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Any long-standing Corrie fan will smile at references to the young Tracy Barlow, stomping upstairs in a strop at No1 to play tapes in her bedroom.
But then, given her mum Deirdre’s chaotic love life, perhaps it’s no surprise she was a troubled teen.
Kate Ford, 43, became the fourth actress to play Tracy when she joined in 2002, and she’s had a ball as the Weatherfield bad girl you just know is going to grow old disgracefully…
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Kate, it’s quite the milestone as Corrie turns 60. How did you feel when you joined the show in 2002?
Actually, when I was at school I had been a Corrie extra. It wasn’t because I wanted to be an actress, it was because you got £50 a day! At the time I was mad about horse riding, and this was just a way of making pocket money. I was in a couple of scenes.
In one, Steve McDonald was going to a pop concert and I handed him a flyer outside. Later, I joined a youth theatre in Lancaster and got more interested in taking it further.
So it was a few years before you came back as Tracy…
Yes, I hadn’t auditioned for other Corrie roles, then this role came up after I’d been to drama school. People said, “Oh you don't want to do a soap, you’ll be in it for ages.” And I said, “I’m going to do six months, max.” And here I am, nearly 20 years later!
But you already had a family link to the Street, didn’t you?
My dad’s first cousin [Tricia Ford] was in Coronation Street for about two years, I think. She played a woman called Pauline, who was one of the factory girls, and she had an affair with Mike Baldwin.
I remember her coming round to my house when I was a kid with one of those cast photo cards and I thought it was so glamorous!
Were you nervous when you started working on the show as Tracy?
Yes. When I joined the show there were, like, 18 million people watching. I’m not saying it’s not still very popular, but people didn’t have all the other channels to watch. You were in everybody’s living room.
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What was your first day on set like?
My dad had to pull the car over and I was sick on the way to the studios, due to nerves. I’d never been sick with nerves like that before. I was most excited to meet Annie and Bill [Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache], because I was playing Deirdre and Ken’s daughter.
They came into the make-up room and gave me a hug. They are such warm people and I was obviously nervous. They hugged me really tight.
Tragically the Street lost Anne Kirkbride in 2015. You were very close, weren’t you?
I used to go and stay with Annie and she would run me a nice hot bath and put candles round it. She was so motherly, lovely and caring. She didn’t drink, but she’d get me a bottle of red and we’d sit in her kitchen – she’d be smoking and I’d be drinking wine.
But the Barlows are still a clan, even without matriarch Deirdre there…
Yes, there is a real bond between the Barlows. When we have Barlow scenes together I always feel safe. You’re with your family.
Of course Tracy’s adoptive dad – Ken Barlow – has been on the show since the start. Has Bill Roache been a big influence in your career?
In my life, not just career. If I have a problem and I can’t work it out, he will always come up with an angle that helps me. It was the same with Annie. Both of them have been big, positive influences in my life. As for working, you can’t be nervous with Bill because he’s so chilled.
Have you made good pals from the show?
I’ve got lots of friends among the cast, but we all live in different places. So we’ll go for a drink occasionally, but it’s not like it would be if you were on tour with a play. The closest friend I’ve made is Shobna Gulati [who played Sunita]. We talk every week.
Does your son, Otis, take much notice of Tracy and her dramas?
No, he’s not interested at all! Years ago, I would have found it hard to pick him up from school because all the children would be over-excited that someone from Corrie had turned up. But it’s all different now he’s at secondary school.
What would you like to see happen with Tracy in the future?
I don’t know about Tracy’s future. To be honest, I actually like it when I’m doing more mundane stories, like Steve and Tracy just being normal. I like it when they argue. I don’t want big dramas – I love everyday life.
So you’re not hoping for another shocking plot like when Tracy killed her boyfriend, Charlie Stubbs?
If I see a fight in a script, I dread it. I’m too old to be throwing myself around the place!
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