Ex Girls Aloud star Sarah Harding talks about her new role in Coronation Street, her solo career and learning to enjoy the quiet life…

Sarah is appearing in Corrie for a handful of episodes playing Joni, the second wife of Tracy Barlow’s ex, Robert Preston. Feisty Joni’s a bit of a one – rather like we’ve always imagined Sarah to be. These days, however, she says she’s more home bird than party animal.

“I live in the Buckinghamshire countryside and I’m very far removed from London. But I’m very content with that. I love the peace and quiet. Having said that, I’m loving being up in Manchester and being in Corrie. My mum’s a Manchester girl and I remember playing footy and making mud pies in the ginnel at the back of my gran’s house when I was little. I feel very at home here,” she told Soaplife magazine.

How did you get the Corrie gig?

“I was up here last year with Good Morning Britain and got chatting to Corrie’s lovely press officer Alison and it was clear I was a big fan of the show. A while later, they got in touch…”

So you didn’t audition?

“It was more of a chat because it’s a guest role. I had to keep it quiet for ages, which was really hard. I only told my mum and my fella. It was announced on April Fool’s Day so everyone thought it was a wind-up at first! I’m so, so honoured to have a guest role in Corrie.”

Do you feel there’s extra pressure on you because of your history in Girls Aloud?

“Yes, I know I’m under scrutiny. Corrie producer Stuart Blackburn has said there’ll be extra pressure on me because I’m a singer who started out on a reality show. But it is what it is and I studied acting when I was younger.”

Could Joni become a permanent character?

“I’d love to come back, but I’ve got loads going on with my music. That’s not to say I couldn’t come back, though. Wait and see, that’s what I say.”

What’s your solo material like?

“The single’s called Threads. I was in a bit of a bad mood when I wrote it – we women do have our ‘off’ days – but that means it’s powerful and from the heart. It’s quite ‘rock chick’, but I guess that’s what people expect because that’s what I was like in Girls Aloud. I haven’t moved away from the Girls Aloud sound entirely because we did some rock songs. My own stuff is rocky but with a ‘pop edge’.”

Do you have a big say in how the songs sound?

“I have far more creative input than when I was in the band and I like that. I’ve always sung and performed. I grew up in a musical family and I sang with my dad and brother, who performed in live bands when I was younger. I feel like I’ve gone back to my roots. If it goes well, there’ll be more coming and I’ll do some gigs.”

What do your Girls Aloud colleagues make of you being in Coronation Street?

“They’ve all tweeted their congratulations. They’ve been so supportive.”

Ideally, would you like to combine acting and singing in the future?

“That would be perfect. I love my music, but I like having other options and paths to explore. It mixes things up a bit and it keeps life interesting. These days, I think you have to be a bit of an all-rounder.”