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Sue Nicholls talks Coronation Street ‘Stephen drama’

Sue Nicholls, picture by Danielle Baguley/ITV


Sue Nicholls talks Coronation Street ‘Stephen drama’

In tonight’s dramatic episode of Coronation Street Audrey finally finds out the truth about her beloved son Stephen stealing all the equity in her house.

Shocked to discover that her golden child could do such a thing, but unaware that he is also a murderer, she decides to confront him and demand answers. How will Audrey react when Stephen starts to blame his crimes on her decision to give him up for adoption as a baby? And with Stephen willing to go to any lengths to get away from Weatherfield has Audrey put herself at risk of being his next victim?

With Audrey missing and news of Stephen’s catalogue of crimes reaching the Platts, the family discover that she went searching for Stephen, will they find her in time? Here Sue Nicholls talks about Adurey and Stephen’s relationship, how much she loves her on-screen family and how she feels Audrey could still be one of Stephen’s victims when she discovers the whole truth about his catalogue of crimes.

Do you think there’s been any doubts in Audrey’s  mind about Stephen?

No she hasn’t had any doubts about him at all, that is what is so hard for her hearing all these things that he has supposedly done. She’s so wrapped up with being so proud of him. She has been caught up in the fact that he has led such a glamorous life and she has boasted about him to everyone. How can she possibly believe what people are saying about him? But she has to listen to what Sarah is saying about the equity in the house. Sarah had told her it was a scam when all along she knew Stephen had taken the money and now she has come clean to Audrey, it is very upsetting for her as this is the second time her family have conned her out of money.

What is different about her relationship with Stephen and her relationship with Gail?

They’re two very different relationships. It is all about the glamour that Steve has brought into her life whereas with Gail and family that are there is that rather terrible thing of taking them for granted. And you know, Gail’s lovely, she’s a warrior, she just wants the family to be alright. She’s a fusser and that’s totally different to how Stephen is. In a way it is terribly awful and rude of Audrey because Gail’s the one that possibly keeps her family going. But Audrey just sees all that as ordinary. An ordinary day is a boring day today for Audrey, so I like that Stephen, and his lifestyle, sort of taps into that flighty Audrey that we very first met when I joined the show. She was all about the glamour and how she looked and all of that.

Does she also feel guilt at giving him up?

Absolutely. She tells him that. She was very young when she had him and she was forced to give him up by her father and she has regretted it every day of her life, but she had no choice. It wasn’t acceptable to be a single mum in those days. That is why she makes such a fuss of him and in her eyes he can do no wrong. She is trying to make up for what she did. Their relationship is very complex in that respect.

What happens when she goes to confront him in tonight’s episode?

She arrives at the flat to confront him about the house money and discovers Stephen and Peter arguing and Peter has clearly attacked Stephen. Although she is angry with Stephen herself she has no idea why Peter is attacking him. If she hadn’t got there I am sure Peter would have killed him. She hears Peter being very aggressive to Stephen and in typical Audrey fashion she tells him to shut up. Stephen is relieved  she turned up but then she makes it very clear she has a come for answers and knows about the money.

How does she feel when he turns it on her?

She is shocked, he says that he has always felt abandoned and has always felt the need to prove himself. Audrey tries to explain but those words are going to really hit her hard in the coming weeks. He has been very cruel, knowing what he has done and that the truth will come out about that and knowing that he has landed all that guilt on his mother. But she is determined to make him hear her out and she won’t allow him to leave the flat.

We see Audrey blocking his way out of the flat. Does she realise the danger she is putting herself in?

No she just thinks he has conned her out of her money, she doesn’t know he has killed people. He is her son and she wants answers from him about why he stole from her. Of course what she doesn’t know is that the family are now looking for her as they have discovered about the murders and everyone is very frightened for her safety. What they find when they break into the flat makes them even more worried for her safety and they call the police.

What was it like filming those scenes?

It was wonderful as [Todd] is such a joy to work with. It was a moment that needed to happen, Audrey needs to know what sort of person her son is but when she eventually finds out about the extent of what he has done she really behaves in a very strange way. She knows what he has done but he has got into her head and she feels as though she is responsible.

Do you think she will go into denial about what he has done to her and others, even though there is no denying what he has done?

Yes we will see her start to lash out a bit and blame others for his actions. That deflection is how she is coping with what her son has done. The alternative is that she blames herself and that is just too much for her to deal with. The family are incredibly worried about her because her reactions are irrational, she is on the attack with everybody. She is even sticking up for him despite what he has done to her.

If Stephen is caught by the police do you think she would visit him in prison?

Oh without a doubt, she would be there every week without fail. And yes that would be partly based around her guilt. She is his mother, she feels she has let him down before and she never wants to let him down again. She will stick up for him and try to justify what he has done. Her reaction is going to cause her problems with the rest of her family. It is wonderfully complex and it is true to life if she goes to visit him, you see these mothers that blindly support their offspring no matter what they have done. To be honest you get the sense that if he manages to escape and disappear she would be happy about that.

Are you going to miss Todd who plays Stephen?

Oh of course I am going to miss him, we miss having him around already. I absolutely loved working with him. I love Todd and I have to say I have  a lot of love for Stephen. I’ve got to say I can’t not love Stephen. Todd’s a joy, he’s delightful. He has worked so hard and he has had so many days full of long scenes and he has put his all into creating this character, I think it’s been wonderful. I’ve been lucky, because I’ve had a very, very good story, beautifully written. I know I’ll miss him and I’m going to have to stay in touch with him because I have known him for such a very long time.

So thinking back over other villains How does he compare to other ones?

Each villain has been so different and each of them were right for their time. I worked on the Richard Hillman storyline and that was so over the top and fantastic and the story was brilliant. This one has also been done so well. It takes brilliant actors to portray these sort of characters, and it doesn’t matter how outrageous the stories are, the viewers love them and so do I. People remember villains, they are stories and characters that stand out from the ordinary.

I remember the reaction to Alan Bradley played by my wonderful husband Mark, people loved to hate him, he was almost a starter for all the ones that have come along since. People talk about villains long after they have gone and that is credit to the actors who bring them to life. We always get the right people and it was the right decision to go down that road with Stephen. What is sad is that once you know someone is a villain you also know that they will have to go.

Did you ever wonder if it might be the end of Audrey once Stephen became a villain?

Yes I did, I think we all thought that we could be at risk. Actually I still think that what has happened with Stephen could see Audrey off, we are all only on one year contracts so you never know. The aftermath of what happens this week and the confrontation with Stephen does have a profound effect on Audrey, she is a victim in many respects and how will she cope with that.

How much have you enjoyed working on this storyline that has involved all the community?

I do love that feeling of everyone being involved. The cast is very big these days so I don’t often get to work with a lot of them and particularly in the past few years we have all been very much with our immediate group of characters. I have never had scenes with Chris Gascoyne before, ever. I loved working with him on this storyline. It is interesting to work with someone new, you get a different energy from the scene.

We have talked about the Platts being worried about Audrey and you have lots of fantastic scenes coming up. How important are they to you? 

I adore the Platt family, it’s as if they are my family. I see them more than I see my darling sister who is in London. Audrey and her family take up such a lot of my time and I love them. I wouldn’t be in the show if it wasn’t for Helen and the relationship between Gail and Audrey is wonderful, you often see them niggling at each other but we have had some lovely heart to heart scenes recently which I have really enjoyed. Jack makes me laugh so much, he is even funny in the serious scenes, he is a very good actor and a lovely person.

They all are, Tina is divine, Julia is wonderful because she plays Shona with that kind of edge which makes me smile. I love darling Ben. He is a joy. The newer members of the family too like Max, I have had some lovely scenes with Paddy, he is very easy to work with. I have lovely chats with young Jude who plays Sam. I feel very blessed.

Is there any shame for the family on the street and with their neighbours about what Stephen has done?

Yes I think there is, his actions have affected so many people. David is very good at dealing with that and won’t let people bad mouth the family, Gail is going to try and keep a low profile. And let’s not forget dear Tim is still missing and whilst that is the case people are going to be looking to the Platts for answers too.

How do the public react to you now this story is reaching its end?

Some people are still telling me he is up to no good and Audrey should see him for what he is. The people I know best when I go shopping in Sainsburys tell me to be careful and I assure them that I am being. I think they will be very worried this week, I have been telling them to keep watching as his behaviour is going to get very worrying. The funny thing is that Todd started shopping there too and they tell me ‘your son has been in’.

I always assure them that he is adorable in real life. They are very kind and I never give anything away as that would ruin it. What is so lovely about it is the public are talking about it and that is what we want. A villain like Stephen elevates it and gets people engaged so I know they will be gripped this week and worried about Audrey and they should be worried, finding out the truth is not going to end well for her!

Coronation Street, Wednesday, 11th October, 8 pm on ITV1, STV and ITVX

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