Vicar of Dibley star James Fleet talks about his very different role playing a baddie in Coronation Street…
This is not the sort of part we have come to expect from you?
“Ever since Four Weddings And A Funeral and The Vicar of Dibley, I’ve got stuck with the ‘posh/stupid’ label, so it was so nice to play somebody ordinary – somebody like me in real-life because I was actually born in a two-up, two-down in Wolverhampton. And waving a gun in people’s faces was quite exciting too.”
So Robbie is a real tough guy?
“Criminals don’t have to be tough wrestlers, like something you’d find in the SAS. Robbie is a career criminal and what he’s good at is pretending to be nice. He’s an armed robber and although he says he’s killed, I think he might be a bit of a fantasist.”
What has it been like being in Britain’s best-loved show?
“My mother used to watched Corrie. It’s part of my background. It’s special and I felt privileged to be in it. I hope I did a good job.”
Were you nervous?
“I was terrified! You walk through the corridors and they’re lined with pictures of people like Pat Phoenix. All that heritage. Then you’re shaking hands with Ken Barlow and you’ve got your elbow on the bar in The Rovers Return. I thought, ‘Bloody hell, how did I get here?’ But I really, really enjoyed it and I’ve made lots of new friends.”
Were you impressed by your fellow cast?
“Absolutely. They are so professional there and they work so hard. We did 12 hour days filming the siege. I could never be in a soap full-time. The seven episodes I did just about killed me.”
Do you think it will raise your profile though?
“I usually get around two fan letters a week and I suspect that will probably go up to 10 whilst I’m in Corrie. I’m lucky, as I never get recognised. It’s a good job as I am usually in a pair of old trousers covered in paint. I haven’t shaved and my hair’s mess. If people knew it was me, they might think ‘What on Earth’s happened to him?'”