This time, I am absolutely delighted to introduce you to a 'front-of-your-screen artist by the name of Kathy Jones. Kathy played the part of Tricia Hopkins in Coronation Street in the mid 70's, and her picture was more than likely pinned up on the bedroom wall of many a young lad back then.
Thank you very much for talking to us today Kathy, tell me - you were quite young when you first came into Coronation Street weren't you?
Yes, I was nineteen when I auditioned for the part of Tricia Hopkins, who was younger than that. I was brought in on a trial run, to see how Tricia would be accepted. She was a cheeky teenager, and my first storyline saw her going into the Rovers and ordering a drink, even though she was underage. Her mum, played by the wonderful Kathy Staff, (later known as Nora Batty in 'Last of the Summer Wine') found out, and tore a strip off Annie Walker for serving her. Nobody won against Annie though, and she just tore a strip right back, telling her she should have better control of her daughter!
I was then in it for a few more episodes before they brought mother Vera back, along with the rest of my on-screen family. Granny Megan - Jessie Evans, Father Idris - Richard Davis. The Hopkins family then ran the corner shop, that they rented from Gordon Clegg.
Before we get too much into your Corrie days. Tell us a little about your childhood. Do you remember when Coronation Street began?
Well, I was six years old, in traction in hospital with a broken leg when Coronation Street was first broadcast, so the delights of Elsie Tanner and Ena Sharples were unknown to me. However, I did meet Pat Phoenix a few years later, before I joined 'The Street' as it was known in the 70's. I had been singing in a local working men's club in Crewe, where I was born, and Pat Phoenix made a charity guest appearance there. I was about 12 years old then. I have a photo of her taken with me, she had a cigarette in her hand and I was terrified she might catch me with it. I had been singing in WMC since the age of four, semi professionally when I was eight.
Four years old? Semi professionally by the age of eight? You must have had your parents behind you, were they in the business too? Did you perhaps have a pushy stage mother, aka Sally Webster?
My father was a concert secretary at the local working men's club, and I suppose he first introduced me on stage. I had never sung in front of my family. My mother took over as my manager, I suppose she was a pushy mother to a certain extent, she knew how far to push though, and I was willing. Before she married my father she tried dancing for The Railway Follies at Crewe Theatre, my father was also in a band for a short while, I don't know what the band was called, but his nickname was Bing!
I have one sister, sadly no longer with us, and four brothers, without whom I couldn't have done my job. My older sister and two older brothers would babysit my younger brothers while my mum and dad supported me by taking me to the clubs etc.
Quite a large family then, and they obviously didn't treat you like the 'middle child'. How lucky you were to have had so much support.
What else did you do as a child, besides the clubs?
When I was 13, I appeared on The Good Old Days for the BBC and later, when I was in The Street, Susie Hush allowed me to do this again mid contract. To this day I don't know how she managed to swing that one for me, as we, the cast, were not encouraged to work on other TV shows as ourselves. There was no 'Strictly' or 'Dancing on Ice' type of programs then.
I did quite a bit at Yorkshire Television as a guest artist on Junior Showtime for Jess Yeats too. I looked younger and smaller than the juniors, even though I was well into my teens. Mark Curry was presenter then, before he went to Blue Peter.
I was also in an episode of 'How We Used to Live' for Yorkshire Television. It was a series for schools, and I was in the Victorian era. I played the part of Flo Fairhurst, who ended up with Scarlet Fever.
I watched a few episodes of this on You Tube, what a fabulous series that was! I do hope the school children appreciated it.
How did this lead into Coronation Street?
My mother always said I would be in Coronation Street, so when the chance came for an audition at Granada TV for a cameo role, I jumped at the chance. I was already at the studios as I was working on a children's program called 'A Handful of Songs' for producer, Muriel Young. I auditioned for the part for another female director called June Wyndam-Davis, and got it. Muriel was very good to me and released me from my series of Handful so I could accept the role.
The Hopkins family didn't stay in the Street very long did they?
No, their exit storyline was brought about by Granny upsetting Gordon Clegg, revealing to him she had found his birth certificate, and that it showed his mother as Betty Turpin (later Williams), and not her sister Maggie Clegg, whom he had grown up believing was his mother. She was actually too late though, because Maggie had already told her 'son' the truth, and he was so furious with Granny, he stopped the sale of the shop to the Hopkins family. Hated by everyone, they all did a moonlight flit, with the exception of Tricia. She stayed on, and they decided they needed another young girl as her friend, so Gail Potter (later McIntyre) played by Helen Worth was brought in. Susie Hush was the producer then.
When she left, new producer Bill Podmore decided my story lines had reached an end and Tricia was to go. Helen and I worked on many scenes together, and when it came to the end of my contract, the storyline was for us to toss a coin to decide who should go. My mother was convinced that I called the wrong side on the toss of that coin, even though she knew it was just in the script, she was convinced I could have stayed.
Who do you remember with fondness from those days?
I loved Jack Howarth (Albert Tatlock), he always had a cheeky glint in his eyes. If I was walking in front of him in the Granada corridors, he would prod me jokingly with his stick, and say "Hey walk with me". Jack loved his Eccles cakes, and at 4pm every Monday Tuesday and Wednesday in the rehearsal rooms, we had tea delivered, sandwiches, small cakes and biscuits. As soon as he heard the tea trolley arrive, Jack was on the go, aiming for the Eccles cakes. But he didn't eat them there and then, oh no, he put them in his pockets and took them for his wife and himself for eating later.
They used to stay at the Midland Hotel in Manchester. Neville Buswell (Ray Langton) knew this, and patted him on his shoulders, then his pockets, saying "All right Jack? How are you doing?" There must have been crumbs and currants in his pockets for weeks! Jack was a real charmer, beautifully manicured hands, a gentleman.
Did Coronation Street put an end to your singing career?
No, I recorded an LP at Abbey Road Studios in London called A Handful of Songs, so when a song became available called 'Down Our Street' I recorded it at Abbey Road, and sang it on The
Arrows Show, another one of Muriel's programs.
Ah yes, I have had that one on my videos page for a long time. It's a lovely song.
Also, while I was in The Street I was still working, singing in the clubs in the area, Manchester, Liverpool, Stoke on Trent or Birmingham. I couldn't go too far afield because I'd got to be in the Studios the next day. It was hard work sometimes.
It must have been - burning the candle at both ends. What came after Corrie?
When I left the Street, Muriel Young very kindly arranged another series of programs for me called Kathys Quiz, then Songbook. I was also Beryl the Barmaid in one episode of 'All Creatures Great and Small'. That was a lot of fun, being seduced by Tristan.
Do you have happy memories of your time at Granada?
In total, I worked at Granada for about eleven or twelve years. They were very happy days. The old Granada (some of us called it the factory) was very different, so I'm told, than today's Granada. They cared for their workers, we all pulled together doing our own thing to get a program in place, it was a job but a very enjoyable one.
I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed talking to you Kathy. I know I am not alone when I tell you I wish they would bring you back into the show. Gail could really use a female friend, and who knows how long Michael will last with that dicky heart. She will need someone to help pick up the pieces if the worst happens! :-)
Thank you so much for giving up your time. Now let's look at your gallery: