Chris & Jane: ‘Corrie’s had such a great year’

Coronation Street stars Chris Gascoyne (Peter) and Jane Danson (Leanne) talk to TV Times magazineabout glitz, glamour and gongs, as they look ahead to this week’s British Soap Awards…

How would you sum up the last 12 months in Coronation Street?

Chris: “I’ve really learnt a lot and it’s been challenging. And it’s had a different feel to it; Peter’s matured and I really like him now. He still makes mistakes, but now he’s starting to think what he’s got to lose before he does it.”

Jane: “I’d say the same as Chris; it’s been challenging. We get very little time on set so we really put the work in behind the scenes.”

Some actors relish the soap awards; others feel a little awkward. How do you feel about the big night?

“I’m in the awkward category, really. With any social situation, I’m in the awkward category, unless I know people very well. But it is nice to meet people who do the same job as you. We all know the stresses, how difficult it is and how much work everybody does. If you’re not in soap, you’d never understand.”

Jane: “Chris doesn’t like a lot of attention, but I think in this case, it’s well deserved. I think for Chris, myself and little Alex (who plays Simon), just the fact that we’ve all been acknowledged is really nice.”

Will the night have a different feel about it, given that it’s in Manchester for the first time this year, rather than London?

“Yeah, definitely; I’m glad I don’t have to travel to London this time and people can come up here. Make them come with their suit bags on the train and all that!”

Jane: “I quite like that though, it’s a guilt-free night away from the children. But we’re on home turf, so that’ll be nice, and I think the girls will keep up the tradition of getting ready together because that’s part of it, isn’t it?”

Do you know what you’re wearing?

“I’ve got a new grey suit, a nice slim tie and I’ll wear a smart pair of brogues. I always wear a black suit and look too much like a mobster, so I thought I’d better lighten up a bit this time. It’s a Hugo Boss one; it is very nice, although I’m not really a suit wearer, I’m always pulling at my collar and feeling uncomfortable.”

Jane: “I have no idea; I’m always so last minute. I kind of like that pressure though; I set myself a day to do it. I have three favourite shops – Lipsy, Coast and Forever Unique.”

The red carpet: love it or hate it?

“Hate it. It’s horrible; you feel completely disorientated. To be honest, I’ve never gone down the red carpet apart from once with Alex, and that was because I couldn’t find the back door; I’ve always gone through the back door.”

Jane: “It’s a bit easier for the men, I think. It’s harder for the women. I love/hate it; I find it a bit overwhelming, but I’m one of the older ones now so no one’s that interested in me.”

The tabloids focus on who’s worn what, rather than who’s won what. Have you ever been labelled as a fashion disaster?

“Well I’ve avoided that, because I’ve not been there to have my picture taken!”

Jane: “A few years ago at the soap awards, I picked a very simple, unassuming dress, but then everyone said I should wear a dress that I’d worn for a photoshoot. It was a black thing with a big, puffball skirt. I had really mismatched jewellery, the shoes were horrendous and my hair was really bad. The whole ensemble was just wrong!”

Jane, you’re up for best dramatic performance alongside Lindsey Coulson (EastEnders), Danny Miller (Emmerdale) and Claire Cooper (Hollyoaks). And Chris, you’re up for best actor alongside Shane Richie (EastEnders), Danny Miller (Emmerdale) and Emmett J Scanlan (Hollyoaks). How would you rate each other’s chances?

“Jane upped the game this year, massively. I can honestly say, she’s possibly the best actress that I’ve ever worked with. I love to come into work and do scenes with her because we never know what’s going to happen. She always gets left out of everything, but this year she isn’t, and I think people recognise how good she is.”

Jane: ”I know I’m totally biased, but I think Chris is one of the best actors in soap, period, whether he’s got good stuff to do or he’s just going to the shop for a pint of milk. He’s been in the show for a very long time and he’s never been acknowledged, and I’d be really disappointed for him if he doesn’t win it because I think it’s his time.”

Alex Bains is nominated for best young performance as Simon – how does he feel about that?

”I tell him there are no winners and losers and he knows that; he’s a smart little boy. But his work this year has been excellent and now he’s getting older, he’s not just saying lines; he really is starting to understand the scenes. There’s lovely little things that he does; he has a little character now as Simon.”

Jane: “Alex has had a very good year; he’s at a very tender age and he does deliver, and he’s very popular with the viewers so it would be lovely for him to get something. I think he would obviously like to win, but he’s got his head screwed on.”

EastEnders has won Best Soap for the last three years. What would it mean for you to have Coronation Street lifting the trophy this year?

“Over the 50th anniversary we worked so hard. We did five weeks of night shoots, we did 14-hour days; it was really hard work, and to pull the live episode off that was an hour long, it was very ambitious. So it would be nice that people voted for us. But fair dos if EastEnders win again; they’ve had such a great year.”

Jane: ”It would be more upsetting if we were to lose it this year because it has been one of the best, especially with the tram crash and loads of different storylines intertwining and coming together. But you can’t take it for granted; you just have to hope that people remember what a great year we’ve had.”

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