule programming.

Night of the Living Shel.

Okay - when even Charlie is thinking you're crazy, it's time to 'Get back to your real life, bitch!'

The opening scene had Charlie at Shel's bed side where they are once again doing their 'It's just you and me against the world, babe' schtick. For a moment I thought the CBC was rerunning episodes from 3 weeks ago and I was ready to send a strongly worded letter to Casey AND Finnegan.

So Shel is afraid to come back to work. Charlie spends the episode trying to convince her to come back and they make a few attempts at having her come-down-the-stairs. But she keeps on just running BACK up those stairs - the final attempt being when she see Sunita.

This story line is getting old as far as I'm concerned.

Mommy Dearest
Bev is worried that she is a bad mom for Shel.

Um...okay...you kind of have been a crap mom.

Liz assures her that she is a brill mom.

No, not with your track history.

And Baby Makes Three
Haley catches Sunita reading a baby magazine, but Sunita passes it off as shark research. (WTF?) And wouldn't you know it, Roy, just happens to know a LOT about sharks.

So the two couples are at the Rovers where Roy gives a 2 hour lecture on all things Jaws. The level of boredom is so dangerously overwhelming that Sunita, obviously fearful for her life and that of her unborn child's, changes the subject by announcing her pregnancy. Dev jumps on the parade and buys the house a round of drinks.

He even tells Charlie who congratulates them both. Charlie then uses this news to lure Shel into becoming one of the ex-housebound. 'Sunita's got some news for you, but you'll just have to walk across the street and get it yourself.'

Help Wanted
Maria convinces Tyrone to drop hints around the garage that he's being offered a job at another place so that Kev will give him a raise. Being the soul of discretion, Tyrone slips the newspaper ad into Kev's jeans. 'My god! How did THAT get in there?'

Kev calls both Maria and Tyrone idiots and that's about the end of that.

On the other job front, Danny offers Sal a job as a machinist with a view to being a supervisor and Sal jumps at the opportunity.

Days of Wine and Beer
Steve runs into his mom, just as she's making arrangements with 'Bob' (be sure to pronounce it with menacing Manchester accent when reading this) to go to a wine testing event.

This confirms to Steve that 'Bob' is obviously gay. Later we see him in all his Homer Simpsonesque glory, sprawled out on the couch with his male pattern baldness and beer asking Tracey why anyone in their right mind go to a wine tasting event.

No worries Stevo - help is on the way. No longer must wine be an inaccessible commodity only fit for the hauty blue bloods!

I have recently received the following exciting news.

Wal-Mart announced that they will soon be offering customers a new discount item: Wal-Mart's own brand of wine. The world's largest retail chain is teaming up with E&J Gallo Winery of California, to produce the spirits at an affordable price, in the $2-5 range.

Wine connoisseurs may not be inclined to throw a bottle of Wal-Mart brand into their shopping carts, but "there is a market for cheap wine", said Kathy Micken, professor of marketing. She said: "But the right name is important."

Customer surveys were conducted to determine the most attractive name for the Wal-Mart brand. The top surveyed names in order of popularity are:

10. Chateau Traileur Parc

9. White Trashfindel

8. Big Red Gulp

7. World Championship Riesling

6. NASCARbernet

5. Chef Boyardeaux

4. Peanut Noir

3. I Can't Believe It's Not Vinegar!

2. Grape Expectations

And the number 1 name for Wal-Mart Wine:

1. Nasti Spumante

The beauty of Wal-Mart wine is that it can be served with either white meat (Possum) or red meat (Squirrel).

Source: That goofy dutch girl I know who always sends me joke emails

Straw Donkeys and Other SDT (Stupid Disappointing Tat)

Why do TV Brits always return from their hols in Spain clutching straw donkeys? I’ve yet to see a Canadian with a straw donkey. Castanets maybe. But no straw donkeys. Can someone explain the attraction?

Exchange specialist Travelex reports that SDT, or Stupid Disappointing Tat, describes the unwanted souvenirs and gifts that are brought into the UK by thousands of Britons returning home from their summer holidays. The research revealed that more than £16 million is wasted every year by British tourists on pointless gifts for friends and family and that the majority of those on the receiving end are unimpressed.

Travelex asked the respondents to vote for the naffest (that’s Britspeak for tackiest) items that are brought back by Britons on holiday and has compiled a list of the worst offenders. Spain scored a hat trick of souvenir no-no's with the top three "boovenirs" originating in the tourist traps of the Costa Del Sol.

Straw donkeys were placed at the top of the list, voted for by one fifth (20 per cent) of the respondents. In second place, with 16 per cent of the nominations, came sombreros, the wide brimmed hat found in Spain and Mexico. In third place were Spanish dolls in traditional costume, nominated for their naffness by 15 per cent of the respondents.

Tell us, Corrie Canuck readers. What’s the most pointless souvenir you’ve brought back from abroad or that a traveller has brought back for you?

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."

Monday, February 27, 2006

BRITISH ISLE SHOW!!!! andhowitisthatglaciasucks

March 4th - 10 AM in front of the Prince's Gates.

****It is STRONGLY suggested that you buy your tickets ahead of time online. You may be waiting a 1/2 hour or more trying to buy your tickets at the gate.***

Now, here's how I suck. I'm not going to be able to come. I could tell you why, but it involves chocolate, sex and a court date.

So I think I need someone willing to be Glacia at the gates to gather the flock. Although, I'm sure that everyone kind of knows each other by now. I'll also need someone to act as event correspondent for the rest of Corrie Canuck.

Any volunteers?

I am going to send out an evite to everyone in the Corrie list as a reminder. If you don't think you're on that group, send me an email to glacia at gmail dot com.

FYI - Sunita is the guest of honour and she'll be signing autographs at 11 am.

Time, admission fee, exhibitor info can be found here.

William Roache: Spiritual Soap Star

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph reports that William Roache (our Ken Barlow) will give a talk about his spiritual journey at a charity event.

He had a number of strange experiences in his youth which widened his curiosity, including attending spiritualist medium meetings and being told his dead grandfather was standing next to him, seeing a grey ghost while on the loo and waking to find a light-blue Buddha hovering at the foot of his bed.

William denied reports in the national press that he is a druid, or indeed belongs to any formal organisation.

Breast Cancer Sucks!

Okay, so here at Corrie Canuck, I think we all can generally agree that boobies are fabulous. I think that as a group we have a finely tuned and sophisticated appreciation of the mounds of love.

Having said that, I think it's appropriate that we've take up the battle against breast cancer on several occassions. (I'm actually thinking of making it our 'cause' but more on that later.)

Here is another opportunity to have a go at breast cancer - our very own Go Betty will be walking 60K (!!!) in the Weekend to End Breast Cancer. She is very close to her goal of $2,000 so it would be great if Corrie Canuck could help her get there.

If any of our Canucks would like to help her reach her donation goal, click on her donation page.

For all the Van Dorens, Jublies, and Thingamajugs out there, please consider helping to win the battle.

Guinness Stout Shake

(photo and recipe via sixthseal.com)

I’m prompted to post this shake recipe after reading GoBetty’s post about Ben & Jerry’s Black & Tan cream stout ice cream flavour and John’s post about the Coronation Street mug.

Here’s how to make a Guinness Shake using stout (preferably Guinness), ice cream, and a mug.

Presenting my next impulse purchase

The Coronation Street Mug, available at the CBC online boutique.

This One Might've Appealed to Ena

Ben & Jerry's new flavours for 2006 include one called Black & Tan, which is described as "Cream stout ice cream swirled with chocolate ice cream".

It might've appealed to Ena Sharples 'cos she were always drinkin' 'er milk stout inna snug o' Rovers.

Guess the Mystery Chest

Do you know who’s attached to this bod?
The answer will appear tomorrow in this space.
ANSWER: Rupert Hill (our Jamie Baldwin)

Coronation Street Returns!

Get on the blower and tell all your friends.

Regular evening broadcasts resume tonight - Monday, Februrary 27th.

Sunday Schedule: Corrie returns on Sunday, March 5th with four 5-hour episodes beginning at 5:00 a.m. (6:00 a.m. in Newfoundland.)

Check your local listings to be certain.

The 3 Stages Towards Coronation Street Addiction

1. "You're not watching that trash again are you?"
2. "Well, if you're watching it, I might as well"
3. "Did you set the VCR to tape Coronation Street?"

Leonard Swindley

Leonard Swindley (played by Arthur Lowe)

Corrie Canuck reader Vicus left a comment yesterday mentioning former Corrie character Leonard Swindley. For those new to Coronation Street, here’s a little background on our Leonard and his relationship with Emily.

When viewers first met Emily Nugent (now Emily Bishop) she spent her days running her own shop on Rosamund Street, selling baby linen, and her evenings and Sundays helping out at the Mission of Glad Tidings.

Leonard Swindley was a draper and lay preacher at the Mission.

By the end of 1961 Emily and Swindley had merged their shops and had been taken over then by the chainstore Gamma Garments, owned by Greek Niklos Papagopolous.

Leonard Swindley took Emily for granted. Emily stuck to her job because she believed that Swindley would one day ask for her hand in marriage.

He never did, so in the spring of 1964, a Leap Year, Emily fed him on Parma ham, veal escalopes with broccoli spears, and proposed: “I suppose it’s a fact of womankind…I look for permanence…We have each other but will we always? We share so much, I wonder that we don’t share it all. Share our lives. Why don’t we join our interests in nuptial agreement?”

After Swindley had had a chance to weigh up the pros and cons he decided that Emily would make a sound wife. “Her loyalty and consistency have always been a mainstay of her character. I wonder if I have the right to spurn, the right to withhold what is within my power to give.”

The jeweller offered friend Swindley some aid in picking an engagement ring for Emily: “Shall I tell ‘er it’s £10 more and then knock it off? It generally impresses them.”

No one was particularly surprised when, as they waited at the Mission hall to witness the union, Emily calmly told Jack Walker that she couldn’t go through with it.

“I always wanted Mr. Swindley. I used to look at him in the shop and imagine doing things for him … laughing at who should have the broken egg at breakfast and shouting at him – only joking sort of – for forgetting to take his library books back. Things like that. He doesn’t want to get married, Mr. Walker. Not to me. Not to anybody. It was just me. He probably wouldn’t admit it, but we both know. There’s got to be affection, you see. If there isn’t … I’m right aren’t I, Mr. Walker?”

Emily gets cold feet

It was a dignified non-wedding, with no passionate outbursts. Emily jilted Swindley. Swindley went on the honeymoon weekend alone, telling Emily he’d see her in the shop on Monday, business as usual.

Emily Nugent: always a bridesmaid, never a bride?

Emily eventually wed - first to Ernest Bishop in 1972, then to Arnold Swain in 1980. The marriage to Arnold Swain was annulled due to bigamy.

And for those who haven’t read about Emily’s torrid affair with Hungarian Miklos Zadic, read my previous posting - Emily Bishop: The 39-Year-Old-Virgin.

Sources: The Women of Coronation Street by Daran Little and The Coronation Street Story by Daran Little

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Olympics, they are over

Cindy, Clara, Women's Hockey Team, we all love you and all but if Corrie doesn't come back soon, we're going postal.

But see you in Vancouver, eh?

Sunday Diversion: How Good Are You?

Already found out ‘How Dodgy Are You?’ Then take the ‘How Good Are You?’ morality quiz.

There’s Only ONE Ken Barlow

Will the Real Ken Barlow Please Stand Up?

I’m the REAL Ken Barlow,dammit. These lot are Ken Barlow Wannabees.

Ken Barlow Wannabee #1

“Hello, I'm Ken Barlow. I recently qualified as a doctor, following a very enjoyable five years of training at medical school. At the moment, I love all aspects of medicine, and I can't decide whether to be a surgeon or a family doctor. Sometimes I think Jackie wishes I was a vet instead of a doctor for humans, and then it would save us a lot of money having to call out our good friend Luke to see to our ponies. As you can see, I travel to work on my motorbike, and then have to do a quick change of uniform for the ward round. Bye!”

Ken Barlow Wannabee #2

KARE 11 Chief Meteorologist Ken Barlow has accepted a job in Boston that will bring him to a larger television market and closer to his family.

Ken Barlow Wannabee #3

Ken Barlow "Our Ken" the retired photographer, as opposed to Ken the actor [Our Ken had the name first anyway] took up water colouring about 3 years ago as a hobby.

Ken Barlow Wannabee #4

“Hi, my name is Ken Barlow and this web page is located in the wonderful city of Rochester, NY. You people from UK: No, I'm not THAT Ken Barlow, I just happen to share names with him.”

Ken Barlow Wannabee #5

…the 47-year-old father-of-three says the only things he has in common with the soap legend is his name and the fact that he hails from Salford.

Ken Barlow Wannabee #6

Pastor Ken Barlow performs wedding ceremony… at Wal-Mart!

Ken Barlow Wannabee #7

“The most powerful facility in the United States could depend on Ken Barlow.”

And finally…

Ken Barlow Wannabee #8

Ken Barlow vs. Canada
…Minister of Fisheries and Oceans seized approximately 60 lobster traps belonging to applicant Ken Barlow.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Saturday Diversion: How Dodgy Are You?

If you’ve ever strolled around your house butt naked or been drunk in a pub, you may be living dangerously.

Best take this test then, eh?

Happy Birthday, Julie Hesmondhalgh

Julie Hesmondhalgh
(photo via Corrie.net)

JULIE HESMONDHALGH (our Hayley Cropper)

Born: February 25, 1970 in Accrington, Lancashire, England

Julie Hesmondhalgh (pronounced "hez-mund-halsh") was spotted by the casting crew for Coronation Street whilst performing in "Much Ado About Nothing" at Manchester’s Royal Exchange theatre.

She joined the Corrie cast in 1998 when she was brought onto the show as a love-interest for Roy Cropper. Her role was intended to be short-term but the producers hired her as a regular following tremendous public response to her character.

Ian Kershaw, Martha Mo, Julie Hesmondhalgh (2001)

Julie met her husband Ian Kershaw on the Coronation Street set when Ian played a Weatherfield Gazette reporter. Read about how Julie fell for Ian in Our Secret Corrie Snogs.

“I was sneaking off in my breaks and snogging in back streets, I was not eating or sleeping, I was just so happy."

Hayley gave birth to a daughter, Martha Mo Kershaw, in October 2001.

Julie and her wee babby (2001)

Want to read more about Julie Hesmondhalgh / Hayley Cropper? Follow the links below.

Read about Hayley’s development as a transgender character at Press For Change.

Julie’s portrayal of Hayley was addressed in a House of Commons motion.

Details of Roy and Hayley Cropper’s wedding!

Roy and Hayley Cropper tie the knot (1999)

This interview with Julie Hesmondhalgh is several years old but sheds light on Julie’s personal life and her role as Hayley.

Our Hayley’s a cover girl! Hayley graces the cover of the February/March 2006 issue of On The Air Magazine. This issue is on newsstands now. Look for a detailed cover story on Julie Hesmondhalgh inside.

BC Fans: Please Confirm re Pub Nite

Beautiful BC: Home of the marmot

A reminder that the first British Columbia Corrie Canuck Pub Nite is only 2 weeks away!

Please leave a comment if you’re planning to attend, as we need to inform the pub manager.

Join contributors Susan and MJ for a night of Corrie camaraderie on Saturday, March 11th.

The Frog & Nightgown Pub
1125 Falcon Drive
Coquitlam, BC

Time: 7:00 p.m.

SuperPages map here.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Liz McDonald: Weatherfield’s Glamorous Granny

It wouldn’t be Frisky Friday without Liz McDonald in a bikini.

Remember when Liz won the Weatherfield Glamorous Granny competition? Tracy nominated her in the Weatherfield Gazette’s contest. Tracy apparently couldn’t be bothered to nominate her own mum so Deirdre never had the chance to be a glam granny.

Another Weatherfield Wannabee

Sunderland Today reports that Shannon Waring, a 16-year-old skater whose dreams of Olympic glory were shattered by an injury, is hoping her talents will be a hit when she stars in the new television comedy Thin Ice.

“Acting is definitely my first love now. I really enjoyed it and I can’t think of anything better I would like to do.”

Shannon says if her acting career takes off she would one day love to walk down the famous cobbles of Coronation Street.

Any thoughts on how we could work a skating scene into Corrie?

Coronation Street Pinup of the Week

Visit the Coronation Street Fun Pages to see a gorgeous photo of a Corrie cast member. Scroll down and click on the Pinup of the Week.

Frisky Friday - Guess the Totty

Okay...here's your chance to guess the Corrie Canuck totty.

I realize that you might not know theses lovelies from television, but if you think really hard, you might come up with a way to guess which breast is which.


Caption this photo of Keith Duffy (our Ciaran McCarthy.)

No Fags Allowed at the Rovers Return

SMOKING is to be banned at Britain’s most famous boozer — the Rovers Return.

The Coronation Street pub will be completely smoke-free by next summer, in line with the public ban voted for by MPs.

TV writers have been focusing on the smoking issue since MPs voted last week. And viewers can expect fireworks from regular puffers like Janice and Les Battersby, Deirdre Barlow and Liz McDonald.

A source said: “As soon as the Bill was passed we started thinking ahead.

“So many of the characters are chain-smokers the show couldn’t get by without making any mention of the ban.

“The Rovers will never be the same again — the fug of cigarette smoking is almost as much a part of the pub as the name itself. There will definitely be some high jinx with characters trying to find their own way round the ban.”

Smoking will be illegal in ALL indoor public areas within 18 months.

TV bosses are rumoured to be providing an outdoor smoking area at the pub.

A Corrie spokesman said: “The Rovers will live within the same laws as every other pub in the land. It will be quite a talking point at the bar.”

Source: The Sun

Now over to you lot… To smoke in pubs? Or not to smoke?

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Caption this photo of our Chesney Brown.

Guess the Mystery Mouth

ANSWER: David Neilson (our Roy Cropper)

The Mystery Mouth has returned! Following a series of assorted mystery body parts and mystery rooms, it’s time again to ask you to guess which Coronation Street star/character belongs to the Mystery Mouth.

If you think you know the answer, tell us in the comments section.

Return to this spot tomorrow where we’ll post the answer under this photo.

Norris Cole: Bad Sweater Guy

Here we see Norris Cole circa 1996 sporting a sweater (a “jumper” if you’re in the UK) that should be re-wrapped and re-gifted immediately.

Norris’s sweater should be showcased on Bad Sweater Guy.

Or perhaps Norris could connect with others of his kind at a Bad Sweater Party.

RAY FEARON: Our Nathan Cooper

HE'S slicker than engine oil and smoother than a pint of Newton and Ridley best bitter...

The girls are queuing round the forecourt for a glimpse of Coronation Street's velvet-voiced mechanic Nathan Cooper.

For actor Ray Fearon, who plays the Street's kind-hearted hunk, success is especially sweet - he's lucky to have stayed out of jail.

Ray drifted into trouble as a teenager and was arrested several times.

Today, many of his old friends have fallen by the wayside - the victims of crime, drugs or violence - and Ray, 38, reckons that he was headed the same way.

"If I hadn't discovered acting my life would have most probably gone off the rails," he admits. "I grew up in a pretty rough part of London and knocked around with bad company. I didn't like school very much and when I was about 14 I just stopped going.

"I went astray. All I did was hang about on the streets and get in trouble with the police - and that was my life.

"We got up to silly stuff - messing about like teenagers can do - and at that time the law was different. It was called the Suspected Person law - the "sus" law.

"The police could pick you up if they suspected that you were going to steal - you didn't actually have to do anything.

"I was arrested several times just walking down the road. They'd say they suspected I was going to burgle a house.

In the end this terrible, essentially racist law, was scrapped. "We were just kids, but some of the local police gave us hell," says Ray. "We were always getting pulled into the police station about something. I'm not giving the police a bad name, but that's just how it was back then. I just assumed that was how my life was going to be."

If Ray is frank about his background, Nathan's is more of a mystery.

When he arrived on the Corrie cobbles last year he took a job working at Kevin Webster's garage and soon hooked up with Tracy Barlow.

Tracy Barlow and Nathan Cooper

He has an eight-year-old daughter Rosa from a previous relationship and admits the break-up has made him cautious.

"It's not that I haven't got the time for a girlfriend, I'm just a bit scared. When you're been in a long relationship it makes you a bit tentative.

"And this business doesn't help. There's a lot of travelling and holding on to a relationship is sometimes nigh on impossible.

"I'm not a saint, but I don't drink alcohol and I don't go to clubs much, so I'm not often in places where there are single girls. It can get a bit lonely, but that's OK. I'm not in a hurry to meet anyone."

A devoted father, Ray currently divides his time between his home in Wimbledon, south London, his daughter's home in Warwick and a rented flat in Manchester close to the Coronation Street studios.

The son of Jamaican immigrants, he grew up in Wembley, the fifth of seven children.

His engineer father David was 25 and his mother Anne, a nurse, was just 19 when they moved to Britain from Jamaica. They were desperate for Ray to make something of his life - but he just wasn't interested.

"When I was at school the only thing I knew about Shakespeare was a road called Shakespeare Crescent - I just wasn't bothered," admits Ray, who later became the first black actor for 40 years to play Othello at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Fearon as Othello

When he was 15 he started taking part in theatre workshops and his outlook changed.

At 17, he joined the Royal Court Youth Theatre and decided to go to college to finish his education. Then he enrolled in the Rose Bruford Drama School in Kent.

"I decided that my life wasn't going to change unless I changed it," he says.

"At the same time I realised all the hard work my parents had put into their kids. It would have been a crime to see all their efforts go to waste. I knew I could do better.

"Some of my old friends have turned out alright, but some are dead, some are extreme drug addicts and some are in prison doing life.

"It was God's grace, I suppose - but I discovered something I liked."

In ten years Ray went from school drop-out to one of the RSC's treasured stars. His determination are evident in every area of his life.

In his early teens, he joined a tennis club - much to the amazement of his mates on the street.

"I got a coach and started to play for my local borough Brent and then for Middlesex," he says.

By his late teens he was playing for Great Britain and travelled the world on the junior professional circuit.

"I was obsessive - I video-taped tennis players and watched them over and over again and read every tennis book. My dream was to win Wimbledon.

"But I was playing tennis, attending drama workshops and catching up on my schooling and something had to go. I'd got to a pretty good standard in tennis, but nowhere near good enough. So the acting took over." After drama school he immediately began appearing in Shakespeare plays and then in 1993, at 26, joined the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company.

He spent ten years there, winning impressive reviews as the first black Romeo and Pericles and making headlines in 1999 when he became the first black Othello for 40 years.

Fearon as Pericles

"When I was at drama school an acting teacher told me: 'You've got a natural talent for Shakespeare, but I don't think you are going to get the parts you deserve because of being black.'

"It seemed wrong - and just made me determined to go and make a change." At the RSC Ray began to attract press attention.

"I went on a world tour and the press would ask what I thought about current affairs involving black people, such as Mike Tyson fighting in Britain, but I was rarely asked about Shakespeare," he says.

In his late 20s Ray began to appear on TV, including Prime Suspect, Band of Gold, The Bill, Doctors and Waking The Dead. In 2000 he appeared in EastEnders as a paraplegic in the next hospital bed to Nick Cotton and in 2002 he joined the Channel 4 teen soap As If.

He has also appeared in several films, including Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as Firenze the centaur.

The call to join Coronation Street came in September 2004 and the role of garage mechanic Nathan was created especially for him.

"I was flattered, but very frightened," he says. "I'm from the theatre and I'm used to getting a complete script.

"But when I went to meet the producer he only had four lines.

"In them, I walked into Tracy Barlow's house, we looked for a room, but there was somebody in each one and then I snogged her ... and that was it.

"I had to decide whether to take the part on the basis of those four lines.

"But it's a great show and the writers are fantastic so I knew it would be fine - and I said yes."

And Corrie got a new heartthrob.

Source: The Mirror (edited to remove spoilers)