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When OK! catch up with former Coronation Street star Beverley Callard, she speaks fondly of her time as Liz McDonald and reflects on the lifelong friends she made on the soap.
As with any job, there were highs and lows. In our exclusive chat, we discuss the reasons she closed the door on playing one of Corrie’s most iconic characters.
“I loved Coronation Street. I still do and I always will,” she says. “But sometimes it’s just not your turn on the merry-go-round.”
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Most recently, Bev headed into the I’m A Celebrity castle, and she has a number projects coming up – including one with her husband of 10 years, Jon McEwan.
Here, Bev, 63, discusses the reasons behind her departure after more than 30 years playing Liz and hints at what she’ll be getting up to next…
Hi, Bev! We were so sad when we heard you were leaving Corrie. Why did you decide to go?
It was a massive decision for me to make, but I believe I did it for the right reasons. I felt Liz had run her course. I’d hate to cheat any fans out there who were waiting and hoping for something amazing to happen to her. I felt like she’d lost her way.
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It couldn’t have been an easy decision to make financially…
Obviously, you can stay and just take the cheque, but I didn’t want to do that. I adore the Street, the character and the fans too much to do that. I was actually toying with the idea of going back to film an exit, but I felt that they wouldn’t be able to do Liz justice under the current Covid restrictions. I want to preserve her. Considering the current climate for actors, it’s unsurprising that everyone told me to go back and take the money, but that’s just not me. I have to earn my pay. The pandemic has given me time to assess how I feel about everything and I’m sure that my time on the cobbles is up.
How did it feel when you found out you weren’t going to be in the 50th anniversary episodes in 2010?
It was a big deal considering I’d been in the show for 20 years. I was deeply upset about that decision. I remember saying, “I’m the landlady of The Rovers. How can I not be in these episodes?” But I wasn’t. That’s showbiz!
Michelle Collins was brought in as Stella Price in 2011 and took over The Rovers from Liz. How did that make you feel?
It was a weird feeling. It wasn’t like they’d recast Liz – that would have broken my heart – but it certainly took Liz down another route. The Rovers is just a set at the end of the day. Michelle is a great actress and deserved the job, so I’ve never had any animosity towards her.
Michelle got a really hard time from fans at the time…
I think she would have had a better ride if they hadn’t put her in charge of The Rovers. That pub belongs to the public, so I think that’s why they reacted the way they did to her character. It wasn’t her fault and it must have been hard to have got the tough reception that she did. I felt for her at the time and it made me sure that if they ever offered me EastEnders, I’d never agree to take over the Queen Vic!
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You returned in 2013. Did it feel good to be back?
It did. I was touring with Little Voice at the time and the new producer approached me about returning just as it was coming to an end. The timing was perfect. He told me I was one of his favourites and said his first decision would be to bring Liz back as landlady of The Rovers and promised me amazing storylines. I trusted him and he was true to his word. It was fantastic and I loved working with him. Thing is, if you love what you do it’ll always feel good.
How would you like to have seen Liz say farewell?
I would have loved it if Liz and Jim had got back together. Even if they’d ended up heading off into the sunset together, you’d know there’d be a lot of drama beforehand! Sadly, you can’t decide your own storylines and since I’m not going to film an exit they could even kill me off-screen. If they do I’ll accept it with grace. I’ve thought long and hard about this and I know that this time I’ve shut
the door on Coronation Street forever.
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What’s next for you work-wise?
Lots of exciting things! All top secret at the moment. The Thunder Girls will return when the theatres are open. I’ve also been offered a show for me and Jon. I can’t tell you what it is, but we love the idea and it’s going to be a lot of fun.
We hear you two are renewing your wedding vows…
I couldn’t believe it when Jon asked me. I’d just come out of the I’m A Celebrity castle and he popped the question again. We’ll wait for Covid to subside so we can have all our families there.
Is that free facelift you mentioned still on the cards?
I was offered one for free, but I definitely won’t be doing that. They only showed half of what I said on I’m A Celeb, so I’d like to confirm that there’s no way I’d take a freebie where my face is concerned. Could you imagine if it went wrong? I’m definitely getting one, though. I’ve done my research and I’m going with the Harley Street Skin Clinic. They’ve done lots of my friends who all look amazing. I’ve known Lesley Reynolds and Dr Khan who run it for years so I know I can trust them. I’ve already had my consultation and I know I’m in safe hands.
Why do you want to get one?
I have low self-esteem. I can’t watch myself in anything and hate mirrors, but I don’t care about numbers as far as age goes. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life right now so I wouldn’t want to be younger. Having said that, if I can knock a few years off then why not? At least I’d never lie about it. I’ve bumped into a lot of old friends with new faces who say it’s their moisturiser.
I hate that! I’ll be proud to say what I’ve had done. The showbiz industry is ageist against women, so I do get paranoid about looking old. The powers that be often don’t care how men look as long as they’re great actors. Where women are concerned, appearance still plays a big part. It’s really unfair.
Follow Beverley’s surgery diary at harleystreetskinclinic.com
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