Michelle Collins has revealed that she was “deeply upset” when her early Corrie performances were panned by viewers and critics.
The 51-year-old actress recently filmed her final scenes as Stella Price for the show but The Mirror quotes an extract from her soon-to-be released autobiography This Is Me in which Collins claims some people wanted her to fail before she had even started the job.
“There’d been some doubtful mutterings and finger-waving in some circles even before I’d appeared,” she explained “Oh no, no, no – Cindy Beale can’t be in Coronation Street. That won’t do. Some people wanted me to fail before I’d even started, and talk of my supposedly dodgy accent was just the ammunition they needed. I didn’t get it. I’d worked hard with a great dialect coach called Mark, and as critical of myself as I often am, I really didn’t think I sounded bad at all.
“I turned on the radio to hear someone chuckling about it on a phone-in. Then I heard it was trending on Twitter and I had no idea how to deal with it. I’d never really suffered any tough criticism about my performances and this couldn’t have been more public. I was deeply upset but I didn’t want to show it, so I began to disengage from everything and everyone. If you had asked anyone else in the Corrie cast what I was like in that first few weeks they’d probably have said something like, ‘Oh, she’s a bit uptight, that one’.”
Collins has also opened up about the return of Liz McDonald – actress Beverley Callard – to the cobbles and the decision taken to replace Stella as landlady of the Rovers with old-hand Liz.
“I’m not sure I would have signed up for another year if I’d known it was going to happen. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work if Stella wasn’t running the pub, and I can’t pretend I wasn’t disappointed. Once Stella’s murdering husband Karl had been locked up and the Price family had moved out of the pub, my fears were realised. Stella just seemed to be hovering around without purpose, popping in here and there with the odd wise word for her daughters. That wasn’t enough for me, especially when it meant being away from my family.”
An earlier extract from the book told how Collins had battled depression after leaving EastEnders in the late 1990s and splitting from her boyfriend Fabrizio Tassalini, who is the father of her daughter Maia. As things escalated, Collins took some pills in an attempt to end her life during filming of BBC drama Sunburn in Cyprus.
“I remember swallowing some pills. There was no definite plan or explicit decision behind my actions. It just happened. The question that kept going through my mind was “Would anybody miss me if I wasn’t here?” Foolishly I somehow decided no one would. When I think about what I did now it all sounds very melodramatic, but I guess that’s the nature of depression. How low must I have been to do something like that? It was unthinkable.”
Collins joined EastEnders in 1988 and spent a decade playing home wrecking Cindy who made hubby Ian Beale’s (Adam Woodyatt) life a misery in the BBC One show. She went on to play the lead role in a number of dramas and carve out a successful stage career, before taking on the role of Rovers landlady Stella in 2011.
This Is Me is released on April 3.