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Hollywood stars ‘losing out on roles to British soap actresses’

Corrie writer Jonathan Harvey reckons Weatherfield moulds world class performers

A film star who has thrived in Hollywood dreads being up for big parts against former soap stars because she usually loses out, it has been claimed.

Screenwriter Jonathan Harvey – who has scripted scenes for Coronation Street since 2004 – also reckons actresses who make their names on soap are regarded with less condescension than they once were when breaking away from the ITV series.

Speaking to The Guardian, Harvey, 50, recalls: “Sarah Lancashire broke out at a time when there was still a snobbery around how soap actors were perceived. But that seems to have disappeared.”

The writer, who has also penned Kathy Burke sitcom Gimme Gimme Gimme and smash hit 1990s play Beautiful Thing, also indicated the long-running soap has gained a reputation for helping nurture talents who go on to international prominence.

(Credit: michkeegan Instagram)
Michelle has been a hit in Our Girl (Credit: @michkeegan Instagram)

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He claimed: “I’ve got a friend, a British actress who is very successful in America, and if she goes up for anything in Britain she gets beaten by someone from Coronation Street.”

Harvey added that having a ready-made fanbase of adoring soap supporters hardly went against performers either.

He continued: “[Entertainment bosses] want as many people watching their shows as possible, and if they think a certain performer is going to help them do that, of course they’re going to use them.”

Ex Corrie stars such Suranne Jones, Michelle Keegan, Sally Lindsay and Katherine Kelly have all gone on to forge careers as sought after performers after leaving the cobbles.

Suranne Jones (Credit: Instagram)
Suranne has stormed British TV drama since playing Karen in Corrie (Credit: Instagram)

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Other actresses who have stopped in at the Rovers before creating world class careers include Joanna Lumley, Prunella Scales, Patricia Routledge and Joanne Whalley.

Contributing to the same Guardian article, Corrie casting director Gennie Radcliffe hailed the soap’s production approach as a crucial stage in advancing a performer’s skills.

She said: “Coronation Street is a brilliant environment for a young actor starting out, learning their craft beyond drama school in a professional arena.”

Sally has also appeared on Loose Women and in the Open All Hours revival (Credit:

And it seems that both Sally – who played Rovers barmaid Shelley Unwin between 2001 and 2006 – and Tina McIntyre favourite Keegan agree.

Sally, who has gone on to star and develop Scott & Bailey with Doctor Foster star Suranne, described working on the iconic Weatherfield set as being a “northern powerhouse training ground”.

Our Girl star Michelle, meanwhile, added that soap veterans such as Helen Worth (better known to viewers as Gail Rodwell) helped her find an emotional truth in demanding scenes – advice she has gone on to remember throughout her career.

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