'Coronation Street’ star Jennie McAlpine chats to Linda McGee about her character Fiz’s troubled love life, getting advice from people on the street and the possibility of joining ‘Fair City’!
Several funny stories later she also proves that she’s a lot like her character Fiz - warm, funny and always ready for a chat!
Linda McGee: Poor Fiz, she’s had a bit of a tough time lately, hasn’t she? On what should have been the happiest day of her life nobody really wanted to get behind her, did they?
Jennie McAlpine: Yeah, poor Fiz. You’re right, because the happiest day of her life, or it should have been the happiest day of her life, but I think she knew deep down that it was never going to be the happiest day of her life because it just had disaster spelled all over it from the start, didn’t it? First of all it was in a prison - it wasn’t ideal. It really wasn’t. Even though it kind of did end OK, in that she got married, and Chesney kind of got behind her, but not properly - but she’s putting up with that. It’s the best she can get from Chesney at the moment. He’s not 100% behind her but there’s a civil word between them and that’s enough for her at the moment.
LM: And it doesn’t look like things are going to get any easier for Fiz in the coming weeks. From what I’ve been reading it looks like things are going to get worse and worse for her because Sally Webster is planning on stirring up more trouble, isn’t she?
JM: Yeah, that’s next week. Well obviously it’s kind of been OK so far because John’s been in prison, which is not OK but it is for the relationship. He’s not there. She’s able to keep everything at bay. And now, he’s due out next week, he’s coming out in a few days time, and what do they expect is going to happen? Obviously all hell is going to break loose.
LM: It looks like Sally is the ring-leader. I’ve seen pictures of her painting Fiz’s windows black and getting up to all sorts of other nastiness. Is she going to make their lives hell?
JM: She’s so nasty, isn’t she? It’s really interesting actually because Sally is going full throttle. The only thing in her head at the moment, when she knows that John is being released, is ‘I’m going to try make their lives a misery’ and ‘I don’t want them on the street’ - but obviously, her husband Kevin, that is far from his mind because he’s having a nightmare trying to keep his affair with Molly quiet. He’s like: "Blooming heck Sally, the blacking out of Fiz’s windows is the least of my worries!". So I think that’s really interesting. She keeps saying: "Are you behind me Kevin?" and he’s like "Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m here, I’m here" and thinking ‘Now I’ve got to meet Molly for an hour’.
LM: It sounds like it’s going to get very messy and seeing as Fiz works with Sally there doesn’t seem to be any getting away from her campaign…
JM: Exactly. But if the factory girls are going to take sides, to be honest, at the moment they’re going to take Fiz’s side because Sally, she’s such a pain. She thinks she’s better than everyone, she’s so annoying. So yeah, I think everyone there is gunning for Fiz.
LM: Do you enjoy playing all the nasty scenes with Sally and the other busy-bodies on the street or do you prefer when Fiz’s life is a bit quieter?
JM: Yeah, it is fun. To be honest, I get the best of both worlds because I get to do the shouting but Fiz always kind of comes out of it looking alright. Sally, I kind of feel for her a bit more because she’s actually the baddie so the audience are booing her. So I get to say all the horrible lines but then the audience are cheering for me so I don’t think Sally likes it as much as me. But we get on really well and when you’re mates with someone it is easier. We’re all great mates, there’s no real room for not being. But when you are really good mates with someone you can play around with it in the fight scenes. You can really go for it and not be afraid of hurting them too much.
LM: What’s the reaction on the streets been like? Did people feel the need to come up to you and say things like: “Don’t go back to Stape, what are you thinking?”.
JM: Yeah. Well, what happens is, people love to give me their opinions and advice. They really do. So before Fiz and John started talking about getting married people were saying: “Aw, you’re going to get back with John, aw he’s lovely, marry him”, but then when Fiz took the decision in her own hands they didn’t like it then. It was like 'When it was on our terms we were happy about it but not the way you’re doing it Fiz' because, even though everyone was telling me that Fiz would be happy marrying John, I don’t think that anyone anticipated for her to do it in such dramatic style.
LM: Because it wasn’t the romantic big day that we would have expected for Fiz…
JM: It wasn’t. And it wasn’t the romantic fairytale day that I think probably someone like Fiz would dream of.
LM: Because she is quite girlie and she’s into her quirky style. Do you like that element of the character?
JM: Yeah. She is like that. But she’s kind of grown up a bit in recent years. Obviously now she’s a married lady...
LM: Are you saying she can’t wear pigtails anymore because she’s married?
JM: Aw she can’t. You can’t do that when you’re married. That’s a definite. It’s like law! And also, to be honest, apart from wedding, she’s not really had much chance to celebrate or much reason to celebrate so she’s not been able to put her party frocks on and do her make-up because she’s not really felt like it. It’s been very tough for her, bless her. But maybe she’ll have a bit of a happy Christmas... I hope.
LM: I've heard that you were very keen to visit the 'Fair City' set during your visit to RTÉ. Did you get to wander around Carrigstown?
JM: I just went over. I did more than that. I’ve had my photograph taken at the McCoys set. This won’t really work for our Internet listeners but I’ll show you the photograph anyway (Takes out her mobile phone and proudly displays a picture of herself at McCoys). I just went round. I went round everywhere. And we saw The Hungry Pig. I was very impressed. I’ve got to tell you, I was very impressed with the set. I think it may be slightly better than the ‘Corrie’ set. McCoys, it’s bigger than The Rovers. It’s easier to film in, I imagine, McCoys than The Rovers. It’s much bigger. I’m liking it. I’m preferring it. That’s terrible. I’m going to get the sack!
LM: Never mind, I’m sure Fiz could move to ‘Fair City’ and do some scenes in Carrigstown? Would you like a cameo?
JM: Aw yeah. I’d love it. I’d love a little cameo... walk-on... I want a guest-lead.
LM: What do you fancy? A fight-scene?
JM: A fight-scene, yeah. Have you got the equivalent of Sally Webster in 'Fair City'? I’ll have a fight with her.
LM: Do you enjoy visiting Ireland? You’re here quite a bit.
JM: I do. I love it. I am Irish. I’ve definitely got Irish roots, on my dad’s mother’s and father’s side. Dad’s mother from Sligo and some of dad’s side are from Limerick. There’s no Dublin in me but I do feel very at home here.
LM: You're in the middle of filming for the Christmas episodes at the minute, can you share any little secrets with us?
JM: Yeah, same as ‘Fair City’, we’re in the middle of filming all our Christmas episodes, of course. What can I say? It is dramatic, really dramatic, but I think it’s going to be really, really traditional ‘Corrie’, in that there’s real high drama over the Christmas but then real farcical comedy as well. Christmas Eve is very funny.
LM: So a bit of light relief after all the madness with evil Tony?
JM: Aw yeah, the murder. Well, that’s also going on so watch that. That actually gets really interesting. Definitely watch that space because it involves so many people. It’s really one to watch.