Hi Jackie & Fred, this is very good of you to allow me to take advantage of our friendship, and pin you down to talk about my favourite Corrie star, your son Andy.
You are very welcome, we don't mind really, we don't know if we have the answers you want, but will do our best.
I don't know if many are aware of how we first met. It was online at a Coronation Street fan page, and you were wanting to find a way to show the fans some photos from Andy's recent wedding to Nichola, so I did a page up for you. We got to know each other pretty well while we were working on that, so we had to meet up next time I was over, and the friendship blossomed from there. If anyone would like to see the web page that started it all, you can find it at ANDY & NICHOLA'S WEDDING .
Fred, am I right in thinking that Andy is your youngest child?
That's right, I used to call him Squirt. Lisa is the next up, then Mark is the eldest.
Jackie, do you still remember when Andy was born?
Oh I certainly do, it was the 2nd of April 1981 at Hope Hospital, Salford at 12:20 am weighing 5lbs 2ozs. he had problems at birth and had to have two tubes put in his chest whilst on a ventilator. On removal of the tubes they left two scars on Andy's chest in the shape of two stars. It sounds corny, but Fred's always been convinced he was going to be a star.
How right he was too! What a scare for you though, you must have been so worried you might lose him.
You have no idea, we were advised to get a priest and have him baptised, confirmed and last rights. But he fought. We knew then he was here for a purpose. Mum said he was going to be a priest LOL.
He was in special care baby unit for six weeks. I was there during the day and Fred stayed with him at night to help with feeding. He came on in leaps and bounds. His left lung had collapsed after he was born and at seven days old it collapsed again. Dr Robinson told us that it happens again nine times out of ten, so they were ready for it. We were so scared when we brought him home. I slept downstairs with him just in case the lung collapsed again even though the doctor said it wouldn't. We had six weeks of crying, and ended up taking him to Children's Hospital. They tried everything, lumber puncture, X-rays and scans. Then, after four days, we went onto the ward and Andy wasn't crying. The doctor told us they had discovered he was allergic to cows' milk. Every time he had a feed he would cry in pain, He got put on soya milk and was fine.
After such a bad start, did he develop OK?
The doctors said with his birth problems he would probably be slow at talking and walking. Andy was always laughing as a baby. He wouldn't talk, he would just make sounds. Lisa seemed to know what he wanted. Andy would make this grunting noise, and Lisa would say "He wants a drink" LOL. Andy didn't crawl, he loved his baby walker, and would run, not walk, up and down the lounge. I had a little wooden step up into my kitchen, and he was the only one who managed to get into the kitchen. He would ram his walker backwards and forwards until he got up the step. He walked at nine months old, we let him walk into Dr Robinson's office for his nine months check up. It was so funny, Andy had this big beaming smile on his face he knew he was clever.
Andy has a very distinctive husky voice, is that due to the lung problems he had as a baby?
We don't really know, but it sounds really good when he sings.
You're not wrong there, he is a fabulous singer!
How did he do in school?
When Andrew was two years old, he went to play school. I knew if I didn't put him in play group I would never get him in school. It's probably because he was the youngest, but we were always together. He would even follow me into the toilet with a book. He screamed when I left him at play group "Don't go mummy" and was hanging on to the radiator. I cried at the bus stop, I thought I was doing the wrong thing. When I went to pick him up two hours later he was playing just fine.
I think many of us can relate to that Jackie, the first day is the hardest - and mainly on the parent! So he was OK with school after that?
Yes, at age three he went to nursery school. I was a lollypop lady by then, and I crossed them over the street. Lisa would gel his hair, and Andy would go into school with Mark and Lisa.
Was there rivalry or jealousy between them?
Well, Mark used to say Andy was the golden child, Lisa silver and he was bronze, that's not true though, I love all my kids equally, and we are both very proud of all of them. They were normal kids, and would fall out and argue like any other kids, but now they would do anything for each other.
I can tell that from the few times I have met them. You are a very close knit family. So Andy's health was OK after that?
Yes, he developed very fast, and always seemed to be ahead on doing things, like at five years old, he wanted his stabilisers taken off his bike, he mithered and mithered. Fred said "Right, once I take them off that's it, they don't go back on". Fred took them off, Andy got on it and just rode off, we were gob smacked!
Ha ha, always full of surprises eh? Sounds as if he was pretty easy to raise?
Andy was a lovely child always smiling and happy. As he got older he would always make us laugh. When he left home, the house seemed so empty. He was our baby.
Ah but then the grandchildren started coming along. How many do you have now Fred?
We have five, Mark and Karen have Chloe and Emily, Lisa has Katie and Andy and Nichola have Thomas and Hollie. Also, Lisa had Nicole, we lost her after three days, she was born June 8th 2006, so we have six really.
That's very sad about Nicole, I am sure she was as gorgeous as the rest of them - and they really are all great looking kids, we must have some photos of them in your gallery below.
So let's get back to Andy, when did you first notice that he was destined for a life on the stage?
While going on a family holiday, Andy would have been about three, he started singing songs from the sixties on the car radio. Jackie and I looked at each other wondering how he knew the words. Also, when he was at nursery school and infants, he stood out in school plays, whatever he played you could hear him singing above everyone else.
How old was he Jackie when you knew you had to point him in the right direction?
When he was five he used to come with me to Lisa's dancing classes. One day he said "Mum, I want to do it". He started doing disco and loved it. He and his dancing partner, Carmine, won lots of trophies in dancing competitions. His dancing teacher suggested I get Andy an agent and do some modelling, so he joined Laine Agency and started doing a bit of modelling and Extra work.
When he was nine, he wanted a guitar for Christmas and guitar lessons. His teacher couldn't believe how quickly he picked it up. He used to go busking in the middle of Manchester. At times he would make more money than his dad [who was a taxi driver at the time]. He was busking from the age of fifteen until seventeen. He went to Salford College from age sixteen to eighteen, studying performing arts and lighting.
How wonderful! I would have loved to see him busking. Too bad cameras were not everywhere then, the way they are now.
So did his career start while he was still in school?
Andy went for a lot of auditions. His head teacher Mr McDermot wasn't happy about the amount of time he was losing, going to auditions. He said only one in a hundred make it as a actor lol.
He was probably right, but Andy was certainly that one wasn't he?
It didn't happen overnight, sometimes he would get down to the last two or three and not get the part. Boys from Oldham Workshop seemed to do well, so Andy became a member of Oldham Theatre Workshop when he was nine. Lisa joined as well. He did well, and got a lead role in many productions like 'Teddy goes to War' and 'Hanky Park'. He worked along side Anna Friel, Alan Halsall (Tyrone Dobbs now), Antony Cotton or Dunn, which was his name then (Sean Tulley), Lisa Riley (Mandy Dingle-Emmerdale), Jane Danson (Leanne Tilsley), Andrew Knott (Secret garden, Black Beauty) Kelvin Fletcher (Andy Sugden-Emmerdale) are just a few who have all done well from there.
Which other productions has Andy been in?
He has done Childrens Ward, Cracker, Heartbeat, Where the Heart Is and GBH. He got his first TV six part series when he was ten. It was called 'Once upon a Time in the North' with Bernard Hill, Brian Pringle and Bob Mason. Andy played Bernard Hill's son, Sean Tollit. It was written by Tim Firth, who wrote Calendar Girls, and was a Phil Partridge production filmed in Warrington.
Must admit I have never seen that, I don't think it was exported to Canada. Was it just the one series?
Yes, it needed six million viewers to get a second series, but it only got five point seven million.
That's a shame, five point seven million sounds like a lot to me, it might have gone abroad if there had been more than one series.
So this was all before he went to college, what came after that?
He had a part time job at Dixon's working in the storeroom while he was at Salford College. He gave that up when he got the part of Darren Sinclair-Jones in the Royle Family. Unfortunately Caroline Aherne didn't do another series but that's when he got the part of Kirk in Coronation Street and has been there ever since, fifteen years in fact!
That's amazing, where did those fifteen years go? I remember Kirk arriving for the first time, he was visiting with his parent's for his sister Maria's engagement party to Tyrone. That was October of 2000.
Yes, that's right. However, he did appear before that, he had two other roles in Corrie before landing the part of Kirk.
He did? Do you remember what they were?
I do, when he was nine he had a non-speaking part playing a lad at a bonfire, standing next to Deirdre. The other was when he was a teenager, playing a cheeky chappie called Wayne, who was in the Kabin with a mate, giving Sharon a hard time because she didn't have any fireworks.
I will have to see if I can find those episodes somewhere. A couple of the cast have done 'I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here', has Andy ever had a hankering to do it?
He has said he would do it if he was asked, but they have to be asked to do an ITV show to be allowed to do it. He used to get asked to do Panto a lot, but they won't let the cast do that while they are in Corrie.
He's very brave to be willing to do 'I'm a Celebrity', they couldn't pay me enough to do that show - I hate bugs, ugh! Does he like playing Kirk? How does he like working with Lisa George (Beth)?
He loves playing Kirk, he and Lisa get on so well, they enjoy working together, never stop laughing. He is more than happy to play Kirk for as long as they will have him.
I am with you there. I hope the storyliners are imaginative enough to give them lots to do, without feeling the need to break them up. I would like them to go down in history as one of the very few couples whose marriage endures through thick and thin. It happens in real life - just look at yours - 41 years! What is your secret Jackie?
The secret of being married this long is give and take. We've had our moments, but got through. (Also he knows I'm always right) LOL!
Anyone who knows you, can tell you both still love each other to bits. It's also very obvious that you are very proud of Andy.
Oh we are, and love him SO much. All his hard work has paid off. I know if anything happens and he has to leave Corrie, he has a lot of experience and a good CV, so he should find plenty of work.
Thank you so much Fred & Jackie, I think I speak for everyone when I say I have really enjoyed learning all about this lad of yours - the lad who will always be 'Our Kirkeh' to us.