1. Joel, how old are you and where are you originally from?
J. I am 63 years old, I was born 22/12/1948 in a village called Belthorn high up on the western pennines near Blackburn Lancashire.
2. And you Maureen, I never ask a lady her age, but can I ask you where you originated from please?
M. I was born in Prestbury Cheshire, and lived in Ashton-On-Mersey, Sale, Cheshire until I was 18, I then lived in Turkey for a while, then Los Angeles. I moved to Darwen in 1975 after meeting Joel in Manchester.
3. How long have you both worked on Coronation Street?
J. Thirty Five years, I believe we are the longest serving married couple connected with the show.
4. Do you have specific jobs there, or do you work in a variety of roles?
J. In the 70's and 80's we both had a variety of support roles, Maureen played a secretary in the Factory, a travel agent, and a nursing sister to name but a few, I have played a Bailiff, an Ambulance Man, a Heavy Goods Trucker, a Flower Delivery Man, A Taxi Driver several times, and Eric (The Wythenshawe Warbler) Warburton who sang an ear-shattering rendition of MY WAY in Alec Gilroy's talent contest. I remember that scene, it was very funny, thank you for sending the video of some of your roles, including the Wythenshawe Warbler, I will post it along with your photos below.
5. Which other shows have you both worked on? Either individually or together.
J. We both worked on many Granada Television productions in the 70's and 80's, Brideshead Revisited (Maureen played a Lady of the night, I played several Chauffer's, a Taxi Driver, a Gigolo, and an Army driver). Jewel In The Crown , Hard Times , Family At War, Strangers in which I played D.C. Thomas, Albion Market, The Mallens , Sherlock Holmes, and many many more. Granada Television was (and still is although now named I.T.V.) one of the leading television production companies in the U.K.
6. Joel, I understand you made your living as a singer before joining Coronation Street, can you tell us a little bit about that?
J. Yes I did and still do, I have been a professional musician since leaving school in 1965 initially playing in Rock Groups.
We toured the troop bases in Germany, most of the big British nightclubs and did a concert tour with hit chart band Showaddywaddy. I opted for a 'solo' career in the late 70's and although enjoyed working theatres and Cabaret I preferred playing in Hotels and restaurants.
In 1977 I played a 'summer season' at an Hotel in Blackpool, every Monday my mum and dad came with me they were so proud and loved to watch me sing. My dad would sit in his usual corner with a 'little whiskey' and each week he would say "sing one for me lad", sadly he was fighting a losing battle with an illness that took most of his body weight but not his sense of humour for he used to say "Now when I walk, I rattle".... so I used to sing him OLD BONES. I have listened to that song of yours, and really love it, is it on disc?
Shortly before he died he asked me to record it for him, I tried all the record companies but no-one wanted to know, so I went to my bank manager and sang him the song. He loaned me £2500-00 to make the record, small change by record company standards some records cost millions to make. I approached a gaggle of old 'jazz men' and we all went to C.T.S. in Wembley, I could only afford 2 hours recording time but the guys were magnificent, we laid down OLD BONES and a song that I had written for my parent's wedding anniversary called BE MY VALENTINE TONIGHT in just one hour. The record received much accolade from several top radio presenters and is still broadcast frequently.
I worked the Dragonara Palace in Malta, The Europa Palace in Sorrento Italy and several cruise ships including the magnificent Q.E.2, I was invited to sing with the BBC Big Band and played several concerts broadcast live from the Golders Green Hippodrome introduced by David Jacobs. I just love to sit at my piano and play all my favourite melodies for three or four hours whilst people dine and soak up the ambience of the atmosphere that live music creates and I do that four times a week.
7. Maureen, what did you do before Coronation Street?
M. The 1960's was a great time to be young, in 1963 at the age of 18 I travelled through Europe exploring Paris, Rome, Athens, etc, but my favourite city was Istanbul. I settled there for a while and loved it but the 'gypsy' in me then took me to the U.S.A. , I loved Los Angeles and lived a short walk from Sunset Strip. On returning to the U.K. I worked in the fashion trade.
8. Maureen, what do you like to do when you are not in Weatherfield?
M. I love to stay at home with my pussy cat and curl up by the fire with a good book.
9. Do they often have you working together?
M. Yes we do now although we didn't always, in 1985 we were asked if we would cease working all the other productions and just work the 'Street' as regular support artists.
10. Where did you meet? Was it on the set of Coronation Street?
M. No, we met at a nightclub in Manchester, Joel was playing there with his Band, he was wearing a purple suit a bright yellow shirt with ruffles down the front and white platform high heel boots! Why I was attracted to him I can't remember :-) but I admired his talent. He says... it was 'lust' at first sight then deeper daily !!!. I recall him walking up to me and singing Hurricane Smith's hit song .."If I'd a hope or half a chance, could I ask if you would dance with me".... very corny, but I fell for it. How on earth could you possibly resist? :-)
He recently recorded an album for our 37th anniversary called 'You'll Remember Me' and that song is number one on it. That is so romantic, I can see why you are still together 37 years later.
11. Joel, in five years time, would you like to be still on Coronation Street? Or would you rather be making your living with your musical talents?
J. I am very fortunate that I can do both, I truly love both jobs and feel very blessed that I can earn my living doing them. To continue to make a small contribution to a production that is a milestone in television history is in itself a privilege , so yes as long as they keep asking me and for as long as the program runs I'll keep turning up to do my bit.
12. Do they ever use your songs on the show?
J. Yes they do, the I.T.V. music department has most of my albums and you will hear 'snippets' playing in the background of scenes in the 'Rovers' the Bistro, the Salon, or Roy's Rolls. I was watching an episode last Monday when my recording of 'OLD BONES' was playing throughout a long scene in the 'Rovers' living room.
13. Can you both remember the first role you played on Coronation Street?
J. Maureen's first appearance was as a nursing sister at Weatherfield Hospital, my first appearance was as an ardent admirer of Rita when she was a singer in a nightclub. Len Fairclough who at that time was besotted with Rita did not approve of her singing and tried to pull her off the stage, I tried to intervene and got 'thumped'. Ha ha! That sounds like a typical 'Len' scene, he was always thumping somebody!
14. Which set are we most likely to spot you in these days?
J. Mostly in the 'Rovers' downing a pint of Newton and Ridleys, out on the cobbles, or scoffing a belly-busting fry-up in Roy's Rolls.
15. Do you have any funny stories to tell us about things that have happened while working on the Street?
J. Not really, the film schedule is quite tight and there is little time for frivolity, however on one of my very first T/V appearances I, along with a dear late fellow support 'Corrie' actor called Tony Zal, was
booked to play a soldier on a series called Family at War. We both arrived at make-up that morning and were told we had to have our hair cut VERY short, we both protested explaining that we were potential 'pop-stars' in the making and long hair was part of our image and would it be possible to 'slick it down' to make it look short. "You either have your hair cut or go home" replied a very stern make-up lady, we succumbed believing our big chance was imminent, and so with shaved heads and dressed in army kit we made our way to the studio, on arrival we were greeted by a very camp assistant director who said gleefully ..."Ah here are my dead bodies" ..we were laid down on two stretchers and covered up with white sheets. Tony is sadly missed but his wife Doreen is still a part of the 'Corrie' support artist gang. That is hilarious! But I bet you were absolutely gutted at the time!
J. There is also one incident I can recall whilst filming Blanche's funeral, we spent 3 very long days in a cold church and I am notorious for falling asleep either in the dressing room or on set. There was one very long scene in which Deidre had to give a very long uninterrupted and emotional eulogy, the cameras were focused on the pulpit so the mourning throng could relax, Norris was sitting in the pew in front of me and took the opportunity to lie down until the camera was reversed on to us. I regretfully fell asleep and halfway through Deidre's tear filled speech I let out an enormously loud snore, it was so loud it not only shattered the scene but it woke Norris who rose from the pew like Count Dracula rising from his coffin, all eyes turned to Norris believing it was he who snored, I have to say that I feel guilty to this day for allowing him to take the blame. You do what you have to do Joel, I expect he could get away with it easier anyway! Ha ha!!
16. Which storyline in which you had a role are you the most proud?
M. For me I think it would be the 40th anniversary live episode, it was really exciting and intricate but most rewarding to be a part of. For Joel I would think it would be either when he sang MY WAY really badly in the Rovers or when Brian Tilsley died in his arms after being stabbed in a back alley, that episode I believe attracted one of the biggest viewing audiences in the show's history.
17. Joel: Do you have any hobbies? What do you like to do when you are not working on Coronation Street?
J. My hobby is my work, I play my guitar or my baby grand piano at home whenever I reside in the U.K. However we are fortunate enough to own a second home on the beautiful Island of Tenerife to which we visit every four or five weeks for a seven day duration.
There, I love to walk the spectacular cliff tops fringing the golf course where our home is situated, although Maureen would have you believe that my favourite hobby is falling asleep by the pool drowning out the sound of overhead aircraft with my snoring. We are also avid food lovers and enjoy eating out at the plethora of wonderful restaurants in the mountains or the fishing villages. It sounds beautiful there, somewhere I have never been. Whenever I hear someone mention Tenerife, I always think back to Bet Lynch and her "Tenereefee"!
18. What do you like the most about working on Coronation Street?
J. Being part of a team that produces one of the most revered television programs in the world, it really is like being part of a large family, we share scenes with some wonderful actors, ( the late Betty Driver was an absolute delight to know), and it is a revelation to watch the the directors, the props guys, the sound guys, camera operators, make-up, wardrobe, location and production staff and actors each do 'their thing' then sit at home and watch an end result that is the envy of the television production world.
19. What do you like the least?
J. & M. We agree on this one, getting up at 5am on a frosty winters morning to drive the 20 mile bumper to bumper traffic queue to the studio in Manchester.
20. Is there anything else you would like Coronation St fans to know about you?
We are both aware of the global popularity of Coronation Street and the endearment it holds for its millions of fans, there are so many people, including high profile celebrities who would dearly love to be in our shoes and 'sup' a pint int' Rovers' or simply tread the 'hallowed cobbles'. The fact that we get paid for doing it is a true privilege and we know how fortunate we are.
We wish your readers peace health and happiness. Maureen and Joel.
I am sure I speak for our readers in wishing you the same, and thank you both so much for giving us your time.