Should Coronation Street killer Tracy Barlow really marry murderer Rob Donovan? It sounds like a perfect match – but what does Tracy actress Kate Ford think?
Up against fiancé Rob, Tracy seems positively angelic these days.
All right, she’s still cruel, cold-hearted and horribly manipulative – you don’t win two Soap Bitch Of The Year awards without putting in the graft – but let’s be fair, it’s years since Tracy actually murdered anyone.
Rob (played by Marc Baylis), on the other hand, just recently bumped off poor Tina McIntyre. And although he’s done a chillingly good job of concealing his guilt so far, viewers can see he’s still living on his nerves.
And those nerves become very frayed on Friday, July 11, when the couple are out for dinner in the Bistro and he sees Tracy wearing the bracelet he stole from Tina’s flat, then unknowingly dropped outside the Barlows’ house.
“He’s absolutely horrified to see the bracelet,” Kate tells the Daily Express. “Tracy’s just like, ‘Oh yeah, my mum found this, what do you think of it?’. But then Steph, who works at the Bistro, says, ‘Oh my God, that’s my bracelet, I’ve been looking for it!’
“Rob’s heart is pounding, as if he’s thinking, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to get out of this’. And when they leave, Steph calls the police…”
Tracy, of course, still has no idea it was Rob who murdered Tina.
“There are moments right now when she feels he’s really overreacting to things,” says Kate. “But she just suspects he had more feelings for Tina than he’s letting on.”
“It doesn’t become a big thing. For now, she’s too busy planning their wedding.
“When she eventually finds out, I’m sure the dynamic in their relationship will change – because that’s serious, isn’t it?”
Well, quite. Not that Tracy was exactly Tina’s biggest fan, was she?
“Oh no, she’s glad she’s dead!” adds Kate.
Kate agrees that Tracy and Rob have plenty in common. “They’re both incredibly selfish people – and they’ve obviously both got the ability to lose the plot,” she says.
Kate describes Tracy as “a sociopath in some ways. She doesn’t get people’s emotions, she lacks empathy”.
But she insists, “On some levels she’s quite a nice person. She’s just really complicated.”
The niceness, on those rare occasions we see it, normally stems from her genuine love for Amy. But does Kate think that Amy will ultimately evolve, rather horrifically, into Tracy Barlow mark two, forcing her mum to have a good, hard look at her own behaviour?
“Well, they’re already making Amy a bit of a chip off the old block. But I don’t think it’ll make Tracy any more reflective. She’ll just be one of those mums who always fights her child’s corner, right or wrong.”
Talking of motherhood, does Kate allow her six-year-old son Otis to watch her in the soap?
“Do you know what, he’s not no interest in it! I mean, I’ve actually said to him before now, ‘Mummy just wants to watch this,’ – you know, if there’s an episode I’ve not seen – and his reaction is, ‘Oh, how long is it going to be on for?’. He just wants to put his own stuff on,” she laughs.
Kate has been playing Tracy Barlow since 2002, albeit with a three-year break. Since her full-time return in December 2010, she’s enjoyed the chance to explore different elements of her character’s personality.
“I’ve had a lot more light-hearted stuff over the last couple of years,” she says. “That’s been really nice.”
And is it fair to say Tracy’s cold-heartedness can be funny in itself?
“Yes. She’s a bit like Blanche used to be, the way she always says what she thinks and doesn’t care if it’s cutting or damaging.”
So, given a hand in future Coronation Street storylines, where would Kate love to see toxic Tracy heading next?
“Well, personally I think it would be really good if I had a storyline set in the Caribbean. Just Tracy with some really hot guys on a yacht. That would be all right!”
Click here to read about the dramas brewing in Coronation Street in the run-up to Christmas
Coronation Street, ITV, Monday, July 7, 7.30pm & 8.30pm