There is still time to enter ATV Network’s Coronation Street DVD give-a-way where you could win the latest release from ITV DVD, Romanian Holiday. We find out more about the storyline now with Julie Hesmondhalgh who plays lovable Hayley Cropper in the regular ITV series and in Romanian Holiday.
What excited you most about Romanian Holiday?
“When I first got a call asking if, in theory, I would be interested in doing a spin off DVD like Out of Africa I was really excited. I immediately said ‘absolutely!’ – anything which takes you out of Weatherfield is always really exciting! When it was green lit, I realised I’d be away for 18 days and got really stressed about being away from home for that long at – it was quite a stressful period leading up to the filming, with me thinking ‘how am I going to organise all this?!’ But these things have a way of sorting themselves out!
I really like the writers – they are two of my favourites – so that was exciting and immediately gave me confidence in the project. Simon (Crowther) and Christopher (Fewtrell) tend to write really, really well for me and David (Neilson) – they seem to like writing for us. I liked the script because, on the surface, it seems to be one thing but actually there’s something else going on. When you read it a second time, you read it through different eyes because you know the twist at the end. I thought it was a cut above [the rest] in that respect. I think Corrie fans will love it, I genuinely do. It’s a real old fashioned Corrie caper. The humour is really gentle but there are a lot of very, very funny lines.
Having the characters out of their comfort zone is also really fun for us to play. And working with other people who are outside our comfort zone, like John (Henshaw) and Siohban (Finneran), is really fun for us as well. And, of course, Becky ‘came home’ to us for a bit, which was lovely. There’s no show without punch! It’s always great to have Kate (Kelly) around – she’s like a ray of sunshine.”
What did you enjoy most about filming in Romania?
“It was, without doubt, the single most enjoyable working experience of my life. I had an absolute ball from start to finish. It wasn’t just the actors and the British crew but the Romanian crew were all just lovely as well, and I miss them still. And the country itself is really interesting, really complicated and very beautiful. Transylvania is absolutely stunning. There was this one afternoon with a hazy evening light…we were in the middle of the field where they had filmed Cold Mountain and it was just me, David and Kate on the back of this little cart, surrounded by sheep, mountains and forest. It was stunningly beautiful and we all said we just couldn’t believe we were being paid to do this! It was an experience of a lifetime. If it’s as beautiful as it felt when we were making it, it’ll be a really beautiful film to watch. Bucharest is a fascinating city too, with all that history which is so recent. We had very little time of our own but I made sure I explored a bit.
Going out and partying every night was just wonderful too! Normally we all go home at the end of the day to our families. We do have a real strong company but it’s not a company in the way that it is when you film something on location or are on tour with a theatre company, where you have a real short cut to that camaraderie. So to have that again and to be working towards something that was a finite thing was really special. It was also lovely getting to know people a bit better. We were all good friends before but the trip really cemented that. Particularly one big car journey from Pennsylvania back to Bucharest – David nodded off but Kate and I talked the whole way.
Something really shifted for us and our friendship went a bit deeper, which was lovely. Siobhan and I also became really good friends even though we hadn’t known each other at all before – it’s unusual at my time of life to make a new friend, as you think your group of friends is made and complete, so that was wonderful. We all laughed all the time, especially as John is incredibly funny and really giggly if anything set him off!”
Does a particular scene stick out for you?
“The Abba karaoke scene was great fun. We were all dreading it because things like that are always horrible to do – it’s only two lines on a page that you don’t really see when you’re reading the script but then, of course, you get to it and the director is saying ‘right then – do you know the words?’. And no-one had given us the words! We ended up down the side of this giant jumbo jet – as you do in a Romanian film studio – standing in horse manure trying to work out a dance routine! Kate, bless her, had looked up Waterloo on YouTube so we had a few moves and we practiced it. Having said that, when they played the actual track it was an octave higher! These wonderful Romanian extras were just jigging along to it, bless their hearts, thinking ‘what on earth are we involved in here!?’ But it was real – the characters wouldn’t have rehearsed either! It was really funny watching the writers with their headphones on watching it really seriously with their utterly insuperable faces, not seeming to get any pleasure from it whatsoever!
There was also a scene with a Romanian actor playing the old shepherd who rescues us from the mountains. The story is that various men Becky has been drinking with the night before recognise her, the shepherd being one of them. So we arrived in this field and there was this amazing looking actor with all this wild grey hair, a big beard and a staff. Becky and the shepherd had to run to each other and the director said ‘let’s just go for it and see what happens’. What followed was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in my life – Kate and this actor just went for it!
There were shoes and staffs in the air and at the end of it poor Kate had nettle stings up her legs and sheep poo in her toes! It was just a fantastic moment. It took us all about half an hour to recover from laughing!”
Do Hayley and Roy have a journey of self discovery on the trip?
“I think they do. Hayley dips her toe into something she wouldn’t normally do, which is the karaoke, but then I think she’s got that in her anyway. She learns from Glen and Verity to unbutton a bit. It’s really interesting for fans to put Roy and Hayley in a setting that’s uncomfortable to them, that’s a little bit out of the ordinary and means them having to deal with people who are uncomfortable for them to be with. Hayley says in the script ‘I normally get on with everybody’ and she really does transcend everyone, as she’s worked in a factory with all different kinds of people. Whereas Roy is very much his own person, Hayley can be a different person depending on who she’s with. Becky is actually worse than Glen and Verity in terms of her brashness but there’s a sensitivity about Becky that seems to be lacking in Glen and Verity.
Becky has a lot of kindness in her and that’s what Hayley and Roy have always connected with – the good in her. But I think the main journey would have to be Roy’s – he is always so pessimistic about things but is forced to see the beauty in the world by the end of the holiday.”