Sue Johnston: ‘I’m a bit scared of Corrie’

Twenty nine years after her first ever TV role in Coronation Street, actress Sue Johnston tells TV Times magazine about being back on the cobbles…

People might not know this, but starring in Coronation Street as Mrs Chadwick in 1983 was actually your first ever telly role!

“I was actually doing Corrie when I got offered Brookside, and I remember it so clearly.”

What do you remember about your six-week stint on the show?

“The actors were so iconic – Pat Phoenix was in it, and I had a lot of scenes with Doris Speed, who played Annie Walker. And that was where I first met Liz Dawn, who played Vera Duckworth, because she took me under her wing, and we’ve been friends ever since.”

What other memories have stayed with you all these years?

“Off the green room was another room where some of them played bridge, and I remember the actor who played Alf Roberts, Brian Mosley, put his head round the door one day, and said, ‘Does anyone play bridge?’ I put my hand up and he said ‘Will you make up a four?’ I just went ‘No.’ I thought: ‘I can’t even speak to them, let alone play cards with them!’”

Now you’re back as Gloria Price…

“She is a funny one, really. She’s sort of an ageing hippy. She likes to say it as it is, which, for me, means she’s totally insensitive to other people. She doesn’t exactly build Stella’s self-esteem. She’s very critical and she’s got quite an acid tongue.”

Does she start causing a lot of trouble?

“She’s ambitious for Stella and the pub, and likes to take over. She bins all the hotpots! Also, Gloria loves Karl and thinks that his and Stella’s relationship was great, so she causes a lot of trouble trying to get them back together.”

How does it feel to be playing Gloria?

“It’s terrific, and Coronation Street writers write brilliantly for characters like this. She has some cracking one-liners.”

Are you nervous?

“I’m a bit scared of this. I’ve grown up with it; it all feels a bit surreal. I can’t imagine me in Coronation Street!”

Why did you decide to take the part of Gloria?

“Joel [Sue’s son] and his family live in Manchester so, when Phil [Collinson, Coronation Street’s producer] called my agent, seeing if I’d be interested in playing Stella’s mum, there was this feeling in my head that it was meant to be.”

Are you going to be moving to Manchester permanently?

“I’ve been living in London for 16 years and my house is on the market, so it’s a long-term move. I’m 68; nearly 69 now, and I feel that prioritising is a big part of what’s important in life.”

Work seems like a big part of your life, too…

“Work is important to me because I love it, and I suppose it defines who I am – I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t go out and act. But also, my family is very important, and I want to keep them close to me at this time of my life.”

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