Following the triumphant arrival of Shayne Ward’s character Aidan Connor in August, Faye Brookes has made her Corrie debut as his sister Kate Connor.
On track with her self-confessed five-year plan, Brookes reveals she’s “worked her socks off” to get to this point, and she’s determined to enjoy it. So how did she celebrate her first appearance on the cobbles?
“I watched it in a car on my iPad!” says the soap’s newest recruit, laughing. “Work was full-on that day. I finished at 5.30pm and then I needed to get to London to appear on Lorraine the next morning. I had to watch it, to see what the viewers were responding to!”
Swapping the stage for the cobbles
Known for her starring roles in West End hits Legally Blonde and Shrek, Brookes was delighted to receive “positive comments” from fans and her loved ones in light of her latest performance.
“My family are just over the moon, and my boyfriend [Gareth Gates of Pop Idol fame] is really proud and happy for me,” she says, admitting she still finds the whole situation very bizarre.
“I grew up watching it; I would eat my dinner and it would always be on the telly. You just connect with Coronation Street if you’re from Manchester. Everyone in it is Northern and friendly and the stories are real – if not slightly exaggerated for drama purposes. It was very surreal to watch Sally’s wedding and then see myself in the next scene. I love all the national treasures.”
Who is Kate Connor?
Having lived in Spain for two years, Kate arrives in Weatherfield after discovering her brother Aidan has taken her inheritance and bought a stake in Underworld. With her father Johnny (Richard Hawley) in tow, the self-professed Daddy’s girl and youngest member of the family quickly ruffles feathers.
“I’m not going to be a quiet character,” the 26-year-old rising star promises. “I love that Kate’s the fun, mischievous, cheeky character at the moment.”
A family reunion
On screen, Kate and Aidan’s relationship is similar to that of any siblings: slightly argumentative, playful and competitive, but ultimately loyal. Off screen, it’s much the same. “He’s always tripping me up at work and we bicker about music, actors and films.
We have a great relationship and it’s interesting how it’s coming across the more scenes we do together,” Brookes reveals.
And what about the rest of the Connor clan? With Carla’s character (Ali King) taking a hiatus next year, could Kate be the next queen of Underworld?
“I don’t know what her path is yet; she’s a bit of a lost soul, but maybe she’ll find her niche on the street. She lost her mum when she was younger and Carla is her idol; she’s just a mini her.”
Tying the knot
Embedding herself at the factory, Kate is quick to rile up Beth (Lisa George), when it appears she’s getting close to Kirk (Andrew Whyment). However, the newcomer eventually reveals that she is engaged to marry her soldier girlfriend Caz (The Bill’s Rhea Bailey), who will be joining the cast in the weeks ahead.
“Caz has been away in the army for the last couple of months. It’s very intense and while she loves her, like all long-distance relationships, it’s hard work. I think the audience will fall in love with Caz and Kate; they’re a really nice couple.”
On the subject of taking on a gay character, Brookes admits she feels "a certain responsibility to do the role justice".
“I’m not playing it tough because I’m a lesbian. It’s not like I’m coming out, so it’s not a subject that needs to be talked about - it’s just a part of who Kate is and I own it. I hope to be flying that flag at Gay Pride next year!”
She laughs at her on-set competition with Sophie (Brooke Vincent), to be “the only gay in the village”. And while she doesn’t deny a potential love interest with her long-serving co-star, she stresses that the writers don’t want to pair the two together simply because of their sexuality.
Despite being experienced in the theatre world and recognised for her work in BBC series Atlantis and Our Zoo, the pretty actress admits she was a “nervous wreck” during her screen test at The Rovers, saying: “Coronation Street has such a great reputation and that’s a lot of pressure on your shoulders.
“When they yell ‘Cut!’ my heart is racing. It’s a different adrenaline to when you’re on stage.”
Coronation Street continues on ITV on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights.
Photo Credit: ITV Pictures