As the cast of Coronation Street prepares to go live tonight, entertainment writer Anna Cryer caught up with the two Fylde actresses appearing in the special episode.
At the beginning of this year, teenager Lucy Fallon was just another hopeful.
She’d held off heading to theatre school because of the expense and was planning to reapply for a place in the new academic year.
Today, instead of preparing to head for stage school in London - as was her hope - Lucy’s running through the final rehearsals for Coronation Street’s live episode.
Stars of the cobbles will be seen in a special, hour-long live show tonight, as part of the 60th anniversary celebrations for ITV.
And Lucy’s on-screen persona, troublesome teenager Bethany Platt will be at the centre of the plot as her family battles bad guy Callum Logan.
Since her return to the street, having run away from her mum Sarah, played by Tina O’Brien, after a row in Milan where she’d grown up, Bethany’s been nothing but trouble for her relatives.
When Sarah got together with drug dealer Callum, already established as an enemy of the Platts as the biological father of little Max - the son of Bethany’s uncle David’s wife Kylie, Bethany developed a crush on him which he used to his own ends bribing her to get involved in his criminal world.
In recent weeks, the Platts and their friends have been seen getting increasingly desperate to rid him from their lives as he threatened their safety.
Bethany’s admitted she provided Callum, played by Sean Ward, with a false alibi for when he attacked her mum’s former partner Jason Grimshaw.
Monday’s double bill cliff hanger saw Sarah lure Callum, who’s on police bail for the attack, to the Platts’ home, with the promise of the £20,000 he’s been demanding to leave them alone.
But he turns violent on discovering he’s been set up.
“After Bethany told them she’d lied about being with Callum when he beat up Jason, the Platts thought they had it all under control,” Lucy said. “They think he’s been arrested and will be in prison, but he’s back with a vengeance and is not happy.”
As a newcomer to acting, never mind the rigours of the soap schedule of long days’ filming, Lucy’s all too aware of how privileged she is to feature in tonight’s broadcast - and admits she’s nervous at the prospect.
“It’s quite nerve racking, when they say ‘five seconds to live’ which they say before you start rehearsing a scene especially, but it’s been going really good,” she said.
“But I’m working with amazing people, and I do feel really settled in the cast now.
“It’s a massive deal to be in the live; the past ones have become part of history, and people will look back on this like the lives that have been before.
“People have told me to think of it like a play, that we’re just doing it to the people stood there... But obviously it’s not, there will be millions watching.”
The Corrie live follows on from EastEnders’ dramatic ‘Who Killed Lucy Beale?’ climax episode earlier this year. While most of the story went to plan, one of the most remembered moments was actress Jo Joyner’s goof calling actor Adam Woodyatt, who plays Ian Beale, by his real name.
So how are the Corrie cast hoping to avoid that kind of moment?
“Everyone’s been practising using the character names,” former Hodgson Academy pupil Lucy laughed. “I’m nervous about messing up, but the more you think about it the more likely I might be to do it.
“There’ve been a lot of dress rehearsals and full run throughs, all weekend, there’s been no filming for advance episodes all last week and this.”
Lucy, who trained with Barbara Jackson Theatre Arts Centre in Fleetwood and is represented by Blackpool’s Scream Management agents, joined the soap amid controversy, when the actress originally selected to play 14-year-old Bethany was found to have lied about her age, and was actually 25.
But the former Grand Theatre pantomime dancer is glad to have had the chance in recent episodes to show another side of the character - and of her own acting skills too.
“At first, Bethany was cocky and being mean to everyone, but it’s been great in the latest scenes to show a different side to her, with the crying and upset over what she’s done,” the 20-year-old said. “But it’s definitely not over for Bethany.
“I don’t think I could even begin to tell you what I’ve learned since being in Coronation Street, as there’s so much; I’d never done anything in front of a camera before.”
As well as growing professionally, she’s also been on a major journey off screen; originally commuting from the family home in Cleveleys, Lucy’s made the move to Manchester, with a flat near the studios to make life easier.
“I feel like I’ve really grown up since starting in January,” she said. “Living in Manchester now, I don’t have mum to rely on for washing up and stuff, and I feel like I’ve started a proper career.
“My friends love it, that I’m in Corrie and living in Manchester. Alex, my friend, comes and stays with me all the time, he loves it and is quite obsessed with what I’m doing - and that means so much to have their support.”
While Lucy’s starting out on her soap career, another local actress is preparing to say farewell to the Street in tonight’s episode.
Bispham’s Hayley Tamaddon originally made her soap name as Delilah Dingle in Emmerdale between 2005 and 2007, but joined the cast of Corrie in late 2013, to play Andrea Beckett.
“I only thought I’d be in the show for three months and then they extended my contract to a year as they wanted to change where the character was going,” she said. “Initially Andrea was going to have a fling with Steve, but in order to keep me in the show, the producer put Andrea with Lloyd instead; hooray for me!
“I certainly didn’t expect to be here this long, and I couldn’t believe my luck to be honest to get another role in a soap.
“I guess being in Emmerdale gave me an insight into how hard it is to make a soap, the hours are very long and the filming schedule can be quite demanding at times. Sometimes you could be filming up to 10 scenes a day.
“But I’m 10 years older than when I was in Emmerdale, and wiser shall we say, but I’m still learning - you never stop learning in this industry.”
When writers and Street bosses decided to keep the character of Andrea on, the plot twisted from her being a night school friend of Steve McDonald - who she was originally destined to have a fling with - to dating his best mate Lloyd Mullaney.
It’s been an action-packed stint on the show though, as once Andrea had settled into the friendship with Steve and relationship with Lloyd, it was revealed she was secretly still married to husband Neil who worked on an oil rig in Nigeria - and had a daughter with him, who she doesn’t see.
But Hayley admits much of this was announced to her as time went on.
“I didn’t know much about Andrea’s story at the start,” she said. “Only that she had a 20-year-old daughter and was unlucky in love.
“It was like a blank canvas. The secret husband stuff came a few weeks after me being there.”
Andrea initially left the Street a couple of months back, after splitting with Lloyd when she sold one of his prize records to get money for her daughter.
But after discovering she was pregnant, Andrea made a last-ditch attempt to save her relationship and headed back to Weatherfield where she won Lloyd back.
Tonight’s live episode will be packed with high drama surrounding the Platt family’s storyline, but there’s some light relief sure to come as Lloyd and Andrea’s leaving party takes place at the Rovers Return.
The announcement of Hayley’s leaving Coronation Street came soon after it was revealed that actor Craig Charles, who plays Lloyd, was leaving to return to Red Dwarf.
“It seemed the most appropriate thing for Andrea to go away with Lloyd,” Hayley said. “And the writers came up with such a good story - Corrie have a brilliant writing team.
“I really am sad to be leaving but you never know, they could come back, they’re having a baby after all.”
And despite the lies she’s told, Hayley feels Andrea’s been a likeable character.
“Oh I’d be friends with Andrea, I think most people have a friend like her,” the former Montgomery High School pupil said. “She has a big heart, she’s just made a few mistakes in life, but haven’t we all?
“I feel blessed with this part, as I have been able to mix comedy and drama.
“I really enjoy the emotional stuff, especially working with Craig Charles - he can cry on demand - he’s brilliant.
“It’s sad to be leaving but I can’t believe I’m leaving on the live episode, that that’s my last ever filming day at Corrie.
“What a way to go eh?
“I’ll miss everything about the show; the family unit. It’s not just the cast but the crew as well - the security guys, the reception staff, the crew that feed us everyday and make the nicest food ever.
“We’re very lucky at Corrie. We are all very close, and I’m hoping I’ll still see them all time as I’ve made some great friends there.”
So what’s next for Hayley?
“I’m not very good at taking breaks,” she said, adding: “I’m off to LA in October, which is very exciting.
“I’ve never been to America so I’m gonna go see what it’s like over there! After that.. Who knows.” Tune in to the live episode tonight at 7.30pm.