As Coronation Street’s Eileen Grimshaw prepares to become Mrs Pat Phelan this week, we grill actress Sue Cleaver about the man her soap alter-ego believes is Mr Right – but is oh so wrong…
Coronation Street star Sue Cleaver assesses the chances of Eileen getting married to villain Pat Phelan. She may count her lucky stars if it doesn’t happen!
Eileen’s been on the cobbles for nearly 17 years – are you surprised it’s taken her this long to get a wedding?
“Seventeen years, that’s madness! The thing is that getting married wasn’t high on Eileen’s list of wants in life. She’s always maintained that with any fella she’s been with, she’d never be seen walking down the street with him, never mind walking down the aisle. But how could she turn Phelan down, he’s amazing!”
Does she have any idea of his dark side?
“If you think about it, Eileen has never seen Phelan do or say anything bad. He’s never been anything but glorious to her, he’s given her more attention than any man has ever given her, and been very supportive of her. I think the thing with Phelan is he does love Eileen – but unfortunately, he happens to be a psychopath as well!”
There have been some big Corrie weddings over the years – what can you tell us about Eileen’s big day?
“To be fair, it’s a real non event! But it was heaven for me – three scenes in a registry office and all done on a Monday afternoon. There’s Todd, Billy the vicar, Eileen… and whether Phelan turns up, we’ll have to see.”
And what is Eileen’s dress like?
“She’s a lady of a certain age, and being Eileen, it has to be something she can get her use out of – so it will probably be seen at Christmas parties, funerals, and someone else’s wedding. It was very much left to me to choose what felt right for her. I didn’t want it to be anything too ‘weddingy’ so it’s just a purple and black dress that she can wear again and again.”
Eileen has had a lot of boyfriends in her time. Are there any whom you believe could’ve made a good husband?
“She got engaged to Paul (Tony Hirst). He was a decent man and the one that got away, but she couldn’t cope with him being a fireman. And maybe the chap she met on the internet, Adrian (Mark Moraghan) could’ve been a stayer, if Todd hadn’t messed that up for her. He may live to regret that!”
When you’re out in public, do you get viewers warning you to ditch Phelan?
“Constantly! They say ‘Eileen get rid of him, what are you doing with him, why can’t you see what he’s like?’ I say ‘Do you really want me to get rid of him, because what kind of story would that be?'”
What’s it like working with Conor McIntyre, who plays Phelan?
“He’s an intense actor, but he’s an absolute softy, in fact I call him my Connykins! He’s a lovely man – very warm and very generous, and I really enjoy working with him.”
If Eileen discovers Phelan’s crimes and misdemeanours, do you think she could ever forgive him?
“Eileen’s a very moral person, she’s got a very strong sense of what’s right and wrong. I think if she knew what he was really like, there’s no way she would be with him.”
Do you think she might blame herself for being hoodwinked?
“Absolutely, because she’s not a stupid woman. She’d be horrified. That would really rock her world and it would rock her confidence. I think it would have huge ramifications.”