Corrie Turns 60 - Interview With The Show's Mikey North, aka Gary Windass!
1960; it’s a long time ago. John F Kennedy had just been voted President of the USA, Elvis Presley was rocking the top of the charts, and movie goers were flocking to the theatres to see Spartacus.
And on telly, the lives of the residents on a fictional street in northern England were the focus of a brand new show. Coronation Street looked a little different back then, but as it turns the big 6-0 this coming week, it shows no signs of slowing down.
To celebrate the milestone, we caught up with Mikey North, who plays Gary Windass – a central character in the nail-biting storyline to mark the anniversary, as well as countless others through the years...
What’s it like when an event like this comes along?
I’ve been lucky enough to be here long enough to remember the 50th, so it’s always a big occasion – and we’ll always try to do something special for it! Hopefully the episodes this year will live up to how we’ve marked some of the other ones.
Of course, your man Gary is right in the middle of it...
He is, yeah! He’s working with Ray, trying to con the streets out of their houses. It’s a question of whether his conscience will catch up with him when the crunch time comes!
As you mentioned, you’ve played the character for more than a decade – and let’s just say he’s been through a lot!
Yes, he’s been through a few transformations, and there’s a lot of different sides to him that we’ve seen over the years. He’s come full circle, I guess; back to being the bad boy he was when he arrived. He was a bit of a tearaway when he first started, and I think that’s maybe what the viewers remember most. So it’s nice that we’ve got to show that original element again recently. For how long? Who knows – but I’m sure his comeuppance will arrive at some point!
In the meantime, do you have to worry about getting dirty looks when you’re doing the shopping?
Oh yeah! Gary is hated at the minute – or at least the reactions I get in the street are suggesting as much! I’m always watching out for anybody coming my way with a handbag, in case they try and hit me with it...
Well there’s another bonus of wearing masks these days...Do you enjoy being the bad boy?
Oh, it’s sooo much more fun being a baddie. I’ve always said that I prefer Gary being like this – even if the audience don’t.
It comes with its dangers, though; do you flick through scripts making sure nobody manages to kill you off?
My mortgage definitely hopes that I’m not leaving anytime soon! I’ve always said that I’d rather have it this way, where something could be waiting around the corner, when it means getting so many meaty storylines, with so much going on.
With that in mind, can you pick out favourite storylines of yours over the years?
Well I’ve been involved in enough that it’s definitely tricky! I guess going back to the old days, when I first joined and all the Windass family were together; that will always be very special. I was so young, joining this iconic show; when the four of us arrived together it was a period I’ll never forget, and I’ll cherish forever. I also loved when Owen Armstrong, played by Ian Puleston-Davies, was on the show. He became one of my very best friends – he was Best Man at my wedding – so that was pretty special too.
Speaking of old days – can you remember your Day One?
It feels so long ago now, yet I can still remember it clear as day. I was doing a show called Brittania High that morning – it’s filmed at the studio next door – so I finished filming that and then ran across during my lunchbreak to start Corrie! I didn’t have much time to think about the enormity of what I was about to do. I don’t think anybody forgets their first day; when you’ve grown up watching it, when your parents love it, it’s definitely the type of thing nobody could forget.
You still catch yourself sometimes on set, it’s a little surreal even now. I guess that’s what makes me still appreciate it 12 or 13 years later, is realising the history that the place has got, and that it’s still loved by everyone.
Finally, compared to the past 60 years the past few months have been a little different; how have you found it?
Yeah, we’re all adhering to guidelines and stuff like that. Things are getting back to normal slowly, in terms of production value and size and all that, but it’s still going to be a while before you see a kissing scene. Mind, whoever’s meant to be kissing me probably won’t mind the delay! The stunt when we first came back, where Gary keeps Sarah from being run over, was done with social distancing; if we could do that, then anything’s possible!
Catch all the action from Weatherfield as Coronation Street celebrates its 60th anniversary, from Monday on Virgin Media One, Virgin TV 103 – and if you miss anything, catch up on Virgin Media Player!