Coronation Street’s new addition Claire King reveals to Soaplife that Erica is a woman who loves men – and the younger the better!

Heads turn when sexy, sophisticated Erica arrives on the Street. She’s a mate of Liz McDonald (Beverley Callard) from Spain and is supposed to be visiting her mum in Preston, but she’s made a detour to Weatherfield – and stays after she meets Nick. “They get talking in the bistro, have a few drinks and a few laughs, and there’s a definite attraction between them – the fact he’s some years younger than her doesn’t matter, they’re both adults and fancy having a good time together over Christmas,” Claire tells Soaplife. But is it just a festive fling or the start of something more serious?

So, what’s Erica like?

“She’s quite tough and straight-talking, with a great attitude to life – she intends to enjoy it to the full. She also has a good sense of humour and likes a drink. Gail, Nick’s mum, doesn’t approve. She thinks Erica’s brassy and flamboyant. As you can imagine, Helen [Worth, who plays Gail] and I have some wonderful scenes together.”

Do Erica and Nick (Ben Price) fall into bed straightaway?

“There’s some full-on snogging first – an end-of-episode OMG moment. You don’t actually see them in bed but there are loads of references to them sleeping together. There’s one line when Erica’s in the bistro and says to Gail to wind her up: ‘Nick had his Christmas present last night!’ Gail’s disgusted!”

Nick must think all his Christmases have come at once!

“He deserves some happiness after the rough year he’s had. Erica brings him out of his shell and makes him more relaxed. He even wears jeans instead of a suit in a couple of scenes.”

Is it fun playing a Cougar?

“It’s Grrrrr-eat! Erica clearly likes younger men, but she’s not especially predatory. The attraction between her and Nick is mutual.”

Once Christmas is over, will Erica want a fresh start for the New Year?

“That’s the idea, but then things get a bit complicated. Erica’s mum has a fall, which means she has to stay in the UK rather than go back to Spain and Nick starts thinking she might like him more than she’s letting on. In truth, Erica’s feeling Nick’s becoming a bit clingy. They’re at cross-purposes, really. There are some awkward scenes and then a showdown on New Year’s Eve!”

It’s 16 years since you played Emmerdale über-bitch Kim Tate. Is it good to be back in soapland?

“I’m loving it! But I was very nervous on my first day and I’m still a bit twitchy about the scenes in the Rovers.”

Coronation Street, ITV. Click here for dates and times.