Exclusive Interview: Catherine Tyldesley

The sun is shining but the wind is strong. We are sat in an outdoor booth at The Alchemist, Spinningfields sporting oversized sunglasses. It is the day of our interview with Manchester based Coronation Street star Catherine Tyldesley. She is warm, engaging and talks exclusively to WorldofJsky.com about life so far.

Widely renown for embracing changes in society and unbeknown to many as the longest running soap in the world, Coronation Street welcomed Catherine Tyldesley as a fully fledged cast member in 2011. Since then her character Eva Price has grown into a hugely popular, feisty, front runner winning over long term fans of the show.

Talk me through getting cast for Coronation Street. There must have been some pretty tough competition?

I’d been back and forth quite a lot to Granada over the years for different parts and the casting director Gennie Radcliffe had always said ‘…something will come up, it’s just a matter of time’. So when the part of Eva came up I just fell in love with the role and I really, really wanted it, but I was really different from the other girls going for it. They were all….a lot younger than me [laughs], a lot thinner, a lot smaller…so, the odds were against me, I thought. I was absolutely thrilled to get it. We did the screen test to see how much Michelle Collins and I get away with being mother and daughter, and we don’t really look like each other, but on screen we kind of pulled it off, so that had a lot to do with it as well.

Tell me about your singing?

I’ve always sang since I was little. That’s what I started off doing really. At drama school my granddad bought me a PA system to earn money in-between acting and it just kind of took off. I started to sing for Manchester United and then I became their season singer and toured with them. From there I started doing private functions for the players. It was a good experience. It kind of grew from there and I still sing as much as I can. [Do you plan on releasing a single?] I’m going to be working with Elliot Kennedy later in the year; he’s basically a number one factory, he’s huge. We’ll see what happens. We’ll get in the studio and chill, and have a bit of a jamming session. If something comes, that’d be great.

Very much in support of local talent, Catherine relished the opportunity to star in the hugely successful Manchester based sitcom Shameless; her character, Carly diametrically opposed to Eva Price [Coronation Street].

“It was great because the character I had was so different. She was completely…yeah, oh god, I was so minging! She was quite rough and she had certain issues in her life, and a stutter. She was a very vulnerable character, very different to Eva who is quite independent and feisty. I’m a huge fan of Shameless; I absolutely adore the show.”

You have done quite a lot of different roles. Do you still keep in touch with past cast members?

Yeah, pretty much from everything I’ve been on for a good amount of time. Lilies was my first big job, which was a period drama for the BBC, and I’ve stayed in touch with everyone from that. I went to New York a couple of weeks ago and Daniel Rigby (he played my brother in Lilies) and since then he’s won a Bafta for his performance, I went to watch him and James Corden in One Man Two Guvnors. I hadn’t seen him in so long and I didn’t tell him I was going so that was dead nice. And yeah, I stayed in touch with the girls.

You were nominated for Best Newcomer at the Soap Awards…

Was I…[laughs]? I think I did. There are so many awards now, they all kind of blur into one. [What would be your ideal award to win?] I think the best…[sigh], I mean, the greatest award to win would always be Best Actress. That would just be amazing. 

Do you have plans to go back and do any more films?

Yeah, I mean I love doing films. Who knows, never say never. At the moment I’m really happy doing Corrie. I’m hoping I’ll be there for a while but yeah, I’d love to do some more films. 

What other actresses do you admire?

Close to home, Katherine Kelly who played Becky has had an amazing career. Not many people know but before she was in Corrie she spent 3 years in the Royal Shakespeare Company and has had a succession of jobs in highly acclaimed dramas. Since she’s left Corrie she has just flown. She’s doing a big period drama at the moment, which sounds out of this world. She’s incredibly versatile and she’s always been like a big sister to me; an actress that I’ve always looked up to. And then there are people like Julie Walters who is a huge favourite. And growing up there has been people like Sue Johnson who is just coming into Coronation Street to play my grandmother. I adore her, so to be working with her now is just fantastic. And she is just so lovely; a real pleasure to work with.

Catherine’s respect for her peers is clear by the way in which she talks of them in detail and makes reference to their successes. Her admiration and mutual appreciation for core values such as work ethics and a flourishing career are what will pave the way for what I anticipate to be a varied career. As she speaks I can see she is visualising her future.

What is the dream?

It has always been my dream to be in Coronation Street so I still pitch myself about that really. I’m completely in love with my job so if I can always be a working actress I count myself as incredibly lucky. I’m at my happiest when I’m acting so if I could be busy for the rest of my life, that would be great. [Do you prefer acting to singing, or are they equal?] I prefer acting. Acting is my passion. Singing is a very close second. I trained in musical theatre because I loved them both so much.

Not many people openly proclaim to be ‘living the dream’ these days; such a revelation. Here is a woman who has worked her way through the ranks and gets to work at her dream job. She is happy to work and humble. Her route to success was not paved by the hopes of reality television. Armed with a passion for acting, Catherine Tyldesley has crafted her skill and changed her life.

I feel like I was prepared for it because I had already had friends on the show and I saw how crazy it is. You don’t realise how massive Corrie is until you’re in it. It’s weird and you start getting followed, and you’re not quite aware of people following you around and stuff like that. It’s quite nerve wracking. [You haven’t really had any bad press, have you?] Fingers crossed. I haven’t got any skeletons in my cupboard, or whatever I don’t think. It’s part and parcel of the job and we are so lucky to do what we do, and most people are really lovely. As long as they don’t get me with my skirt blowing up.”

We don’t often think about what happens after we get what we want in life. Sure enough we imagine how happy we will feel, but we miss out on the bigger picture about how our life will change day to day. Catherine Tyldesley was lucky enough to be surrounded by the right people to prepare her, but the real credit belongs to her in that she was grounded enough to welcome a healthy success with an appreciation of those around her.

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