Yes, folks, the rumours are true, Tracy Barlow is returning to Weatherfield this week – not the Street exactly, as she is serving life for the murder of Charlie Stubbs, the boyfriend she whacked over the head with a metal ornament. It’s been three years since she concocted a plan to bump off Charlie in what she hoped would be seen as self defence, but her plan backfired and she ended up behind bars for a minimum of 15 years. So how exactly is she coming back to Corrie?
We first see toxic Tracy when she begs the prison to let her go to Blanche’s funeral. Tracy was very close to her gran and is truly upset that she has died, as Kate Ford explains, "Tracy was very similar to Blanche in some ways; neither of them suffer fools and they both had a naughty side to them, although Blanche was not as extreme as Tracy! So she’s truly devastated by the news and is really upset about it."
Filming the funeral scenes was quite a tough time for the entire Corrie cast, as actress Maggie Jones, who played the surly OAP, passed away last October. "I went to Maggie’s funeral, which was a beautiful funeral", reveals Kate. "But when we were filming the soap funeral, I just tried to think of it as Blanche’s funeral, not Maggie’s. There were definitely moments which were difficult throughout the day, but for me personally, I tried to think of them as two separate events, otherwise it would have just been too hard and upsetting to film."
Apart from wanting to say goodbye to her beloved Gran, Tracy sees the funeral as an opportunity to spend time with her daughter Amy, but it’s not the happen reunion she had hoped for. "Tracy is ashamed in front of Amy more than anything; no child should have to see her mother in handcuffs. I think she’s mortified also because she is in front of Becky (Steve’s wife) and Tracy already feels that Becky thinks she is a loser."
When Becky arrives hand-in-hand with Amy, the sparks between two of soapland’s feistiest characters start to fly! "It winds Tracy up so much that she just goes mad at the end, even more than she thought that she would! She just absolutely loses it and goes into a jealous rage when she sees them together, which is understandable really; you can sympathise with her."
To top things off, Amy is quite distant with her mother, who she only gets to see at supervised visits at the prison. It is a bit surreal for the little girl to see her mother outside, in a shouting match with Becky, who has been much more of a mother to her this past year. Innocently, Amy reveals that she will be getting a new brother or sister soon (Becky and Steve are hoping to adopt) and that her name is going to change to MacDonald. "Tracy is furious when she hears this and tells Steve in no uncertain terms that he will never change Amy’s surname to McDonald. She is so frightened of losing her daughter and says Becky, who she calls an ‘ex-junkie’, will never be Amy’s mum. It’s all really upsetting for her."
After the funeral and the spat, Tracy returns to prison, but her day out has given her a taste of freedom and she is determined to find a way back to the Street and back into her daughter’s life. The rumour is that she will do a deal with the police – if they make her Gail Platt’s new cellmate and if she can illicit a confession for the death of her husband Joe McIntyre, they will set her free. Kate reveals, "Well that’s what she is hoping, she really wants to get out of prison so that’s what she wants to do. She is desperate and will do anything."
Since leaving Coronation Street in 2007, Kate got married to TV producer John Connerty and gave birth to her son Otis a year later. Now living in London, she must adjusted to being a working mother, commuting up and down to Manchester. "I’m only coming back for eight weeks initially", says Kate. "So they have put all my scenes together so that I can be in London at home as much as possible. My mum and husband John help out a lot with the childcare; whenever I’m in Manchester we are fortunate enough that John can take time off to be a full-time parent. I call him Daddy Day care! Then whenever John works, I can get back to being mummy! Being able to come back to the role of Tracy Barlow after having Otis, is just brilliant and as an actress I am able to dip in and out of a character."
Having played Tracy for six years, Kate is very protective of her as a character, but she still found it nerve-wracking to slip back into her shoes. "I was nervous in the first scene I did but I was working with the same director as I did last time round, so it wasn’t hard to get back into. It was terrifying, but everyone here is just so lovely, you soon fall back into it and can’t help but feel relaxed with the crew. It has worn off now and I definitely feel less nervous now! It’s more of a case that I really wanted people to enjoy the character as much as last time."
And we hope you are back to cause plenty more mayhem too!