Every year that the Downeast Streeters have hosted a Coronation Street actor here in Halifax, I've volunteered to help out or have been part of the organizing committee. I would have gone to the show anyway but volunteers are important to helping the event go smoothly and it adds to the enjoyment of the evening.
Every show has been fantastic and last night's Evening with Vicky Binns was no exception. The show was held at the Westin Hotel for over 400 excited Corrie fans and was hosted by local florist and celebrity Neville MacKay of My Mother's Bloomers. Neville is a favourite and adds lots of fun to the event with his wit and enthusiasm. He loves the show just as much as we all do!
Vicky Binns has played Molly Dobbs for 5 years. She was only contracted for 3 months to start with but says that a new producer had other ideas for the character and she stayed. As always, the audience submitted questions and Nevilled kept her giggling all through the show. There was a lot of great backstage and behind the scenes chat and stories and we found out a bit more about the actor as well. Here's a few notes that I took during the evening (If I can decipher my scrawl!)
This is Vicky's first time in Canada and it sounds like she's had a little time to see a bit of Halifax in between media interviews over the past two days. She, like many of the Corrie actors, know that Corrie is popular here but actually being here and seeing the response always amazes them all. She says that people here really "get" Coronation Street, they really understand it.
Her all time favourite Corrie character is Liz McDonald and she also loves Jack and Vera, Norris and Jim McDonald but said Liz is definitely on the top of her list.
When asked about the "hottest" guy on Corrie, she agreed with one suggestion that Keith Duffy, who plays Ciaran is pretty hot and he's also one of the nicest men, too. Always a gentleman. Jennie McAlpine (Fiz) has been one of her best friends for years, long before they were on the show and she's also best friends with Alan Halsall who plays Tyrone. That's important, she says, you really have to get on with someone that is your main acting partner and says he's a joy to work with and her favourite part of her Corrie experience. You don't see a lot of the cast if you aren't in scenes with them. She was on the show for a year and a half before she met Betty Driver!
Her favourite storyline was when she and Tyrone got together and worked in the burger van. She told the story about filming the scenes where the van caught fire and they drove into a lake where they then had their first kiss. She said that there were stunt workers playing their parts, dressed like them and everything, driving the van into the lake while she and Alan were in a caravan playing cards. Pretty bizarre sitting there and seeing this van go flying by with two people in it that looked like them! They weren't overly impressed that they then had to don wetsuits and go in the water in January but that's the life of an actor! It usually takes awhile before you stop feeling like the new girl on the block but this happened about the time she was really finding her feet.
Another funny anecdote had to do with a question about the dog that was Tyrone's pet, Monica. She's disappeared, you see. Vicky said that the dog was very nervous around lots of people so they found it better just to let the doggy character disappear. It was ironic, as Vicky said she herself is terrified of dogs and when she was first on the show, Molly worked with Kirk in the kennels because she was supposed to be really good with dogs. She says that working with animals isn't very easy because, though they are trained, they don't always do what you want.
There were a few funny stories about practical jokes played on set. There was one time that Alan Halsall came down the stairs behind her. Molly was in the kitchen making Ty's sandwiches and he was supposed to be coming down the steps and tying his overall but when she turned around he was naked!
Vicky mentioned William Roache (Ken Barlow) and said he was really a gentleman and very kind to new actors to the show. He's also a fantastic spokesman for the show as well.
Behind the scenes, Vicky says that all the music in the Rovers or in the cafe is added in after, as is other background "people" noise.
Vicky does a lot of work for charities. She believes that while being a celebrity and famous face has it's drawbacks (lack of privacy), it also allows you to use your high profile to do some good works for brilliant causes. She's become a runner and runs in various charity races through the year, mainly for Luekemia research and a Teenage Cancer trust. She's also done some work for charities that have done some good works (for children, I think) in Africa and has been lucky to visit there a few times in relation to that. Craig Gazey and Graeme Hawley also run for the leukemia charities as well. (Craig Gazey is running in this year's London Marathon!)
She's also become involved with a new online venture called Suzie Pugh and a Monster Too where the traveling adventures of Suzie and her monster friend are geared to teaching children about the world.
Of course, there were questions about Molly's affair with Kevin! When asked what her reaction had been to finding out about the storyline, she covered her face with her hands. She said she'd asked the producers if it was a wind up but she said it was brilliant to be involved with it and it was meant to progress very slowly over months but when the story leaked out, they ended up having to speed it up and they were in bed before they knew it!
She spoke for an hour and a half, answering questions and talking to us all and then Connie, the chair of the DESNPS, got up and thanked everyone for coming and thanked all the volunteers. She presented Vicky with a hand drawn cariacature of Vicky holding her baby with a tram going along the viaduct behind her. She LOVED it! It was drawn by my fiance, Graham, and he had it spot on. She thought it was really good.
A little about Vicky: In her spare time she's likes to paint and see films. She likes to travel and she likes to shop! She'd love to work with actors like Julie Walters, Judi Dench and Imelda Staunton some day and her favourite actors include Kate Blanchett and Juliet Binoche. She's recently enjoyed the new version of True Grit. Vicky loves New York and Africa. When asked whether she prefers William or Harry (Royal Princes), she says she likes the younger Harry because he's cheeky! She'd also plans to do a play that's going to be put on first in Scotland and she'd like to do more comedies or a film someday.
She was very good about spoilers and didn't let any secrets out. She did say that there was a lot of publicity and specials done for the 50th Anniversary of Corrie last year including the Road to Coronation Street. The actual 50th anniversary, (December 9) featured an hour long live episode which Vicky said was terrifying but fantastic to be involved in. It was very dramatic and several big storylines culminated that night.
There was a lot of other things but those were the main ones I thought people would like to read about. From comments I heard from the people attending and from various members of the organizing committee, Vicky made quite a positive impression. She was very engaging with the audience and was very genuine and down to earth. She's bubbly and fun, and most definitely doesn't have any "attitude". She signed autographs for about 100 people at the end of the evening after a long day. She was tired but each person that sat down beside her was treated like they were the first one to sit there and she made each and everyone of them feel welcome. She graciously signed and posed for pictures for everyone of them.