Ex-EastEnder Jessie to star in Corrie drama

EastEnder Jessie Wallace is to play one of the legends of the soap’s arch rival Coronation Street in a new BBC drama, it has been announced.

She will play early Corrie sex symbol Pat Phoenix – better known as Elsie Tanner for the best part of a quarter of a century – in a 75-minute film about how the Weatherfield serial was born.

The part of William Roache, who plays the soap’s longest-running character Ken Barlow, will be played by his real-life son James in the as-yet-untitled BBC Four programme.

Other leading names in the star-studded cast include Celia Imrie who plays Doris Speed – better known as snobby Rover’s Return landlady Annie Walker.

Open All Hours actress Lynda Baron will play Violet Carson, who starred as Street veteran Ena Sharples.

Jessie is to return to Albert Square later this year to reprise her role as Kat Moon for the first time since 2005.

She began filming her role this week as Phoenix, who created the role of Corrie’s flame-haired temptress Tanner in 1960.

The actress was briefly married to Cherie Blair’s father Tony Booth for eight days until her death from lung cancer in 1986 at the age of 62 and Tony Blair was among the mourners at her funeral.

Phoenix appeared in the series until 1984 with only a three-year break in the 1970s.

The BBC film examines how creator Tony Warren (played by David Dawson) brought the show to life and is part of a series celebrating the north of England.

Warren himself is consultant on the drama which is written by Corrie’s former archivist and scriptwriter Daran Little, who now works on EastEnders.

Jane Horrocks plays Granada’s casting director Margaret Morris, while Steven Berkoff and John Thomson also appear.

The cast also features Michelle Holmes who was actually a Coronation Street actress, playing Tina Fowler two decades ago.

James Roache is also joining the cast of the real Coronation Street later this year alongside his father and brother Linus.

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