Chris Canavan
November 4th, 2012
This time, we have the VIP of Background Artists.  Chris Canavan is the longest serving Extra on Coronation Street, and I cannot tell you how thrilled I was when he agreed to let us find out a little bit about him.  Don't forget to check out his photo gallery at the bottom of the interview.
Chris' Photo Gallery
Hi Chris, it is such an honour to have you as our Featured Extra, thank you for speaking to us.  I am told you are the oldest Background Artist on Coronation Street, may I ask when you were born? 

I was born in Belfast in 1928.

My goodness!  That would make you 84 years old - even older than William Roache who plays Ken Barlow.  Have you been working on Coronation Street for as long as he has? 

Not quite, I started in 1962, and he was there for the first episode in 1960.

How did a man from Belfast end up on Coronation Street?

I was in London, working for the BBC in the film 'The Lump'.  I was invited to audition for Granada Television, which at the time was the new TV studio in Manchester.

Do you have a specific job there, or do you work in a varety of roles?

I am a Background Artist, but have on occasion played characters such as 'Dusty', 'The Rat Catcher', a 'Window Cleaner' and was the first customer in the original Kabin.  Then for a laugh, I was the first customer in the new Kabin.

Which other shows have you worked on?

TV shows have included:  'Family At War', 'The Inheritance', 'The Crown Court', 'The Lovers', 'The Ceasars'.  I have them listed on the IMDB website:

To work at a job for 50 years you have to like it, but what do you like best about working at Coronation Street Chris?

I like meeting new people and helping the newcomers.

There has to be some downsides though, what are they?

I would say they have to be the long hours, and the travelling.

You must have seen many many changes over the last fifty years, apart from the cast and production staff, what would you say would be the most significant change you have worked through?

The most significant has to be going from black and white to colour.  The only thing I missed out on during the development of the TV and film industry is silent movies!

Ha ha!  Yes, even Coronation Street is not quite old enough to have had Charlie Chaplain as a cast member!

Having been a familiar background face for such a long time, do you get recognised by fans?

Yes I do, all over the world in fact.

Which set are we most likely to spot you in?

Mostly the Rovers, however, I did attend Rita and Dennis' wedding recently.  You might also spot me in Roy's Rolls.

Are you looking forward to moving to the new studios?

Oh yes, most definitely!

Do you have any hobbies?  What do you like to do when you are not treading the cobbles?

I consult with students at my local university.  However, my main hobby lately appears to be breaking my computer, and getting family members, usually my granddaughter, to come and fix it!

Speaking about family Chris, tell me about yours?

I am widowed, but have a wonderful family.  I have two sons, Sean, the eldest is the witty one.  Dermot is a West End actor who has performed in 'Hairspray' and '39 Steps' and has just completed his second Shakespeare tour in Europe.  Sadly I lost my eldest daughter to cancer, and my other daughter is a retired teacher and loving mother.

I have three lovely granddaughters, two of them student actresses, one getting married in April next year.  I also have two grandsons, one is studying law and the other finishing school.

I see the acting bug has rubbed off down through the generations then.  You certainly do have a lovely family there.

Now tell me, can we end with a funny story of something that has happened to you while working on Coronation Street?

Yes, I have one.   As the 'Rat Catcher' in the Ogden's house, I was seen with a mouse in my hand and in my pocket.  Whilst the dialogue was going on, I was asked "What have you done with the mouse?"  My line was "Taking it home for the kids to play with".  They asked me to show them.  When I opened my hand, the mouse had done its business!  The crew laughed and the mouse trainer had to wash my hand, and we started once again.  This time a helicopter flew over, and the noise was so great they had to wait until it had passed, then the shoot began.  I held the mouse in my hand, took it out of my pocket and the poor little thing was dead.  So we had to start all over again!

Ha ha!  Aww, poor little mouse.  They have trainers for mice?  The mind boggles!

Thank you SO much for spending some time with us Chris.  We wish you many many more happy years in Weatherfield.  We will be watching out for you!
Did you miss our previous interviews?

You can find them all here:

Featured Extra Archives

Here we have Chris with Pete MacLaine, Lead Guitar with many top bands.  He also wrote a book called 'The Man Who Said 'No' to the Beatles' - available here:
Chris is on the right, standing outside the cellar of the Rovers.  I am sure you recognise Jack Duckworth on the left.
Chris is in the middle here, and was about to sack Stanley Ogden for not working.
He certainly looks a lot cleaner in this role.
I found this one late last night, so haven't had time to verify with Chris that it is indeed him.  However, I am pretty sure that this was him playing the part of Dusty, a very dodgy builder who was stealing materials from Fairclough & Langton from a building site in 1976.
Being in the background, he is a little out of focus, but this was fairly recently, taken at Dennis & Rita's wedding.
Let's finish with that good looking family of his.  Left photo, left to right:  Son Sean, Chris, daughter Grainne and son Dermot.  Right photo, left to right, Granddaughter Jordan, Chris, Grandson Liam, Granddaughters Rebecca & Lauren and in front Conor.
As you can see, he was put into the credits for that role.
Here is Chris very much behind an impressive moustache, playing the part of a knife & scissor sharpener.  A trade you never see on the streets any more.
Sadly Chris Canavan passed away suddenly this past week, and needless to say he has left a big hole in the hearts of his co-workers at Coronation Street.  We thought you might like to read his page one more time, and remember what a wonderful man he was.

So many of his friends have told me of the many stories he would tell, of things he had seen and done in his long life, and I too enjoyed chatting back and forth with him either by e-mail or on Facebook.  I was looking forward to meeting up with him face to face for the first time later this year, but now sadly it is not to be.

My condolences go out to his family, whom he loved dearly, and was so terribly proud of them all.

The song you are listening to in the background was written and sung by fellow Supporting Artist Pete Reidy.

Rest in peace Chris, after walking the cobbles for more than 51 years, you have earned it.

Christine  - February 23, 2013