Hi Pete, thank you so much for giving us your time, and sharing a little bit of your life story with us.
Where are you from?
I was born in Blackburn Lancashire but now live on the Fylde Coast with my wife Heather, my Yorkshire Terrier Oscar, and little Budgie Cheeky.
What did you do before you worked for Coronation Street?
I started out life as a musician - playing guitar. In the 70's I toured the UK with the Paper Dolls, who had a huge hit with 'Something Here in My Heart'. My biggest regret was turning down the job with Los Bravos, who recorded 'Black is Black'. They wanted me to go to Australia with them but I didn't want to let the girls down as I had only been with them a few weeks.
Some years later after working with various bands I decided to go solo. One night by mistake I discovered I had a hidden talent for writing, I forgot the words to a song I was performing so made them up as I went along. It got a laugh, so I started to include parodies and some comedy into my act. A few years down the line, I stopped the parodies and became a bit more serious about my music, writing both the music as well as the lyrics for my own songs.
I submitted some songs to Rosette Records, who recorded such artists as Daniel O'Donnell, Charlie Landsborough, Dominic Kirwan etc. I wrote a full album of songs for a singer they signed called Michael English, but unfortunately he left the company and was signed by Louis Walsh of X Factor. He didn't take the songs, so I recorded them myself at home, put them on a CD and sent it off to various radio stations, had a lot of air play and interest, so I decided to cut out the record company and sold them myself by mail order.
One of the radio stations asked me to perform for BBC Music Live at the Charter Theatre in Preston which was a great experience, but nerve wracking. I performed two of my own songs and received a standing ovation for a song I wrote called 'My Little Girl'. The fire alarms going off in the theatre had nothing to do with it so I'm sticking to the first version.
Ha ha, I believe you Pete! How long have you been a Background Artiste?
I have been working on various productions for almost forty years, most of them were Granada productions like 'House of Cariddas', Albion Market, Crown Court, Strangers, Bulman etc.
I once had a small part in Emmerdale as a tramp, we were on location filming at night, the makeup girl put some stuff on me that was scary, it made my eyes look red. She then put lots of grease in my hair and rubbed grey powder on my face, we didn't finish filming until midnight. On my return to Yorkshire Television, I was told they had locked up the shower and everything else, so I couldn't get changed or cleaned up. I had to drive home as I was. On the way, I had to stop at the motorway services as I needed a cup of coffee to keep me awake. As I approached the café area, a security guard grabbed hold of me and said "Where do you think you're going?" I said, "I need a cup of coffee". He said "Come on out, we're not having your sort in here!"
I tried to explain that I had been filming at Yorkshire Television, he just said, "That's the best one I've heard yet!" I took out my equity card and showed him, he then let me back in, and walked away shaking his head. However, it wasn't over yet! When I got home, I realised I had forgotten my key, so had to ring the doorbell to wake my wife Heather. We had a peephole in the door, she looked through it and shouted "Go away or I'll call the police!!" It took me five minutes to convince her it was me. I'm sure she knew really, but was making me wait because I had woken her up at 3 a.m.
How long have you worked on Coronation Street?
I have been there for over thirty years now. One of my first jobs there was as a workman clearing up the debris after a wagon crashed into the Rovers. I've also been the milkman, taxi driver and various other characters.
I remember my first day at Granada, I was sitting having lunch in the canteen when in walked Doris Speed (Annie Walker). She sat down at my table and just said in a posh voice, "Hello dear". I was totally star struck, she must have thought I was simple with the look on my face. I just sat there with my mouth open in disbelief.
It's strange, when you work in television, and especially in a top soap like Coronation Street, you realise after a while that actors are just human beings too, doing a job of work that they love.
What changes have you seen in your thirty years there?
Well, my hair and beard have turned silver for one, my hearing is not as good as it used to be. I used to think that Arthur Itis was a relative, and that bad joints were something that hippies smoked in the 60's, but now I'm older, I know different.
Do you still enjoy your job though?
I love working on Corrie, and have made many friends through the years. Most of the cast are now younger and more agile than me, but it's become like a second home, even though I'm not there as often as I would like to be these days.
You said one of your regrets was not accepting the offer of a job with Los Bravos, do you have any other regrets?
If I had one wish, it would be that the song I wrote for the Corrie musical 'That Old Cobbled Street' could have been used, but it wasn't to be.
Yes, I heard about that, the play turned out to be a bit of a disaster didn't it? what is the story behind your song?
I just sent it to the producer Kieran Roberts, he sent me a letter saying he loved the song but didn't think it was right for the musical, he went on to say that the musical was now on hold and he didn't know if it would ever be done on stage again.
Maybe if they had used it, they would have had more luck with the play! At least we can all get to hear it now via your page.
What do you like to do when you are not acting?
I love writing songs, it takes me to another place in my head and helps to get rid of some of the frustrations of life. Most songs I write have some kind of message or meaning to them. I do get too involved with the lyrics though, it can sometimes take me a while to compose myself before recording a sad ballad. I cry really easy, I guess my bladder is too close to my eyes, but that's the way I am and have always been. My heart on my sleeve, and I'm too old to change now.
I have never heard that expression before - I love it! I think the title of your next song should be "My Bladder is Too Close to my Eyes". J
Who have you most enjoyed working with?
I have had the privilege of working with some of the best and nicest actors and actresses on television, and had a laugh along the way with all my friends, some of which are sadly no longer with us.
I used to love working with Jill Summers, who played Phyllis Pearce, she always made me laugh so much. I thought her and Bill Waddington, who played Percy were really good together. Phyllis was such a great character, but then again, Coronation Street has had so many.
Yes, I loved Phyllis too, one of my favourite scenes was a Christmas one, she pulls out some mistletoe and asks Percy to kiss her under it. He replies, "I wouldn't kiss you under an anaesthetic!"
Everyone has told me what a nice lady Betty Driver was, did you find her so?
Yes, I really miss Betty, she was a lovely lady whose smile could light up a room as soon as she walked in. Also Maggie, who played Blanche was another great. Her delivery of lines was classic.
There are so many wonderful stories and memories. Betty was once doing a scene behind the Rovers bar, unbeknownst to her, one of the crew had tied a fine wire to one of the flowers which were in a vase on the bar at the back of her. Every time she started to say her lines, the flower jumped up and down in the vase at the back of her. Everyone was laughing, but poor Betty didn't know why, because each time she turned around, the flower was still. She eventually found out what was going on and threw the dish cloth at the crew member.
Ha ha! He was lucky it was only a dishcloth she had in her hand, it could have been a pint of Newton & Ridley's!
Thank you so much for speaking to us Pete, we have loved having you here, we wish you a very Merry Christmas, and really hope we get to spot you on set for many years to come.