Leeanne is a lady I have been noticing for ages in the factory, so was thrilled when she agreed to be our last Featured Extra of the season.
Hi Leeanne, it's kind of you to give us your time. Could I ask how long you have been a Coronation Street Background Artist?
Hi Christine, it's hard to believe it myself sometimes, but I have been there for 23 years now.
Wow! That is a long time. How did you come to work there?
In 1990 I was asked to audition for the part of 'Chelsea' in a new soap 'Families' filmed by Granada..I didn't get it and so I asked……I mean……'begged' for anything!...I just didn't seem to be getting anywhere with work so I was so pleased when they offered me a regular job as an extra on the programme….I was an extra in the Australian part of the story, which incidentally was filmed in the Granada Studios! It was great to have work!
I don't think that soap made it to this side of the pond, so am not familiar with it. Do you remember who got the part of Chelsea?
Yes, it was Tara Moran, who was recently in Coronation Street playing the part of Toni Griffiths, the firefighter who died in the Rovers. I also got to meet the lovely very young Jude Law in his first job. He was soooo cute and an extremely polite young man.
Ooh lucky you! So that job was extremely good for him.
After that, I carried on auditioning for other things…very nearly made the Manchester cast of 'Les Miserables' with 2 recalls! I was also a vocalist with a local band called the George Street Band, doing gigs each weekend.
The studios gave me other extra work on 'In Suspicious Circumstances' and 'Medics' and then asked 'Do you fancy doing Corrie?' Well…here I am… 23 years later! Perhaps in the future I'd like to start auditioning again, never say never!
How did you land the job as a regular factory worker?
Well, I had been a regular for many years and a few years ago when they needed an extra factory person, the Assistant Directors put my name forward to do the job. I was offered it and that's how it came about. There are a group of regular factory workers and a storeman - between 2 and 5 of us can be requested to work.
That's great, I bet you didn't hesitate too long before accepting!
Can we go back further than Corrie, where are you from Leeanne? Can you tell us a little bit about your childhood?
I grew up in Knutsford Cheshire..and from being little I was always singing, dancing and copying the performers on the tele..I got involved in the local theatre group and performed in Girl Guide shows….I could do a mean Kate Bush impression, lol, so you get the picture. Acting was all I ever really wanted to do and when I finished High School I went to Salford College of Technology to do a foundation course in Drama. The musical "Fame" was a HUGE hit whilst I was there and leg warmers were all the rage. After Salford I went on to Drama School. Mountview in London. Oh I loved it..absolutely loved it, and I'd go back and do it all again. I was there for three years. Sally Dynevor had just graduated from the course as I started, and began working on Coronation Street very soon afterwards.
I have sent you a couple of photos of me in plays we did at Drama School and we toured Sweden with 'Merry Wives of Windsor' and 'Grease'.
And after Drama School, what came next?
In order to work in the business back then you had to have an Equity card and so when I graduated from Drama School my friend Erica and I set up a cabaret act……We called ourselves 'The Motifs' and we went around clubs in and around the London area getting contracts that would help towards gaining Equity. There is a picture of us below.
I had so many different jobs over the next couple of years. To name just a few of the ones I enjoyed most…… I was a regular story model for the magazine 'Blue Jeans'. I worked on a pilot show for Channel 4 called 'After Dark'….I did BT training videos…playing a spy in one called 'The Vital Factor', I played a secret agent sent to discover the Vital secret behind BT's business success. It was filmed in Salford Quays and the BT offices in Manchester. My kids think it's hilarious with me acting seriously. (Also photos below)
I played a virgin in the BBC drama 'Mr Wroe's Virgins", Directed by Danny Boyle….it was non speaking..I absolutely loved working on that…Oh..I did a voice over for a 'Butlins' ad too… Plus I was a 'dresser' on a charity production at the Royal Albert Hall called 'The Hunting of the Snark' for the 'Emmanuels'...the designers that made Lady Di's wedding dress .. …that was exciting….I was responsible for sewing a button onto Mike Batts jacket seconds before he went on stage to conduct the orchestra!...I can't believe I actually threaded the needle!
There you go! Perfect training for working in Underworld then!
Getting back to 'Mr. Wroe's Virgins', I didn't see that, but looked it up online, and saw that Minnie Driver, who starred in it had to strip naked at one point. This got me wondering, if they had asked you to do the same for your role in it, would you have been able to? Or rather how do you you feel about actors who have to bare all for a role?
Well, at Drama School they do preach that you must lose your inhibitions. As a youngster I think I would have probably done anything that a role required. As someone older and wiser, nakedness is very rarely paramount to the storyline. And I think less is more where baring flesh is concerned but if the storyline absolutely required it then.. :-) Minnie Driver seemed lovely when I worked on the drama, she definitely oozed confidence and professionalism. I'm sure she would have seen her nakedness on screen important to show how submissive the young women were towards the preacher. I would love to play one of the Calendar Girls. That's 'nearly' naked..AND imperative to the storyline :)
What do you like the most about working in Corrie Leeanne?
I love just being in a creative workplace and it fits in so well with my busy family life. I also have some fantastic friends who are like an extended family to me and it's a lot of fun. I did take some time out in 2002 to start a nurse training course but after a year found that life was just too hectic with a young family and went straight back to Corrie.
So as you have mentioned you have a family, can you tell us about your home life please?
My lovely husband Alex is a Scot from West Lothian and we married in 1990. We live in Macclesfield, Cheshire and we've got 3 AMAZING children:
Calum, who appeared in the Street as a baby, is 18 and has an offer to study Medicine at Keble College, Oxford in October! 'Mr Brains' he is, and also an incredible violinist and pianist.
Matthew, who is gutted that he hasn't appeared in the Street, is 16. He's thinking about studying medicine too. He is such a talented actor and singer and plays the piano. He's also a district footballer and has had trials with clubs.
Emma, who also appeared in Corrie as a baby, is 12. She's got the acting bug big style! She gave up piano lessons for singing lessons and really can sing. I love her confidence.
All three of them have been involved in many productions at their school 'Fallibroome' which is a Specialist Arts College. I help out as part of a team that make the costumes for the productions.
That's great, it sounds as if you have a lovely family. Thank you for sending the photos of the children, I have added them below too, and believe it or not, managed to find some of both Calum and Emma when they appeared in Corrie! How little they were then.
Thank you very much for sharing your interesting life with us Leeanne, we wish you all the best for the future, and really hope you get to do 'Calendar Girls' one day, but in the meantime, we will enjoy watching out for you in Underworld.
You're welcome, I'm immensely proud to be part of Coronation Street. I feel protective towards it and I want it to be successful always.
The above three were all from the B.T. training video called 'Vital Factor'
Also in the factory, this was the day that Nick, thinking Natasha was still pregnant, proposed to her.
Here she is standing behind Dev, who I think was Adam Ant, and I can't remember who Sunita was, I only remember she showed an awful lot of leg. Do you recognise the fellow on the left of the picture in the silly hat? He is of course Jonny Grimshaw, whose Featured Extra page is below.
The factory employees get into the spirit of the Jubilee. Left to right it's Leeanne as Cyndi Lauper, Adam/Boy George, Christine/Suzie Quatro, Joanna/Olivia Newton-John and Neeta/Tina Turner. Don't they look fabulous?
Everyone is giving a round of applause to newlyweds Rita and Dennis
The Factory Girls at their Christmas Lunch at The Ox Pub. Left to right: Christine, Leanne, Neeta, Zeta and Sue
Leeanne & Erica as 'The Motifs', a cabaret act dancing & singing around London
As Anne Maurrant in a street scene
Leeanne is on the left as Mistress Ford in 'The Merry Wives of Windsor'
Leeanne is not in this picture, but her costume was exactly the same.
I wonder how many UK people remember this production? And on the right is how Jude Law looked in his very first role.
Standing outside the factory, Leeanne looks upset, and bows her head as the coffin of Betty Williams is driven past.
Leeanne told me the sadness she felt that day was genuine, as she found Betty Driver to be a wonderful lady.
Afterwards at her wake in The Rovers, she drinks to Betty's memory.
The next few photos show Leeanne in her natural habitat, as a regular knicker factory worker in Underworld.
This fabulous photo is from the Vicars and Liz party a few years ago, where everyone came dressed as either a vicar (or nun in Julie's case) or a tart, and all the tarts had features which looked a lot like Liz McDonald. To say she was not best pleased is the understatement of the year! But Leeanne looks as if she is enjoying herself.
Here she is walking into Roy's Rolls back in the days when Molly Dobbs was around.
This very purple picture is the non-reception of Tyrone and Kirsty's wedding. Everyone was there except Tyrone and Kirsty! Leeanne is discussing the juicy gossip of what had happened in the church with fellow factory worker Adam Blease.
Now we have a few from the Jubilee episode. Leeanne made her own costume for this, and if you are too young to recognise her, she is dressed as Cyndi Lauper. She is shown above with Marcus as Donny Osmond and Eva as Madonna
Now I bet you are wondering who this cute Corrie baby is? His name is Calum Robertson, who is now 18 years old, and training to be a doctor at Oxford University! This was January 5th 1996, when he was a guest at Denise & Ken's son Daniel's birthday party.
Here is the party in full swing, and Leeanne is seated on the floor second right with Calum already practicing his reading skills!
These screen grabs are with huge thanks to John, who goes under the name of mrmagister1 on You Tube. He specialises in old episodes of Coronation Street, and put this one up especially so I could grab a couple of screen shots. If you want a trip down Corrie memory lane, I urge you to check out his page: http://www.youtube.com/user/mrmagister1
As Leeanne said above, their daughter Emma was also in Corrie as a baby. This was on May 9th, 2001 when Curly was running for election. He and Emily were out canvassing for votes, and Emma's on screen mother recognised him as being the manager of Freshco's, and promptly berated him for over charging on the price of the goods there.
Here he is now, all grown up and about to go for his interview at Oxford
And here is Emma quite a bit older, after winning her 'Rising Star in Drama' award. Remember this name - she's a future star!
Here is Matthew Robertson, on the left as Marius in 'Les Miserables', and on the right when he appeared in 'Kindertransport' Matthew is also thinking of going into medicine.
However, being an excellent footballer too, he just might get signed up before that happens.
And here is the man who is half responsible for these talented kids, Leeanne's husband Alex, looking pretty handsome in his tartan. Does he or doesn't he? I never thought to ask! Sorry ladies! ;-)
The two above are from 'Families', and you can see Leeanne in the background, looking better than those in the foreground!