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It’s 34 years since Sally Dynevor [then Sally Whittaker] made her Coronation Street debut. Now, as the world’s longest-running soap opera celebrates 60 years on-screen, she’s one of its longest-serving cast members. And a lot has happened to her Street namesake in that time.
Cobbles legend Hilda Ogden thought Sally's character, called Sally Webster, was too downmarket to be her lodger, Kevin Webster’s, girlfriend. But they married and had a roller-coaster relationship for decades. These days Sally’s got a new soulmate in Tim, an inspired pairing with actor Joe Duttine.
The years have been action-packed for Sally – and even incorrigible Corrie gossip Hilda would have been lost for words if she’d heard that, one day, Sally “from the wrong side of town” would be Mayor of Weatherfield!
Who is Joe Duttine? Coronation Street's Tim Metcalfe real life away from soap with co-star fiancée
Helen Flanagan says her morning sickness is ‘on another level’ during pregnancy with third child
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You never know what’s around the corner for the Street’s greatest social climber. And that’s just one of the reasons Sally Dynevor, 57, still gets a thrill when she picks up a script…
Sally, as Corrie turns 60, can you believe you’ve been in it for so long?
No! I still feel like a newcomer, it’s unbelievable.
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But it took you a few attempts to get your foot on the cobbles, didn’t it?
I’d just come out of drama school. I auditioned to be a posh girlfriend of Kevin’s but that would never have worked! And also a milkman’s daughter, but I didn’t get that either. Then I got a call about this character called Sally and thought, “That’s a good omen, she’s got the same name.” I got a few episodes and then it was a year. And the years have just rolled by…
In the early days you had a lot of scenes with Jean Alexander, who played Hilda. What was that like?
She was so professional and dedicated. She taught me a lot about things like discipline, which is really important. And, of course, there was Bill Roache as Ken. When I see him in the corridor I still get excited, thinking, “Oh my God, I can’t believe he’s been in it since the very first episode!” Back then the cast was older – character actors who were incredible and had done rep theatre, variety, light entertainment… With the older cast today there are so many memories – we’ve all grown up, grown old, had our families and gone through marriages, births and deaths together.
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You arrived as part of a kind of northern brat pack…
There was myself and Michael Le Vell [Kevin], Nigel Pivaro [Terry], Kevin Kennedy [Curly], Sally Ann Matthews [Jenny] and Sean Wilson [Martin]. It was quite an exciting time because it was kind of like the next generation, not that we knew it. There I was on my first day, meeting people I’d watched since I was a little girl.
And now here we are, celebrating 60 years of Corrie…
Yes, we’ve got this wonderful 60th anniversary storyline, the fight for the Street. It’s lovely because it involves the whole community – we’re all in it together. There’s something really poignant about that.
One of your most famous storylines was when Sally found out she had breast cancer, only for you to find out you had it too…
You joke that life imitates art, but when that happened it was just the biggest shock. I was very confused for a while thinking that my surgeon had mixed me up with my character. But if it hadn’t been for that storyline I probably would never have checked myself. I was 46 and I thought it wouldn’t happen to me.
And that led you to become involved with the charity Prevent Breast Cancer…
Finding it early is so important and that is exactly what they are doing – trying to predict breast cancer in women, prevent it and protect them.
Viewers have seen Sally and Kevin marry and have their girls, Rosie and Sophie. And now Helen Flanagan and Brooke Vincent who play them are mums…
We are all very close. When we were able to meet up we got together with the babies. I’m so proud of them, they are great mums. I miss them – I wish they were back in the show.
You’re a mum-of-three and Helen’s pregnant with her third child. Did you both give Brooke baby advice
Brooke is incredible. She has always been brilliant with children, so there was never any of that – she probably knew more than me and Helen!
You must feel like a surrogate grandma, on a practice run before doing it for real!
Yes, I hope I don’t have to do that for a while! Phoebe’s 25, Sam’s 23 and Hattie’s 17, so I’m hoping I’ve got a few years yet.
And Corrie’s to thank for you meeting their dad, Tim, as well…
Tim’s mum, Shirley, worked on the show. He was at university and one holiday he came home and was an extra in the Rovers and we got chatting. Later, I invited his mum to a party. She brought Tim. His dad was a director on Coronation Street in the very early days so he’d grown up with it. And Tim’s brother, Josh, was our floor manager for years. So there are a lot of connections between the Dynevors and Coronation Street.
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You’ve made a lot of good friends among the cast, but do you manage to keep up with people after they leave the show?
It’s hit and miss. I’m really close to Connie Hyde who played Sally’s sister, Gina. It’s very difficult because people like Suranne Jones go off and are so busy, it’s hard to keep up. But whenever you do see each other there’s great love and respect. People are very warm about their time on the show, whenever it was in their career.
You’ve got so many great memories but do you have any regrets?
The one person I really wish I’d got to meet at Corrie was Pat Phoenix [Street icon Elsie Tanner] because I met her when I was 13. I was walking past Oldham Town Hall, going to my drama class, and out of a huge car gets Pat Phoenix. I don’t know what came over me but I just ran over and said, “Hi Pat! I want to act.” And she said you’ve got to work so hard and be dedicated. She gave me all these tips and I really wanted to see her again so I could say, “I met you when I was 13 and you were lovely and inspired me,” but I never got the chance.
You’re 57 now. Do you think we’ll see Sally as a pensioner, still living on the Street?
You do think, “I wonder if this is the year they do something terrible to my character?” You never think it’s forever, everyone gets nervous when their contract is up! But I still get excited, every time I’ve got a bunch of scripts with good things in. I can’t imagine having that anywhere else. We all enjoy it so much you don’t see the years flying by, and Corrie’s almost part of my DNA now.
You can follow @coronationstreet on Instagram and @itvcorrie on Twitter
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