If actress Vicky Binns had written the script for her own career it couldn’t have gone any better. She is poised for a dramatic change of direction in 2011 when she leaves Coronation Street after five years playing Molly Dobbs.
And while it will be a huge wrench to leave the soap which has made her a household name, she says she couldn’t be happier about the timing and the circumstances.
“I had given myself five years and I am absolutely delighted that it has worked out the way it has,” said the 27-year-old Manchester girl.
“I’m still young and I was in Emmerdale quite a long time before Coronation Street and so I think it is time to try something new.
“Molly will be going out on a high and as an actress the timing couldn’t be more perfect.” Vicky is also looking forward to her first ever visit to Belfast next month when she will launch the Belfast Telegraph’s Runher event in aid of Cash for Kids.
As a member of the celebrity Leukaemia Research running team, joining hundreds of other women signed up for the 10km and 5km event on October 10 is right up Vicky’s street.
Northern Ireland’s only fun run for women which is now in its fourth year has a new route, starting and finishing on Prince of Wales Avenue outside Parliament Buildings at Stormont.
Vicky, who is hoping to run the full 10km, says she can’t wait: “I am genuinely very excited about it. I’ve never been to Belfast — I’ve been to Limerick and Dublin where I go with the cast of Coronation Street every year for an awards event and it’s the one which everyone wants to go to because the Irish really know how to throw a party and the craic is always great.
“Because I do a lot of charity runs myself I love the idea of Runher and all that energy and everyone coming together and doing something worthwhile, while also challenging themselves.
“There is always a great atmosphere at charity runs and the fact that it is all women is brilliant.
“I’m looking forward to it and hope to stay a couple of days and get a chance to explore Belfast for the first time.”
Ironically, it was due to her Corrie character Molly taking up running that heralded her biggest storyline — anaffair with husband Tyrone’s best friend and business partner, Kevin.
It is a storyline which has kept viewers gripped for almost two years and left them guessing who is the father of Molly’s baby.
The plot is set to reach a spectacular climax at Christmas with Molly leaving the Street — the exact details of which are being kept under wraps by ITV bosses.
“So much has happened, with Molly having the baby and not knowing who the father is, and now that I am leaving we can really go for it,” says Vicky.
“There is no way these four people can live on the Street happily ever after but I can’t say any more than that apart from that I leave in the New Year.”
It has been a storyline which has stretched and challenged Vicky professionally and which she describes as having been “like a dream to do”.
“I’ve had a lot of chances to evolve Molly over the years and move her on and with the affair story lasting two years it has been brilliant to work on,” she said.
“It is just a surreal job and you are kept so busy. Being part of such a big storyline involved long days, night shoots and everyone working very hard.
“You get to snog people, look after babies, give birth and sometimes you just say to yourself ‘wow this beats anything you can dream of as a job’.”
Snogging and love scenes are part and parcel of the actor’s lot, but just how tough is it to strip off in front of a colleague and friend?
“The thing which is most scary is that you actually get used to it,” she laughs.
“We would film this whole love scene and end it with a great big snog and then someone would ask what you are having for tea tonight. At the end of the day you have to honour the script and make it real and that’s one of the challenges of the job.
“You get through it by having a laugh as well. Alan Halsall, who plays Tyrone, is a real comedian and a joy to act with on the set.”
Theatre and film is where Vicky has her sights set in the New Year. Although it is too early to have anything lined up she is genuinely excited about this new chapter in a career which so far has seen her land starring role after starring role.
It all began when she was just 13 and joined a drama group “to pass the time on a Saturday morning”.
She recalls: “It wasn’t a stage school, just a local drama group, and I went along for something to do and absolutely loved it.
“I was really fortunate when I was 16 to get a part in the BBC drama Nature Boy which was filmed in Cumbria and which had a fantastic director and a whole host of amazing actors and I realised that this was definitely what I wanted to do.”
She then had a chance to tread the boards with the Hull Truck Theatre company in Teachers and Perfect Pitch before landing the role of Ollie in Emmerdale when she was just 17.
At 22 she was already a famous face when she joined Coronation Street as Molly.
Now, after 10 years in soapland she says she is ready for something new: “I was a bit nervous about getting too settled as I am still young and I want to experience the world and do lots of other jobs.
“I think you have to have an idea of what you want in your career and what challenges you and I would like to do more theatre and maybe film work. But, of course, I am also open to any opportunities which come my way.
“I love British films and it has always been my treat to go to Corner House in Manchester to see all the independent films. Those are the things that really excite me to watch and I think you need to just go where your passion is.
“I’ve always followed my gut since I was very young and have known what I want out of my life, which is a very varied experience.”
Little has been written about Vicky’s private life and that’s the way she likes to keep it. She confirms she is single but refuses to be drawn on the subject and the fact that she has been quoted as saying she finds it difficult to meet someone because of her high profile TV career. “Sorry,” she apologises, “but I’d prefer not to talk about my private life.”
It’s in keeping with her attitude to her celebrity status — she doesn’t hog the headlines and she certainly seems uncomfortable with the “celebrity” label which comes with her job.
“It’s about acting as opposed to any form of celebrity,” she insists.
“I think the reality of the job is you go in and do the script and put as much energy as possible into acting. I love reading scripts as I always enjoyed English literature and with acting you get to put yourself in positions you normally wouldn’t be in and you learn a lot about yourself.”
The middle child of three (she has a younger brother and older sister), Vicky says they help her retain a sense of normality in her life.
“It’s really lovely to have a family who has nothing to do with the business as they are really grounding and supportive.”
Keeping fit is another passion and three years ago Vicky hit the headlines after she dramatically lost three stone, dropping three dress sizes and slimming down from 10 stone to seven. She celebrated her stunning new look with the launch of her workout DVD, Dance It Off.
Running is now her preferred means of keeping fit and she has joined the celebrity Leukemia Research running team with whom she completed the Great Northern Run earlier this year.
Actors from Coronation Street, Emmerdale and The Bill, as well as Shameless and Midsomer Murders, are among the members who with their distinctive yellow T-shirts are nicknamed the Banana Army as they take part in races around the country to raise funds for Leukemia and Lymphoma Research.
Vicky adds: “It is a chance to use your profile for a good cause and it is lovely to be able to do it. For the Great Northern Run we all got together the night before and the craic was good, plus it keeps me fit and motivated.”
How to join Vicky at Runher
The next Runher race at the Stormont Estate features a new route with fewer hills and more space at the start. You can even get a preview on YouTube.
The June 2010 Runher event saw a record number of entrants — more than 2,000 runners.
The Runher website has information on the route, how to enter and a range of training plans for the event.
The website also features information on corporate entries, which provide a reduced entry fee for groups of 10 runners or more.
Runners can take part in either the 5k or 10k races and walkers are as welcome as runners.
Runhers is being held on Sunday, October 10. Kids’ Race 1.15pm, adult race 2pm
For more information and how to enter go to www.runher.co.uk