On her recent return to Coronation Street, soap fans saw a very different side to Cilla Battersby-Brown. Star Wendi Peters reveals she wasn’t expecting the call from Corrie to return the cobbles… and she could yet be back.
Wendi said: “The phone call came completely out of the blue from Corrie. When I read through the storylines I thought ‘Why not?’ I loved the idea they were mellowing Cilla a little bit. She came back a bit needy, but hadn’t lost her edge and was still horrible. It was great fun to play, and lovely to catch up with everybody and visit the new sets.”
Cilla became a household name when she joined Coronation Street in 2003 as Cilla Brown, mother to Fiz (Jennie McAlpine) and Chesney. Cilla departed Weatherfield in 2007 in a storyline that saw her abandon son Chesney (Sam Aston) to go to Las Vegas. During her four years on the soap Cilla married Les Battersby and made enemies of most of the residents with her various underhand money-making scams.
Wendi returned to Corrie in October 2014 for a series of episodes that saw Cilla reconnecting with her children. The realisation their once fierce mother was fragile due to osteoporosis facilitated long-time cast member Jennie McAlpine’s break for maternity leave.
Wendi said: “The first day of my return was a bit bizarre. A bit like your first day at school. Everything was new and different until I got on set and then it was just like being back home.”
She added: “I worried whether I could still play Cilla because I hadn’t done her for seven years. I’d learned my script beforehand, but hadn’t actually spoken out loud [as her] until I got on set. It was really odd because within about three minutes it was like ‘Oh yeah, she’s back!'”
The question now is, will Cilla make another reappearance on the cobbles?
Wendi said: “Who knows? I’m very lucky in that they haven’t killed Cilla off. She’s floating around somewhere in Wolverhampton! At some point it would be lovely to go back and visit again and have another storyline.
“I love TV and Corrie, but I also love the variety I have now. I’ve been filming the sequel for CBBC’s Hetty Feather and I do a lot of theatre. If I could only do one thing for the rest of my life, I’d choose theatre!”
Catch Wendi in ITV’s new celebrity challenge show Flockstars next Thursday (July 30), where she turns her hand to shepherding. For more about this show, read our interview with Wendi.