Hi Jennie, thank you very much for speaking with us today. How long have you been walking the cobbles?
I can hardly believe it myself, but it's been thirteen years. I started at the tender age of seventeen.
How did it all happen for you?
I wrote into the show to see if I could join the team. I was one of the last few that was taken on direct with Granada!
Now I know that being a 'Direct' employee means you didn't go through an agency, and are paid directly from Granada, or I guess ITV these days, but does that also mean you are tied to them, and cannot accept background work on other productions?
No, I could do other background work but I don't really want to join an agency - I am really happy at Corrie, they treat the Extras very well, its a little family and I don't think I would find that elsewhere.
I have heard that a lot, and must admit that on my last visit there, I could feel the close knit family atmosphere. Do you remember your first episode?
My first ever episode was in August/September time in 2001, I was in the rovers return with a really old guy who settled my nerves! I was seventeen - I'm sure I was just drinking coke! Either that or my grandad took me out to his local! - I was always the baby of the group - sadly I don't think I am known as the baby anymore!
I do hope your fellow Support Artiste was someone like Chris Canavan, who was eighty four when I interviewed him two and a half years ago, because if it was someone who was only around forty at the time, you are in big trouble about now! LOL!!
Was it always your ambition to do this kind of work?
I originally wanted to be an actress/presenter but it never seemed to happen.
Did you do any kind of drama training to this end?
I went to college and studied media communications, performing arts and media make up. But don't get me wrong, I love being at Coronation Street, it still feels like I have a finger in a tiny piece of the acting pie or should I say hot pot!
Absolutely, I know many people who think you have the best job in the world! After you finished your courses, did you get yourself an agent, or apply for other parts?
I have never had an agent. I went to the BBC and completed a course about being in front of the camera, that led to a few more bits of walk on work but nothing too exciting!
When I was a child, I actually wrote into Coronation Street suggesting a storyline which I could be part of. They didn't take me up on my suggestions, but kindly replied, telling me which agencies I could join.
Hmm, a case of 'Don't call us, we'll call you' eh? What a shame, do you remember the storyline?
There was a male hairdresser, and I think a family member came into the story, and I wrote in asking if I could be a long lost daughter.
I think there has only ever been two male stylists apart from David, Jon Welch and Tom Ferguson, so it was probably Tom's father Duggie who came in later - 1999 I think. Sounds like a perfect Corrie storyline to me!
Being there for thirteen years, are you acquainted with any of the cast?
I don't really 'know' the cast - We say hello to each other as I'm there quite regularly. When we work alongside them we do have a bit of banter, especially when you are on location.
Have you made any close friends on set? Do you socialise off screen?
Thanks to Facebook, all the wonderful people that I'm lucky enough to work with are at arms reach. The banter from the days at Corrie turn to Facebook.
We do go out on nights out, organised by an amazing fella called David Hird - he's the ring leader! I would consider the Extras as friends, especially the Directs, as they took me under their wing many years ago, I'm a much better Supporting Artist/Extra from their guidance!
Ah yes, the elusive David Hird, I have been trying to pin him down to an interview for some time - and I never give up, if you are reading this David! :-)
Filming usually means a lot of waiting around between takes doesn't it? What do you do to pass the time?
There is an awful lot of waiting around, but usually it's so much fun! We put the world to rights on all kinds of topics, play silly games, and there are many comedians who are also Extras who keep us all amused, one of the things I love is that the Extras are from all walks of life, musicians, comedians, teachers, paramedics, businessmen, air hostesses... there is always a story to be told!
I didn't realise this, and it makes me understand we need to talk to a lot more of you yet! Maybe you can line up a comedian for us next please? We could do with a laugh! :-) What about you, do you have another job away from the Street?
I have two little boys, Finley age five and Jacob age three, and was a 'stay-at-home' mum for four years apart from Coronation Street, but I recently got a job in a primary school as a personal assistant to the headteacher. I do a range of jobs around the school.
And you have a man in your life too?
I certainly do. I met a lovely chap called James ten years ago, and we married in 2008.
Has anything funny happened while you have been working on the Street?
Something that comes to mind is a scene where Karen Mcdonald threw a pint over Steve, I was sitting right behind the action, and as the pint hit Steve, it ricochet from him and splashed onto me - I let out a huge gasp of air! Very amusing at the time!
That is a favourite Coronation Street scene isn't it? I am surprised someone hasn't put together a whole video of different characters getting drinks poured over their head, or thrown in their face. I think Steve alone has had it done to him more than once!
I know the cast don't particularly like doing weddings because of the amount of time they take. What about you? Which do you prefer, studio work or location?
As I am a regular on the Street, I love location work because I rarely get to do it. They are long days, but the best bit is that you get fed!! Telecatering is amazing!!!
What would you say is the very worst part of the job as an Extra?
Worst part? Hummmmm, I'm scraping the barrel here, as none of it is bad. When it's raining, windy and cold and you are on the Street, oooh it can be difficult!
What is the best?
Walking on set, and taking in a deep breath, knowing what an honour it is to be part of such an amazing programme. It's iconic, my Grandma used to watch it, and my Mum loves it - my Mum is very proud I'm a little part of it, and my Grandma would be too. I am one lucky girl!
I won't ask you what you hope to be doing five years from now, because you obviously love your job so much, that I think we will still be spotting you right there on our favourite show!
You are right, and I hope you will!
Thanks for this Jennie, I have really enjoyed it.
You are welcome, and I am waving across the pond to all the Canadian Coronation Street fans!